MISA Ontario – Open Government

Yesterday I had the good fortune to speak on a panel about Open Government with City of Ottawa CIO, Guy Michaud and City Official Mark Faul in the Council Chambers as part of Open Government Workshop – ‘Today’s Open Government ~ A New Approach to Public Service’.  It was organized by Jury Konga and Robert Giggey.  MISA stands for Municipal Information System Association, it is like the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for the IT crowd.

Mark discussed among many other things that Open Government needs to be responsible, and data requires context or a story, particularly data associated with planning or reports.  Guy discussed how it was difficult to convince council at times and that the legal staff at the City are advisers and he as CIO can choose what to do with that advice.  In addition, he mentioned that data and information will make its way out into the public realm and it is better for the City to proactively officially share it .

I talked about how open government is in many ways more difficult than open data, since it requires a deeper cultural and organizational change.  It means changing how we deliberate and that it will take time for city officials as well as citizens to learn how to intelligently work together to meet mutually beneficial objectives.  I provided examples of the work of research, community and government collaboration in Nunavut, the roots of open data coming from research librarians & MADGIC  and the geomatics sector, the work of non profit organizations and their need for open government to better serve their client base which is often marginalized people and the great work of the Community Data Consortium.  In addition I discussed the Resolution endorsed by the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Governments on Open Government, ways to do public participation consultations and provided some useful examples of good open government apps.  Finally, I discussed the fantastic work done in Québec to change the procurement practices around the acquisition of open source technologies and the move toward developing a Québécois coding workforce in lieu of reliance on large US IT companies to provide government services. The links I referred to in my talk are below:

Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre (GCRC):

Information Commissioner:

Canadian Council on Social Development (CCSD):


Salon du Logitiel Libre, Québec City

Meaningful Public Consultations:

Open Government App Examples:

Traffic Study held back by a City Official (My case study):

Social & public policy examples using government data:

Reading Material:


The FCM and MISA collaborate to develop open government and open data indicators as a civic engagement indicator for Canadian Cities as part of the Quality of Life Reporting system.