New site gives city information to the masses

Vancouver has quietly launched a humble website that could change the way citizens interact with their civic government.

Vancouver has quietly launched a humble website that could change the way citizens interact with their civic government.

Vancouver’s Open Data Catalogue contains 18 datasets (with more to come) on subjects ranging from the location of city drinking fountains to garbage-collection schedules.

“It was very exciting to click on the link today,” said Coun. Andrea Reimer, who proposed the open-data motion earlier this year.

“It’s a modest beginning … but this is like turning 6,000 employees into 600,000 employees.

Potentially, the whole city can participate more effectively in discussions, decisions and advising.”

Anyone can now download city data in a useable form, facilitating the creation of new services and ideas on ways to improve the city.

For individual citizens, the open-data portal will not be immediately life-changing — unless people are interested in “finding out where all the drinking fountains are,” Reimer quipped.

However, she added, the open data will make things easier for researchers and advocacy groups to access, which would hopefully lead to recommendations from those groups and better public policy.

 
 
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