Back in November I mentioned the Show Us A Better Way contest over in the UK – a government sponsored project in the form of a coding contest to encourage innovation around how best to publish government information online.
At that time, I wondered aloud about where a Canuck equivalent might be. After all, I think this is a great idea with lots of possibilities – not least of which is the idea of making it easier to get at government info. Government websites are notoriously difficult to use. I have lots of trouble finding what I’m looking for most of the time — and I’m on the inside.
Well, it looks like a NGO by the name of Visible Government is taking up the challenge.
From a post earlier today on the Visible Government blog (sorry can’t get an exact link, their blog is a bit bizarre that way):
VisibleGovernment.ca hopes to soon be hosting similar contests for Canada. As part of our ‘Travel and Hospitality Expense Visualizer’ project, we’ve been collecting records on government Travel and Hospitality expenses from over 100 different federal departments. We hosted a coding event for this project in November, where we piqued the interest of several Montreal coders who have contributed their time. So far, we’ve collected over 30 000 records and counting. The Travel and Hospitality Expense DB is one data set that could be used for an open-government data mash-up contest in Canada. Others include:
- the parliamentary voting records compiled by OurParliament
- the parliamentary bill RSS feed, which is usually published by LegisInfo (but doesn’t seem to be available at time of writing.)
- MP member info and other RSS feeds from HowdTheyVote
There doesn’t appear to be a specific timeline for when Visible Government plans to get a Canuck government 2.0 coding challenge underway. It’s not clear either whether there would be any direct participation from government or whether the idea is to create strictly non-governmental mashups that pull government data sources.
More background: Visible Government describes itself as a “non-partisan grass-roots organization dedicated to promoting the planning, funding, and implementation of online tools for government transparency in Canada.” Sounds kinda like a Canuck version of the UK’s mysociety.org or OpenSecrets.org down in the US. Projects in the works (mostly in the planning stages right now) include ibelieveinopen.ca and sites for tracking public expense disclosures and access to information requests.