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Open data has achieved considerable savings for the City and improved transparency. Is there an opportunity to achieve further results?


Yes there is. The Open Data team has only skimmed the surface of the data we can release and how it can be used. We have worked with multiple external partners to develop interactive visualizations, story maps and other tools using Open Data but have also seen many external organizations and institutions create maps and tools independent of our services. Organizations are using Open Datasets to improve their ability to attract economic development or make processes easier for our developers (for example, map and survey data).  The City continues to look for opportunities to partner with non-profit, public and start-up organizations to expand both datasets and develop tools. 

Two examples of recent organizations that have used Open Data to showcase their services and products include:

  • TruHome - Under TruData, TruHome asks questions and provides insight through data to help home buyers and sellers make better decisions when it comes to real estate.
  • MyHeat - This solar potential map provides estimates of the amount of power that may be generated by installing solar panels on a particular building. Citizens are encouraged to use the links and buttons provided on the map to learn more about solar providers and the financial incentives offered to install solar panels.

Open Data has great opportunities to help Edmontonians to make informed decisions. The City has recently extended its successful relationship with the vendor who provides our existing platform for the City’s Open Data Portal. This long-term relationship allows us to secure the services of a market-leader at a competitive cost and continue to provide uninterrupted access to the data.

We remain focused on maximizing the value and impact of Edmonton’s Open Data. This includes key areas of improvement, all of which have seen significant advancement in the first half of 2018.

  1. Giving extra transparency to City decisions by continuing to make it easier for Edmontonians to access maps and interactive tools that help them explore and understand the City around them
  2. Expanding the use of stories and media that describes how the City collects, analyzes and acts on the data it collects. 
  3. Enhancing the quality and connectedness of data through the release of more timely and detailed data. Real-time transit vehicle location data has created opportunities for an improved service experience through both direct-City offerings as well as third-parties such as Apple and Google tools. The City is looking to release more historical data that shows progress against long-term City visions and strategies, such as climate change and Vision Zero.
  4. Engaging and collaborating with post-secondary students, interested residents and entrepreneurs in the use of Open Data to develop innovative solutions with the potential to benefit the City. We have collaborated on the following projects:  
    1. Air Quality Health Index Light Installation - This physical device changes colour depending on the current quality. 
    2. Social Benefits Explorer Tool - The You Can Benefit tool is intended to help Edmontonians easily access information on municipal, provincial and federal benefits.
    3. CityGram - A subscription notification tool that keeps people informed of City activities (construction and road closures) that might impact their day-to-day lives.

While we expect the Open Data platform and its uses continue to expand, we know it could be affected by new developments related to policy around data privacy laws and legislation. In May of this year, Europe released the General Data Protection Regulation to protect citizens from having their data used unwillingly and unknowingly. At present, no such policy exists within Canada, but we remain cognizant that much of the data we collect is tied back to the residents we serve. We are fully committed to the responsible and effective use of all data and will continue to monitor legal and legislation changes.

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