Open Data Waterloo Region
There is now a website for Open Data Waterloo Region as well as a mailing list.
Open Data movements are about getting governments to open up their data sets in accessible electronic formats for citizens to use as they see fit. This allows people to render the data more widely understandable and readable, and to combine data in fruitful ways. I’ll leave further explanation as links: Three Laws of Open Data, 8 Principles of Open Government Data, and Creating Effective Open Government Portals.
In Ontario, Ottawa and London have strong Open Data movements. Here in Waterloo Region, despite the high-profile technology focus and the proliferation of Blackberries, we don’t yet have one. I’m hoping to fix that, perhaps in time to have some impact on the upcoming municipal elections.
Anyone who is interested in helping to build Open Data Waterloo Region — to advocate for and to use local government data to improve our community — is invited to an informal organizational meeting this Thursday in Waterloo. (See the Facebook event listing if you like.) Whether or not you can make it, you are welcome to join the Facebook group to show your support and stay updated on progress. Please direct people who may be interested to this post.
Thursday, September 9, 6pm – 8pm.
Huether Hotel – the BarleyWorks operations room (2nd floor of BarleyWorks)
59 King St N (at Princess St), Waterloo, ON
(Google Maps link. Note that getting there requires traversing several flights of stairs.)
Can’t make it this Thursday, but am interested. Please send me minutes and I will discuss with staff. As I tweeted about a month ago, GRT staff are interested in apps for the EasyGo and will release data if the person signs a contract.
I am teaching a course in iPhone programming at Wilfrid Laurier University. If you are interested, my students might develop the mobile apps for you.
For those who would like to see what open data can be used for, consider Openstreetmap; a map wiki that citizens have contributed road, trail, and point of interest information to. Whenever cities or governments open data, it invariably ends up in Openstreetmap, which can be rendered into anything from local tourism printed maps, to route-able maps for GPS navigation systems, to web based or cellphone based mapping systems. In some places, like cities in Germany, everything from streets, to transit, to fire hydrants are in Openstreetmap and it’s considered to be the most complete map available.
I’d love to be there, but can’t make it at 6 today. Hope it goes well!