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A Fed open data ask!

The local community group and a representative of hundred of municipalities, has made the request for the following data at the Ottawa open data round-table consultation and also in a letter.  So far these data have not materialized and there has not been a response.  These groups require these data to do the following:

The data focus of these initiatives is collect and report on data that captures social, economic, and environmental trends at the municipal or neighbourhood levels in Canadian cities and communities.

Your feedback on the following request would be greatly appreciated:

What we would be most interested in, as a starting point, is a series of open discussions with the Federal government about community data: data that measures trends and conditions in Canadian cities & communities. Community Data Canada (cdc-dcc.info) was established in 2009 as a  forum for these discussions.

A series of “Community Data Roundtables” would address two fundamental limitations of data access at the level of municipal and community geographies:

1.    We don’t know exactly what to request of Federal departments. HSRDC is a good example. That agency has unknown quantities of administrative data related to several topics:

o   Employment Insurance

o   People with disabilities

o   Homelessness data (HIFIS)

o   Other data sets dealing with seniors, First nations, students, and much else

2.    Much of the community data we require reside with provincial government departments. In these cases, there is a role for the Federal government to act as a convener of provincial governments. We lack the capacity and influence to reach 10-13 jurisdictions (in the case of the 3 territories). Federal government-convened Community Data Roundtables would tackle the following topics:

o   Education data: Meeting with officials of provincial ministries of Education.

o   Health data: Meeting with officials of ministries of health. This includes compelling CIHI to share their data. They are were created as a private non-profit operating at arms length from the government, but must be accountable to governments at some level.

o   Environment Data: Air quality index databases

A final note: we are already making good progress with several Federal government agencies:

·         Industry Canada – bankruptcies data

·         Citizenship & Immigration Canada – permanent residents data cube, and on track to develop an IMDB data cube (linking immigrant and income databases)

·         Environment Canada – air quality monitoring station data

·         CRA – Income data via Statistics Canada

·         CMHC – Housing data

Compelling these agencies to make their data available via a portal will ultimately be beneficial to us, but we are currently able to access these data sets through direct relationships with these agencies.

As a follow-up to last week’s note, there is one specific data product we would like to add to the Federal Government’s Open Data portal:

  • Statistics Canada’s Business Register listings without contact information, but with 6-digit postal codes and/or street addresses

Statistics Canada’s response to the request made by the Community Data Program is para-phrased as follows

Statistics Canada almost never releases individual business listings unless they meet three criteria at the same time:

1. They are needed for research purposes

2. They are needed by a federal government department or agency

3. Their release is approved by the chief statistician

This was part of a letter that was sent as a follow-up.

Today the federal government announced that it would make Canadian public sector information (PSI), or administrative data (admin data) or government data more accessible and useable.  A new portal was launched, data are now being disseminated under a more open licence and some additional services are being provided and there is an apps gallery and a developers corner.

This announcement coincides with today’s endorsement of the G8 Open Data Charter.

The licence gets high marks!  It is more open and is less restrictive.  The Government consulted on this file and listened to experts.  Teresa Scassa, Canada’s Research Chair in Information Law provides an excellent overview of the new licence here. Interestingly, BC, Ontario and Alberta will also be adopting this licence, which demonstrates legal interoperability between jurisdictions.  This is excellent.

The Portal is still a little buggy, and folks on the Civicaccess.ca list are reviewing its features and commenting on it.  See the archived threads here.

In terms of data, the issues I am concerned about do not yield any results, homelessness for example yields National Household Survey, clearly there are some tagging issues.  I also searched charity, charities, business, business registries, poverty and the results were either null or sub-par.  Cities yielded close to 800 hits while health outbreaks yielded none and brown fields yielded 4.  When data are accessed the interface, description, and location map are very good, as seen here.

The new Search Summaries of Completed ATI Requests is also very useful and this should simplify the access to information (FOI requests) process and reduce costs.  I was happy to find homelessness information in it, and it is interesting that these data are not linked with those in the portal.  Some work to be done here.

I will need to engage with it more, however, overall it is an improvement over the Pilot.  Please send me your comments here at tlauriau at gmail dot com

In terms of a more open government and greater transparency!  This is one good step in that direction, but we have a few other issues, such as a cancelled census, a lack of a data archive, the bullying of NGOs who speak out against the government, the muzzling of scientists, the closing of monitoring stations, a lack of evidence based policy and the decimation of the Library and Archives Canada.  Soo…..

 

I am posting the complete message as a public service to us all!  See the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) Save Library and Archives site for updates and additional information.

Librarian and Archivist of Canada Resigns

On May 15, 2013 Daniel Caron, Chief Librarian and Archivist of Canada, resigned from his post. Caron’s leadership at LAC has been immensely unpopular. He oversaw the introduction of a “modernization” process which led to the cessation of purchased acquisitions, a severe decline in on-site service, a 20% cut to staff, a punitive code of conduct for employees, and the elimination of both the National Archival Development Program and the Inter-Library Loans program at LAC.

On May 22nd LAC employees were informed that Hervé Déry – Assistant Deputy Minister and Corporate Secretary in Policy and Collaboration – will be filling in as Interim Deputy Head of LAC. It is imperative that Monsieur Dery’s role is only interim and that the next Librarian and Archivist of Canada does not come from the ranks of current LAC management. LAC needs someone who is willing to reverse the damage that has been done at LAC over the past few years, as well as someone who will advocate for both LAC and libraries and archives across the country.

LAC has the opportunity to take up a new direction with a strong commitment to comprehensive collections and access for all Canadians both on-site and on-line.  However, the dismemberment of LAC must also be understood as part of a more systemic problem, that is the federal government’s disregard for scientific evidence, data and a comprehensive historical record that is also occurring, for example, through the decimation of archeological research at Parks Canada, and the elimination of key Statistics Canada surveys.

A coalition of professional associations representing librarians, archivists, and historians has written an open letter outlining the qualities they expect in the next Librarian and Archivist of Canada. Click here to read the letter.

Here also is a thoughtful op-ed about the next leader of LAC.

CAUT`s statement on what it calls for in the next Librarian and Archivist of Canada can be found here.

LAC “not meant for public access”

In a telling exchange on Twitter, Minister James Moore responded to questions about deteriorating funding and access at LAC by stating “Is why (sic) we’re creating the History Museum: access. The LAC main building is not designed or meant for public access. History is.”

The subtext here couldn’t be clearer: While the government is actively thwarting access to resources that makes independent historical research possible, it is simultaneously eager to represent a version of Canada’s past that supports its own ideological vision in the present.

CAUT’s Executive Director wrote to Minister Moore requesting clarification about his statement.

A violation of the charter: LAC’s Code of Conduct

In March 2013, the LAC’s code of conduct restricting the activities of librarians and archivists was publicized.

The NDP has since requested that the Information Commissioner investigate the LAC Code of Conduct in the context of her investigation into the muzzling of government scientists and experts.

The Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians has issued a statement condemning LAC’s new Code of Conduct and analyzing the ways in which the code contravenes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Specialist Archivists become generalists

Although there has been no official announcement from LAC, it appears that all specialist archival portfolios at LAC have been eliminated. Specialist portfolios have been replaced by function-based portfolios such as arrangement, description, appraisal etc. Specialist archivists are vital to the accessibility of LAC collections to Canadians.

Research will be greatly impoverished without the specialist archivists to help guide researchers through the collections. In fact, some researchers have actually been told that certain fonds are not available to them because the archivist expert with knowledge of the particular collections-area is no longer in the position.

This is not simply an issue of access to specialized material for individual researchers; this is will affect all Canadians. Without access to the full range of our historical documentary materials, our ability to understand our history is seriously compromised.

Canadian History on the Auction Block

With the revelation that “a huge cache of Canadian history” will be going to auction in the UK in June, LAC’s stalled acquisitions program is under public scrutiny. The key question is whether Library and Archives Canada will purchase these vital historical records or allow them to be acquired by a private collector.

Read more.

LAC: Lender of no resort

In the wake of LAC’s elimination of the popular and effective Inter-library loans program at LAC, researchers are at a loss. While LAC officials have indicated that LAC will ultimately be developing a “Lender of Last Resort” policy, this policy will not be in place until September 2013.  In the meantime, researchers are being told they are simply out of luck.

Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel

The Royal Society of Canada is establishing an Expert Panel on “The Status and Future of Canada’s Libraries and Archives”.

For more information contact:

Rosa Barker (613-726-5166)                    barker@caut.ca

Our friends in la belle province are doing some lovely work!

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The image is available on Flickr and see what DémocratieOuvete.org are up to!

A survey is not a census, a census is a state sanctioned mandatory scientific and systematically carried out count of the population and its characteristics.  It is a national civic duty to fill it out, providing of course one believes that knowing the nature of the Canadian population matters.  A volunteer survey can be a one off activity, as funding is not guaranteed, and in this case, it was conducted in a non systematic way and there is no way of knowing where the count was complete and where it was not.  Further, this volunteered national household survey breaks the possibility of a longitudinal analysis of the population, and there is great concern that local small area geographic analysis will be impeded as sampling will be uneven.

I will have to read the following documentation very carefully before using these data, and you should to: National Household Survey – Reference products, 2011.The newswire has been busy this morning and here are some highlights:

Blog Posts:

The NHS data reported in the news today has been discussed with caveats as to accuracy and reliability, and of course the inability to compare with the past.  Although, the reports are discussing trends, which means they are comparing, and, most likely erroneously with the past!

 

Data Science

I just came across some intensive data science training programs.  It is all part of the Data Deluge and I am sure universities are going to go big on this topic in the next 5 years, especially with the ubiquitous talk every time I turn around about big data.  I am also sure there will soon be a boom of Master of Data Administration (MDA) programs along with the usual MBA – MPA like programs with big fees.  IBM defines data scientists here and of course there is a Wikipedia definition. In the US a constellation of data science courses are emerging. The universe in Canada however seems a little slim and trim!  NSERC has the Discovery Frontiers Grants in Genomics, there is a new research chair position Canada Excellence Research Chair in Data Science for Real-Time Decision-Making and there are a couple of dots in Canada on this Data Scientist Meetup Map while UBC hosts a Data Science Portal.  Below is a list of what I found in terms of curricula without much digging.

  1. University of Chicago Data Science for Social Good
  2. Silicon Valley INSIGHT Data Science Fellows Program
  3. University of Washington Introduction to Data Science
  4. University of Illinois Data Sciences Summer Institute (DSSI)
  5. Columbia University Introduction to Data Science
  6. Berkeley Introduction to Data Science (Great Resources here!)
  7. Syracuse University Data Science program in the ISchool and Open Introduction to Data Science,
  8. New York University Data Science related courses
  9. EMC Data Science and Big Data Analytics
  10. Tetherless World Constellation (TWC) Data Science Courses

This NY Times article reports many more: Data Science: The Numbers of Our Lives as does this Computer World article  Colleges Incorporate Data Science Into Curriculum. Wired looks at The Modern Data Nerd Isn’t as Nerdy as You Think and Of course O’Reilly media back in 2011 released this report What is Data Science and an article written in 2010 What is Data Science.  The supply of data scientists seems to be low while the demand is high according to Computer World and IT World Canada. Interesting times ahead.

Journals:

  1. CODATA Data Science Journal
  2. Columbia University Journal of Data Science

Open data is happening on one side of government while access to data and information is getting either reduced or locked down in other parts.  This story about muzzling archivists was released some weeks ago.

An anecdote.  Yesterday I went to see the movie NO, about the marketing campaign for the NO side of the plebiscite against the Chilean Pinochet dictatorship. The movie was terrible, the sentiment excellent, and the timing with the ongoing trials, probably no accident.  As my son and my visiting friend were lamenting the quality of the film, I explained the politics of it to them, but also, why it is so important to have an impartial and protected national archive that allows for access to all the footage, news clips and story boards that were shown in the film.  I explained what was going on with our archive, and, they got the picture. They began to rethink how they understood the role of the archive.

Will our archives, librarians and archivists be able to answer the following questions in the future?

I mean honestly? What first world democratic country does that?

Below are links to material that librarians and archivists sent my way in confidence.

This presentation contains the Code of Conduct statements Library and Archives (LAC) Archivists must now follow.

  1. Calgary Herald: ABCs of ‘behaviour regulation’ for federal librarians and archivists
  2. CBC Podcast: of the Library Code of Conduct on As It Happens
  3. BoingBoing blog post: Canadian government muzzles librarians and archivists, creates snitch line to report those who speak online or in public without permission
  4. British Columbia Library Association Response.
  5. Save Library and Archives Campaign

The Open Data Exchange (ODX13) was a really great day. Below are my slides and related URLS.  The main point was to discuss how we take the learning by doing that has been ongoing in the open data field and now begin to integrate long standing and well established open access to data thinking such standards, governance, collaboration and cross-domain.  Also, how to approach ad-hoc open data initiatives and move them toward an interoperable and standards based way of doing things, much like how geospatial data infrastructures have been developed.  In addition, to think about data management, their life-cycle and preservation for future generations.

Slide 1:
Geospatial Data Infrastructures s are the institutions, policies, technologies, processes and standards and framework data that direct the who, how, what and why geospatial data are collected, stored, manipulated, analyzed, transformed and shared, MULTIDIMENSIONAL, INTERSECTORAL, CROSS-DOMAIN, INTERDEPARTMENTAL, REQUIRING NATIONAL CONSENSUS BUILDING.

  • Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI) Association – http://www.gsdi.org/
  • GSDI Cookbook – http://www.gsdidocs.org/GSDIWiki/index.php/Main_Page

Slide 2:
Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure (CGDI): http://geoconnections.nrcan.gc.ca/home

Slide 3:
Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) – http://www.earthobservations.org/geoss.shtml

Slide 4:
Global Map International Steering Committee for Global Mapping Specifications: http://www.iscgm.org/cgi-bin/fswiki/wiki.cgi?page=Documentation

Slide 5 :
Agenda 21 Rio 1992 Chapter on Information for Decision Making – http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?documentid=52

Slide 6:

  • IPY Data Management Policy: http://www.api-ipy.gc.ca/pg_IPYAPI_055-eng.html
  • Canadian Polar Data Network: http://polardatanetwork.ca/
  • Polar Data Catalogue: http://polardata.ca/
  • Datacite Canada: http://cisti-icist.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/eng/services/cisti/datacite-canada/index.html

Slide 7:
Thinking about the lifecycle of data:

  • Digital Curation Centre: http://www.dcc.ac.uk/resources/curation-lifecycle-model and http://www.dcc.ac.uk/sites/default/files/documents/publications/DCCLifecycle.pdf

Many great public submissions were made today in Québec City on the reforms to access to information laws.

The following are a few posted by members of the Civicaccess.ca list:

  1. Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec Soumission
  2. Open North, submission can be listened to at the audio-visual link below
  3. Quebec Ouvert, Soumission
  4. Centre for Law and Democracy  – Canada: Serious Problem in Québec Openess Law
  5. Canadian Internet Public Policy Clinic (CIPPIC) – Technologies et vie privée à l’heure des choix de société / Privacy & the Right to Information in a Rapidly Evolving Technological Landscape

You can also listen to their audio/visual recordings of the consultations and their submissions given in the Assemblée nationale du Québec.

This is a great example of how civil society is engaged in the direction of public policy and law.

 

Organized by:Ted Strauss  @trudatted

Naomi Kincler @namikinc

(see registration information here)

A mini-conference to discuss the successes and challenges of extracting value from Open Data for civic engagement, international aid transparency, scientific research, and more!
Une mini-conférence pour discuter des réussites – et des défis – de la mise en valeur des données ouvertes en matière d’engagement citoyen, de transparence dans l’utilisation des fonds publics, de recherche scientifique, et plus encore!

Program

Morning Session – Open Data Stories; Panel Discussions

9:00 AM    Introduction and Welcome

9:15 AM    Winning with Open Data – Panel 1

10:10 AM    Les données ouvertes en pratique - Panel 2

  • Guillaume Ducharme, gestionnaire dans le réseau de la santé et membre du collectif Démocratie Ouverte
  • Sébastien Pierre, fondateur, FFunction & Montréal Ouvert
  • Josée Plamondon, développeur ContratsNet
  • Jean-Noé Landry (l’animateur de discussion), fondateur, Montréal Ouvert et Québec Ouvert

11:05 AM    Future Avenues for Open Data – Panel 3

12:00 PM    Lunch will be provided

Afternoon Session – Digging into Data; Workshop and Lightning Talks

1:00 PM    Data Dive Intro – Exploratory Data Analysis with Trudat

1:30 PM    Data Dive

We will dive into interesting Open Data sets with experts on hand to guide us through the weeds, including data on

  • International Aid
  • Government contracts
  • Biodiversity
  • and more…

3:00 PM   Lightning Talks

4:00 PM    Present data insights

4:45 PM    Closing remarks

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