It’s pretty exciting to be able to announce something the City of Calgary is about to do on a blog. It’s also rather fitting in this case.

Open Government projects have started popping up around the world; most recently in Washington, DC and Canada’s own Vancouver. And now we can hopefully add Calgary to that list.

Included in next week’s Calgary City Council agenda will be a notice of motion drafted by Aldermen Joe Ceci and Alderman Brian Pincott. If approved it instructs Administration to draft a report about the possibility of making all data collected by the City of Calgary (where appropriate given privacy and security concerns) available to all Calgarians. Perhaps just as importantly, the data would be made available in an open source format.

The text of the motion is as follows:

NM2009-July 14

WHEREAS Calgary is a well-connected on line community with 92% of Calgarians being Internet users;

AND WHEREAS this community profile leads to high citizen expectations and demand for online service delivery;

AND WHEREAS 89% of Calgarians support The City’s efforts to enhance resources, information and services via the Internet;

AND WHEREAS in the 2009-2011 Council Priorities document, Council has made a commitment to increase on – line citizen services;

AND WHEREAS other Canadian municipalities have recently made commitments to provide greater public access to civic data for the benefit of citizens, business, suppliers, community and social organizations;

AND WHEREAS The City of Calgary has had success in implementing open source solutions for our technology infrastructure;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Administration prepare a report outlining an overall strategy and to present it to the SPC on Finance and Corporate Services no later than 2009 December and that the report include:

  • Identification of opportunities to make more of The City’s data open and accessible while respecting privacy and security concerns , and ensuring that data is available through use of open standards, interfaces and formats
  • Development of an integrated information lifecycle management policy
  • Increased opportunities for on-line citizen participation
  • Increased City services on – line
  • A policy on the use, procurement and support of open source technologies going forward
  • Integration with Webwave and egovernment programs
  • An implementation schedule and any associated costs

In my mind this motion is long overdue and a “no brainer”. The data the City holds is about US. In addition WE are the owners of that data because it is collected by the organization we created to make our lives better.

If it is about us and we own it, we should have access to it. Why hide it away, not available to the public, and in a proprietary format very few citizens would be able to use?

Where I get very excited about this potential new program is when I think about the kinds of things that can happen when this data is made available to someone other than just City of Calgary officials and in a more flexible format. Coders and academics alike now have the ability to build programs and applications we may not even know we need right now. With all these individuals and companies with access to this data the number of resources (human and computing) increases exponentially. The potential for new businesses goes through the roof!

This is an exciting day for Calgarians. I’m hoping you share the excitement as well.

PS – A big thank you to Ald. Ceci and Pincott for agreeing to allow this motion to be released via the internet before the official Council agenda goes out on Thursday.