New National Committee Will Promote Open Data
March 5, 2013
MISA/ASIM Canada has established a national
special-interest group to deal with open-data issues that affect the whole
The MISA/ASIM Canada Board of Directors decided during
a teleconference February 20 to set up the new SIG with the aim of promoting
municipal open-data initiatives across the country and encouraging the creation
of standards that will facilitate the widespread use of data published by
municipalities in open formats on their websites.
MISA/ASIM Canada will consult with the boards of its
five regional chapters in defining the mandate, governance and scope of the
national open-data group. Roy Wiseman,
executive director of MISA/ASIM Canada, has drafted terms of reference that the
national board has approved. He is
communicating with the chapters to invite their comments.
"We think that the national SIG should focus on policy
issues rather than being merely an information-sharing body, and should
collaborate with other open-data groups to help move forward projects of
potential national benefit,” Wiseman said in an interview.
A key issue is whether a national municipal standard
can be developed for data-use agreements that enable application developers in
the private sector to create applications that make use of municipal data. A draft standard data-use agreement has been
proposed by the G4 municipalities – Vancouver, Edmonton,
Toronto and Ottawa – but promotion of it on a national
level is needed for the proposal to become widely adopted.
Other potential areas of co-operation include
standards for meta-data or data formats, which could again encourage developers
to replicate applications across Canada, without having to deal with
unique data standards in each municipality.
The national SIG is intended to communicate with other
groups to find common ground for such initiatives. The Joint Councils have formed a subcommittee
to promote open data and open government, as has MISA Ontario. Other municipal associations, such as MSDO and
AMCTO (Ontario), have also shown interest, and
32 municipalities across Canada
have independently set up their own open-data programs.
The terms of reference for the MISA/ASIM Canada Open
Data SIG are intended to avoid any duplication of effort or responsibility
between the national body and any similar initiatives that chapters have in
place or are contemplating.
Suggested guidelines for where there may be both a national
and local SIG, whether on open data or other topics, are:
- They should address a national interest that would
benefit from participation from across the country.
- Where a SIG on the same or related topic exists at
both the national and chapter level,
- There must be collaboration to avoid
- The local SIG has primacy, in terms of
membership – i.e. if a chapter has a local SIG, an individual
municipality participates at the local level. The local SIG, in turn,
appoints representatives to the national SIG.
- If there is no local SIG,
municipalities in that chapter can participate directly in the national
- Notwithstanding such broader participation, where
there is no local SIG, national SIGs should still focus primarily on
specific deliverables of national interest.