Vision Vancouver board member David Eaves gives that old time open data religion
Back in May 2009 Councillor Andrea Reimer brought forward a motion that she had written with the help of Vision Vancouver director David Eaves. The City's Open Data Initiative was begun forthwith. Of course, no one batted an eye when a member of Vision Vancouver's board actually was helping to set policy for city council. I expect that if the same thing had happened under the NPA we'd never hear the end of it.
Eaves is an open data evangelist. He's part of a movement to open up data systems to allow more public and entrepreneurial access to information from governments. There is a lot of merit in the idea, provided it doesn't rob limited resources away from other important priorities. TheTyee recently wrote about the initiative, referring to it as "an experiment," but one worth exploring.
While some of the data sets gathered from the initiative, such as info on garbage delivery dates, border on the banal, I've no doubt that there can be valuable applications generated. New York City and other governments worldwide are also getting into the open data field.
Eaves speaks to this initiative and in the video above he gives a number of examples of how open data can empower groups. At the 3m 38s mark of the video he speaks about a friend who discovered the scope of charity fraud taking place in the City of Toronto. Apparently in Canada up to $3.2 billion of tax revenue is lost in bogus charities, and it's tools like the open data initiative that might help to weed out waste in government.
What it might also do for us is weed out a lot of bad charities. Knowing that we're getting soaked because of some non-compliant charity is handing out tax receipts is not very comforting at all. We'll have some more discussion on charities here at CityCaucus.com in the days to come.
- post by Mike