Looking Towards and Beyond the Summit: Open Data Ottawa

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The Canadian Open Data Summit (CODS) is a collaborative effort organised with the help and support of open data leaders and organisations from across Canada. We’ve asked some of our partners to tell us why open data matters, what hopes they have for the Summit, and how they wish the community to grow after the event on May 25.

This week, we share the answers of Denis Zgonjanin from Open Data Ottawa.

Why does open data matter?

Data itself is having a great impact in helping business discover insights, make decisions, and gain competitive advantages. Tech companies, being the early adopters of Data Science, have data teams as large as 15% of their developer workforce.

Government, being slower than industry in adoption of most new technology, will be stuck playing catch-up in the Data Science game. But it will eventually get there. The future is coming where government decisions and policy will be supported by wisdom gained from data.

In the case of cities, we already see Data Science playing a role with programs such as IBM Smart Cities - helping cities make optimal infrastructure and policy decisions based on data. With time, this data-driven approach will become ubiquitous across all levels of government. If we are lucky, a time may come where it will be unthinkable to make major policy decisions without those decisions being supported at least in-part by underlying data.

In this context, Open Data will play a very major role as one of foundations of future policy. If a democratic government is making policy and spending decisions based in-part on data, we as citizens must make sure that data stays open. This is important in terms of accountability - knowing that new policy is not merely a way to advance a particular partisan agenda, but that it is in fact based on empirical, observable fact. But it is also important in rebuilding trust of competency in government that so many citizens currently lack. Imagine a world where we can be confident that our governments are making smart policy decisions based in fact, and where the nation’s budget is allocated effectively and efficiently.

What are your hopes for the Summit?

Open Data is growing up. It is time to take account of what has worked so far, and what has not. As a community of activists, we have the challenge of making sure more and better data keeps flowing out of the data silos of government. From a public outreach point of view, we have so far done a great job in making the public aware of the idea and importance of Open Data. We need to evaluate whether the tools we have used to achieve this awareness - hackathons, apps contests and the like - are still useful or are we reaching points of diminishing returns with those methods, and need to evolve our strategies?

How would you like to see the open data community grow?

The best possible outcome we can hope for is a strengthened community moving together in a common general direction. Since the Open Data community is one that is full of positive and energetic people, I don’t doubt that we will be able to achieve this. Simply getting everyone physically to an event like this does much to ensure our community stays active and sustainable.

About the Canadian Open Data Summit 2015

We’ve announced a first series of international and Canadian speakers on the Canadian Open Data Summit website, where you can also consult the schedule and the list of speakers.

Don’t forget to register today!

We invite you to nominate an individual or organization to receive the Canadian Open Data Award at the Summit.

And find out more about our travel grants to attend the Canadian Open Data Summit and landmark international open data events happening the same week in Ottawa.

Please help us promote the Summit to your colleagues, friends, and local open data community, whether through a local tech or community mailing list, blog post, Twitter or Facebook.

Follow us at @opennorth on Twitter for regular updates!

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