Vancouver budget becomes open data

Vancouver is advocating open data, sharing government documents with the public, by releasing their city budget to the public, according to David Eaves, a public policy entrepreneur.

“I don’t know of a single city anywhere that is sharing their budget,” Eaves said.

The City of Vancouver shares more data than other cities according to Eaves.

Eaves is an advocate for the concept of open data entailing governments should make their information public and open for citizens to look over, such as information discussed during city council meetings and political budgets. The city council has confirmed the actual capital budget will be released later this year in April.

The city of Vancouver released documents on the city’s Web site,, such as a PowerPoint and a video of the break down of the 2011 capital budget. In the PowerPoint it shows the break down of the sectors and departments where they money will be spent. The total budget is $337 million split across different sectors. The actual budget with the detailed information is not yet on the site; however, it is expected to be shared with the public, according to Eaves.

“I did see that the open data portal has had 45,000 downloads,” Eaves said.

Anyone can gain access to government information from Vancouver’s open data Web site,, where there is a large quantity of documents for viewing. There’s everything from documents such as survey results to business data. One of the latest posts is about business license data containing information on businesses such as names, type, status, locations and details. The last post was on Nov. 29, 2010 with a parks-related datasets survey results.

Edmonton, Toronto and Ottawa have adopted an open data framework as well. Last year in August, Steven Green, director of marketing and communications at the Government of Ontario Cabinet Office, spoke at a GovCamp event in Toronto, an open discussion of political agendas. Green posed the question of whether open data was more useful than social media. Both consultants and government spokespeople chose to advocate open data over social media. David Tallan, senior manager of enterprise web development at the Government of Ontario, said he would choose open data because it eliminates the need to create apps.

“Once data is out there, it doesn’t require ongoing development,” Tallan said.
With files from  “Open data or social networking?” by Jennifer Kavur, ComputerWorld Canada.

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