Open City

Vancouver Developers Roll Out Public Data Apps

By Ryan McGreal
Published September 22, 2009

An important measure of success for building a platform rather than a mere utility is whether users get busy creating their own applications on top of it.

Since the City of Vancouver established an open data catalogue, local developers are already hard at work creating valuable tools for residents that use the data.

From a friendly reminder to put out your trash to an interactive map of drinking fountains, people are already taking advantage of the city's open data platform.

The Vancouver Open Data Wiki even has a list of ideas for the taking, proposed applications that have not yet been implemented.

Whereas many city governments still fear their residents, the government of Vancouver has taken the bold step of making its residents into partners in creating and delivering valuable municipal services.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted September 24, 2009 at 00:52:13

i have nothing technical to add, but love seeing these uses of the data. if only...

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted September 24, 2009 at 08:12:14

Going through that wiki has my nerd-senses tingling. Just imagine the kinds of apps that could be created. Imagine a mobile app that takes your position and an inputted destination and outputs the required transit routes and even an estimated time of arrival for the next bus. That could be combined with point of interest info for a customizable virtual tour guide for the city. Not to mention all the more mundane, everyday uses like garbage pickup reminders, school info, city council voting records, crime statistics, or how about a virtual lost and found? Showing where you were when you lost/found an item on a Google Map is a hell of a lot easier than posting flyers!

Actually, that last one could be implemented now, (though it would be better if it were an official city hosted site rather than just on Google Maps). What say you RTH community? Do you think there be much interest in a map mash-up like that? Or does something like that already exist?

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