Edmonton: A Leader for Open Data Cities

A recent editorial referred to Edmonton, Alberta as the “City of Open Data Champions” based on its many achievements related to open data applications and civic engagement. Over the past five years, Edmonton has transformed its municipal perspective on the open government movement. The City of Edmonton has embraced the open government philosophy and has become a national leader in open data sharing.

The City has implemented a  City Council approved Open City policy to help guide the movement throughout the municipality. The Open City policy acts as the umbrella that encompasses all of the innovative open government work within the City of Edmonton, and allows administration to work with citizens to share information, develop common approaches, and to take on opportunities together. Advocates such as Wendy Gnenz, Director of Corporate and Department Initiatives, have implemented an open data process that makes government more efficient and transparent, local businesses more innovative and citizens more connected.

At the Center for Open Data Enterprise, we’re highlighting the many uses of open government data through our Open Data Impact Map and other work. In 2010, the cities of Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa, started the “G4” to improve open data standards and practices.and develop a national data strategy. Since then, Edmonton has demonstrated strong leadership and vision toward an award-winning open data ecosystem.

Edmonton began working in 2011 to upgrade its download-only data catalogue to a new Open Data Portal. The city did this work in partnership with Socrata, a company that provides cloud-based portals for many data-driven governments, such as New York, Chicago and Burlington, Ontario. Edmonton’s Citizen Dashboard, built on Socrata’s Open Performance platform in 2013, offers residents the opportunity to access easy to comprehend open data through interactive visual interface. The dashboard supports the City’s Strategic Plan – The Way Ahead, which focuses on 6 strategic goals: transportation, livability, environment, urban form, economy and finance. The 10-year plan aim to create “a socially sustainable, civil, and caring society.”

At the Canadian Open Data Summit 2015, the City of Edmonton won the award given to an organization or individual in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the Canadian open data community. According to the jury statement, Edmonton is the “best example in Canada of a government opening up its data to provide data-driven policy, engage citizens and support business priorities.” Its outstanding platforms and initiatives seek to hold officials accountable for delivering services, inform residents of city reports and expand the civic engagement base.  Edmonton’s data-driven, collaborative approach has designated it as a model for government performance management through open data – and a testament to the power of maximizing open data’s economic and social value.