Open data policies are becoming increasingly common for Canadian governments at all levels (federal, provincial, regional, municipal), often as part of open government initiatives. Open data includes any data that is available in standard machine-readable formats, is freely available and accessible over the Internet, is unencumbered by license restrictions, and can be re-used in any imaginable way. The SSHRC-funded Geothink research project (http://geothink.ca) is currently investigating how geospatial open data may impact or benefit larger municipalities, such as Vancouver and Montreal. However, few if any rural local governments provide open data, and little is known about how open data affects rural communities. If there is a benefit to communities from open data policies, it is likely that rural communities are benefiting less than urban ones, if at all. Our three year College and Community Social Innovation Fund project will address this knowledge and practice gap by exploring what open data means in the context of rural Canada.
Planned outcomes of the “Open Data for Open Government in Rural BC” project include policy direction for regional and local rural governments, data sharing and standardization agreements, and costed open data delivery options. Through the development of governance, common purpose, and standards, this project could have a much wider indirect benefit to the public by advancing the open data and open governance agendas.
Project participants include Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute (RDI), the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK), the Open Data Society of BC, Open North, Urban Opus, University of British Columbia- Okanagan (UBC-O), McGill University and Esri Canada.
The project provides funding for a Selkirk College Advanced Diploma in GIS (ADGIS) student intern and a Selkirk College Bachelor of GIS (BGIS) research assistant each year for three years. We also will involve a graduate student in years 2 and 3.