Easy access to City of Calgary data has at least one Calgary alderman believing collaboration is key to having citizen input on civic improvements.

Citing Calgarians Internet connectivity and desire for access to online city information and services, Ward 11 Ald. Brian Pincott and Ward 9 Ald. Joe Ceci crafted a notice of motion for the July 27 council meeting that would instruct administration to provide a report on allowing greater access to raw data collected by the city.

“One of the things cities do well is collect data,” said Pincott, noting road usage, census data and how people travel in the city could be available under this plan.

Pincott wants to make the raw data available so that others can use it to collaborate on their own concepts or applications —some that could add future value to the city.

“The city and its citizens could come up with some amazingly wonderful, unexpected results,” he said.

While a variety of information is already accessible to Calgarians, Pincott wants to provide information — without infringing on privacy, and at a cost – in the easiest form, available to the most number of citizens.

“That is the absolute joy of open source — it is the absolute proverbial ‘the power of we,’” he said.

Dr. Chloe Atkins of the University of Calgary points out potential privacy concerns with the proposal, and isn’t convinced Pincott’s motion will achieve its desired effect.

“It doesn’t seem like it’s doing a whole lot, when in fact we might easily get access to that material through other means,” Atkins said.

“Yes, you can open up the information, and in some cases it might be helpful, but it may just end up politicizing things. People can use information in all sorts of ways.”

An open government project is already underway in Vancouver.

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