Newsletter: Winter 2017

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Check out what we’ve been up to and what’s to come to kick-off this year.

Community

Feature update: First Nations and Indigenous Data Sovereignty. We are very excited to announce a new collaboration with regional First Nations champions and leaders to define indigenous interests in open data and open government in Canada. This process will culminate in an interest paper authored by Open North that will set out a vision and principles related to indigenous open data and open government, framing indigenous interests in intellectual property law, in consideration of the limitations of OCAP® in protection of cultural properties and indigenous identity. Stay tuned for more details!

Represent API. Our API continues to be used by advocacy campaigns across Canada, demonstrating the value of maintaining this up-to-date and accurate database of elected officials at different levels of jurisdiction to enable citizen to engage directly with elected MPs. We’ve been further automating some processes to make it faster and easier to maintain and deploy.

Civic Tech Toronto. Check out Open North’s Executive Director’s presentation at Civic Tech Toronto updating the packed audience what’s coming up at Open North in 2017 and global open data trends to keep in mind when mobilizing locally. Watch the video here.

What’s coming up:

Are you organizing an event for International Open Data Day on March 4th? If you are, make sure to register your event here. You may also be eligible for an Open Knowledge International mini-grant to organize your local event. Details here!

Publish What You Pay - Canada (PWYP). We’re putting the final touches on an interactive dashboard that highlights payments from extractive companies to government organizations, Indigenous peoples, and projects within Canada. We’re excited to empower citizens and communities in the governance and management of natural resources.

Community Hubs in Ontario. Open North is working with the Province of Ontario on its ongoing Community Hubs initiative. Lead by our partner Ecoethonomics, the project aims to make better use of public properties, remove barriers and enable community hub development to build local capacity to strengthen local planning. Read the latest report about the Community Hubs here.

Transform the Sector. A gathering of data experts, policy innovators and social sector leaders, this event is not to be missed! Join Open North’s Executive Director at this one-day conference where he will be speaking about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and questioning what makes for a robust indicator system. The event will set the stage nicely for a 2nd edition of Data4Impact to be held on the margin of this year’s Canadian Open Data Summit in Edmonton on June 12.

We’ll also be participating in a panel at Transparency: The Next Generation. This conference on transparency is organized by the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada with the Treasury Board Secretariat, Department of Justice and Library and Archives Canada.

Go Open Data 2017. The 5th annual Go Open Data conference welcomes our Executive Director as the keynote speaker for the conference hosted in London, May 5-6, 2017. The conference is the result of a collaborative effort between civil society, IT professionals, bloggers, community and economic developers, city planners, civil servants and more.

Parliament

Feature update: Global Open Data Index. GODI is a crowdsourced measurement of open government data publication orchestrated by Open Knowledge International, with data submitters from all around the world. Open North is proud to be a lead reviewer for this year’s Global Open Data Index review, charged with reviewing all National Laws and Draft Legislation data submissions. We’ve recruited a team of enthusiastic volunteers with the help of Samara and the review is well underway.

The Legislative Openness Data Explorer has been completed! The Data Explorer contains information on 39 chambers of parliament, and provides global, comparative information on parliamentary openness. All data on the site was crowdsourced from parliaments or parliamentary monitoring organizations. Join the mailing list here.

What’s coming up:

ParlAmericas. We are developing an online learning platform with Caravan forParlAmericas which will serve as a resource space to support the creation and review of gender-sensitive budgets and legislation in Caribbean parliaments. Built for parliamentarians conducting their legislative work, and instructors conducting training sessions with parliamentarians.

Watch out for the two new exciting ReadyReckoner online fiscal simulator modules that we developed for the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer that will allow Canadians to simulate economic scenarios and their impact on federal revenues and expenses, as well as infrastructure spending and full-time job creation. Launch expected this quarter!

Government

Feature update: New Publications. Launched in the lead up to the Open Government Partnership global conference in December, our report on aligning sub-national open data programs with international best practices supports cities and provinces that want to explore the feasibility of adopting the International Open Data Charter. Fall 2016 also saw the release of another major publication on How Can we Improve Urban Resilience with Open Data? Co-authored with GeoThink.ca, we discuss the fruitful intersections between open data and urban resilience and posit next steps for these communities to tackle together.

Open Data 150 - Canada. Supported by Open North, this project is the first comprehensive, internationally comparable mapping of Canadian companies that use open data to launch new products and services, create commercial and nonprofit ventures, optimize their business processes, do research, make data-driven decisions, and solve complex problems. Explore Canadian companies here!

Statistics Canada crowdsourcing pilot project. In collaboration with OpenStreetMap, we’re supporting Statistics Canada to work with local mapping activists to map buildings across Canada, starting with Ottawa or Gatineau. Learn more about this project and start mapping today.

As part of their ongoing dialogue series, the Institute on Governance brings together innovators, trailblazers, public policy creators, implementers and key influencers to look at the impact of digital culture and technologies on public institutions. We had the pleasure to participate in the January edition of Democracy, Accountability and Citizenship in the Digital Age.

What’s coming up:

Open North is excited to continue its work with Citizenship and Immigration Canada this quarter. We’re currently engaging with newcomer settlement organizations across Canada to better understand their digital capacity. This builds on our 2016 report on the data needs of the sector. See the first report here. Stay tuned!

Understanding the universe of data users (e.g. academia, advocacy groups, think tanks, media, private sector) is key for data publishers. Working with the National Energy Board’s Integrated Information and Analysis (IEIA), we are building a more complex understanding of data producer-user relationship.

Stay tuned for more news in coming weeks and months about our work with cities across Canada and globally with leading international organizations. Visit our Open Cities Strategies’ page to connect. We’ll also be following-up on the Government of Canada’s Open Government Partnership national action plan commitments.

Citizen Budget

2016 was another exciting year for Citizen Budget - now used coast-to-coast by over 75 cities to significantly boost their budget consultations and educate their residents on budget costs and trade-offs. We’re very pleased to announce that Citizen Budget is now accessible to the vision-impaired, having attained AODA Level AA interactivity.

We officially introduced our Participatory Budgeting - our 4th version of Citizen Budget - following two successful experiences with a municipality’s remote online voting exercise. To read about the first year’s experience, please see our blog on the topic. We’ve had a great deal of interest in this module and look forward to being a valued partner in the burgeoning participatory budgeting field. For the second year running, the Participatory Budgeting Project successfully used Citizen Budget for its own internal budget consultations.

We’re proud to announce our newest feature - a permanent “Tax Property Calculator” to keep your budget page dynamic year-round, as per this London, Ontario example. The Calculator allows your residents to enter their property value assessments and instantaneously see how their tax dollars are allocated for the coming budget cycle.

Watch Open North’s Executive Director present the benefits and impact of our online Citizen Budget simulator for the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency.

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