City Of Vancouver To Open Data, Standards After Motion Passes

The City of Vancouver has moved closer to making its data, standards, and software accessible to the public, after a motion on open data and open source passed Thursday (May 21, 2009).

“It’s so great. The local online community [is] very, very happy,” said city councillor Andrea Reimer, who proposed the motion.

Reimer’s motion called mainly for “open and accessible data”, which means the City would share as much of its data as possible with citizens; “open standards”, meaning that standards and formats of documents would be usable by more people; and “open source software”, which means that the City would consider using publicly usable systems as much as commercial ones.

All this will respect security and privacy concerns, the motion specified.

Reimer highlighted that the motion would allow the city to increase its transparency, cut costs, and enable its people to use the open data in creating new and useful products. She also noted that taxpayers are paying for data collection in the first place.

The motion went through as proposed. Some 15 members of the public signed up to speak, all in favour of the motion.

Reimer said the City will now figure out the implementation, but that there are likely going to be immediate changes. For example, videos of council meetings may change format so that they can be viewed by the greater public instead of only being viewable by people who have the latest version of Internet Explorer.

To implement such changes, the motion has suggested that Vancouver’s city manager identify immediate opportunities to distribute more data, publish data on the internet, and ensure that formats are open standard, among others.

In addition, the motion proposed that Vancouver share its information with the Integrated Cadastral Information Society. The ICIS is a non-profit group that already shares information among several BC provinces and municipalities.