Just a quick post before an election call is officially made.
On March 17, 2011 Minister Stockwell Day announced the launch of a 12-month pilot of a national open data site
This site owes a debt of gratitude to the GeoGratis project, a government project which has for years provided "geospatial data at no cost and without restrictions", and which provides hundreds of thousands of datasets.
Canada is not one to expose the inner workings of government projects, but be assured that the data.gc.ca represented the culmination of efforts by many dedicated public servants. For those of you who have access to GCPEDIA (in general, people with a gc.ca email address) you can search the internal GCPEDIA wiki on "open data" to find out more about the pilot and how to contribute to the community of practice. From outside the government we have also had many champions, most notably David Eaves (@daeaves) who participated in the site launch.
On March 18, 2011 Minister Day announced the launch of Open Government
of which open data is one of the three pillars.
In May 2009 I had asked "whither Canada" on open data and open government initiatives, so I am glad to see both initiatives go live.
On March 23, 2011 Minister Day appeared briefly before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics (ETHI) to provide information to their study on Open Government. You can view his testimony on ParlVU, his opening remarks start at 1:41 and the Q&A starts at 1:56.
I was very pleased to hear Minister Day articulate the pilot concept, the idea that the site is not perfect as released, but will improve iteration after iteration. This is a new approach for government.
It's also worth mentioning that there are initiatives at many other levels of Canadian government. You can see a list on the Wikipedia page about Open Data in Canada. As well, and as a great illustration of how international these efforts are, CTIC's open data initiative in Spain has a great map of global open data initiatives:
You can follow them on Twitter at @ctic_od
As my contribution to raw data sharing, I captured the Twitter traffic for the specific search "data.gc.ca" - I have an archive spanning March 16, 2011 before the announcement to March 21, 2001 at 5 PM Eastern. The files are in Google Docs. They are open for you to use as you wish.
I used Archivist Desktop to capture the tweets into XML, BBEdit (Mac software) to compare and merge the files, and Excel 2007 to turn the XML into a spreadsheet.
On March 30, 2011 the Geek Girl Dinner in Ottawa will be on the topic of open data. In terms of the City of Ottawa, you can also connect to the open data community at @opendataottawa as well as to the official city presence at the catalogue http://www.ottawa.ca/online_services/opendata/info/index_en.html as well as the main site http://www.ottawa.ca/opendata and Twitter account @ottawadata.