Hi friends. Just a brief note to say that I’ve been invited to come to the Kennedy School of Government to be a Research Fellow in the Science, Technology and Public Policy Program (STPP) at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. I’ve also been invited […]
Alexander Howard – who, in my mind, is the best guy covering the Gov 2.0 space – pinged me the other night to ask “What’s the best evidence of open data leading to economic outcomes that you’ve seen?”
I’d like to hack the question because – I suspect – for many people, they will be looking to measure “economic outcomes” in ways that I don’t think will be so narrow as to be helpful. For example, if you are wondering what the big companies are going to be that come out of the open data movement and/or what (Read more…)
Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a blog post on Canada Post’s War on the 21st Century, Innovation & Productivity. In it I highlighted how Canada Post launched a lawsuit against a company – Geocoder.ca – that recreates the postal code database via crowdsourcing. Canada Posts case was never strong, but then, that was not their goal. As a large, tax payer backed company the point wasn’t to be right, it was to use the law as a way to financial bankrupt a small innovator.
This case matters – especially to small start ups and non-profits. Open North (Read more…)
The other day Zac Townsend published a piece, “Introducing the idea of an open-source suite for municipal governments,” laying out the case for why cities should collaboratively create open source software that can be shared among them.
I think it is a great idea. And I’m thrilled to hear that more people are excited about exploring this model, and think any such discussion would be helped with having some broader context, and more importantly, because any series of posts on this subject that fails to look at previous efforts is, well, doomed to repeat the failures of the
. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: CivicOpen: New Name, Old Idea
I’ve always felt that a lot of innovation happens where resources are scarcest. Scarcity forces us to think differently, to be efficient and to question traditional (more expensive) models.
This is why I’m always interested to see how local governments in developing economies are handling various problems. There is always an (enormous) risk that these governments will be lured into doing things they way they have been done in developing economies (hello SAP!). Sometimes this makes sense, but often, newer, disruptive and cheaper ways of accomplishing the goal have emerged in the interim.
What I think is really interesting
. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: The South -> North Innovation Path in Government: An Example?
Just got flagged about this precious example of doing proactive disclosure wrong. So here is a Shared Service Canada website dedicated the Roundtable on Information Technology Infrastructure. Obviously this is a topic of real interest to me – I write a fair bit about delivering (or failing to deliver) government service online effectively. I think it [...] . . . → Read More: eaves.ca: Proactive Disclosure – An Example of Doing it Wrong from Service Canada
I’ve got a piece up on TechPresident about the UK Government’s Digital Strategy which was released today. The strategy (and my piece!) are worth checking out. They are saying a lot of the right things – useful stuff for anyone in industry or sector that has been conservative vis-a-vis online services (I’m looking at you governments [...] . . . → Read More: eaves.ca: The UK’s Digital Government Strategy – Worth a Peek
Reflecting on yesterday’s case study in broken government I had a couple of addition thoughts that I thought fun to explore and that simply did not make sense including in the original post.
A Government 2.0 Response
Yesterday’s piece was all about how Treasury Board’s new rules were likely to increase the velocity of paperwork to a far greater cost than the elimination of excess travel.
One commentator noted a more Gov 2.0 type solution that I’d been mulling over myself. Why not simply treat the government travel problem as a big data problem? Surely there are tools
. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: Playing with Budget Cutbacks: On a Government 2.0 Response, Wikileaks & Analog Denial of Service Attacks
Earlier this week the Ottawa Citizen ran a story in which I’m quoted about a fight between Treasury Board and Canada Post officials over making postal code data open. Treasury Board officials would love to add it to data.gc.ca while Canada post officials are, to put it mildly, deeply opposed.
This is of course, unsurprising since Canada Post recently launched a frivolous law suit against a software developer who is – quite legally – recreating the postal code data set. For those new to this issue I blogged about this, why postal codes matter and cover the weakness
. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: Open Postal Codes: A Public Response to Canada Post on how they undermine the public good
Last week the White House launched its new roadmap for digital government. This included the publication of Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People (PDF version), the issuing of a Presidential directive and the announcement of White House Innovation Fellows.
In other words, it was a big week for those interested in digital and open government. Having had some time to digest these docs and reflect upon them, below are some thoughts on these announcement and lessons I hope governments and other stakeholders take from it.
First off, the core document –
. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: The US Government’s Digital Strategy: The New Benchmark and Some Lessons
A couple of years ago I was in Portugal to give a talk on Gov 2.0 at a conference the government was organizing. After the talk I went for dinner with the country’s CIO and remember hearing about a fantastic program they were running that – for me – epitomized the notion of a citizen centric approach. It was a help desk called: I Lost My Wallet.
Essentially, it was a place you went when… you lost your wallet. What the government had done was bring together all the agencies that controlled a document or card that was
. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: The I Lost My Wallet – Doing Government Service Delivery Right
A couple of years ago I wrote a Globe Op-Ed “A Click Heard Across the Public Service” that outlined the significance of the clerk using GCPEDIA to communicate with public servants. It was a message – or even more importantly – an action to affirm his commitment to change how government works.
Well, the clerk continues to broadcast that message, this time in his Nineteenth Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada. As an observer in this space what is particularly exciting for me is that:
The Clerk continues to broadcast this message. . . . → Read More: eaves.ca: Mainstreaming The Gov 2.0 Message in the Canadian Public Service
Yesterday, Tom Slee wrote a blog post called “Why the ‘Open Data Movement’ is a Joke,” which – and I say this as a Canadian who understands the context in which Slee is writing – is filled with valid complaints about our government, but which I feel paints a flawed picture of the open data movement.
Evgeny Morozov tweeted about the post yesterday, thereby boosting its profile. I’m a fan of Evgeny’s. He is an exceedingly smart and critical thinker on the intersection of technology and politics. He is exactly what our conversation needs (unlike, say, Andrew Keen).
. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: Open Data Movement is a Joke?
A few weeks ago Colin Hansen – a politician in the governing party in British Columbia (BC) – penned an op-ed in the Vancouver Sun entitled Unlocking our data to save lives. It’s a paper both the current government and opposition should read, as it is filled with some very promising ideas.
In it, he notes that BC has one of the best collections of health data anywhere in the world and that, data mining these records could yield patterns – like longitudinal adverse affects when drugs are combined or the correlations between diseases – that could save billions as
. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: Public Policy: The Big Opportunity For Health Record Data
The other day the Canadian Government published its Action Plan on Open Government, a high level document that both lays out the Government’s goals on this file as well as fulfill its pledge to create tangible goals as part of its participation in next week’s Open Government Partnership 2012 annual meeting in Brazil.
So what does the document say and what does it mean? Here is my take.
Take Away #1: Not a breakthrough document
There is much that is good in the government’s action plan – some of which I will highlight later. But for those hoping that
. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government: A Review
I’m a big believer in the ancillary benefits of a single big goal. Set a goal that has one clear objective, but as a result a bunch of other things have to change as well.
So one of my favourite Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) for an organization is to go paperless. I like the goal for all sorts of reasons. Much like a true BHAG it is is clear, compelling, and has obvious “finish line.” And while hard, it is achievable.
It has the benefit of potentially making the organization more “green” but, what I really
. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: Using BHAG’s to Change Organziations: A Management, Open Data & Government Mashup
The other day I stumbled over this intriguing article which describes how a group of residents in Vancouver have started to surveille the police as they do their work in the downtown eastside, one of the poorest and toughest neighborhoods in Canada. The reason is simple. Many people – particularly those who are marginalized and most vulnerable – simply do not trust the police. The interview with the founder of Vancouver Cop Watch probably sums it up best:
“One of the complaints we have about District 2 is about how the Vancouver police were arresting people and taking them off
. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: Citizen Surveillance and the Coming Challenge for Public Institutions
When it comes to see what trends will impact government in 20-30 years I’m a big fan of watching the US military. They may do lot of things wrong but, when it comes to government, they are on the bleeding edge of being a “learning organization.” It often feels like they are less risk averse, more likely to experiment, and, (as noted) more likely to learn, than almost any government agency I can think of (hint, those things maybe be interconnected). Few people realize that to rise above Colonel in many military organizations, you must have at least a
. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: Want to Find Government Innovation? US Military is often leading the way.
In response to my post yesterday one reader sent me a very thoughtful commentary that included this line at the end:
“Rather than compare [Freedom of Information] FOI legislation and Open Gov Data as if it’s “one or the other”, do you think there’s a way of talking about how the two might converge?”
One small detail:
So before diving in to the meat let me start by saying I don’t believe anything in yesterday’s post claimed open data was better or worse than Freedom of Information (FOI often referred to in Canada as Access to Information or ATI).
. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: Access to Information, Open Data and the Problem with Convergence
Okay, let’s geek out on some open data portal stats from data.gc.ca. I’ve got three parts to this review: First, an assessment on how to assess the value of data.gc.ca. Second, a look at what are the most downloaded data sets. And third, some interesting data about who is visiting the portal.
Before we dive in, a thank you to Jonathan C sent me some of this data to me the other day after requesting it from Treasury Board, the ministry within the Canadian Government that manages the government’s open data portal.
1. Assessing the Value
. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: Calculating the Value of Canada’s Open Data Portal: A Mini-Case Study
Some people have already noticed, so wanted to share the news here as well. Yesterday, the Canadian Government announced the Advisory Panel on Open Government to which I was asked to join.
The purpose of the panel is to serve as a challenge function to the government as it developers its ideas and policies – so I see my role as that of pushing the government on where I believe they could be doing more. Obviously, I’ve always been interested in people’s thoughts, hopes and concerns around Open Government (and many of you have been keen to share them with
. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: Joining the Canadian Government’s Advisory Panel on Open Government
For those happily not in the know, my home town of Vancouver was afflicted with a serial killer during the 80′s and 90′s who largely targeted marginalized women in the downtown eastside – the city’s (and one of the country’s) poorest neighborhoods.
The murderer – Robert Picton – was ultimately caught in February 2002 and convicted for the murder of 6 women in December 2007. He is accused of murdering an additional twenty women, and may be responsible for deaths of a number more.
Presently there is an inquiry going on in Vancouver regarding the failure of the policy to
. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: Inferring Serial Killers with Data: A Lesson from Vancouver
Some of you know I’ve written a fair bit on Google transit and how it is reshaping public transit – this blog post in particular comes to mind. For more reading I encourage you to check out the Xconomy article Google Transit: How (and Why) the Search Giant is Remapping Public Transportation as it provides a lot of good details as to what is going on in this space.
Two things about this article:
First, it really is a story about how the secret sauce for success is combining open data with a common standard across jurisdictions. The fact that
. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: More on Google Transit and how it is Reshaping a Public Service
Yesterday Don Drummond – a leading economist hired by the Ontario government to review how the province delivers services in the face of declining economic growth and rising deficits – published his report.
There is much to commend, it lays out stark truths that frankly, many citizens already know, but that government was too afraid to say aloud. It is a report that, frankly, I think many provincial and state governments may look at with great interest since the challenges faced by Ontario are faced by governments across North America (and Europe).
From an IT perspective – particular one where
. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: Transparency isn’t a cost – its a cost saver (a note for Governments and Drummond)
Non profits and governments… this is how open source works: If someone is doing something that is of value to you, help make it better.
There have been two great examples of this type of behaviour on this blog over the past week.
On Monday, I blogged about Represent, a project by OpenNorth that seeks to track all the boundary data in Canada so that citizens can locate what ridings, jurisdictions, regions, etc… they are located in. Yesterday, Elijah van der Giessen, the Creative Services Lead at David Suzuki Foundation commented that:
The David Suzuki Foundation is really jazzed
. . . → Read More: eaves.ca: Two Reasons I love blogging: Helping out great communities