25 sites and apps for open government

Four majormunicipalities in Canada – Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver– have started opening their data for public use through open data catalogueson the Web. And smaller cities, like Nanaimo,are also following the trend. But what are developers doing with it? Here’s alook at some Web sites and apps that are taking advantage of open data sets,and a few that are trying to promote open government, listed in alphabetical order.

1) Canadian Government Expenses

This site fromBine Consulting Corp. collects and analyzes Canadian federal travel andhospitality expenses claims published under the proactive disclosurerequirement. The data is organized in multiple ways, from average claims bydepartment to the largest and smallest claims made to the number of expenses tothe longest trips taken. The current total expense bill, which includes all thedata collected since 2003, is $156,656,762.80. 

2) Datadotgc.ca

A site runby Canadian open government activist David Eaves, Datadotgc.ca intends to actas an example of “what a federal open data portal could and should look like.”The site lists and organizes available federal datasets by ministry or tags andincludes a search bar for finding datasets by keyword.

3) DataTo.org

A community-runsite from Mark Kuznicki of Remarkk Consulting, DataTo.org is for users andpublishers of open access data in the Torontoregion. Visitors can publish requests for data, and also comment and rate otherpeople’s requests.

4) Disclosed.ca

This sitefrom Nurey Networks Inc. keeps track of Canadian government agency contracts.Visitors can search for past contracts by agency or department, or use thesite’s search bar, to find names of vendors, descriptions of work, durations ofcontracts and their dollar value. Disclosed.ca says 247,253 contracts arecurrently in the system, starting from 2004. External links to the contract detailsare also included.

5) EatSafe

An iPhoneapp that isn’t yet available from The App Store, EatSafe from OpenOttawa.org usesdata from Ottawa’sfood inspection database and GPS to provide food inspection reports on nearbyrestaurants. 

6) EatSure.ca

EatSurecollects all the food inspection reports in the London, Ont. area and marks their locationson a map. Visitors can click on a marker to see the name of the venue, itsaddress, date of inspection and infraction details. The site sources data fromthe London Middlesex Country Health Unit. There are currently 921 venues withno infractions, 415 non-critical infractions and 569 critical infractionsmapped.

7) FixMyStreet Canada

A sitemaintained by VisibleGovernment.ca, FixMyStreet is a place for citizens toreport problems like graffiti, potholes, garbage and lighting directly on mapsof the area. The site them submits the report to the city for repair. Citiescurrently supported include Fredericton, Montreal, Ottawa andvarious cities in Prince EdwardIsland.

8) How’d they vote?

Cory Hornerput this site up in the spring of 2005 to provide information on what is takingplace within Canadian Parliament. The site includes statistics on MPs, theirvoting history, lists the status of bills and includes downloadable files ofthe data.

9) Libraries Ottawa

A freeiPhone app from SK8 Wireless Technologies Inc. that uses open data from Ottawato provide names, addresses, phone numbers and maps of libraries in the Ottawaarea.

10) Mycelium

TheMycelium site, created by Kevin McArthur, provides access to videos from theHouse of Commons and allows visitors to create a 5-minute clip with a link andembeddable URL.

11) My Stops

This $.99iPhone app from Grayscale Apps provides bus and transit schedules for over 20 citiesin the U.S. and Canada, including Edmontonand Toronto.

12) My TTC

A site thatuses Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) data to plan travel routes on subways,streetcars and buses in Toronto.Visitors to the site enter their current location (from a mobile phone, thesite uses GPS to detect location information) and destination, and the sitewill provide multiple options for how to get there. A description of where togo, how long it will take, what time the transit is scheduled to arrive anddepart and a map of the route are provided. The ability to access stop timesand receive service alerts via text messages is in the works.

13) OpenParliament.ca

A site runby Montreal-based Web developer Michael Mulley, OpenParliament.ca publisheswhat takes place within the House of Commons, including how MPs vote, whatbills they sponsor, their media mentions and Twitter posts and when they speakon the floor. The site also searches House transcripts by keyword.

14) Ottawa DogPark Finder

An onlineapp created by Liz and Thomas Bradley, the Ottawa Dog Park Finder uses Ottawa open data andGoogle Maps to locate dog parks by address and provides ratings on theirpopularity, friendliness and cleanliness. The Ottawa Dog Blog says a mobile appis in the works.

15) Ottawa Parks and Recreation

Anotherfree iPhone app from SK8 Wireless Technologies that uses open data from Ottawa,providing maps and information related to parks and recreation facilities,including wading pools and beaches.

16) Ottawa Recycles

Using Ottawa open data, this free iPhone app providesinformation on where to recycle electronics, automotive, gardening, health andhousehold products in the Ottawaarea. The address, phone number and location (using Google Maps) is displayed.

17) Ottawa Trash

Developedby Willem van Bergen,Edward Ocampo-Gooding and Shawn Hooper, this no-frills site asks for an Ottawa streetaddress and provides the corresponding garbage schedule.

18) RepresentMe.ca

An excellent way to keep tabs on electedrepresentatives, this site asks for a postal code and then provides the name,phone number and e-mail address of the local city councilor, MP and MPP for thearea along with a Twitter-like feed of their recent activities. The site,created by Shawn Simister, currently supports Ottawa postal codes only.

19) Route411

A $1.99iPhone app from Fusedlogic Inc., Route 411 provides public transit informationfor the cities of Edmonton, Guelph,Toronto and Vancouver. The app is GPS-aware and includesstops and arrival times. 

20) TaxiCity

A Web-baseddriving game built by graduate students, TaxiCity was created using Vancouver open data,Microsoft’s Silverlight development platform and Bing Maps. Players take on therole of a taxi driver, pick up passengers and deliver them to destinations indowntown Vancouver.The students used multiple data sets from the city to generate realistic maps,including block outlines, parks, building shapes and the centre midline strokeson streets, said co-developer Dashan Yue.

21) Torontopedia.ca

This openwiki for the City of Torontoisn’t an open data project per se, but it does support similar ideals bypromoting citizen engagement.

22) Toronto Road Restrictions

Currentlyin beta, this dynamic site is run by the City of Toronto IT department to help the public plantravel routes. Maintained daily, the site uses 911 dispatch data to provideinformation on current and future road restrictions, festivals and events,traffic flow, electronic messages displayed on highway signs and traffic cameralocations. The site supports 44 divisions and includes roughly half a millionaddress points.

23) Traffic Ottawa

A $.99iPhone app from SK8 Wireless Technologies, Traffic Ottawa allows users toselect and display traffic cameras from the City of Ottawa and the Ontario Ministry ofTransportation. 

24) VanGuide

A Web app andfree iPhone app developed by Nitobi Software Inc. with assistance fromMicrosoft Corp., VanGuide provides a “social map” of Vancouver and allows users toadd, rate or comment on landmarks via their Twitter accounts. The app makes useof open data landmarks such as schools, bus stops and libraries.

25) VanTrash

From Luke Closs and Kevin Jones, this site collects open data fromthe City of Vancouver’s Garbage Collection Zonessite and displays garbage schedules for the Vancouver area on a map. Visitors can clickon the map for a pop-up of the current monthly schedule and opt to either addthe schedule to their personal calendar or receive a reminder of the nextpickup via e-mail.

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