Canadian Open Data Awards 2018

Jury Statement Summary

Members of the Jury

Co-Chair: Moses Iziomon
Senior Project Advisor, Open Government, Chief Information Officer Branch
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat / Government of Canada

Co-Chair: Lorna Brown
Senior Project Manager, Treasury Board
Government of New Brunswick
Past co-host, CODS (2016)

Dr Tracey P. Lauriault
Assistant Professor, Critical Media and Big Data
School of Journalism and Communication
Carleton University

Renée Sieber
Associate Professor, Geography/Environment, and Computer Science Affiliate
McGill University

Connie McCutcheon
MISA Ontario

For the Canadian Open Data Awards 2018, the jury awarded a total of seven prizes. This year saw some evolution in the five main categories for the Canadian Open Data Awards, which now honour achievements in accessibility, innovation, democracy, impact, and data quality. While some submissions did mention laudable early efforts toward improving data quality, the jury feels that not enough attention has been paid to this increasingly critical element of Open Data and decided not to award in this category for 2018.

Data quantity was an early marker in the movement, and we now see lots of good work in accessibility and impact, but we seem to have skipped over data quality, which is so vital in interoperability and practical reuse. We encourage all those who submitted nominations on this point in 2018 to continue and indeed increase their efforts to obtain, use, and make accessible data that are complete, consistent, and standardized. The Canadian Open Data Awards Celebration Dinner was held November 8, 3018 at the 5 th annual Canadian Open Data Summit in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Six of the seven 2018 winners were known in advance of the awards ceremony:

  • Open Data Accessibility Award: City of Brampton
  • Open Data for Democracy: City of Toronto Open Data Team
  • Open Data for Impact: City of Edmonton Vision Zero
  • Open Data Innovation: York Region
  • Canadian Open Data Excellence Award 2018: Données Québec
  • Canadian Open Data Rising Star 2018: Skeena Knowledge Trust.

On the night of November 8, 2018, at the awards ceremony of the Canadian Open Data Summit 2018 in Niagara, one among three finalists was named Canadian Open Data Leader of the Year 2018:

The finalists are:

  • Matt Pietryszyn
  • Darren Platakis
  • Wendy Gnenz

Jury statements

  • Open Data Accessibility Award: City of Brampton

The City of Brampton is fulfilling the promise shown when they were named Canadian Open Data Rising Star in 2017. In the words of one juror, “ the Brampton submission reflected a true desire to ensure that data was consumable and accessible for everyone.” And they do mean everyone. To promote innovation, Brampton connects with schools from K-12 to teach them about open data and the City’s GeoHub, which provides visualization and analysis tools that the public can use to interact with the data. Staff work with students to integrate the data, tools, and analysis into their projects. City staff are also connected to the local start-up community, sharing with them ways in which they can work with Open Data to help build and market their businesses. In addition, the City releases stories, personas, and dashboards that further describe the data in terms of strategic initiatives and how the data is relevant to citizens and other leaders in their decision-making processes.

Also noteworthy is the fact that web apps and other production systems in Brampton are integrated directly with the same data available on the site. This means that users can expect a high level of data quality, accuracy and currency to the data that they have access to, across multiple systems and platforms.

For these and all their accomplishments to improve accessibility to data for practical and meaningful use, the jury awards The City of Brampton the Open Data Accessibility Award 2018.

  • Open Data for Democracy: City of Toronto Open Data Team

After early successes, The City of Toronto was brave enough to admit they had reached a plateau in their open data initiative. They recognized that they needed to focus on how open data is being used; increasing participation in government decision-making; innovating access to services and helping solve civic issues. This led to Toronto City Council’s Motion for the creation of an open data strategy, and spurred a redesign effort for the City’s Open Data Visualization Portal.

Through an iterative series of in-person/online consultations, the Open Data team engaged stakeholders—including the public—to co-develop the Open Data Master Plan (ODMP). Open North, an internationally recognized Canadian not-for-profit provided support and coordination. To synthesize the findings from 20 consultations held with 125+ stakeholders, Toronto created a 42-member Public Advisory Group, representing members from various communities like civic tech, academia, business, privacy, and partnering agencies. As one juror wrote, “ Toronto recognized the importance of involving a broad range of individuals and groups in opening data so that these individuals and groups can create value. It became so important that the city embedded it into their long-term governance model.” Opting for an open source front- end (WordPress) and back-end (CKAN) enables continual co-creation with the open data community and other jurisdictions.

For these efforts to foster democracy through advocating open data and increasing engagement , the jury awards The City of Toronto Open Data Team the Open Data for Democracy Award 2018.

  • Open Data for Impact: City of Edmonton Vision Zero

The jury is impressed with the City of Edmonton’s rapid and widespread impact through open data on a key element of daily life in large city – traffic. The City of Edmonton is committed to achieving Vision Zero and improving roadway safety. In August 2018, Edmonton’s City Council adopted a framework to provide additional traffic speed data on the Open Data Portal. In addition to the traffic safety data previously published on the Open Data Portal (collisions, injuries, and automated enforcement locations), Edmonton began publishing data from 146 driver feedback signs in the following month, on September 28, 2018. The City also uses traffic speed survey sensors directly in the traffic lane(s).

The data obtained from this equipment is used for speed and traffic analysis and to assist with decision-making regarding speed enforcement, road design, and possible traffic calming measures where required. By sharing this data on Edmonton’s Open Data Portal, the City can inform and possibly influence positive changes in driving behaviours, and provide greater transparency into the factual data that informs enforcement activities. An interesting point: while this data has been used internally for several years, the process of making it open data has also revealed data inconsistencies, inefficient data duplication, and redundant staff efforts needed to process the data. These issues are being resolved and have led to improved data quality and efficiencies. The City of Edmonton, so long a model and innovator in Open Data, is a worthy winner of the Open Data for Impact Award 2018.

  • Open Data Innovation: York Region

The word that most often came up in discussing York Region’s submission to CODS was “cool.” In the words of one juror, “York combined Open Data with useful social media platforms, making data more accessible in ways that citizens actually use things.”

With strengths in personas, partnerships, and stories, the real innovation lies in helping citizens in ways they may not even know, using tools they are already using – leveraging existing tools and behaviours to new ends. For example:

  • Yelp users see other users’ ratings of a local restaurant plus its latest health inspection result from the Region.
  • Waze users benefit from a real-time connection with the Region’s transportation hub – which incorporates data from hundreds of traffic cameras, incident reports, plus planned road closures and lane reductions.
  • Google Maps users get the latest road and address data directly from the Region. Need directions to a home in that new subdivision? No problem!

For this and all their forward-looking and risk-taking Open Data work, the jury awards York Region the Open Data Innovation Award 2018.

  • Canadian Open Data Excellence Award 2018: Données Québec

The standout submission of 2018 came to us from Données Québec, who are as one juror wrote, “an early adopter and leader in Open Data with a sound open data strategy framework, a strong civic engagement component, and promotion of inter-governmental peer exchange.” Données Québec was founded in 2016 as a provincial-municipal open data portal by a partnership of the Province of Québec and the municipalities of Gatineau, Laval, Montreal, Quebec City and Sherbrooke. Since its inception eight more municipalities and, interestingly, five civil society organizations have joined, making available all open data in Québec in a single portal.

The submission scored points on a multiplicity of fronts: consultation, collaboration, autonomy of action (so important given that the organization is a top-down initiative and open data at its best is a bottom-up activity), and early steps in standardization (common practices to promote and simplify open data reuse, the adoption of common technical standards for the publication of data, and steps toward high-quality interoperable data). The jury noted that Données Québec is making great strides and continuing and increasing their initial momentum: their commitments include bring on board 20 more municipalities. The jury awards to Données Québec our highest organizational recognition, the Canadian Open Data Excellence Award 2018.

  • Canadian Open Data Rising Star 2018: Skeena Knowledge Trust

The Skeena Knowledge Trust (SKT) was formed in October 2017 following a multi-year collaboration between local First Nations, NGOs, and the Pacific Salmon Foundation to address the need for improved knowledge management and more informed decision-making pertaining to salmon and salmon habitat within the Skeena River watershed and estuary. An innovative trust model was adopted as the governing framework for the SKT as it provides the necessary structure to ensure high quality, unbiased data is gathered, stored, and disseminated in an objective and impartial manner. The Skeena Salmon Data Centre (SSDC, ) is a publicly-accessible, online data warehouse and library based on open-source CKAN software, and provides users with access to a comprehensive collection of relevant reports, data, and spatial files. The Skeena Maps Portal (SMP, ) was developed based on an open-source GeoNode platform, and allows users to search, view, and download spatial files, as well as create maps.

The SKT is currently providing knowledge management support to local watershed stewardship groups and First Nations, and has been able to facilitate collaboration among stakeholders over a wide geographical area. Ultimately, this increased capacity and data sharing will help inform and enable the assessment of resource development proposals and policy.

The jury wishes to applaud and encourage the Skeena Knowledge Trust as a model for other community organizations in how they can leverage open data to meet a challenge across jurisdictions using governance based on trust, and therefore we name them Canadian Open Data Rising Star 2018.

  • Canadian Open Data Leader of the Year 2018 Finalists

Wendy Gnenz
Wendy Gnenz is the Chief Information Officer of the City of Edmonton. Under her strategic leadership, Edmonton established its Open City Policy, adopted the  International Open Data Charter, ranked as a top 7 Intelligent Community, and was the  recipient of Canada’s most Open City three years in a row. Over the past year, Wendy has led the transformation of data and technology at the City of Edmonton through the development of a comprehensive Business Technology  Strategy, which reimagines how partnerships and usable information can provide innovative, integrated services to citizens. In the workplace, Wendy has fostered a culture of collaboration through the motto “Think Yes,” which encourages staff to always approach issues/problems with a can-do attitude. The same clear strategic vision that began with Open Data is now in focus for the entire approach to the City’s data and business technology.

Matt Pietryszyn
Matt Pietryszyn is Team Lead, GIS and Open Data, the City of Brampton. Matt oversees an innovative and dedicated team whose work on Brampton’s GeoHub, which makes it easier for residents, developers and city employees to access critical data to improve services through transparency and community engagement. The GeoHub quickly became the one place where anyone could view and acquire the city’s datasets—from asset, land-use, and infrastructure data to orthoimagery—as well as public data from the open data catalogue. Matt says now his team spends less time explaining to people what open data is and more time showcasing apps and how to partner to solve problems and make their data more purposeful through quick dashboards and visualizations to tell their business units’ stories.

Darren Platakis
Founder of Geospatial Niagara, Darren Platakis works with local school boards to bring geospatial technology into geography programs across Niagara, while developing new data-literacy skills through the application of open data into the classroom. He works with classrooms to crowdsource Niagara’s tree canopy as an open dataset, which is also being used to guide the development of green space policies in several of Niagara’s municipalities. Through these efforts Darren is not only growing a project with substantial impact to Niagara’s natural ecosystem but is also helping the next generation expand their concepts of how data can be used to address issues within their communities. He also works actively with postsecondary institutions to develop opportunities for Niagara’s next graduates to address community challenges through experiential learning. Projects include development of “Complete Street” algorithms to assess accessible nature and pedestrian safety, and assessing Niagara’s light pollution to identify preferable locations to watch the night sky. Darren has challenged local organizations to release data openly to the public, while at the same time challenged those organizations to image the potential of all their data holdings.​

Wendy Gnenz of Edmonton received the Canadian Open Data Leader of the Year  2018 award.