Open Data and Government

Transforming our lives for the better

There is a movement in government to open up data to its citizens. It’s great to see this happening throughout the world, but you may not know it is also happening right in our own backyard here in Newmarket and York Region.

For many, the data won’t mean much, and synthesizing it would be quite time consuming or even boring. But, there are some that this will motivate to take that data and solve legitimate problems we face as a community.

We have so much talent in our community. Whether it be exciting new tech startups, established companies with data analytics in their DNA, or even keen students who have a passion for app development. There are so many that can use this wealth of data to improve our lives.

Data on bus routes, ridership and stop times can be used to create an app to help residents better navigate YRT/Viva; GIS data on points of interest in our community could be used to create a tourism app or website; or Information on spending, both historic and planned, could be used to better map a sustainable fiscal roadmap. The possibilities are endless.

Municipalities are getting better at measuring success. The private sector has always done a good job of this as they are often driven by different factors. But, the smart municipalities are the ones that have embraced measuring their return on investments.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”
— Peter Drucker

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg established Bloomberg Philanthropies. and one of their key areas of focus is to support government innovation. They have a saying that “In God we trust. Everyone else, bring data.” Last year alone they gave over $700 million to support projects in cities and towns throughout the world that could be measured and demonstrate a tangible benefit to government efficiency, peoples lives, and/or fiscal savings.

Gone are the days where staff and elected officials make decisions based on gut, or because they’ve always done things that way.

We need to create a catalyst for innovation in our community. We need to task the bright minds that reside in York Region and the Town of Newmarket with using the data that has been made available to help improve lives. We must create a challenge that excites young people to help shape their future.

Government doesn’t have all of the answers, and cannot provide all the solutions for the difficulties we face. But, what if there is someone that with some passion and effort could create an application or website that can fundamentally change how we look at something, or how we do certain things.

If elected this October, one of my priorities will be to lead a plan to challenge our community to use our data and help change things for the better.

Together, we can make a difference and solve problems to improve people’s lives.


Check out our local government websites with open data:

Region of York: york.ca/opendata

Town of Newmarket: open.newmarket.ca