Open Data

Conversation with Kevin Bowers of the City of Vancouver

Had the distinct pleasure of chatting with Kevin Bowers, IT Tech Planner for the City of Vancouver (@KevinJBowers), this afternoon about the great work he and his team are doing in Vancouver.  On May 19th, a motion was introduced that stated priorities around open data, open standards and open source.  This document has heavily inspired the work that we’re doing here in SF, so it was a real honor to connect with Kevin (not to mention reassuring  to talk with another city who is forging ahead on this path).

Kevin told us that, to start, Vancouver is focusing their efforts on open data.  Open source is, of course, of high priority–it just has a much longer runway.

Another mover and shaker in Vancouver is David Eaves (@david_a_eaves).  He and Kevin have been working to sync up with volunteer developers in their area about the data project.

Vancouver is looking to start their open data initiative with an in-house created data.gov-style offering.  Across cities, this portal approach seems to be a universal choice for a first stab;  it is incredibly quick and fairly easy to stand up.

Vancouver is also looking to integrate collaborative tools into their offering.  In order to better gauge demand, they might publish a list of potentially available data and allow users to vote on which they’d like to see first.  I think that this is an interesting approach, and a nice way to make sure that data sets of highest priority to end users are appropriately prioritized in-house.  Of course, there is also the “more is better” approach of providing all data sets possible as soon as possible, without strategic prioritization. 

We finished the conversation with a discussion about quality: How do we make this project most meaningful?  Where is the value in this project, and how do we make sure that we are providing information and architecture that people can and will want to use?

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