Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Crowdsourcing an open government...

Edmonton is the fourth municipality in Canada moving ahead with open government initiatives. The challenge is helping people understand 'we are like the new city,' says CIO Chris Moore, who made five major announcements at the Open Data Workshop

The City of Edmonton is the fourth municipality in Canada moving ahead with open government initiatives rooted in the IT department. Five major announcements were made by Chris Moore, chief information officer of the City of Edmonton, at the Open Data Workshop held in Edmonton, Alta. on Saturday.

First, the city is partnering with Open311.org, a U.S.-based initiative that supports the development of open standards and the sharing of applications for 311 services. Similar partnerships with Open311.org were recently announced by San Francisco and Washington D.C.

Second, the city is planning to launch an iPhone app to provide an easy way for citizens to capture graffiti and pot holes around the city and submit them into the 311 centre. The City Watch app is scheduled to launch in April and will be developed by Edmonton-based Touch Metric Inc.

Moore also announced “Canada’s first apps contest.” The upcoming contest, called apps4edmonton, will offer CD$50,000 in prizes and a showcase at the Canadian government technology event GTEC 2010 in Ottawa this October.

Fourth, the city issued an RFP for the “design and implementation of the next generation of office productivity technologies.” Edmonton is moving towards an open standard for productivity software, said Moore.

Fifth, Edmonton is partnering with the Washington, D.C.-based Code for America group. The plan involves working with other cities and software developers across Canada to create a Code for Canada, which “will be modeled on the Code for America efforts in the U.S.,” said Moore.

Edmonton’s move towards open government began with an administrative inquiry into open data led by Edmonton city councillor Don Iveson in October 2009. Three months later, IT came back with a report that was crowdsourced in Google Docs and launched its Open Data Catalogue at data.edmonton.ca, he said.
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