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Study on Open Government: A view from local community and university based research
Access to public data is one of the most popular VOTE topics in the submissions on the Digital Economy Consultation site. Here are the VOTING submissions that ask for open data, open access and open government.
2. Improved access to publicly-funded data associated with research data Require open access to results of research funded by the Canadian taxpayer
There has also been some writing about the consultation:
Michael Geist: Opening Up Canada’s Digital Economy Strategy
Take a few minutes to login and vote! If you can, provide a comment about how access to data has improved or will improve your work.
Please vote – Open Access to Canada’s Public Sector Information and Data. This is part of the Industry Canada Digital Economy Consultation.
Please take some time to vote and distribute within your networks and institutions! It just takes a few seconds.
We are at a tipping point on this issue in Canada and your few seconds of your time could open up our data resources. You will also see a complimentary Research Data and improved access to publicly-funded data submissions that could also use some votes while you are at it!
Below is the text. If you have ideas that can be added for a formal submission, I would be really glad to hear from you!
Create a data.gc.ca for Canada’s public sector information (PSI) and data in parallel with the excellent NRCan GeoConnections model (e.g. GeoGratis, GeoBase, Discovery Portal).
These PSI & data should be shared at no cost with citizens, be in accessible and open formats, searchable with standard metadata, wrapped in public domain or unrestricted user licenses, delivered within an an open architecture infrastructure based on open standards, specifications and be interoperable. It should be governed with open government principles whereby data & PSI are shared first and arguments to restrict are made only for legitimate privacy and security reasons which should also be disclosed. It should have a permanent home and include both the right combination of multi-departmental (e.g. CIC, INAC, HRSDC, NRC, NRCan, etc.) inputs, trans-disciplinary human resources (e.g. Librarians, archivists, scientists) along with IT specialists & engineers. It should be built in consultation with Canadians to ensure it is designed with user needs and useability in mind. (This is how the GeoConnections program built the Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure).
The Government of Canada produces administrative data for the purpose of program delivery (e.g. Canada Student Loan, location where new Canadians land, the number and location of homeless shelters, etc.), and it produces data for the purpose of governing for example: the data collected by Statistics Canada (e.g. Census & Surveys, National Accounts); Environment Canada (e.g. air & water quality, location of brown sites); Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (e.g. satellite and radar imagery); Industry Canada (e.g. corporate registry); Canada Revenue Agency (e.g. Charities dbase); National Research Council (e.g. Scientific data); SSHRC (e.g., social science research data) and more. These data have already been paid for by Canadians via taxation, and the cost of selling these data back to citizens on a cost recovery basis is marginal or more expensive (e.g. Cost of government to government procurement, management of licences, royalties, government accounting and etc.) relative to the benefits & reduced overhead of delivering these data at no cost. Furthermore, Canadians often pay multiple times for the same data, since each level of government also purchases the same data, federal departments purchase these data from each other and there are examples where municipalities purchase the same data multiple times from Statistics Canada. This is not only a waste of taxpayer money it goes against the principle of create once and use many times and of avoiding the duplication of effort.
Data & PSI are non rivalrous goods where sharing and open access to these does not impede other from doing so. Open access stimulates research and IT sectors who will have the resources they need for the creation of new data R&D products (e.g. Applications) and services (e.g., web mapping), evidence based decision making (e.g. Population health), and informing public policy on a number of key Canadian issues (e.g. Homelessness, housing, education). In addition, evidence from Canadian City Open Data Initiatives (e.g., Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, and Ottawa) have demonstrated that the cost and time to find and access data & PSI within government have been greatly reduced since finding these are easier and negotiating access becomes a non issue, which in turn brings savings to citizens and greater efficiencies within these institutions. Finally, participatory and deliberative democracies include the active engagement and inputs from citizens, civil society organizations, the private sector, and NGOs along with their government. Making these data available increases the collective knowledge base of Canadians and stimulates public engagement, improves efficiencies, and fuels innovation.
These are already our (citizen’s) data & PSI, why not share share them with us and enable citizens and the government to work together to stimulate Canada’s economy, create innovative industries and formulate evidence based public policy.
Ready or Not, Here Comes Open Access: Sure, you’d rather focus on science than on debates about open access. But the decisions made today about publishing models are relevant not only to your work, but also to the future of biomedical research. So pay attention.
November issue of Genome Technology focuses entirely on Open Access openly available under a CC license. The articles discussed both data and publications. Wonderful! See page 40 of the journal to read Ready or Not, Here Comes Open Access.
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An excellent post on the development of Government Open Data Principles. These were developed at an O’Reilly and Associates workshop. Ethan Zuckerman provides some excellent background on his blog and a Open Data WiKi is accepting comments and of course collaboration. Has this been done anywhere else?
Government data shall be considered open if it is made public in a way that complies with the principles below:
All public data is made available. Public data is data that is not subject to valid privacy, security or privilege limitations.
Data is as collected at the source, with the highest possible level of granularity, not in aggregate or modified forms.
Data is made available as quickly as necessary to preserve the value of the data.
Data is available to the widest range of users for the widest range of purposes.
5. Machine processable
Data is reasonably structured to allow automated processing.
Data is available to anyone, with no requirement of registration.
Data is available in a format over which no entity has exclusive control.
Data is not subject to any copyright, patent, trademark or trade secret regulation. Reasonable privacy, security and privilege restrictions may be allowed.
The issue of public access to government data has a number of components: availability (is it available?), format (is it in a usable/open format?), cost (is it free?), and copyright (do I need permission to use it, may I do with it what I wish?).
The City of Toronto has recently launched a campaign to get more money for cities from the Federal government, asking for one cent from the GST. The campaign is called: onecentnow.ca, and uses the Canadian penny in ads and on their web site.
There are political/moral issues here about how government agencies use (or abuse) existing laws. Notably, the Royal Canadian Mint is a crown corporation that answers to the federal government, and the federal government is a target of the onecentnow.ca campaign, so this retroactive charge could be interpreted as politically motivated. Perhaps not.
And of course there are policy issues about how Crown Copyright ought to be used, or whether it should exist at all. In the USA, for instance, federal government documents, designs and publications are de facto in the public domain.
But other than these abstract concerns, there is a more crucial point: the Mint appears to be on the wrong side of the Canadian Copyright Act. As Howard Knopf points out in Excess Copyright, Canadian copyright law provides copyright protection until 50 years after the death of the creator. Crown Copyright extends 50 years after date of publication.
The Canadian penny was designed by G.E. Kruger Gray in 1937. He died in 1943, meaning that the design for the Canadian penny went into the public domain 50 years later, in 1993. Which means that no one, including the Royal Canadian Mint, can claim ownership of the image, much less charge for its use.
He notes further that it seems unlikely that any court would agree with the Mint that they own a copyright or trademark on the words “one cent.”
So it seems possible that the Royal Canadian Mint has developed an Intellectual Property policy that is claiming – and charging for – ownership where none exists.
Our friends at freeourdata.org.uk have an article about abolishing Crown Copyright in the UK. Canada suffers under the same of copyright policy on government documents and data, while in the USA, everything published by the government is de facto public domain.
The key point is:
But the problem with crown copyright as it stands, and more importantly as itâ€™s used, is that itâ€™s used to restrict.