At a time when only a handful of cities had open data portals and the words “open data” were not being even talked about in Ottawa, we saw the site as a way to change the conversation and demonstrate the opportunity in front of us. Our goal was to:
- Be an innovative platform that demonstrates how government should share data.
- Create an incentive for government to share more data by showing ministers, public servants and the public which ministries are sharing data, and which are not.
- Provide a useful service to citizens interested in open data by bringing it all the government data together into one place to both make it easier to find.
In every way we have achieved this goal. Today the conversation about open data in Ottawa is very different. I’ve demoed datadotgc.ca to the CIO’s of the federal government’s ministries and numerous other stakeholders and an increasing number of people understand that, in many important ways, the policy infrastructure for doing open data already exists since datadotgc.ca show the government is already doing open data. More importantly, a growing number of people recognize it is the right thing to do.
So what is new?
In short, rather than just pointing to the 300 or so data sets that exist on federal government websites members may now upload datasets to datadotg.ca where we can both host them and offer custom APIs. This is made possible since we have integrated Microsoft’s Azure cloud-based Open Government Data Initiative into the website.
So what does this mean? It means people can add government data sets, or even mash up government data sets with their own data to create interest visualization, apps or websites. Already some of our core users have started to experiment with this feature. London Ontario’s transit data can be found on Datadotgc.ca making it easier to build mobile apps, and a group of us have taken Environment Canada’s facility pollution data, uploaded it and are using the API to create an interesting app we’ll be launching shortly.
So we are excited. We still have work to do around documentation and tracking some more federal data sets we know are out there but, we’ve gone live since nothing helps us develop like having users and people telling us what is, and isn’t working.
But more importantly, we want to go live to show Canadians and our governments, what is possible. Again, our goal remains the same – to push the government’s thinking about what is possible around open data by modeling what should be done. I believe we’ve already shifted the conversation – with luck, datadotgc.ca v2 will help shift it further and faster.
Finally, I can never thank our partners and volunteers enough for helping make this happen.