How do you get people behind a worthy cause? How do you get someone excited about an idea to make them want to commit their own time, effort and creativity in order to make it a reality?
You must first start with a vision, a long-term view of what the future looks like, and a mission that would clearly explain why something is a “worthy cause”. You then need to brainstorm some “good ideas” that translate this mission into actionable opportunities. The objective is to link the vision back to people’s own life experiences, and to make a rational (and emotional) connection to inspire them to take action and get behind this cause.
Open Data is one such worthy cause, with the vision to ‘open’ the government data to the public so that citizens could derive their own insights and uses for that data. When the data is easy to access, query, filter, visualize, download or capture as a feed (see Open Data Principles) – this opens up endless use-case scenarios and application possibilities for app developers and consequently citizens. Open the garbage collection data – get applications that help you remember when to take out your trash and recyclables. Open transit data – get applications that let you access real-time schedules for public transit and help you plan your trips.
This is why Open Data is a catalyst for good ideas, a spark for a myriad of great ideas that have the potential to improve quality of people’s lives and make our cities, regions and country a better place (see some examples in a post by CIO of San Francisco “5 Open Data Apps that are Improving out Cities”). It changes the way governments connect to citizens, and the way citizens interact with the governments. It’s a platform for greater government transparency, accountability and participation – the tenants of Open Government and of Gov 2.0 (read how Open Data Apps are Improving Government).
But… it all starts with the people, like-minded groups of citizens with a shared goal of taking the vision into reality. This is why a few of us who live, work or care about the Halton region have decided to organize an Open Halton group, a community to help drive the Open Gov and Open Data agenda in Halton. We follow proudly in the footsteps of other Open Data groups in Canada, like OpenDataLondon, OpenDataOttawa, Montreal Ouvert and OpenGuelph. Along the way we hope to identify and bring to life a few “good ideas” to help our community, and collaborate with private, public and academic organizations to drive Open Data and get the most out of what it has to offer.
So, here’s to getting behind Open Data – a worthy cause! Hope you can join us in our mission!