Politics

Open Data Ottawa


We've told you about open data before, via a report on Tracey Lauriault's session at the Ottawa ChangeCamp, at City Hall. Recently, Ottawa City Hall was host to another remarkable event. A group of programmers, librarians, open data activists, city officials, and interested citizens, gathered in a room filled with tables, and equipped with wireless, and spent the afternoon programming, dreaming up, or refining, web or iPhone applications designed to take civic data and make it easier to use and interpret.

At the end of the day, developers were invited to demonstrate their apps. Not all of the apps were live on the web already, but some of them were already available to play with.

Here is a sampling from my notes at the session, augmented from information garnered from the opendataottawa wiki and twitterfeed (@opendataottawa):

  • an App which takes the STO transit website and makes it available in a much more useful format, showing times and maps on the same page. The demo was of an app hacked together this afternoon, but the goal is to be able to make the data available to be downloadable to an iPod Touch, meaning no internet access would be necessary to access the schedules.
  • an iPhone app for OCTranspo which will allow you to click on a stop and see which bus you want. (mytranspo.webhop.net)
  • an adaptation of FixMyStreet which extends this idea to identify areas of micro-greenspace.
  • an app makes it easy for citizens to visualize federal government spending data, broken down by various categories. Makes it obvious when the data is not available.
  • an iPhone app (EatSafe) which would take food inspection data an make it available on the go (I love EatSafe's slogan: "If your pocket were any more awesome, it would need a cape.")

You can also check out a newly created directory of open data apps in Ottawa: opendataapps.org. There are apps here that did not make an appearance at the Open Data Ottawa event, including an amazing program which graphs the sources of Ontario's electricity generation over a specified period, and Attilla Danko's Clear Sky Chart, which uses Environment Canada data to predict when night skies will be good for astronomical observing.

Beyond these - any Ottawa-based open data apps I'm missing?

Since the open data ottawa event, Ottawa city council has approved an open data initiative at the City. The initial crop of available data sets are all GIS data for various city facilities, including SHP files for all city of Ottawa parks Pathway links owned or maintained by the City of Ottawa, and a set of the locations of all of Ottawa's museums.

Kevin O'Donnell took a number of these SHP data sets and turned them into a more usable form for the web, including an intriguing list of unnamed parks.

Similar open data repositories have been set up in Vancouver, Toronto, Nanaimo, and there seems to be someone working to nudge Montréal towards a similar open data initiative.

On another website, dataott.org, there are also some fascinating requests to the City for classes of data that haven't yet been released. These requested data sets include the locations of planted trees, facility schedules, lot shape files, and 311 data.
A message on opendataott with some worries about the way in which the data is currently licenced points to licenses for open databases at opendatacommons.org/

Some great existing or possible data-sets here. Few of these data sets address issues of the environment or sustainability concerns. What are the bright green data-sets you'd like to see in an open format?

Comments

I notice there's now an Open Data London twitter feed, for organizing an Open Data initiative in London ON - @opendatalondon / http://twitter.com/OpenDataLondon - it just started on June 24th, and seems pretty active.

Posted by: Mark Tovey on June 30, 2010 7:02 PM

There's also a ChangeCamp Ottawa coming up on July 17th, 2010 with an open data theme. Ottawa City Hall, from 11AM - 4PM: http://wiki.changecamp.ca/ChangeCamp_Ottawa

Posted by: Mark Tovey on June 30, 2010 7:25 PM

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