Good afternoon. Thank you for the opportunity for speaking with you today. I'm very much looking forward to the discussion this afternoon.
I believe you received the brief that I sent forward, so I'm just going to centre on some select slides to emphasize the messaging and to actually build on what David has been talking about.
I think the key thing, from a municipal perspective, is that as the government closest to the people, we're in a lot of interactions with them, and we're seeing a lot of requirements and demands for opening up government, for making it more transparent, and basically for being able to track how we're doing from a performance perspective and making sure they have a voice in their local government. I believe that's potentially across all governments. We're seeing that right across Canada, around the world, as David was saying, and also right up through to the federal government in terms of some of our discussions, such as with Natural Resources Canada and some other very forward-thinking areas.
What we believe in our space is that in this local government, where we're the closest to the people, we're starting to see this very large transformation happen, and it's starting to gain momentum.
I'm going to select a few slides here to focus in on some of the work we've done and to hopefully put some information out there to get you to ask some questions and drill in further.
I'm partnering with my city clerk, Ulli Watkiss, who is the information lead in our city--as in most municipalities--and we're looking at it from both an information management and an IT perspective. We also work with the divisions who are the program deliverers.
In terms of the presentation material I have for you, the introduction introduces some of the challenges and some of the reasons why there's this new culture of open government that we see, open government as the default, which is really “that's the starting point” and we go from there.
I'd like to direct you to page 4, where you see the concept of “Toronto at your Service”. This is when Mayor Rob Ford, who was recently elected, came to power. He came to the first council meeting and laid out four specific priorities. The first one was to improve customer service, the second to make city hall more transparent and more accountable, the third to reduce the size of government and the cost of government, and the fourth to improve transportation.
Well, even the last one can benefit from open data. In fact, all of them can be done, improving customer service and efficiencies, because, again, the data is out there, everything from better scheduling from the TTC, when the next bus is coming—and we've had apps built on that data—right through to better customer online services to participating in enabled e-government. In all ways, open government and open data are enhancing what the mayor is aiming at in terms of priorities.
The next slides talk a little about some of the growth in this area and the number of transactions that show the web as an increasingly preferred channel. The telephone still is the top one, but very rapidly the gap is closing so that the web is becoming a very preferred channel. That's also indicating that 98% of Canadians have some type of Internet access, which means, again, that open data online can be very accessible.
I want to define open government and open data because I think there are so many different definitions. And it was included in your package, but I want to emphasize that it's more than just the data. It's this concept of open interaction and engagement, and civic engagement, and getting people to make deputations and being involved, whether it's online or in person, and then sharing that experience with others and benefiting from leveraging the unique decision-making capability of that wider space.
I think that's really important, because at the end of the day, what we see at the local level is that open government and open data increase the trust in government, and confidence, in particular in their most local government and the one they have the most dealings with. But we think in all governments that's the case.
On the next page you'll see that we have a system called the Toronto meeting management information system. Now this is a really important system, because if you go, and the link is there, you can see that everything about the city government is online—all the agendas, all of the reports, everything is there—and also the data about it. I think there are links in here that you can explore that with.
One of the elements about this in our strategy is the basis of both proactive and routine disclosure. Proactive is where we put the data or the information online, and routine disclosure is where we can quickly get the information there in terms of a normal request. This has reduced our freedom of information requests by half; therefore, the cost of government goes down, people's responsiveness to the information goes up, and again, trust goes up and improves consultation.
We've also been talking to Dr. Ann Cavoukian, who I believe is either coming or has been here. She talks a lot about privacy by design. Designing it in a system like this ensures that people have access to their government.
We also support it with checklists, information, and advice, both from the city clerks on a policy perspective and from ourselves and IT from a technology perspective.
The next few slides talk about our election system and some of our key developments online, in terms of just shooting through the roof in terms of access to online services.
In slide 11 we talk about the value chain of open data. Open data requires work, but it is work based on what you do every day. It doesn't add to your tasks or add extra resources. We believe it's part of what we do every day. What I mean by that is we have systems there to help us with our professional program delivery. We have information systems there to help with the delivery of government process and to improve the citizen's situation.
We live by three basic principles. We provide data that already exists; we don't go out and create new data just for the sake of opening up data. This is just part of what we do every day, and we put it up on the web. We offer both raw and aggregate data. And most importantly, we put it on a refresh basis and put the metadata or context around it so people know what the data means.
We also need to make sure of the source--that we can actually share it, that the right format is there, and that the proper governance is in place. You can see that we have lots of governance, but that is to make sure the right data is there and it is truly part of our strategic directions.
This value chain has been ongoing since 2009. It has been a very good process and has worked very well. We've had a lot of good response from the community.
On the next page you can see what we launched. I think you've heard of Mark Surman of Mozilla, the Firefox provider. He challenged the City of Toronto in 2008 to think like the web, look to the web, to look to people out there, look for help--government doesn't have to do it all itself--open up “crowdsource” and ask for help to sponsor the development of further uses of open data.
In that light, a community site was developed at the same time we launched this, called datato.org, or data Toronto. This was created by community people on their own time. It also spawned dataott.org, which is data Ottawa. Again, it involved community players putting the demand side, or part of the input, saying, “Here's data we're interested in. What do you think?” We've been working with them on other points of interest to get the data out on the web. That's been very helpful.
The next slide shows you a breakdown of the most popular data sites and downloads. Again, the critical success factors for open data are that it's relevant data, regularly refreshed, and in the proper context. Otherwise you don't know what you're getting. In the earlier uses of open data sites, part of the problem was data getting stale, and people didn't know what the data really stood for.
The other thing we do is open up and work with the Web 2.0 or Gov 2.0 perspective, saying, “What do you think of what we're doing?” We ask through Twitter and different means on our website and processes. We've had lots of different comments, which are included. Some of the feeds from Twitter are there.
We've also seen some great results. There are some application examples included in the slide presentation. One of the most interesting ones was around someone who created an iPhone app, so when you're walking to the bus stop you already know when your bus is going to get there. That's pretty exciting. There are other ones, like DineSafe, to make sure the restaurant you're going to is good.
The other side of it, just like in Ottawa, is 311. We have the largest in Canada and the second-largest in North America. With 311 you think of the telephone, but it also has a lot of self-service features now on the web. We're opening up the knowledge we capture and advice we give out to citizens. We put that up online so you can self-service that. We're also going to be putting up the request data very soon on our open data site.
We had over a million calls in the first year, and it just keeps building in popularity. It's a great connector out to the populace, as it is here in Ottawa.
You'll see in the presentation, again on the next slide, some of the feeds that come in, because through Twitter they also track how things are going.
The other thing I'd like to focus on--and again, the next few slides show some of what our web is doing--is next-generation open data. Just putting open data up there in raw form, in machine readable form, is very helpful. As David was saying, there are contests and different ways you can get developers to develop new and interesting applications, but not everyone is a developer. Not everyone has the capabilities to develop applications, or perhaps even wants to, but everyone does want to know about their city or their government and what's going on.
There is something now called a data blog. That means you have a variety of different data types, and if you want to look at a spreadsheet or a visualization of data or raw data that you want to download and develop an application with, those would all be available on the website. New York City has done this, and we're looking to do this for our 311. I know it's a little bit unclear on the slide there, but there are different examples there about visualization. We also want to get our budget data up there with a navigator, because budget data is some of the most complex data. We've actually been working with the open community through a “hackathon”, which happened in December, through which people are building a navigator application so they can actually work through our budget data. That's going to get budget data out to the public more quickly, which is going to help in the debate around our rapidly changing budget situation.
With the next slide, I want to just finish up with what I mean by a transformation journey. This takes time, but it isn't a sequence of events. It's many things happening at different maturity levels at the same time. It's really understanding the citizens' needs, working with them, understanding, keeping the pulse on them, bringing the government close, anytime, anywhere, to people, and ensuring that you're continually listening and building their confidence by offering out more and more about the government through open data and open government.
You've heard from Chris Moore, I believe, and I believe Guy Michaud is coming. We've also been working with Vancouver through something called G4. If you're interested, we can share the recent report. The cover is shown in your presentation there. It's fairly deep, but it has a lot of good information. If you're interested, we can certainly share that with you. The key recommendations are noted on the slide speaking notes there, and these really focus in on what different municipalities can do in opening up their data even more. We believe there are some common areas of focus, such as licensing formats and sharing our experiences.
To conclude my speaking points, I will say that change will just continue to happen. Certainly it's happening in the City of Toronto, and I know it's happening here in Ottawa and at the provincial governments too. The challenges are not going to stop. They're going to continue to evolve. We believe by working through new thinking and by reaching out and working with the public itself and other levels of government within these important frameworks, we can make government better and more open and in fact more responsive.
Thank you very much. Those are my remarks.