At the recent Mesh Conference in Toronto, a four-member panel discussion moderated by open government activist/negotiator David Eaves provided the latest updates on Government 2.0 efforts at Canadian municipal and federals levels.
“In the Government of Canada, when we are taking about open, we are talking about open internally. That certainly has been our focus and will continue to be for the next little while,” said Marj Akerley, executive director of the Organizational Readiness Office within the CIO Branch of the Treasury Board Secretariat.
Three examples of what’s happening at the federal level include: GCPEDIA, an internal wiki for collaboration and knowledge sharing that launched in 2008 for federal public servants; the GCconnex professional networking site; and the GCforums chat space for discussions, she said.
Some data from the Government of Canada is open, but it is done at the departmental scale, said Akerley. Natural Resources Canada, for example, opens up all of its geospatial information through the GeoGratis site and Environment Canada opens its weather data, she said.
Akerley said she’s interested in finding ways to break down the barriers between departments. But the biggest challenge is the culture change, not the technology, she said. “In an organization of 250,000 people … we a lot of work to there,” she said.
Chris Moore, CIO of the City of Edmonton, provided a municipal perspective. “For us, Gov 2.0 is about engaging the community, leveraging the technology, and for me, one of our big focuses has been making the data available,” he said.
Edmonton was the fourth city in Canada to have an open data plan, strategy and catalogue, he said. The city is also connected to American cities such as San Francisco through the Open311 initiative.
The city’s latest effort is to create a ‘Virtual Edmonton,’ said Moore. “We are going to re-build 20 square blocks of the city in an immersive, 3D environment for collaboration, education and planning … the community has already done over 200 buildings and structures,” he said.