Wanted: Developers for Open Data Day

Software developers of all ages who have a passion for open government will gather in several dozen cities around the world Saturday Feb. 23 for the fourth annual International Open Data Day.

There are some 70 events scheduled so far, from hackathons to lectures, in 25 cities including Victoria, B.C.; Vancouver, Calgary, Hamilton, Ont.; Toronto, the Niagara Falls area and Montreal.

Some locations haven’t been firmed up yet. But Montreal has an extensive agenda with an expected 100 people participating.

David Eaves, a Vancouver-based open data expert and one of the originators of the idea, says the day is aimed at encouraging local politicians and bureaucrats to open government datasets to the public, and encouraging citizens to create new applications using the data.

“It’s a little like a festival,” he said in an interview Thursday. “In some places it’s strict hackathon, where only developers show up and try to create cool projects they think are civically-minded. In other places there are workshops teaching citizens how to understand data using open data. In other places its more teaching public servants about open data and why it should matter.”

The open data movement – pushed by activists and embraced by an increasing number of governments – takes the principle that data amassed by jurisdictions belongs to the taxpayers who paid for it.

Citizens, and sometimes bureaucrats, are reconfiguring datasets to help people learn about what government is doing or to help them in their lives – for example, by creating easy to understand graphics on where taxes go, or a database of rental property infractions to help tenants.

Ideally, some information will help entrepreneurs create new businesses from knowing, for example, where every municipal lamp post is (ideal if you want to set up a WiFi mesh network).

Initially several Canadian municipalities led the way here, but the Harper government has recently been active.

It’s not too late to sign up for an event, or to start organizing one in your community.

For general information on Open Data Day, click here

Register here for Vancouver’s event.   

Here are links to events around the world, including Canadian cities.