OPEN BY DEFAULT!
What is open data? Open data is the release of municipal data for unrestricted public viewing and use. This data can be a tool to help foster problem-solving applications than help enhance the urban landscape. The data and easy access to it is foundational for a smart city.
- It will build a more transparent and accountable local government. This is key for me. It is a way to build trust with our residents. It will allow the public to monitor government effectiveness. It will offer you a glimpse into city operations, and shed light on how your elected officials are carrying out their duties.
- It will encourage citizen-government engagement. This is so important. I have spent 7 years investigating and trying new approaches for reaching out and having two way conversations with St. Albertans. Open data will allow more participatory avenues to decision making. It will also give you ownership of the data so the public can develop grass roots solutions to problems and issues the city may or may not be aware of.
- It will promote innovative solutions from both our staff and our entrepreneurial public. This last point is about becoming the most efficient we can be and keeping tax increases at bay. It will be exciting to see what entrepreneurial, outside the box, ideas the public can come up with to not only help our city run better, with out the constraint of traditional bureaucracy, but to also develop new business models that will bring more non-residential tax base to st. Albert.
St. Albert has fallen behind in this area of a smart city and we need to catch up. I am sponsoring a business case this fall to hopefully propel us forward. it will provide resources to launch a public facing open data program, enabling the release of most municipal data to residents and others. The program supports municipal transparency, public engagement, economic development, decision making, corporate efficiency, and more.
Council’s Public Communication Policy C-CAO-18 specifically references that municipal information and data will be open by default. This is also supplemented by references within Council’s strategic plan, St. Albert’s Smart City Master Plan, and an internal City Manager Directive. We must act on what we say we will do!
There is no single way to use all this data and the combinations offer novel solutions . I am hoping to push forward an all encompassing City App. Imagine and app that will let you know when it is your garbage day, what goes in each bin, or allow you to book a swim class or tell you where the buses and snow ploughs are etc. The possibilities are endless and this excites me.
One of our partners and neighbours, the City of Edmonton has become a leader in the use of open data. They put together this great little video to help explain it.