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Below is and excerpt from a blogpost on the Programmable City website.  I work there now, and post quite a bit of open data, big data, data infrastructure posts there.  Most do not include any CanCon so I do not always put them here.  The Open Government Partnership is big for the Federal Government in Canada, and the OGP Independant Reporting Mechanism report by the Independant Reviewer Dr. Mary Francoli, was not particularly kind to our Action Plan, and rightly so.  The OGP is however not that big a deal on the ground or with civil society in Canada.  It is however really important elsewhere, in Ireland for example, the EU and the OGP are leveraged as a way to bring and promote progressive practices, regulation, laws, and so on.  In developing countries, it is a way for civil society organizations to have a voice and meet officials they would otherwise not get to interact with at home, and again have a transnational organization promote change.

I will try and post here more often!  Took me time to adjust to my new home.  Rest assured though, that I have not forgotten you nor do I not pay attention to the data shenanigans ongoing in Canada!


I attended the European Regional Meeting of the Open Government Partnership at the Dublin Castle Conference Centre in May of this year.  The meeting was a place for performance and evaluation wonks to show their wares, especially at the following sessions: Open Government Standards and Indicators for Measuring Progress, The EU’s Role in Promoting Transparency and Accountability and Engagement with the OGP, and Open Contracting: Towards a New Global Norm.  I did not attend the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) sessions, but having read the IRM report for Canada, I know that it too is an emerging performance evaluation indicator space, which is affirmed by a cursory examination of the IRMs two major databases.  The most promising, yet the most disappointing session was the Economic Impact of Open Data session.  This is unfortunate as there are now a number of models by which the values of sharing, disseminating and curating data have been measured.  It would have been great to have heard either a critical analysis or a review of the newly released Ordinance Survey of Ireland report, Assessment of the Economic Value of the Geospatial Information Industry in Ireland, the many economic impact models listed here in the World Bank Toolkit, or the often cited McKinsey Global Institute Open data: Unlocking innovation and performance with liquid information report.  Oh Well!

While there I was struck by the number of times maps were displayed.  The mapping of public policy issues related to openness seems to have become a normalized communication method to show how countries fare according to a number of indicators that aim to measure how transparent, prone to corruption, engagemed civil society is, or how open in terms of data, open in terms of information, and open in terms of government nation states are.

What the maps show is how jurisdictionally bound up policy, law and regulatory matters concerning data are.  The maps reveal how techno-political processes are sociospatial practices and how these sociospatial matters are delineated by territorial boundaries.  What is less obvious, are the narratives about how the particularities of the spatial relations within these territories shape how the same policies, laws and regulation are differentially enacted.

Below are 10 world maps which depict a wide range of indicators and sub-indicators, indices, scorecards, and standards.  Some simply show if a country is a member of an institution or is a signatory to an international agreement.  Most are interactive except for one, they all provide links to reports and methodologies, some more extensive than others.  Some of the maps are a call to action; others are created to solicit input from the crowd, while most are created to demonstrate how countries fare against each other according to their schemes.  One map is a discovery map to a large number of indicators found in an indicator portal while another shows the breadth of civil society participation.  These maps are created in a variety of customized systems while three rely on third party platforms such as Google Maps or Open Street Maps.  They are published by a variety of organizations such as transnational institutions, well resourced think tanks or civil society organizations.

We do not know the impact these maps have on the minds of the decision makers for whom they are aimed, but I do know that these are often shown as backdrops to discussions at international meetings such as the OGP to make a point about who is and is not in an open and transparent club.  They are therefore political tools, used to do discursive work.  They do not simply represent the open data landscape, but actively help (re)produce it.  As such, they demand further scrutiny as to the data assemblage surrounding them (amalgams of systems of thought, forms of knowledge, finance, political economies, governmentalities and legalities, materialities and infrastructures, practices, organisations and institutions, subjectivities and communities, places, and marketplaces), the instrumental rationality underpinning them, and the power/knowledge exercised through them.

This is work that we are presently conducting on the Programmable City project, which will  complement a critical study concerning city data, indicators, benchmarking and dashboards, and we’ll return to them in future blog posts.

1.       The Transparency International Corruption by Country / Territory Map

Users land on a blank blue world map of countries delineated by a thick white line, from which they select a country of interest.  Once selected a series of indicators and indices such as the ‘Corruption measurement tools’, ‘Measuring transparency’ and ‘Other governance and development indicators’ appear.  These are measured according rankings to a given n, scored as a percentage and whether or not the country is a signatory to a convention and if it is enforced.  The numbers are derived from national statistics and surveys.  The indicators are:

  • Corruption Perceptions Index (2013), Transparency International
  • Control of Corruption (2010), World Bank dimension of Worldwide Governance Indicators
  • The Bribe Payer’s Index (2011), Transparency International
  • Global Corruption Barometer (2013), Transparency International
  • OECD Anti-Bribery Convention (2011)
  • Financial Secrecy Index (2011), Tax Justice Network
  • Open Budget Index (2010), International Budget Partnership
  • Global Competitiveness Index (2012-2013), World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index
  • Judicial Independence (2011-2012), World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index
  • Human Development Index (2011), United Nations
  • Rule of Law (2010), World Bank dimension of Worldwide Governance Indicators
  • Press Freedom Index (2011-2012) Reporters Without Borders
  • Voice & Accountability (2010), World Bank dimension of Worldwide Governance Indicators

By clicking on the question mark beside the indicators, a pop up window with some basic metadata appears. The window describes what is being measured and points to its source.

The page includes links to related reports, and a comments section where numerous and colourful opinions are provided!


View the rest at Programmable City.

Canada has signed on to the G8 Open Data Charter. The official UK G8 Presidency site includes the Charter and its associated technical Annex.  This Charter falls under one of this year’s G8 agenda items, which is to promote greater transparency. The main points of the charter are:

  1. Principle 1: Open Data by Default
  2. Principle 2: Quality and Quantity
  3. Principle 3: Usable by All
  4. Principle 4: Releasing Data for Improved Governance
  5. Principle 5: Releasing Data for Innovation

The G8 countries have committed to the following 3 actions:

  • Action 1: G8 National Action Plans
  • Action 2: Release of high value data (List is pasted below)
  • Action 3: Metadata mapping

These are all good things.  The devil will be in the details and implementation in Canada will depend on collaboration and interoperability between provinces, territories, cities and municipalities and the federal governments.  It will be interesting to see how crown corporations such as Canada Post, Canada Housing and Mortgage and Corporation (CMHC), CBC/Radio Canada and others fare.  At the moment, it there is uncertain if these are to follow the same rules.

The list of high value data that should be released somewhat overlap with information collected by the Open Knowledge Foundation Open Data Census.  Note the postal code data requested under geospatial, this is a big ask for Canada especially in light of the Geocoder copryright lawsuit instigated by Canada Post. Digital Copyright Canada has also done some good work on the postal code file.

It will be very interesting to see if greater access to data will mean an increase in evidenced based policy making and greater participatory democracy. The government will need to be more receptive to citizen input, and so far, if the census and issues around science are any indication, this does not look promising.  Releasing data is one thing, acting on the evidence and having the mechanisms in place and willingness to hear from citizens is another.

Data Category (alphabetical order) Example datasets
Companies Company/business register
Crime and Justice Crime statistics, safety
Earth observation Meteorological/weather, agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting
Education List of schools; performance of schools, digital skills
Energy and Environment Pollution levels, energy consumption
Finance and contracts Transaction spend, contracts let, call for tender, future tenders, local budget, national budget (planned and spent)
Geospatial Topography, postcodes, national maps, local maps
Global Development Aid, food security, extractives, land
Government Accountability and Democracy Government contact points, election results, legislation and statutes, salaries (pay scales), hospitality/gifts
Health Prescription data, performance data
Science and Research Genome data, research and educational activity, experiment results
Statistics National Statistics, Census, infrastructure, wealth, skills
Social mobility and welfare Housing, health insurance and unemployment benefits
Transport and Infrastructure Public transport timetables, access points broadband penetration

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

Canadian Health – Save the Census Videos

Last week’s Save the Census Health Campaing yielded some great footage:

City of Winnipeg

APTN Voluntary long form census will hurt Canadians’ health

City of Toronto

Media Release – Health professionals warn of health impact of the loss of the mandatory long form census. Here are the YouTube videos of the Toronto Event on Sept. 2:

Save The Census Health Media Event – Introduction

Save The Census Health Media Event – Dr David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health, City of Toronto

Save The Census Health Media Event – Rob Milling, Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO)

Save The Census Health Media Event – John McLaughlin, Cancer Care Ontario

Save The Census Media Event – Anne-Marie Holt, Ontario Association of Public Health Epidemiologists

Save The Census Media Event – Cherie Miller, Regent Park Community Health Centre

Census Media Roundup

MEDIA ADVISORY: Health-care professionals protest cuts to long form census

TORONTO – Sept. 1, 2010 – Medical and population health researchers and health-care professionals are convinced that the cancellation of the mandatory long form census will create a significant health risk for Canadians. That’s why they are participating in a series of media events in cities across the country on Thursday, September 2.

Initiated by the “Save the Census Campaign”, being spearheaded by social planning bodies across Canada, these events will feature Medical Officers of Health, physicians, nurses, medical researchers, representatives of Community Health Centres and other health-care professionals who are concerned about the health implications of this decision.

“Long form census data is used to make decisions about local health care and public health services, and as a foundation for population-based research into medical conditions and diseases. Loss of this data will make it more difficult to address the pressing health needs of Canadians,” said Dr. David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto.

Events are planned for Thursday, September 2nd in Toronto, Ottawa, Sudbury, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver. Confirmed participants include Medical Officers of Health, the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), the Canadian and Ontario Epidemiological Societies, and front-line medical researchers.



Tomorrow, Thursday September 2nd, 10:00 a.m.

Women’s College Hospital, Main Lobby, 76 Grenville Street, Toronto (please note there is NO on-site parking)

Organizer: John Campey, Social Planning Toronto (416) 351-0095 x 260


  • Dr. David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health, City of Toronto
  • Rob Milling, Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO)
  • John McLaughlin, Vice-President, Population Studies and Surveillance, Cancer Care Ontario
  • Anne-Marie Holt, President, Ontario Association of Public Health Epidemiologists
  • Cherie Miller, Director of Community Health, Regent Park Community Health Centre


Thursday, September 2nd, 10:00 a.m. Carlington Community and Health Services, 930 Merivale Road, Ottawa ON

Organizer: Peggy Taillon, Canadian Council on Social Development (613) 236 8977 x 1


  • Dr. Isra G. Levy, Chief Medical Officer of Health, City of Ottawa
  • Michael Birmingham, Executive Director Carlington Community & Health Services and National Association of Community Health Centres
  • Nancy Watters, Registered Nursing Association Ontario, Eastern Ontario Representative


Thursday, September 2nd, 10:00 a.m., City of Lakes Family Health Team Sudbury Site, 960 Notre Dame Avenue, Unit C. Sudbury

Organizer: Janet Gaspirini, Social Planning Council of Sudbury (705) 675-3894


  • Dr. Chris Bourdon, Chief of Staff, Sudbury Regional Hospital
  • Isabelle Michelle, Sudbury District Health Unit
  • Dr. David Marsh, Associate Dean, Community Engagement, Northern Ontario School of Medicine


Aboriginal Health and Wellness Center of Winnipeg, 181 Higgins Avenue (Time to be confirmed)

Organizer: Wayne Helgason, Winnipeg Social Planning Council (204) 943-2561


  • Darlene Hall, Executive Director, Aboriginal Health and Wellness Center of Winnipeg
  • Sandra Gessler, Professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of Manitoba


Thursday, September 2nd, 1:00 PM, Friends of Medicare Office, 10512 122nd St, Edmonton

Organizer: David Eggen, Friends of Medicare (780) 423-4581


  • Dr. Colin Soskolne, President, Canadian Society for Epidemiology and Biostatistics
  • John Kolkman, Research Coordinator, Edmonton Social Planning Council


Organizer: Scott Graham, Social Planning and Research Council BC. (604) 718-8501

For more information, contact:

John Campey, Social Planning Toronto (416)351-0095 x 260 (cell) 647-283-9657

Peggy Taillon, Canadian Council on Social Development (613) 236-8977.

Weekend Census Media Roundup

Ted Talk on OpenData & Rosling Greats

Lots of great map examples of how to use and share open data in the UK.

The year open data went worldwide: Tim Berners-Lee on

Great Video’s on How to visualize and creatively think about data.  I can watch these over and over.

  1. Hans Rosling: Asia’s rise — how and when
  2. Hans Rosling: Let my dataset change your mindset
  3. Hans Rosling on global population growth
  4. Hans Rosling shows the best stats you’ve ever seen
  5. Hans Rosling on HIV: New facts and stunning data visuals
  6. Hans Rosling’s new insights on poverty

Wednesday Census Media Roundup

More Cuts - Aislin, Montreal Gazette

Blackout - Aislin, Montreal Gazette

Tuesday Census Media Roundup

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