Government 2.0: Open Data in the City of Toronto

Today and tomorrow, Toronto Innovation Showcase is bringing together City of Toronto staff, City leaders, and various groups of citizens to discuss the Open Government movement and what it should mean to the City. The question being asked is:

“How can we strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness by making government more transparent, participatory, and collaborative?”


Part of the Showcase will be the Open Data Lab, taking place this afternoon 1:00 – 4:15 p.m. ET. This will be a unique opportunity for citizens to engage with City government. Today’s Open Data Lab will be led by consultant and facilitator Mark Kuznicki, one of the leaders in Canada’s Open Government movement and an instigator of the ChangeCamp concept, giving citizens the tools to come together and work on their local government-related projects.

In leading up to today’s meeting, I emailed Mark a few questions on behalf of the Slaw audience:

Crosby: Briefly, what is the open government movement?

Kuznicki: The open government movement means different things to different people. The thing they have in common is that they believe that making government data open and free can make government more effective and accountable, a more engaged citizenry and create seeds of innovation in the public, social and private sectors.

Crosby: What is the Toronto Open Data Lab? What are you hoping to achieve with it?

Kuznicki: In the Open Data Lab, we have an opportunity to get City staff and management together with web entrepreneurs, social policy researchers, designers and developers from the community to imagine what is possible with open data. It is the first such opportunity with the City of Toronto and we hope to see some innovative projects spawned today.

Crosby: You are a leader in the ChangeCamp community. Is it connected with the Open Data Lab?

Kuznicki: The ChangeCamp community is closely connected to this open data project. It was at ChangeCamp Toronto in January 2009 that Ryan Merkley, Senior Advisor to Mayor Miller, asked community members what their open data wishlist looked like. Conversations like those can quickly effect change, as we have seen today resulting in the launch of ChangeCamp is a community where having those kinds of conversations is made more likely.

The Toronto Innovation Showcase is currently being livestreamed via the Internet today and tomorrow. You can also follow the Twitter posts (tweets) from those participating using tags #TOshowcase and #opendataTO. Mayor David Miller has just officially opened the website for open Toronto data.

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