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Sustainable Innovation with Open Data


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Luke Closs at URISA BC (Feb, 2012) talking about Innovation and Open Data, and how cities can better capture innovation created by open data communities to lower costs and provide better services.

Published in: Technology
  • Yep, it certainly does seem that small municipalities can move quicker than the big ones. They can access more of the loose innovation on the left side of that chart.
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  • You're right RE: ur example of the ParksFinder, as a small innovation that a city may not use. I didn't think Vancouver was going to pick it up, but knew others (smaller cities included) could learn from this as an example. In fact, smaller mjuni's with IT rock-stars pick up on frameworks like this they can customize. Check out:
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Sustainable Innovation with Open Data

  1. 1. Sustainable Innovation with Open Data Luke Closs Founder,
  2. 2. This guy, so what?• Builder of software products & services• Have worked with Silicon Valley startups and large enterprises• Many roles: developer, coach, consultant, architect, product designer• Many years focused on The Web
  3. 3. Open Data, so what?• Interested in open data since Vancouver’s Open3 motion in 2009• Worked on many open data projects: • VanTrash, Budget visualization, gut, Parliament scrapers, Corporate registry tools, Election finance tools, Recollect, Open Data catalogues, Marine AIS Traffic, CKAN,, sidewalk chalk dataviz, hackathons, Open Data Day, …• Started an open data business!
  4. 4. This talk, so what?(Let’s decompress my talk title, it’s not all buzzwords, I promise!)
  5. 5. Sustainable Innovation with Open Data
  6. 6. Sustainable Innovation with Open Data
  7. 7. Sustainable Innovation with Open Data
  8. 8. Ideas & Projects Products Services Infrastructure Hacks
  9. 9. Ideas & Projects Products Services Infrastructure Hacks
  10. 10. Ideas & Projects Products Services Infrastructure Hacks Many of these ideas will “fail”. That’s okay.
  11. 11. Ideas & Projects Products Services Infrastructure Hacks The good innovations typically move to the right.
  12. 12. Ideas & Projects Products Services Infrastructure Hacks Citizens Established Vendors
  13. 13. Sustainable Innovation with Open Data
  14. 14. Sustainable Innovation?• At the community level • Hackathons, new datasets, …• At the product level • How to move innovations into infrastructure?
  15. 15. Five Lessons
  16. 16. Lesson #1Cities are missing out
  17. 17. Ideas & Projects Products Services Infrastructure Hacks
  18. 18. Small Innovations• Lots of small / cheap / free innovations are being created.• Innovations are lost because cities cannot endorse them.• They are too cheap for cities!
  19. 19. Nobody will use this• It’s not official, it’s not even linked to.• IT won’t take it on without a SLA.• There is no business to provide a SLA.• If there was, the cost would be too low.• This project will never improve.
  20. 20. Why is that bad?• The city can’t do cheap things• The city can’t collaborate with citizens• This limits opportunity for new vendors to provide greatly cheaper services.
  21. 21. Speaking of great new services …
  22. 22. Lesson #2Small hacks can lead to big things!
  23. 23. ~3 years ago: a blog post
  24. 24. A few months later …
  25. 25. VanTrash• Exclusively focused on citizens• Several citizen focused innovations • Reminders • Calendar feeds • Fast and easy!
  26. 26. Time passes …• Tremendously positive feedback from citizens. • “The Marriage Saver”• Week after week our numbers grow with only word of mouth.• 311 uses us?
  27. 27. November 2010• “Lets bring this to more people” • More people within Vancouver • More people in other cities• Start re-architecting, re-branding, re- building, Re-collecting.
  28. 28. Early 2011• We launch• Built to help citizens everywhere• Built for Municipalities • Reduce costs - 311, website, IT • Improve communications
  29. 29. Embed Recollect• Embed on city website• Optimized for mobile phones (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, …)• Optimized for modern browsers• Secure, monitored, scalable.
  30. 30. Messaging Dashboard
  31. 31. Metrics
  32. 32. Ad-hoc geo messaging• Targeted notifications to particular geographies • “Trucks are snowed in for your zone” • “Burst water main”
  33. 33. And we’re cheap! Ask about our URISA BC 20% Discount!
  34. 34. Lesson #3 Open Data makesyou low hanging fruit
  35. 35. Low Barrier• For companies like Recollect• For citizens looking to port apps from other places
  36. 36. Examples:• Edmonton - super easy • KML, CSV open data, < 1hr• Kamloops - pretty easy • SHP open data, < 2hr• Abbotsford - Impossible! • No open data, not scrape-able
  37. 37. Lesson #4Small communitiesgreatly benefit from Open Data
  38. 38. Small Municipalities:• Don’t have a lot of IT resources• Don’t have big IT budgets• Don’t have a big community of developers and high tech companies
  39. 39. So …• Lower the barrier for outsiders to innovate with your data!• Copy what the bigger cities do • Release similar datasets • Use standards as much as possible!
  40. 40. Lesson #5Lack of standardslimits investment
  41. 41. • People will use non-standardized data • … but it’s really hard to scale out • … and it means we need to re-invent the wheel for each municipality
  42. 42. • Certain problems won’t be tackled• Innovations won’t spread
  43. 43. Standards can be simple!• Don’t make them more complex than they need to be.• Standards are just agreements• Use web friendly standards• Avoid proprietary standards! • Avoid anything that requires proprietary tools to work with
  44. 44. In closing• Open data allows new innovations: • which provide new services • which make life better • which makes vendors compete on service and price • which can radically lower IT costs
  45. 45. Thank you• I’d love to hear why I’m right or wrong.• I’d love to bring Recollect to your city. • 20% off first year of service for conference attendees!• or @lukec