Current Projects

  1. Open Smart Cities
  2. Open Data Charter Research
  3. State of Open Data
  4. Quartier des spectacles
  5. Open Data Toolkit
  6. Open Data Standards
  7. Open Data Benchmarking in Ukraine
  8. Methodology Development
  9. Data Poverty and Spatial Justice
  10. Smart Commons
  11. The Future of Philantropy

Open Smart Cities in Canada

Jan 2017 - Mar 2018
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), GeoConnections Program

An Open Smart City is where residents, civil society, academics, and the private sector collaborate with public officials to mobilize data and technologies when warranted in an ethical, accountable and transparent way to govern the city as a fair, viable and liveable commons and balance economic development, social progress and environmental responsibility.

In collaboration with leading researchers and Canadian smart cities, as well as provinces with advanced open government programs, this project will define an open smart city and develop a guide for city decision makers and stakeholders. With a focus on interoperability and inter-jurisdictional coordination, this project supports capacity building and knowledge exchange. There are six main outputs:

  • Executive summary of a smart city environmental scan (E-Scan) and five Canadian case studies. This report identifies international shapers of smart cities and their components and describes current smart city practices across Canada.
  • Assessment of Canadian smart city practices. In depth city profiles were developed as a result of interviews with smart city representatives from the cities of Edmonton, Guelph, Montreal, and Ottawa. Preliminary results of the Assessment and Gap Analysis were presented during a webinar on August 30th. Watch the presentation here.
  • Review of selected open smart city best practices in four international cities (Chicago, Dublin, Helsinki, and New York). The literature review will focus on approaches to open and geospatial data standardization in a smart city context. These cities were chosen for their innovative geospatial and open data policies and practices. Results were presented during a webinar on December 14th. Watch the presentation here.
  • Inter-jurisdictional case study. To situate open smart city policies and data management practices in Canada’s inter-jurisdictional context, OpenNorth conducted interviews with officials from the Province of Ontario and consulted with officials at the Province of British Columbia.
  • Open Smart Cities Guide V1.0. This final phase of the project provides a definition for an Open Smart City. This output intends to guide Canadian municipalities toward co-creating Open Smart Cities with their stakeholders and residents. Results will be disseminated broadly and were presented during the project’s third webinar on April 17. Watch the presentation here.
  • Open Smart Cities FAQ. In collaboration with the Open Smart Cities in Canada core team, the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) has created a FAQ to answer common legal and regulatory questions about smart city technologies.

Aligning Local Open Data Programs with International Best Practices

Jan 2017 - Ongoing
Open Data Charter Secretariat

The Government of Canada was among the key global partners that led the creation of the Open Data Charter (ODC) in 2015. More than 50 governments have adopted the ODC to date, including the City of Edmonton and the Province of Ontario. As a Steward of the ODC, OpenNorth conducted a study in early 2017 to identify how local and provincial governments in Canada could align open data programs with ODS principles and its framework. See blog post. OpenNorth was since contracted by the Open Data Charter Secretariat to interview city managers, local civic leaders, and elected officials from 4 cities in Canada, the Province of Ontario, 3 cities around the world (Buenos Aires, Argentina; Lviv, Ukraine; Durham, NC, USA) to identify adoption barriers, interests, future plans, and support needs.

Also see OpenNorth's publication on Making Cities Open By Default.

State of Open Data

Aug 2017 - Jan 2019
International Development Research Center (IDRC)

OpenNorth was awarded a grant by IDRC for The State of Open Data: Reflecting on Its Role for Sustainable Development project to examine the maturity of the global open data movement leading up to the International Open Data Conference 2018. OpenNorth is part of the project’s steering group which will develop the research methodology, recruit leading international expert contributors, design specific interventions on topics of interest, and oversee the review and editorial process. Given its track record, OpenNorth is responsible for the cities section of the final publication, for which it will prototype its data driven problem framing and solutions development stakeholder engagement methodology.

Developing and Facilitating Multi-Stakeholder Data Governance Initiatives

Jul 2017 - Mar 2018
Quartier des spectacles (QdS), City of Montréal

Led by the Partenariat du Quartier des Spectacles, which coordinates engagement strategies and initiatives in Montreal’s foremost arts and entertainment district, OpenNorth is developing and facilitating a multi-stakeholder shared data governance working group with cultural industry stakeholders. The initiative includes all major cultural venues in the area, research institutions, and provincial government partners. The sharing governance model will include: data life cycle management procedures, joint data ontologies and standards, technical capacity building, a common policy framework and prototypes and tools to demonstrate the value added of shared data collaboration (e.g. market research and analysis, business development, data visualization). Building on our experience initiating the Province of Quebec’s multijurisdictional open data portal, the QdS model is being documented to scale and funding is currently being sought to sustain and expand the ongoing Montreal initiative.

Municipal Do-It-Yourself Open Data Toolkit

Apr 2017 - Sep 2017
Treasury Board Secretariat, Government of Canada

OpenNorth was contracted by TBS to develop a municipal Do-It-Yourself (DIY) open data toolkit for Canadian cities that have yet to implement open data initiatives. The toolkit was developed in collaboration with 15 Canadian cities of different sizes and capacity with advanced open data programs. The DIY provides program management guidelines and examples of documented benefits, roadmap and planning templates, use cases and check lists, and a comprehensive list of resources (i.e. standards, policies, risk analysis) to help municipalities begin opening their data and join the Canadian open data community. The DIY also gives advice on data stakeholder needs identification and sustainable engagement practices. Adapted for its specific audience, the toolkit also provides labour and cost estimates required for municipalities to start their own initiatives. OpenNorth is currently in discussion with different provincial governments to adapt, prototype, and deploy the DIY regionally as well as develop advanced versions of the DIY. Explore the Municipal Open Data Toolkit here, hosted by the Government of Canada.

Open Data Standards Pilot Project

Increasing Open Data Value via Discoverability and Interoperability

February 2018 - June 2018

The Municipal Information Systems Association (MISA) Ontario and OpenNorth are partnering on an open data standards pilot project. The project will develop draft data standards for the “top 10” open data sets together with a standards adoption standard.

The project will include the following tasks:

  • Defining “top 10” open data sets through research and a survey of MISA Ontario members;
  • Collaborating with participating municipalities in acquiring detailed information (e.g data set name, tags/keywords, metadata and data dictionaries) related to the top 10 data sets;
  • Mapping data set information and analyzing commonality and variations among the municipalities definition of the top 10 datasets;
  • Developing draft standards for the top 10 data sets based on information received from municipalities and from domain specific organizations;
  • Researching open data categories and recommending a standard set of categories;
  • Developing and supporting an adoption strategy for the pilot project’s draft open data standards; and
  • Co- presenting with MISA Ontario project working group at their annual conference (June 3-6, Hamilton).

Additional information may be found in the MISA Ontario news release.

This pilot project is seen as an important step towards improving discoverability and interoperability of open data in Canada. It is envisioned that this project can be scaled to address open data standards among all levels of government and support the goal of a truly federated open data portal for all organizations.

Open Data Benchmarking in Ukraine

Jan 2018 - ongoing
Eurasia Foundation, Ukraine

OpenNorth was contracted by the Eurasia Foundation to develop an open data benchmarking tool for Ukraine. OpenNorth is developing and testing a survey tool to benchmark open data performance based on the Open Data Charter (ODC). For this project, indicators based on the ODC’s six principles are being developed for public officials in national government ministries, while maintaining compatibility with the Government of Ukraine’s existing open data policy. A test phase with a number of Ukraine ministries was recently conducted under the purview of the State Agency for E-Governance.

Methodology Development to Support Content Analysis of Federal Consultation Data

Jan 2018 - April 2018
Privy Council Office, Government of Canada

The Privy Council Office contracted OpenNorth for a pilot study of consultation data from Federal institutions, with a particular focus on qualitative data. The goal of this project is to explore variations in the structuration of qualitative consultation data and their potential to be used in analysis tools. This has resulted in a preliminary workflow outlining data processing and structuration required for qualitative consultation data to be input into analytics software, and a preliminary data model to aid data structuring and analysis in future consultations.

Data Poverty and Spatial Justice in Smart Cities

Mar 2018 - Feb 2019
Université Laval

Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), this project is a collaboration with Dr. Stéphane Roche (Université Laval) on gaps in data collection and data representation in open data and smart city data. The first stage of the project will include analysis of various forms of open data completeness (spatial coverage, representation, data quality metrics), while the second stage of the project will triangulate results through other methods. Through this project, we hope to identify areas of improvement for open government data to be more just and inclusive.

Smart Commons

Using Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge as a catalyst, OpenNorth has partnered with the J.W. McConnell to enable an experimental ecosystem of local smart projects, civic assets and regulation across Montreal’s communities centered around a core set of open standards. This collaboration, fueled by a team of dedicated organizations, works towards a citizen-engaged and driven process facilitating a multi-layered and multi-dimensional forum across the Smart Commons communities. With civic experimentation as its basis, Smart Commons civic innovation lab works to prototype a successful model for its current citizens, as well as for future replication and application in other cities.

The Future of Philanthropy

OpenNorth, in partnership with Community Foundations of Canada, seeks to understand the role community foundations and, more broadly, the philanthropic sector play in the changing landscape of technology and data advancements. This project delves into the expertise of various community foundations in Canada, as well as other philanthropic leaders to answer the big questions in philanthropy addressing new needs, trends, challenges and opportunities where data and technology are concerned. With a data, information-sharing, and community lens, OpenNorth is working to integrate systems-wide trends and gain insight into the minds of those at the forefront of the philanthropic movement.

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