Vancouver Embraces an Open-Source City

When it comes to certain municipal initiatives–like the infamous techno-toilets that wouldn’t work or charging for plastics–Vancouver often looks to our neighbours south of the border for inspiration.  But in the case for creating an open-sourced city or a city that thinks like the web, unlike Portland’s government, it seems Vancouver is leading by example.  On Friday, Vancouver’s city government posted its agenda for an upcoming meeting, where Councillor Andrea Reimer will read a motion titled, “Open Data, Open Standards and Open Source.” The motion calls to open the city’s data and raise the level of open source solutions. According to David Eaves,

At a high level, the goal behind this motion is to enable citizens to create, grow and control the virtual manifestation of their city so that they can in turn better influence the real physical city… while several cities, like Portland, Washington DC, and Toronto, have pursued some of the ideas outlined in this motion, none have codified or been as comprehensive and explicit in their intention.

Eaves brings up the following points:

1. New services and applications: That as data is opened up, shared and has  APIs published for it, our citizen coders will create web based applications that will make their lives – and the lives of other citizens – easier, more efficient, and more pleasant.

2. Tapping into the long tail of public policy analysis: As more and more Vancouverites look over the city’s data, maps and other pieces of information citizens will notice inefficiencies, problems and other issues that could save money, improve services and generally make for a stronger better city.

3. Create new businesses and attract talent: As the city shares more data and uses more open source software new businesses that create services out of this data and that support this software will spring up. More generally, I think this motion, over time could attract talent to Vancouver. Paul Graham once said that great programmers want great tools and interesting challenges. We are giving them both. The challenge of improving the community in which they live and the tools and data to help make it better.

Way to go Vancouver!  Read more from Joe Solomon here. More information about meeting can be found here.  If you want this motion to pass, you need to support it and show up tomorrow (Tuesday, May 19th) at 2pm.