Open Data Day 2014

We are excited to be hosting a Waterloo Region event for International Open Data Day – next Saturday, February 22!

Our Open Data Day will be held at Kwartzlab and will start at 10am and go to 4:30pm. Please join us — bring your open data enthusiasm and ideas for something you might want to work on coding, analyzing, or exploring. Don’t worry if you’re not sure what that might be – there will be plenty of ideas there. We hope some people will choose to collaborate as well.

Oh, and: the City of Kitchener is planning to make available its first-ever open data in time for Open Data Day – a great reason to attend!

More details and a tentative schedule are available at the Open Data Day wiki.

Ontario Open Government Engagement

This Friday, January 17, the Ontario Open Government Engagement Team is coming to town. They are a team formed to engage the public and to recommend open government policy for the Ontario government. If you have the chance to join the meeting from 1-4pm at Kitchener City Hall, please do! If not, I’m sure they will welcome comments on Ontario open government policy at opengov@ontario.ca.

Below is our own feedback that we have provided to the team.


Open Data Waterloo Region is a community group in Waterloo Region which supports open data within the Region of Waterloo and organizes events. We recently helped organized GO Open Data [1], a gathering of over 100 developers, administrators, educators and citizens from across Ontario.

We are excited about the recent open government initiative launched by Ontario’s Premier Kathleen Wynne and we would like to share our thoughts on what would make this program successful. Read more ›

Open Data Day 2013

Don’t know what to do on Saturday? Join us at Kwartzlab‘s new digs and work on something open data-related for Open Data Day! Other nearby events are in Toronto, London, and Niagara.

Details are at the Open Data Day wiki. It will be Saturday, February 23, from 2pm to 10pm, at Kwartzlab’s new location at 33 Kent Ave in Kitchener (near the Charles/Ottawa iXpress stop). Please watch the discussion list for updates.

Everyone is welcome to explore, code, and talk open data.

Introducing GO Open Data

We’re hard at work planning GO Open Data, a one day conference in May, organized as a collaboration between Open Data Waterloo Region, the University of Waterloo, the City of Waterloo and the Region of Waterloo. Our goal is to bring together people from across Ontario and across the groups who are involved with open data. Citizens, developers, administrators, and educators will all be in the same room to share success stories, challenges and ideas.

The conference will also feature a unique opportunity to show off both apps built on open data and sources of open data.

GO Open Data will be held on Saturday, May 11, 2013, at the University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy building in downtown Kitchener.

Sign up on the conference website to get updates. Soon we will open up the call for speakers, exhibitors, sponsors and start selling tickets. Those who sign up get the first crack to apply. You can also follow us on twitter.

Please spread the word to help make this a great conference.

City of Waterloo Open Data CodeFest

The City of Waterloo is going public with their open data catalogue next week! To mark the launch, the City is helping host a CodeFest next Saturday, December 1, from 9am to 6pm. Come out and build something! Either by yourself or with a team.

Brand new data sets will include: city facilities, detailed park information, places of worship, bike lanes, roads, trails, historical street names, heritage buildings, and more. Should you fail to find inspiration, you can of course work with other open data, like that from the Region or the University of Waterloo.

It will be in the Erb Room on the third floor of Waterloo City Hall, at 100 Regina St S. The City will be providing pizza, wi-fi, and power. The CodeFest will go from 9am to 6pm – so you can really get something put together. (You do not have to be there the full time, but many will be.)

The previous evening, Friday, November 30, we’ve booked a table from 7 to 9pm at BarleyWorks in the Huether Hotel. Grab a pint, meet others of us, and get a head start on planning what you’ll work on during the CodeFest. BarleyWorks is upstairs in the Huether Hotel, and we should be upstairs again from there (the table is under “Open Data”).

So that we can plan appropriately, we would appreciate it if you signed up to confirm your attendance.

Please share this event with anyone you think may be interested in working with local data and/or developing our open data community!

Open Demos – Real Time Transit Data

Grand River Transit will soon be making real-time data available. Will you know how to use it?

Our upcoming Open Demos will be next Monday, November 12, from 7pm to 8:30pm, and will feature Giles Malet giving an introduction to GTFS-realtime, the standard for real-time transit feeds. Giles is the author of GRTransit, an Android app currently based on static schedule data.

After the discussion of transit data, there should be time for those interested to share anything open data related that they are working on or would like to, or perhaps to plan a collaboration. The event will be in the Tannery at Charles/Victoria in downtown Kitchener, in the Matrix Room inside the Velocity Garage. There will be signs to help get you there from the main entrance facing Charles Street.

Open Demos are a way to learn about tools, technology, and formats to help you work with open data (and other data). If there’s something you’d like to present or see presented, let us know! And please join the discussion list to be in the loop.

Open Demos are back with Polychart

Open Demos are back! In two weeks, come out to learn about open data, and see an introduction to how to use Polychart to visualize multi-dimensional open data. Polychart is based in the Tannery and helped us secure space and organize the event. They’ll be presenting their JavaScript tool for graphing, which is based on the grammar of graphics.

Please sign up so we can plan ahead for the number of people attending. The event will be at Monday, October 22, at 7pm, and will be in the Tannery at Charles & Victoria Streets in Kitchener. More specifically it will be in the Matrix Room in the Communitech Hub, but we will aim to have signs up to guide you.

Everyone is welcome, so please put up a poster at work or anywhere else interested people may be found.

Tentatively, the next Open Demos will be three weeks later, and will focus on how to work with real-time transit data.

The CodeFest and the Data

If you weren’t at the Open Data CodeFest, here’s what you missed. We started after 11am with an overview and few comments from Garry Bezruki, the City of Waterloo’s Director of Information Management and Technology Services.

Open data advocate and consultant Jury Konga worked with the city to put together a developer’s preview of City of Waterloo open data for this event. The data included: bike lanes, city facilities, heritage buildings, historical street names, parks, places of worship, public art, railway, trails, and ward boundaries. If you’re lucky it may still be available. If not, there is still an opportunity to help test and provide feedback on those data sets and others. In the next week or two the city is doing an open data developer focus group, following which data will be given a wider testing phase before a public launch this spring. If you have any feedback about the data already or would like to be part of the focus group, please contact the city at opendata@waterloo.ca.

The Region of Waterloo also added new data for the CodeFest. They updated the waste collection data and added data on Doors Open Waterloo Region. In addition, the Region shared their real-time airport flight schedule feed. The Region is also interested in feedback on the new data (as well as on existing data sets and requests), so please do contact them at opendata@regionofwaterloo.ca.

It turned out that the 11am start at the University of Waterloo was far too early for many, and so there was surprisingly little effective time before our room booking ended at 4pm. And with the large amount of new data released, much of the time we all spent was actually on looking at the various data sets and on preliminary exploration.

Here’s a few examples of what people worked on: additional feature to an existing transit app, scraping university course calendar data, mapping heritage buildings and public art, and combining bike lanes and paths from three separate data sets.

This was a good start for many present to working with open municipal data, and the new data sets in particular. Another CodeFest in May would probably make sense, perhaps after the City of Waterloo’s official data launch.

In the meantime, if you’ve got the data, use it! And please join us for our monthly meet-up this Thursday evening, April 5, at Queen Street Commons Cafe in downtown Kitchener, from 7pm to 8:30pm. We’ll discuss the CodeFest and the data, and plan more events, including OpenDemos and the next CodeFest.

Preview City of Waterloo Data at Saturday’s CodeFest

This Saturday is the Open Data CodeFest at the University of Waterloo (Facebook event link). In case you needed more reasons to attend, here’s a big one.

The City of Waterloo is working on joining the local open data scene, and Saturday will be a chance to get a taste of Waterloo’s open data! It will also be a way to provide direct feedback to the city on what you would like to see, and how well everything works. At this point it will be just a preview, but more will be on the way soon. At the 11am start of the CodeFest we will have an introduction to those data sets and what you can do with them, courtesy of the City of Waterloo. Expect the preview data sets to include GIS data relating to city facilities and networks, but come out Saturday to find out the detailed list.

Also in time for the CodeFest, the Region of Waterloo will be updating their data sets, and releasing a new data set on Doors Open Waterloo Region.

So spread the word about the Open Data CodeFest, and join us on Saturday! If you like, print out a poster in colour or grayscale and put it up where it makes sense.

Spring Open Data CodeFest

[Update: posters are available in colour or grayscale.]

We’re joining forces with the University of Waterloo Open Data Initiative and the Student Developer Network to host an Open Data CodeFest on Saturday, March 31.

Come work on something interesting using open data and meet others in the Waterloo open data community! Bring your laptop and enthusiasm. Data sets will be available from the University of Waterloo and the Region of Waterloo, though data sets from elsewhere are fine too. [Edit: Data will also be available from the City of Waterloo.] This isn’t just about coding, but maps, graphs, visualizations, and so on — anything that is useful, interesting, or shows the potential of open data.

The CodeFest will be held from 11am to 4pm at the University of Waterloo’s Student Life Centre, in the Multi-Purpose Room (between the food court and the Great Hall). (Facebook event here.) We’ve got the room until 4, but if there’s interest, space can be found to continue the CodeFest later than that. In case you’re unfamiliar with the campus, the university has an online map. The SLC is a short walk from the iXpress stop at Davis Centre; if you’re driving, there is free weekend parking in Lot X north of Columbia Street.