Resources for Vancouver, BC, Canada

Examining Vancouver’s Motion on “Open3”

  • Sponsored by Councilor Andrea Reimer to establish Vancouver as the first city in the world to codify open source, open standards and open data
  • Requires each agency to compile with general plans of the three criteria by Fall 2010.
  • The City Manager under the this new legislation will:
    • Identify immediate opportunities to distribute more of its data.
    • Index, publish and syndicate its data to the internet using prevailing open standards, interfaces and formats.
    • Develop a plan to digitize and distribute archival data to the public.
    • Ensure that data supplied to the city by third parties such as developers, contractors and consultants are unlicensed, in a prevailing open standard format, and not copyrighted except if otherwise prevented by legal considerations.
    • License any software applications developed by the City of Vancouver such that they may be used by other municipalities, businesses and the public without restriction.
  • Reimer expects a huge impact from this movement through government and the public 1

Best Practices in Vancouver

  • Seeking to have set guidelines by Fall 2010 that will progressively move forward toward satisfy the criteria.
    • Develop a three-year progressive plan to foster cost-effective ways to process and release data
    • The plan will set 6-7 key objectives for Vancouver, which entails working with universities, small businesses, developers
    • Assessing the technology infrastructure and availability of data can be difficult, as they can be labor intensive (a cost to the city)
  • Enforcing all agencies to comply by certain deadlines
  • Creating wikis, a Google Group and other social media to communicate about improvements and future plans.
    • The City’s goal is to widen the range of access and potential use of the datasets in whatever way is practical and possible
      • Static “flat files” versus API real-time feeds
  • A large company like Microsoft saw open data as a catalyst for new applications and services, and for getting developers excited about Microsoft’s tools. They are willing to experiment and see open data as part of the future of a software/service ecosystem. Microsoft’s internal competition using Vancouver’s open data movement helped generate more useful applications and a customer-base.
  • Over at the Centre for Digital Media at the Great Northern Way campus, a group of students has being experimenting with the city’s open data catalog and Bing Maps and have created a taxi simulator that allows you to drive through the streets of downtown Vancouver. Furthermore, the students developed environmental applications by using data from the Vancouver and British Columbia governments. This is exactly the type of early R&D that cities that do open data get to capitalize on.
  • Since the enactment of the bill, the Bing Thom Architects used the Vancouver datasets to evaluate the effects of rising sea levels and the surrounding topography. The final report allowed city councilors to better able to assess the risks and costs around rising sea levels from experts everywhere.
  • Vancouver is proud that there is a pool of talented developers and students who can contribute to making some awesome and meaningful apps, but more can still be done to build a true open source, open standard, and open data community.