November 2007

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There is an excellent article in the Toronto Star about why we have little understanding about the social demographic situation in Canada! Bref! No one can afford the research! In the article Truth carries a painful user fee; Carol Goar tells it like it is right now in Canada when it comes to access to our public data:

The United Way of Greater Toronto had to pay the agency $28,000 for government data showing that family poverty deepened in Toronto between 2000 and 2005, while low-income households made modest gains everywhere else.

It had to spend its donors’ money to prove that Toronto has the lowest median income of any major urban centre in the country.

It had to dip into its charitable givings to marshal evidence – already collected at taxpayers’ expense – that a one-size-fits-all poverty strategy won’t work for Toronto.

Finally an article that is so pointed on why the cost recovery practices of Statistics Canada are impeding citizens and civil sector organizations from doing their work. This type of analysis is critical in a democratic society, we cannot leave this type of research only to governments, particularly when the results may be pointing to some of its failures. An well, it is also not on the private sector’s radar!

Thanks Ted for posting this on the SPNO-Data List.

Ecologo is an excellent example of a Government of Canada consumer data and information service that facilitates the making of informed decisions on how and what to consume.

I discovered it this morning while reading an article about greening computers in the Globe and Mail. I pay attention to electronic waste on my personal blog but think Ecologo is also relevant here as it is a program that provides data on green consumer product certification to Canadians using a rigorous review system. There is also a tinge of national pride here when I read the following even though I know that Canada as a green country is a myth, nonetheless Ecologo was:

launched by the Canadian federal government in 1988, EcoLogo is North America’s oldest environmental standard and certification organization (and the second oldest in the world). It is the only North American standard accredited by the Global Ecolabeling Network as meeting the international ISO 14024 standard for Type I (third-party certified, multi-attribute) environmental labels.

Environment Canada has always been excellent at developing sustainability and other quality of life criteria and monitoring measures. It is one of those interesting departments that is both science and policy, and they stick to good science in their methods to communicate, evaluate and disseminate – budgets permitting of course!

EcoLogoM certification criteria documents (CCDs) are developed in an open, public and transparent process, with a broad base of stakeholder participation including user groups (e.g. procurement associations, institutional purchasers and consumer protection organizations), product producers (e.g. industry members and associations), government / regulators, general science-based representatives (e.g. academics, life cycle experts and other scientists), environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs), and other environmental advocates. The criteria address multiple environmental attributes related to human health and environmental considerations throughout the life cycle of the product. Currently, there are 122 Certification Criteria Documents addressing over 250 product types.

You can look up just about anything and discover products in their impressive list. I like that there is a rigorous system in place that is about making informed choices. This is what data are for! They also have an excellent purchaser’s tool box organized by product, category or company.

Hmm! Wonder if we could ever develop a criteria to evaluate organizations on their access, preservation and dissemination of data? What would be the key criteria in such an evaluation? Would an organization get a Free and Open Knowledge certificate (the acronym is terrible! we need Michael Lenczner‘s help here!)? A CivicAccess gold, silver or bronze stamp of data democracy and liberation?

If you are in Dublin, the Cities of Knowledge conference on November 20 looks interesting:

Cities of Knowledge
An International eGovernment/Public Sector Knowledge Management event, co-organised by Dublin City Council and DIT.

The event is part of ICiNG (Innovative Cities for the Next Generation) which is a project funded through the European 6th Framework Research programme. It aims to develop effective e-communities and e-access to city administration.

The project is based in Dublin, Barcelona, and Helsinki. Each city is providing ‘City Laboratory’ test-bed sites in strategic development/city regeneration locations where users will trial and evaluate technologies and services.

Speakers include:
Jon Udell, Technology Evangelist, Microsoft
Graham Colclough, Vice President, Capgemini
Martin Curley, Head of Innovation, Intel
Prof John Ratcliffe, DIT Futures Academy
Mark Wardle, Head of Innovation Programmes, BT

The agenda is here.

The inspirational Free Our Data blog out of the UK reports on a mention of their efforts in Parliament, where Mark Todd, MP had this to say in argument against:

I should like briefly to comment on the free our data campaign [our emphasis], which has suggested that the correct path is to distribute Government data virtually for free, or at cost. The difficulty of that model, which relies on the argument that that would generate substantial economic growth and tax revenues that would easily repay the amount lost in revenues directly associated with the sales, is that I am afraid it places a substantial reliance on any Government—not just this one—to continue to fund the development and maintenance of the quality of data in those organisations. At the moment, the organisations have revenue streams on which they can rely to invest into the future. Simply relying on the Treasury to bury its hand into its pocket periodically to develop data into the future is wishful thinking. That is not the path down which we should be treading.

More of the debate can be found here.

Open Database License (Draft):

This is a beta release, or a draft version of the licence, for comment and criticism by communities interested in licensing databases using copyleft, open content, and related licensing schemes. Distribution of this draft licence does not create an attorney-client relationship. This information is provided ‘as is‘, and this site makes no warranties on the information provided. Any damages resulting from its use are disclaimed.

From (thanks to James Duncan).

Le français suis l’anglais.

This draft strategy is seeking public input. It would be great for related individuals, organizations and institutions in Canada and Internationally to respond. Much work went into this Draft but it is incomplete without citizen input from multiple lenses. The info you need is below!


We are pleased to announce that the draft version of the Canadian Digital Information Strategy has been released for public comment. The Strategy results from a series of meetings that took place across the country in 2005 and 2006 to gather views from content producers, users and government officials. In the course of the deliberations, more than 200 stakeholder organizations offered ideas or commentary, and nearly 100 of Canada’s leading thinkers from across the information environment participated in a national summit in December, 2006.

Building on this rich set of input, the strategy has been drafted by a 24 member development committee. It addresses some of the critical issues in digital information production, preservation and access, and proposes a range of actions to strengthen the Canadian digital information environment.

The Committee welcomes public comment on the draft strategy by November 23rd 2007. Please visit to download the strategy document and to provide comments.

Sean Berrigan, Library and Archives Canada
Gérard Boismenu, Université de Montréal
Co-chairs, Canadian Digital Information Strategy Development Committee


Nous sommes fiers d’annoncer que l’ébauche de la Stratégie canadienne sur l’information numérique a été publiée afin d’être soumise à l’évaluation du public. Cette stratégie est le fruit d’une série de réunions qui ont eu lieu partout au pays en 2005 et en 2006, et auxquelles ont participé des représentants gouvernementaux, des producteurs et des utilisateurs de contenu numérique. Au cours des débats, plus de 200 organismes sont intervenus afin de faire valoir leurs idées et leurs commentaires, et près d’une centaine de penseurs parmi les plus influents provenant de tous les domaines du milieu de l’information ont pris part à un sommet national en décembre 2006.

Un comité de 24 membres a puisé dans ces contributions pour élaborer une stratégie nationale. Celle-ci répond à certains enjeux importants liées à accès, à la conservation et à la production de l’information numérique, et elle propose diverses mesures destinées à renforcer le milieu de l’information numérique au Canada.

Le comité recevra les commentaires du public sur l’ébauche de cette stratégie à compter du 23 novembre 2007. Pour télécharger le document de la Stratégie canadienne sur l’information numérique, et pour nous faire part de vos commentaires, veuillez vous rendre à l’adresse suivante:

Sean Berrigan, Bibliothèque et Archives Canada
Gérard Boismenu, Université de Montréal
Coprésidents du comité d’élaboration de la Stratégie canadienne sur l’information numérique