According to David Eaves, one of the world's expert on open data and open government there are more than 300 different data sets in the federal government alone! How are they able to 'talk' to each other let alone to the public's own proliferation of data sets?

I once tried unsuccessfully to export my addresses from an old Palm Pilot to an on line calendar.  It was either impossible or too expensive.  That was a mere impulse of a challenge compared to the volume of data that government must sync, within and without.  Imagine government ministries trying to collaborate among themselves when they can't easily share date and information. Imagine not being able to access government data because it is not compatible with the search engine you use.  Imagine not being able to analyze the government data you can access on an Excel spreadsheet.

Not very good for problem solving. Not very good for fixing problems. Not very good for preventing problems from happening in the first place.  Not very good for citizen engagement.  Not very good for the health of our democracy.

David Eaves has done more than imagine these problems.  He has demonstrated a solution.

In one of the most ingenious examples of Sean Moore's, Do It Yourself Public Policy he has launched an 'unofficial' open data portal for federal government data.  It is called: datadotgc.ca – a citizen led beta for government data.  He wants to liberate data sets! Not very appealing or juicy for most of us.  But fundamental to our democracy.

We have an analogue government in a digital world and David is is lifting government up to the digital platform by:

  • demonstrating how government should share data
  • revealing which ministries are sharing (few)  and which aren't (most)
  • providing a useful service to citizens by bringing government data together in one location.

You can read more about the latest version of datadotgc.ca by accessing David's blog, Launching datadotgc.ca 2.o – bigger, better and in the clouds.

Already there are signs of movement. The conversation is shifting and moving closer to widespread implementation within the Canadian Government.   For example, David has demonstrated the site to all the Chief Information Officers in Ottawa and the Liberal Party has committed to open government policies should they be elected.

NOTE ONE: This is a teaser blog post.  Next week I will offer a three part series on open data and open government entitled The Internet – Our New Parliament Buildings?  Stay tuned.

NOTE TWO: This post is part of a continuing series on advocacy that pushes beyond critique to solutions.  Click here for a working definition of Solution Based Advocacy. To access all posts on this topic click here.

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