Edmonton’s app competition took open data to the people

NEW YORK CITY — Releasing the data is only the first step. Making it accessible to citizens is the key to making a government’s open data initiative a success

At a recent event held here by technology vendor SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) to discuss what makes a best run city, City of Edmonton CIO Chris Moore outlined his city’s open data initiatives, which began in 2009 has grown to include some 257 data sets.

It’s not enough, though, to just release the data, said Moore. After all, it’s not like people are clamoring for more data to be released. It takes citizen engagement to help make the project successful. A good example is YEG Constriction, a citizen-created app developed after Edmonton release a road constriction data set.

“After (the data) was released, an Edmontonian created an app called YEG Constriction,” said Moore. “When he did that it’s almost like it brought credibility to the work, when someone will take your data and create an app.”

One way Edmonton helped to spur this engagement along was to hold an apps competition. For a $50,000 investment, Edmonton got 34 citizen-created apps based on its open data sets, a return on investment that pleased Moore and the City.

“I think the genie that’s out of the bottle is the consumerization of democracy,” said Moore. “It’s not about replacing elected officials, it’s about increased engagement. How can we use open data and open government to increase engagement.”

City of Edmonton CIO Chris Moore.

Mobility is increasingly an important part of municipal government, and citizen engagement strategies. City of Boston CIO Bill Oates said 20 per cent of service requests now come into the City through its mobile channel and its Citizens Connect app.

It’s also leading to more cases of citizens helping citizens. Oates relayed a story of, when a citizen saw another citizen requesting help from the City with a troublesome possum in his nehghbourhood via Twitter, saw that it was nearby and decided to help solve the issue himself.

“The successful cities of the future won’t just be the most efficient. It will be about engagement and empowerment,” said Oates. “Your community and city residents need to be part of the solution. Our innovation is focused on people and how we can create changes for engagement, and for people to connect with the city.”

Moore sat down with IT World Canada to discuss Edmonton’s open data journey. Click below for a transcript.

Source | IT World Canada

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras is a technology journalist with IT World Canada and a member of the IT Business team. He began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada and the channel for Computer Dealer News. His writing has also appeared in the Vancouver Sun & the Ottawa Citizen.

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