Canadian Open Government Part 2, The Good..continued

Posted on March 19, 2015

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Richard Pietro is back, he is giving us a rundown of Canada’s Open Government & Open Data movements. Since he considers himself a Fanboy of Open Gov, he’s using a classic movie, and a classic writing tool, to deliver his perspective…The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Check Part 1 by clicking here.


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The Good…continued

By: Richard Pietro, Host of the Open Government Tour.

Richard has also written a post called “Open Government is Trending” that highlights many Open Gov/Data related moments that he has encountered.
g4Municipally speaking, Canada has its “G4,” a group of four cities who are generally regarded as Canadian leaders in Open Data. The G4 is comprised of Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, and Ottawa.  Edmonton in particular has become quite popular amongst the Open Gov/Data community with its show-stopping Citizen Dashboard.
I’ve also noticed other cities starting to mobilize their public servants and citizens. Victoria, BC, Calgary, AB, Winnipeg, MB, Quebec City, QC, Moncton, NB, and Halifax, NS were all part of the Open Government Tour and have a public service that is ready to move forward with Open Gov/Data. Many cities also now have community led groups, such as Open Data Ottawa, Open Edmonton, Open Kingston, Data for Good YYC, Montreal Ouvert, and Open Toronto.
But, as we all know, Open Gov/Data isn’t solely relegated to big cities. As part of my Open Government Tour I had many conversations with individuals in smaller municipalities who felt Open Government & Open Data would be beneficial to their community. Sudbury, ON, Revelstoke, BC, Charlottetown, PEI, and Grey-Bruce Region, ON were all stops on the #OGT14.  In addition to all that, I had a very enlightening (and impromptu) conversation with Ben Cleveland, the Mayor of Digby, NS
A particular municipality I’m following closely is Guelph, ON which has created a few waves lately by announcing its Open Government initiative. They are going beyond Data and have decided to make it as easy as possible for their their residents to engage in the affairs of the city.
One of the many public servants responsible for this plan is Blair Labelle, Guelph’s General Manager of Technology and Innovation. I first met Blair at an event last year when he presented his David Letterman-like Top Ten List of Excuses he hears from Government departments for not releasing data.  I’m sure these excuses will resonate with many readers, but to hear Blair deliver this material in a presentation, you’d swear he was a seasoned comedian.
Inconceivable - Engaging
…and as you can imagine, I became an instant fan of Blair.
Montreal, QC also needs to be mentioned. Although I’m not too familiar with its Open Gov/Data initiatives, the city is home to some of Canada’s most prominent Open Gov/Data practitioners. Two in particular that come to mind are Open North and Ajah who are internationally respected and influential organizations. There’s also the McConnell Foundation that is most akin to the Knight Foundation down in the U.S.
Overall, what I find most promising about the Canadian Open Gov/Data landscape is the willingness for governments to jump into the conversation. Thing is, they have the uneasiness of a 7-year-old kid approaching the edge of a pool. They want to jump, but they are timid about taking the plunge. That’s why people like myself try to encourage government and show them how to jump and that we’ll be there in case they need us.
soderbergh oscarsSorry…I’m starting to ramble here.  Kinda like an Oscar winner thanking every person in their life.  Only problem is that I haven’t won anything. However, much like an Oscar winner I just don’t want to forget anyone.  But before I let you go, I leave you with Steven Soderbergh’s memorable Oscar acceptance speech that applies to Open Gov/Data.
How so?  Because what we’re all doing is creating and that we shouldn’t stop.

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