Recap: City of Edmonton Open Data Workshop

On Saturday afternoon about 45 people met at City Hall to discuss open data in a workshop hosted by the City of Edmonton’s IT department (you can read the Edmonton Journal’s coverage here). I think we made great progress, and I’m happy that so many people gave up their Saturday afternoon to come out and help!

Open Data Workshop
Photo Credit: Ryan Jackson, Edmonton Journal

Our emcee for the day was Jas Darrah, and he did a great job of keeping us on track. We started with an introduction to open data, delivered by me. My job was to just make sure everyone was on the same page, and to hopefully start a little excitement by sharing what other cities have done. Here are the slides I presented:

Stephen Gordon spoke next, adding some context and background on the City of Edmonton’s perspective. It was great to have him available throughout the day to answer questions. After that, Gordon Martin took over to facilitate a session on defining our guiding principles for open data. We broke into three groups to brainstorm, and I was surprised that each group came up with different principles. Here’s the tag cloud that Devin created based on the results of our work:

That took us to lunch, which was catered by Three Bananas. After the break, we reconvened to talk about the City of Edmonton’s approach, and about a potential data catalogue. Devin Serink led the discussion, which at times got very intense! People have strong feelings about how a catalogue for data should work. I’m not sure we came to a decision, but I think the general feedback was that both a data catalogue and an app catalogue are necessary, but that the City of Edmonton doesn’t necessarily need to create and host both.

Throughout the day we had flip chart sheets on the wall to capture opportunities, desired data sets, and anything else we didn’t have time to discuss. I think all of those, including the principles that each group came up with, will be typed up and shared sometime soon. Devin documented some of the day’s work on Prezi.

Open Data WorkshopOpen Data Workshop

It was great to have a focused discussion on open data at the City of Edmonton, but there’s still a lot to be done! There were a number of times during the day that we could have broken off into another sub-discussion, so there’s probably still a lot more input the City could gather. The report back to Council still needs to be written and presented. And of course, we need to start releasing some data sets. Still, I’m grateful that we have a supportive Councillor (and potentially more than one) and an engaged and open City Administration to make it happen.

Thanks to the City of Edmonton IT department for hosting the workshop, and especially to James Rugge-Price, Devin, and Jacob Modayil for making it happen! I’m really looking forward to the next steps.

You can see the rest of my photos here. Stay tuned to the Open Data page on the City website and to the #yegdata hashtag on Twitter for updates.