Today, Public Sector Digest (PSD) in partnership with Canada’s Open Data Exchange (ODX) announced the 2016 Open Cities Index results. Now in its second year, the Open Cities Index launched in 2015 as Canada’s first study to benchmark municipal open data initiatives across the country. The 2015 edition of the Open Cities Index included 34 of Canada’s largest municipalities, covering 41 percent of Canada’s total population, with the City of Edmonton securing the number one spot in the inaugural ranking. This year, the Open Cities Index has grown to include 68 municipalities, representing 61.17% of the Canadian population, providing a richer analysis of the state of municipal open data initiatives across the country. The 2015 Top 10 list was expanded to a Top 20 list this year in order to highlight more of Canada’s leading open data communities.
The 2016 Open Cities Index Top 20
Despite significant resource limitations, municipalities across Canada are launching open data initiatives in order to contribute to strategic goals of enhancing transparency, but also to create new efficiencies in the delivery of government services and quite possibly support the generation of new local businesses. The 2016 Open Cities Index Top 20 cities, although varying greatly in their size, geography, and open data maturity, have all made a strong commitment to advancing their open data initiatives.
For the second year in a row, the City of Edmonton has been named Canada’s most open city, with the City of Toronto retaining its second place ranking. Montréal has climbed 10 spots to 3rd in 2016, rounding out the top three. Notably, the 2016 Top 20 list includes 5 municipalities brand new to the Index and the City of Mississauga has earned the “Most Improved” recognition for jumping 25 spots from 2015 landing in 15th place this year.
Edmonton received a score of 98% overall for its open data program, with very strong performances in the Readiness and Impact categories of the study. Providing open data training for the community, convening regular open data hackathons, and adopting an official Open Data Plan and Open Data Policy are just some of the ways Edmonton is building open data capacity within its organization and in the broader community. Under the Implementation category, Edmonton has published online, up-to-date, freely available, machine-readable, automated datasets that are linked to APIs under almost all 32 categories of datasets included in the Open Cities Index. Edmonton has also made advancements to better ascertain the impact of its open data initiative via an array of tools and strategies, including the use of an Impact Map, which tracks what users are doing with their published data, and through media tracking, measuring the percentage of media coverage that is favourable.
With the second highest score in the Implementation category, the City of Toronto continues to be a national leader in the publication of diverse high-quality datasets. Toronto’s open data portal includes highly sought after datasets, like restaurant inspection data (while most other municipalities across Canada lack access to restaurant inspection information as it is collected by another level of government – open data partnerships are required in order to share this data.) Toronto has also made headway with refining the measurement of its open data initiative. The City’s Open Government Committee has developed performance measures and indicators to track its Open Government program with a particular focus on Open Data, Open Engagement, Open Information and Open Culture.
Likewise, the City of Montréal is working with a local university to develop an impact assessment framework for its open data initiative. Montréal is also participating in a start-up accelerator, supporting a number of burgeoning businesses seeking to make use of the City’s open data. These targeted efforts have helped push Montréal into second place under both the Impact and Readiness sections of the Open Cities Index.
The overall average score for the 68 participating municipalities was 27% for 2016, up from 25% in 2015. There is a noticeable improvement in the engagement and commitment to open data across municipalities of all sizes from coast to coast to coast. Despite the low national average of 24% in the Implementation category, a stronger showing of 34% in the Readiness category indicates that Canada’s municipalities are starting to put the tools and resources in place that will allow for more robust implementation of open data in the near future. Support from national and provincial governments in terms of building municipal open data capacity will only accelerate this process.
The Open Cities Index serves as a supplementary guide for cities looking to initiate or advance their open data programs. Until now, municipalities have lacked a reference point for what types of data to make available to the public, in what format, and at what frequency. The Open Cities Index measures the readiness, implementation, and impact of the participating cities’ open data initiatives:
1) Readiness: To what extent is the municipality ready/capable of fostering positive outcomes through its open data initiative?
2) Implementation: To what extent has the city fulfilled its open data goals and ultimately, what data has it posted online?
3) Impact: To what extent has the posted data been used, what benefits has the city accrued as a result of its open data program, and to what extent is the city capable of measuring the impact?
The implementation section of the Index scores a municipality against the availability of 32 identified datasets, with 11 variables assessing the quality of the data, including whether the data is machine readable, available for free, and up to date. In establishing the Open Cities Index, PSD first reviewed all relevant open data literature including studies from across Europe and North America. A methodology for the Index was then developed by applying elements of the following initiatives to the local government context in Canada: The Open Data Barometer created by the World Wide Web Foundation, POPSIS (Pricing of Public Sector Information Study) conducted by the European Commission, McKinsey Global Institute’s Open Data Study, and OKFN’s Open Data Census.
ABOUT PUBLIC SECTOR DIGEST
The Public Sector Digest is a monthly digital and quarterly print publication written to advance the managerial capacity of Canada’s public sector. PSD’s research activities and content, including articles, case studies, webinars, and white papers, focus exclusively on topics pertinent to current and future executives across all government levels and disciplines. Its network of researchers and authors spans 20 countries, across six continents, and comprises highly accomplished specialists and academics from hundreds of world-class organizations and government agencies.
ABOUT CANADA’S OPEN DATA EXCHANGE
ODX is a public-private-academic partnership based in Waterloo Region serving all of Canada. The initiative presents an opportunity for entrepreneurs to multi-national companies to be a global leader in the commercialization of open data. Founding partners include University of Waterloo, D2L (Desire2Learn), CDMN (Canadian Digital Media Network), OpenText and Communitech— with funds matched by the Government of Canada.