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Check out the city's new open government portal

Ottawa City Hall. Photo by Devyn Barrie.

The city is currently consulting on how to improve its public data and you can participate by beta-testing their new open government portal, open.ottawa.ca.

It’s a part of Ottawa’s Smart City 2.0 Strategy, which seeks to build on the city’s standing as a “smart city” that uses technology to further its growth and economic prospects. It has three goals — to create a more connected city, with a smarter, knowledge-based economy, and with an innovative government that uses new ways of delivering services and solving problems.

What does all that mean for us, the citizenry? The goal is a more proactively transparent municipal government that engages its residents, the city says.

The City of Ottawa has offered their open data catalog since at least 2010, with the vision that, by making municipal data available to the public, “the city can enhance civic participation and leverage the expertise of the local community.” There’s a wide array of useful information on the catalog — you can get traffic collision stats, see all city-operated bike paths and even access OC Transpo’s API feed, which several developers have used to make apps for transit riders. (Here’s a look at some apps made with city data…)

“The sharing of information also increases the city’s transparency and accountability to the public at large. Smart City 2.0 endeavours to build upon Ottawa’s open data program,” the city says.

The new data catalog is intended to collect feedback from the public on new datasets and features the city can provide to improve its open data. It’s already built in some significant new features — namely, you can now explore the data in your browser without needing to download it, and there is a form to help developers create an SQL query for API requests rather than writing it all out from scratch. The city also built some apps and created stories to help understand data right out of the box.

You can check it all out at open.ottawa.ca. The consultation is currently collecting feedback on engage.ottawa.ca until the end of August. The timeline posted to the city’s website says a product launch decision will be made in September about whether to transition the beta to full production. Then in fall 2019, the feedback collected from this process will be used to create a new open data strategy for the City of Ottawa.

Author

Devyn Barrie

Devyn Barrie is the executive editor and owner of OttawaStart.com. He has a journalism diploma from Algonquin College and has lived in Ottawa most of his life.