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OPEN DATA FOR DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGE

January 27-28, 2014 – Montreal, Canada

The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) is pleased to announce an international aid transparency event will be held in Montreal (Canada) on January 27 and 28, 2014.

The event, which will take the form of a “codathon”, will focus on data, policy, and technical questions related to aid transparency. It will bring together technical experts and practitioners to generate new tools, approaches and ideas in the fields of open data and aid transparency in order to address development issues.

Technical challenges will involve building on open aid data, development-related datasets (e.g. national indicators, trade flows) and other data to build applications that help deliver better development results. Proposed topics for the policy stream include the use of open data in decision-making, the impact of open data in developing countries and an in-depth look at geospatial data.

Canada is committed to open data, aid transparency and accountability, as demonstrated through its engagement in key initiatives such as the G8 Open Data Charter, the Open Government Partnership and the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). The Open Data for Development Challenge will build on DFATD’s commitment to aid transparency and its efforts to make data on Canada’s international development assistance open and accessible.

The Open Data for Development Challenge will take place in the same venue as the IATI TAG event (which will be on January 29-30, 2014). Participants in the TAG event are encouraged to plan to attend the Challenge as well

Details on the program and the registration process will be available shortly.

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Données ouvertes pour le développement

27 et 28 janvier 2014, à Montréal.

Affaires étrangères, Commerce et Développement Canada (MAECD) est heureux d’annoncer la tenue d’un événement sur la transparence de l’aide internationale les 27 et 28 janvier 2014, à Montréal.

L’événement prendra la forme d’un « codathon » portant sur les données, les politiques et les questions techniques liées à la transparence de l’aide. Il réunira des experts techniques et des praticiens, qui auront l’occasion de générer de nouveaux outils et de nouvelles approches et idées dans les domaines des données ouvertes et de la transparence de l’aide, dans le but de s’attaquer aux enjeux du développement.

Les participants devront relever des défis techniques, p. ex. s’appuyer sur des données ouvertes relatives à l’aide, des ensembles de données liées au développement (comme les indicateurs nationaux et les flux commerciaux) et d’autres données, afin de concevoir des applications permettant d’atteindre de meilleurs résultats en matière de développement. Parmi les sujets proposés pour le volet sur les politiques, soulignons l’usage de données ouvertes dans la prise de décisions, l’incidence des données ouvertes dans les pays en développement, et un examen approfondi des données géospatiales.

Le Canada a pris un engagement à l’égard des données ouvertes, de la transparence de l’aide et de la responsabilisation, comme le montre sa participation à des initiatives clés comme la Charte du G8 sur les données ouvertes, le Partenariat pour un gouvernement transparent et l’Initiative internationale pour la transparence de l’aide. Le défi Données ouvertes pour le développement fera fond sur l’engagement du MAECD à l’égard de la transparence de l’aide et sur ses efforts pour rendre ouvertes et accessibles les données sur l’aide canadienne au développement international.

Le défi Données ouvertes pour le développement aura lieu au même endroit que la réunion du Groupe consultatif technique de l’Initiative internationale pour la transparence de l’aide, laquelle se déroulera les 29 et 30 janvier 2014. Ainsi, les participants à la réunion du Groupe consultatif technique sont également invités à prendre part au défi Données ouvertes pour le développement.

Les détails sur le programme et le processus d’inscription seront diffusés sous peu.

Michael Roberts – Groupsia
skype: mroberts_112


Study on Open Government: A view from local community and university based research

It looks like a biased toward industry monitoring agency Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP) has left the public in the dark about fish abnormalities in waters in and around the oil sands sites.  It is also a case where the monitoring agency is aggregating the data into annual reports and not providing the raw data for others to scrutinize.

“That is the problem. To get the actual data, you need the raw data,” not just annual reports, said Kevin Timoney, an Alberta ecologist and oil sands researcher. “They release just enough so they can say that they did, but they don’t give you enough to see what’s really going on.”

Pembina Institute: “An essential component of any credible monitoring program is that all the data should be available to the public,

Hundreds of deformed fish found in rivers running through the Alberta oil sands have been collected and documented by an industry-led monitoring body, The Globe and Mail has learned, but the findings were not shared with the public or key decision makers in government.

That body, the Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP), has been criticized in scientific quarters as secretive and is under the scrutiny of three reviews. Former environment minister Jim Prentice ordered one of those reviews after being shown photos this fall of a few malformed fish, and it was delivered Thursday to Environment Canada.

The Monitoring agencie’s Steering Committee is mixed between Oil industry, public health agencies, First Nations and government with very heavy emphasis on big oil industry:

Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board (formerly Alberta Energy and Utilities Board Health Canada
Alberta Environment Husky Energy
Alberta Sustainable Resource Development Imperial Oil Resources
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. MEG Energy Corp.
ConocoPhillips Canada Nexen  Inc.
Devon Canada Corporation Northern Lights Health Region
Environment Canada Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
Fort McMurray First Nation Shell Albian Sands
Fisheries and Oceans Canada Suncor Energy Inc.
Fort McKay First Nation Syncrude Canada Ltd.
Hammerstone Corporation Total E&P Canada Ltd.

I tried to find out who the members of the technical committee are but only found the following org chart which illustrates that the 3 non government stakeholders are First Nations or Metis Groups and these are dwarfed between industry and government. On the Government side you also see an Energy and Utilities Board, while on the industry side, by the largest number representatives,  is the petroleum & energy industry:
The following are the labs RAMP states it subs it’s work to.  I do not know enough the science to assess them.  I do wonder if they would have the raw data in their shops and if they would release these to the public.  A lab that is sub-contracted may or may not be the owners of the data and may or may not have given up the rights to publish them.  This is often the issue with the procurement of data, for instance, survey engineers claim IP on their data and share them with a city only for city assessments, but the city has to send citizens back to the survey engineer to view those data and the city cannot share these with citizens openly.  In this case, it would be more trustworthy to acquire the raw data from the labs directly.  However, it also depends who owns these labs.  They could very well be owned by the industries that need tests done, or they could be biased toward those industries as they would be their major source of revenue.

  • ALS Environmental – most water and sediment quality analyses
  • Alberta Research Council – some ultratrace metal analyses
  • AXYS Laboratories – sediment concentrations of PAHs
  • HydroQual – water and sediment toxicity analyses
  • Flett Research – mercury analysis in non-lethal fish tissue samples
  • Jack Zloty – benthic invertebrate taxonomy

RAMP shares its information only in annual monitoring reports.  There is an interactive web map of their monitoring sites.  The legend indicates fish tissue monitoring site, and I only found 2 fish tissue sampling sites that do not provide much data except that a sample was taken. According the the G&M article:

Much of the raw data collected by RAMP is kept private, deemed proprietary because of the industry funding. But even among its members, it has faced pressure to open up. Syncrude, which did much of the testing before RAMP’s inception, has called for data to be released, spokeswoman Cheryl Robb said.

In RAMP’s news section there is reference to an article indicating that they would make their database available to the public.  I could not find this database on their site and have sent them an email requesting to see it.  The email I recceived regarding this request is as follows:

Good morning Tracey,

Thank you for your e-mail.

As indicated by the media post you pointed out, the database will be available to the public by the end of the year and that is still our intention. Please check back next week.

Best regards,
Hailey
RAMP Communications

This is a classic lack of transparency situation and a seeming stacked deck leaning heavily toward meeting industry interests. It is very reminiscent of the Environment Canada refusal to share Mine Pollutant Data, a government agency supposedly overseeing the public interest not sharing key data.

Open Data App: Municipal Elections

Vote.ca was created by Larry Franschman, with programming by Michael Mulley, as an open data/open government effort, organizing public election info around your ward, electoral district or riding, the building blocks of our democracy in Canada.

Graphic By http://www.socialsignal.com/
Wednesday, July 21, 2010 in the Simon A. Goldberg Conference Room from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m (Ottawa time).

The text below, sent by the Chief Statistician to all employees of Statistics Canada is a very interesting development.

La version française suit.

2011 Census: Meeting the challenge

On June 26, 2010, the questionnaire for the 2011 Census was published in the Canada Gazette as required by the Statistics Act. The census will consist of the same eight questions that appeared on the 2006 Census short-form questionnaire. The information previously collected by the mandatory long-form questionnaire will now be collected as part of the new voluntary National Household Survey.

Since the announcement, this new format has received widespread coverage in the news media.

I am aware that this situation has generated questions. Given this, I have decided to hold a town hall on Wednesday, July 21, 2010 in the Simon A. Goldberg Conference Room from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m (Ottawa time).

In order to ensure I address those issues of most concern, I ask that you submit your questions via e-mail to Chief Statistician/Statisticien en chef before 12 p.m. on Tuesday, July 20 (Ottawa time).

Because of the limited capacity of the conference room, the meeting will be broadcast live on the ICN.   An e-mail with the link to the broadcast will be sent to all employees before the meeting. Simultaneous translation and sign interpretation will be provided.

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Recensement de 2011 : relever le défi

Le 26 juin 2010, le questionnaire du Recensement de 2011 a été publié dans la Gazette du Canada, conformément à la Loi sur la statistique. Le recensement sera constitué des mêmes huit questions qui ont figuré dans le questionnaire abrégé du Recensement de 2006. Les données antérieurement recueillies au moyen du questionnaire détaillé seront recueillies sur une base volontaire dans le cadre de la nouvelle Enquête nationale auprès des ménages.

Depuis son annonce, ce nouveau format a reçu une couverture médiatique très importante.

Je suis conscient que la situation a soulevé des questions. Par conséquent, j’ai décidé de tenir une séance de discussion ouverte le mercredi 21 juillet 2010 au Centre de conférences Simon-A.-Goldberg de 14 h à 15 h (heure d’Ottawa).

Afin de bien cerner les enjeux les plus préoccupants, je vous demande de me faire parvenir vos questions à l’adresse Statisticien en chef/Chief Statistician d’ici le mardi 20 juillet à 12 h (heure d’Ottawa).

En raison de la capacité d’accueil limitée de la salle, la réunion sera diffusée sur intranet en temps réel.  Un courriel contenant le lien vers le RCI sera envoyé à tous les employés avant l’événement. La traduction simultanée et l’interprétation gestuelle seront offertes.

Open Data Hackfest – Ottawa April 24, 2010

Date: Saturday, April 24th, 2010.

Time: 13:00 to 17:00.

Cost: FREE

Location: Ottawa City Hall ( in the Champlain Room )

110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario
K1P 1J1 (gmap)

What to Bring: Gadgets! Bring you laptops, mobile phones, phasers set to stun, etc…

About: www.opendataottawa.ca & Video.
Twitter: @opendataottawa.

What others have been saying:
Apartment 613 -Open Data Ottawa Hackfest wants to make you appy

Registration: just so the organizers have a better idea of who’s going to show up.

Do Candidates Believe in Open?

ibelieveinopenVisiblegovernment.ca has launched a new site, ibelieveinopen, asking candidates (and citizens) to take a pledge for openness:

I believe candidates should:

  • Support reforms that increase government transparency and accountability.
  • Make campaign promises specific and measurable, and report progress on promises and their metrics at least semi-annually.
  • Publish the content of his or her daily schedule, including meetings with lobbyists and special interest groups.
  • Support reforms allowing free access to scientific and survey data gathered by government institutions.
  • Support reforms that make it easier for Canadians to obtain government information they have a right to know.

As of today, there are 51 candidate pledges (29 Greens, 21 NDP, and 1 Libera)l.

You might consider sending your candidates an email asking them if they intend to take the pledge. This is what I sent to my candidates:

Hello,

Will [Candidate Name] be signing this pledge?

http://ibelieveinopen.ca/

51 candidates have done so already.

Hugh McGuire

I was looking for some cross city comparison data yesterday and recalled the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Quality of Life Reporting System (QoLRS).

Conçu par la FCM, le Système de rapports sur la qualité de vie mesure, surveille et fait état de la qualité de vie dans les villes canadiennes en utilisant les données provenant de diverses sources nationales et municipales. / Developed by FCM, the Quality of Life Reporting System (QOLRS) measures, monitors and reports on the quality of life in Canadian urban municipalities using data from a variety of national and municipal sources.

Regroupant initialement 16 municipalités à ses débuts en 1999, le SRQDV compte maintenant 22 municipalités, dont certains des plus grands centres urbains du Canada et beaucoup de municipalités de banlieue qui les entourent. / Starting with 16 municipalities in 1999, the QOLRS has grown to include 22 municipalities, comprising some of Canada’s largest urban centres and many of the suburban municipalities surrounding them.

The FCM’s QoLRS site includes all the documentation, data, metadata and methodologies related to the development of their indicators and the system they have developed.

:: Reports
:: Annexes
:: Indicators

Their data are most impressive.  You can download a spreadsheet of the data for each indicator for 1991, 1996, 2001 and I expect 2006 QoLRS will be coming soon.   Each variable was also adjusted to the current geographies of amalgamated cities which makes cross comparison across time and space possible (see the guide to geographies).  This was not easy to do at the time. Each spreadsheet includes the data source, the variable, and a tab that provides the metadata.  Which means that you can verify what was done, reuse those data or if you had some money & loads of time you could purchase & acquire the data pertaining to your city and add to the indicator system.  Unfortunately the FCM had to purchase these datasets and it cost them many many thousands of dollars.

There are 11 themes and 72 indicators over 3 census periods for 20 cities (Sudbury, Regina, Winnipeg, Niagara, CMQ, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Hamilton, Halifax, Windsor, Toronto, Kingston, London, Ottawa, Vancouver, Waterloo, Halton, Calgary, Peel, York).  Datasets come from:

  • Statistics Canada
  • Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation
  • Environment Canada
  • the 22 cities themselves
  • Elections Canada
  • Audit Bureau of Circulation
  • Tax Filer Data
  • Human Resources and Development Services Canada,
  • FCM Special Surveys
  • Industry Canada
  • Anielsky Management (Ecological Footprint)
  • Canadian Centre for Justice

Putting something like this together is no small feat, so please go check out what is available, play with the data a little, and if you cannot find data for your city, call up your local councilor and ask them to become a member of the QoLRS team!  Also let the FCM know they are doing a good job, as this is one way for us Canadians to see what is going on in our cities overtime.

Ted at the Social Planning Council of Ontario and GANIS circulated a report from the Ontario’s urban and suburban schools 2008: a discussion paper on the schools we need in the 21st century produced by People for Education this morning.

I have not read the paper nor thought about what they are saying carefully, but I did navigate their site, perused some of their research papers and reports in search for data sources.

They are a parent led organization, their reports can be downloaded for free, their researcher is paid for by Canadian Council on Learning and the Atkinson Foundation and their research is done in collaboration with universities on special research projects. They also collect school data in by way of a survey starting in 1997. They are a charitable organization with the following mission:

Public education is the foundation of a civil society. People for Education is dedicated to the ideal of a fully publicly-funded education system that guarantees every child access to the education that meets his or her needs.

We work toward this ideal by:

 

  • doing research;

  • providing clear, accessible information to the public;

  • engaging people to become actively involved in education issues in their own community.

 

It is precisely this kind of stakeholder led civil society group that acts a kind of third party observer on a massive government expenditure, in this case Ontario public education, that requires access to free public data. Whether or not we philosophically agree on the merits of school evaluation, benchmarking, universal delivery of the same curriculum or the direction their research is not the point, the fact that there is a parent / stakeholder led organization looking at the issue of education at a large scale and also looking at some interesting education models at the small scale is useful in a democracy and ensures some sort of accountability.

They also sell research and data services which is a way to rationalize the workplan of their researcher:

We have a rich data base of information. We are able to provide research data or results for a fee. Elementary school data has been collected since 1997, and secondary school data has been collected since 2000.

Our research is sited and used by Statistics Canada, the Auditor General, the Globe, the Toronto Star and others.

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