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La Ville d’Ottawa lance son premier concours public visant le développement d’applications à partir de données ouvertes et invite tous les résidents à participer à la fois à la création de nouvelles applications et au vote de leur favorite.

La Ville cherche à encourager les citoyens à élaborer de nouvelles applications novatrices qui font appel aux données de la Ville, en accès libre depuis peu grâce à l’initiative Données ouvertes, et ce, afin d’améliorer la vie communautaire, de stimuler la croissance économique et d’intégrer les citoyens à l’administration municipale.

The City of Ottawa is running its first public contest to develop apps from open data and is inviting residents from all over to participate both in creating new apps or voting on their favourites.

The goal of the contest is to encourage entrepreneurs, agencies, students, IT professionals and others to create innovative new apps that use open data to improve community experience, stimulate economic growth and engage residents in municipal government.

Ottawa Citizen Article: City launches $50,000 app contest

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.

This, I love:

The Open Dinosaur Project was founded to involve scientists and the public alike in developing a comprehensive database of dinosaur limb bone measurements, to investigate questions of dinosaur function and evolution. We have three major goals:1) do good science; 2) do this science in the most open way possible; and 3) allow anyone who is interested to participate. And by anyone, we mean anyone! We do not care about your education, geographic location, age, or previous background with paleontology. The only requirement for joining us is that you share the goals of our project and are willing to help out in the efforts.

Want to sign up? Email project head Andy Farke (andrew.farke@gmail.com), and welcome aboard!

[via datalibre]

From Jon Udell:

I spent last weekend in DC at Transparency Camp, which turned out to be one of the best cultural mashups I’ve attended in a long time. If we can get federal policy wonks and Silicon Valley tech geeks working together in the right ways, there’s good reason to hope that our government can become not just more transparent, but also more effective, more collaborative, more democratic. [more…]

President-elect Obama & his team have a pretty firm grasp on technology it seems, with particularly exciting interest in opening government to transparency on the web. This is pretty exciting stuff. See how he has articulated the problems facing the US and technology leadership:

The Problem

We need to connect citizens with each other to engage them more fully and directly in solving the problems that face us. We must use all available technologies and methods to open up the federal government, creating a new level of transparency to change the way business is conducted in Washington and giving Americans the chance to participate in government deliberations and decision-making in ways that were not possible only a few years ago.

America risks being left behind in the global economy: Revolutionary advances in information technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology and other fields are reshaping the global economy. Without renewed efforts, the United States risks losing leadership in science, technology and innovation. As a share of the Gross Domestic Product, American federal investment in the physical sciences and engineering research has dropped by half since 1970.

Too many Americans are not prepared to participate in a 21st century economy: A recent international study found that U.S. students perform lower on scientific assessments than students in 16 other economically developed nations, and lower than 20 economically developed nations in math performance. Only one-third of middle class physical science teachers are qualified to teach in that subject, and only one-half of middle school math sciences have educational background in that subject area. [more…]

Among the the solutions proposed, here are a few of the headings:

  • Protect the Openness of the Internet
  • Encourage Diversity in Media Ownership
  • Safeguard our Right to Privacy
  • Open Up Government to its Citizens
  • Bring Government into the 21st Century

It goes on. I have not read in detail, but just about everything I have read I applaud. What actually happens is a different matter, but at least there is a vision outlined, and specific policies, almost all of which I cheer loudly.

Compared with the sad state of tech leadership in Canada. I could not even find a true technology platform from the Harper’s Conservatives (I’ve emailed his office to ask, but could someone point me to one?). Here’s the best thing I found, a grocery list of tech investments.

Conservatives invest in cutting-edge computer research

Prime Minister Stephen Harper reiterated his promise that a re-elected Conservative Government will invest in scientific research and development to help create jobs and to help Canada reach its potential to be a world leader in science and technology.

“Our government has invested over $9 billion in scientific research and development to create the next generation of well-paying, high-tech jobs,” the Prime Minister said.

Today, the Prime Minister announced that a re-elected Conservative Government will provide a $50-million grant to the Institute of Quantum Computing, located at the University of Waterloo. The Institute is a world leader in research and teaching in the field of quantum information, a discipline that could lead to new technologies and new jobs.

Since 2006, the Conservative Government has invested in a variety of leading-edge science and technology projects last year, including:

* $510 million to the Canadian Foundation for Innovation to support the modernization of Canada’s research infrastructure.
* $350 million to support leading Centres of Excellence in Commercialization and Research.
* An additional $100 million to Genome Canada for research and technology.
* Funding for research on key priorities, such as health sciences, energy, information and communications. [more…]

The Problem: Canada does not have a technology strategy.

I was reading some of the web accessible INDU submissions by Canadian groups and individuals posted on Michael Geist’s Blog, and a common theme is open & free access to data and scientific research! Very Niiiiice!

You can access them and M. Geist’s here: Industry Committee on Canada’s Science and Technology Strategy

I submitted a brief to the Study on Canadian Science and Technology of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.

I include items on data access, preservation, dissemination, the lack of a data and information infrastructure or vision, the lack of a Science Foundation for Canada and a small mention of community wireless networks.  I also briefly discuss the importance of public participation on these issues.

I discovered a very nice 4 pager primer on access to satellite and radar data prepared by Athena Global. The paper explains that EO data (satellite and radar) policy is the set of public decisions and guidelines about:

• what data will be produced or purchased;
• how it will be managed and by whom;
• who will have access to it (availability, confidentiality);
• how the costs of data will be paid;
• the price charged to users;
• who makes these decisions and through what processes.

The paper also discusses how Canadian EO data is determined by the type of sensor, whether it is framework data or specialized data, by who is asking for or wanting to purchase those data and that data policy has an impact

on data usage, and consequently on the integration of EO information into applications, products and services. In this way data policy shapes the potential promise of space programs in EO.

This is the direct link to the innovation rhetoric we are constantly bombarded with and to the argument that the private sector will flourish in interesting ways if data are made available to it and most importantly the direction of an entire industry. The paper also includes the following which is an excellent way to think about data pricing and its effects:

  • A direct association exists between pricing and its effects on public access and commercialisation of government agency information. Current pricing problems are having a deleterious effect on the affordability of spatial data in Canada, France, and the United Kingdom;
  • A direct association exists between the application of intellectual property rights and the degree of public access and commercialisation of government agency information. The greater the restrictions on access, the less successful dissemination programs will be;
  • Reducing prices and relaxing intellectual property restrictions on government datasets are significant factors improving opportunities for access and commercialization for stakeholders in the geographic information community.

The organization also prepared a brief on ways to think about EO users, and it may be a nice way for CivicAccess.ca to think about when framing debates around citizens and who and what their interests are.  EO users are viewed from the perspective of consumers, patrons and partners while recognizing there are different types of users:

scientific, commercial and operational (government, IOs NGOs, universities, research institutions, companies) that have different characteristics and technical skills, different data needs (long term – short term, information – data) and use data for different types of applications.

The paper explains the EO data use obstacles related to how the data are delivered, cost, lack of knowledge, and so on.  In essence the paper argues to match data supply with data needs.

Data Policy and Engaging EO Users by Athena Global.

Check out what open public transit data is available in Finland:


I suspect a small minority of transit authorities in Canada may actually have GPS units on board buses, but I haven’t heard of any making the data publicly accessible — and not in such fine form. This is really beautiful to see, but it fills me with shame that we are light-years behind.

Original article in the Guardian:


Is anyone aware of any real-time data being made available in Canada?

Peter Suber reports that:

The Scientific Council of the European Research Council has released its Guidelines for Open Access [pdf]

Here is the text:

  1. Scientific research is generating vast, ever increasing quantities of information, including primary data, data structured and integrated into databases, and scientific publications. In the age of the Internet, free and efficient access to information, including scientific publications and original data, will be the key for sustained progress.
  2. Peer-review is of fundamental importance in ensuring the certification and dissemination of high-quality scientific research. Policies towards access to peer-reviewed scientific publications must guarantee the ability of the system to continue to deliver high-quality certification services based on scientific integrity.
  3. Access to unprocessed data is needed not only for independent verification of results but, more importantly, for secure preservation and fresh analysis and utilisation of the data.
  4. A number of freely accessible repositories and curated databases for publications and data already exist serving researchers in the EU. Over 400 research repositories are run by European research institutions and several fields of scientific research have their own international discipline-specific repositories. These include for example PubMed Central for peer-reviewed publications in the life sciences and medicine, the arXiv Internet preprint archive for physics and mathematics, the DDBJ/EMBL/GenBank nucleotide sequence database and the RSCB-PDB/MSD-EBI/PDBj protein structure database.
  5. With few exceptions, the social sciences & humanities (SSH) do not yet have the benefit of public central repositories for their recent journal publications. The importance of open access to primary data, old manuscripts, collections and archives is even more acute for SSH. In the social sciences many primary or secondary data, such as social survey data and statistical data, exist in the public domain, but usually at national level. In the case of the humanities, open access to primary sources (such as archives, manuscripts and collections) is often hindered by private (or even public or nation-state) ownership which permits access either on a highly selective basis or not at all.

Based on these considerations, and following up on its earlier Statement on Open Access (Appendix 1) the ERC Scientific Council has established the following interim position on open access:

  1. The ERC requires that all peer-reviewed publications from ERC-funded research projects be deposited on publication into an appropriate research repository where available, such as PubMed Central, ArXiv or an institutional repository, and subsequently made Open Access within 6 months of publication.
  2. The ERC considers essential that primary data – which in the life sciences for example could comprise data such as nucleotide/protein sequences, macromolecular atomic coordinates and anonymized epidemiological data – are deposited to the relevant databases as soon as possible, preferably immediately after publication and in any case not later than 6 months after the date of publication.

The ERC is keenly aware of the desirability to shorten the period between publication and open access beyond the currently accepted standard of 6 months.

Peter has some good analysis.

What is the NRC’s policy on Open Access?

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