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.

Who is using Waterloo Region Open Data

Here is one example with a short tutorial on integrating Waterloo Open Data with existing data.

March Open Data Meeting

Regional data sets have been trickling out, and there’s more than enough open data things to talk about. So we’ll be having an Open Data Waterloo Region meeting next Thursday, March 1. It will be from 7pm to 8:30pm at Queen Street Commons Cafe in downtown Kitchener at 43 Queen St S.

This will be an opportunity for those who have been using existing open data to share their progress, for discussion of ongoing developments / advocacy of potential data sets, and planning of an Open Data CodeFest jointly with UW Open Data – tentatively on Saturday, March 17.

Everyone is welcome to join us!

Open Data Meet-up

It’s been a bit quiet Open Data-wise over the past few months, but it’s time to change that. Soon enough staff will be bringing forward a report on open data, and there has already been some community use of transit schedule data. Open Data recently made its way into Waterloo Region’s 2011-2014 Strategic Plan. This is a good point to consider what we want to see Open Data Waterloo Region doing over the next while.

Anyway, we have booked space (the Harp Room) for Open Data Waterloo Region at McCabe’s (at King & Francis in Kitchener) from 6 to 9pm next Wednesday, September 7. (Facebook event link.) Come out, grab a pint / some food and talk open data – with advocates, staff (hopefully), prospective/current developers, and interested others. Please invite anyone who might be interested in figuring out what we’re about, what’s going on with open data in Waterloo Region, and what the possibilities of open data hold.

Open Demos: Open Social Data

Gaelan’s slides are available here.

With recent additions from Google and Facebook, social networking has been at the centre of many tech-related discussions. Our next Open Demo, on Wednesday, July 13, will focus on advances and issues in open social data.

Previous Open Demo presenter Gaelan will provide an introduction to Diaspora, a decentralized social networking alternative to Facebook / Twitter / Google+. It was created as a response to the privacy and data ownership concerns of modern popular social networking sites, trying to provide their benefits while also giving the user full control of the data they submit.

He will spend some time on why you should care about how social media sites manage your privacy, but will mostly describe how Diaspora works, how it respects your data and how to set it up.

As always, our Open Demo events are geared to anyone interested in open data, technology and the OpenDataWR community, regardless of experience level. Whether you want to stick around to code or chat, you’re invited to stick around after the Open Demo — feel free to bring your laptops and your thoughts.

When: Wednesday, July 13 at 6:30 – 8:00pm

Where: Barleyworks at the Heuther Hotel, 59 King Street North, Waterloo (see map.)

Please RSVP to @opendatawr or info@opendatawr.ca

Open Data enables multi-modal trip planner (study)

OpenStreetMap contributor, Ed Hillsman, was the senior research associate on a multi-modal trip planner study. In it the authors implement a multi-modal trip planner using transit feeds, Open Data and a variety of Open Source tools.

Open Demos: Consuming and Presenting OpenStreetMap Data – and an informal coding meetup

Update: see the comments for a link to the slides.

Interested in learning how to use OpenStreetMap data? Not sure where to start? Free on Wednesday, June 22 at 6:30 – 8pm?

After a brief hiatus, we’re gearing up for our third Open Demo next Wednesday, June 22. This instalment will delve into how to work with map data from OpenStreetMap (OSM), the worldwide user-contributed online map.  Steven Singer, OpenStreetMap enthusiast and data base expert, will present an introduction to OpenStreetMap and a variety of techniques for using OSM data in your open data-related applications. Many open data applications use OSM data as their backbone, so learning how to work with it is an important first step in developing your own applications.

As always, our Open Demo events are technically-oriented, but accessible to all experience levels. Even if you’re a non-coder, Open Demos provide a great opportunity to meet the OpenDataWR community and be exposed to great uses of technology for community improvement. Being informal events, the floor’s open to participants with OSM-related insights to share.

When: Wednesday, June 22 at 6:30 – 8:00pm

Where: Misty Mountain Coffee, 33 Queen Street South, Kitchener (across from the Walper Terrace Hotel, see map.)

Please RSVP to @opendatawr or info@opendatawr.ca.

If you would like to work on your open data-related project and talk shop with other members of the OpenDataWR community, you’re invited to stick around after the Open Demo! We’ve got Misty Mountain booked until 10pm, so feel free to bring your laptops.

Tell us (and the Region of Waterloo) what data matters to you

A question we often field at Open Data Waterloo Region is, “what data needs to be open?” While one answer to this question is “Open it all,” we need to start somewhere. And that’s where we need your help.

An important part of moving the Region’s Open Data strategy forward involves gaining an idea of what data should first be made available. Thanks to popular demand, Grand River Transit has already released GTFS schedule data, but what’s next? Here at OpenDataWR, we’ve thought of more than a few ideas — among them, restaurant inspection and bike rack location data — but along with the Region, we would like suggestions from the entire community.

What data sets would you like to see the Region of Waterloo make available as open data? Post a comment and let us know what interests you most.

Winnipeg Transit leads by example


Winnipeg Transit is leading by example with good Open Data practices. They have published their data in GTFS format under the ODC PDDL. The zip file includes a LICENSE file with the full text of the PDDL.

These licensing terms provide absolute clarity to developers who wish to use Winnipeg Transit data. Yes, you may.

Winnipeg Transit also leads by example with their trip planner and transit API. Their Terms of Use clearly distinguish between the restrictions and limitations of their web service, and the Open Data license for the data. This approach allows the city to prevent over-use or abuse of the web service, and offer the web service on an equitable basis to all data consumers. At the same time, their policy makes the raw data available to data consumers without restrictions, so data consumers may provide their own services with that data, reducing the requirement for resources from the city.

Well done, Winnipeg!

Waterloo Region Open Data Panel

[Updated 06 May 2011 with presentation links]
Last autumn Waterloo Regional Council directed regional staff to investigate the feasibility of an Open Data implementation. On Wednesday 27 April 2011, the region hosted an event to raise awareness among regional staff and area municipalities. The event included a presentation from Dave Wallace, Chief Information Officer for the City of Toronto. Dave had a wealth of experience to share with Waterloo Region based on the Toronto Open Data implementation launched in November of 2009.

Open Data Waterloo Region was invited to the event as well, and we wish to thank our hosts and all of the other event attendees. We’re pleased to be “at the table” with the region during the discussion of the feasibility of a Waterloo Region Open Data Initiative, and to be able to share our concerns and interests, as well as to offer our experience and guidance. The questions to the panel showed a healthy curiosity about the likely effects of Open Data on the work of region staff and concern for the overall well-being of the data that they curate for the citizens of the region.

Open Data Waterloo Region gave a presentation called What can Citizens do with Open Data? that demonstrated some of the interesting things that citizens are already doing by consuming Open Data. Examples came from nearby and around the world and ranged from crowd-sourced data to municipal Open Data. Slides from that presentation are here. View the presentation What can Citizens do with Open Data? in your browser, or download the presentation, speaker notes and materials. The presentation is in open format and licensed CC-By.

We would like to thank Waterloo Region for organizing this event, and for inviting us along.