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Group Calls on Montreal to Join Open-Data Movement
Source: The Gazette http://www.montrealgazette.com/Group+calls+Montreal+join+open+data+movement/3433096/story.html#ixzz0xX0pwx00
Source Date: Monday, August 23, 2010
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government
Country: Canada
Created: Aug 25, 2010

A group of citizens is pushing Montreal to join a worldwide movement to make its information accessible to all citizens.

The group, Montréal ouvert, was started by Michael Lenczner, co-founder of Île sans fil, a free wireless service, and three other Montreal entrepreneurs: Jean-Noé Landry, Sébastien Pierre and Jonathan Brun.

They hope to create a public campaign to mount what the founders call “gentle pressure” on the city to make more information public, and to make that information more accessible. The group says Montreal should join what’s called the open-data movement - a commitment by government bodies to allow free use of information collected using public funds, with the exception of any personal data.

Brun explained Montreal seems to keep much more information private compared to other cities, and what is accessible is only available to citizens in file formats that can’t be altered, such as PDFs. He said just making crime statistics, garbage-collection times and other data more accessible would automatically create huge business opportunities, and it would also encourage more co-operation between departments of the city.

“For example, the city of Montreal publishes the ice conditions of its outdoor rinks every day,” Brun explained. “That information should be in a format that people can manipulate.”

If that were the case, a developer could build an application for a smartphone that would list the nearest outdoor skating rinks, and the conditions of the ice, Brun said.

The open-data movement began in Europe several years ago, and has started spreading to North America within the last two years. Washington, D.C., was the first North American city to adopt an open-data policy. New York, Edmonton, Toronto, Nanaimo, Vancouver, Mississauga, Ottawa and London have also joined, by passing bylaws to make more information accessible to the public, according to the Montréal ouvert website.

Philippe Sabourin, a spokesperson for the city of Montreal, said the city’s website is constantly evolving, and new information is added regularly.

He said the city is “following with interest” the open-data movement, but as yet has no plans to join that movement because it would involve a considerable investment by the city.

When asked how much it would cost, Sabourin said a preliminary estimate was done, but he didn’t have access to that information.

Montréal ouvert’s public meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Station C, 5369 St. Laurent, Room 430.

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/Group+calls+Montreal+join+open+data+movement/3433096/story.html#ixzz0xd0sirvo
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