News: MISA/ASIM Canada News

New National Committee Will Promote Open Data

March 5, 2013   (0 Comments)
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MISA/ASIM Canada has established a national special-interest group to deal with open-data issues that affect the whole country.

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 duplication;
    • 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 SIG.
  • Notwithstanding such broader participation, where there is no local SIG, national SIGs should still focus primarily on specific deliverables of national interest.