Government of Ontario delivering on open data commitment

Ontario Legislature Building

In 2016, the Government of Ontario signed on as one of the first wave of members of the Open Government Partnership’s subnational government pilot program. In joining the plan, Ontario submitted an Open Government Partnership Action Plan that included a commitment to “strengthen Ontario’s commitment to making government data open by default by adopting the International Open Data Charter.” Ontario formally adopted the Charter on May 5, 2017.

Ontario seems to be making good on its open data commitment.

Participants in the consultations conducted in developing the OGP commitments recently received an update from the province which indicated, in part,

“… Ontario’s data catalogue now includes a comprehensive list of data owned or managed by government, including over 570 open datasets.  The catalogue lists data as either open, restricted, under review or in the process of being made open.

“Knowing what we have is the first step in understanding which data is the most valuable to our stakeholders and the public. Our data catalogue will help us prioritize which data sets to release first.

“We will continue to expand the data inventory to make all government data open by default. This means opening up all government data, unless it is exempt for legal, security, confidentiality, privacy, or commercially sensitive reasons.

“Provincial agencies are also posting lists of their datasets online. Over 95 agencies have their data listed on their websites, and some have begun taking further steps to engage users of their data.”

Ontario’s Data Catalogue

Ontario’s data is available at the Province’s online Data Catalogue. Data sets are classified as open, in the process of being opened, under review or restricted.

As of the date of writing this, the Catalogue lists 2351 data sets. Of these:

  • 576 are open;
  • 198 are to be opened;
  • 1008 are under review; and
  • 569 are restricted.

That means that, at the time of writing, just under one in four of the data sets in the catalogue are restricted. The catalogue gives no explanation for the restricted categorization of these data sets. I have sent the government and email query re the criteria used to assign the restricted category to a data set and I will update this posted when I receive a response.

A good start

So, that’s the not-so-good news. But I believe that the commitment to open by default, backed up by the 576 data sets that already have been opened as well as the transparency achieved by publishing the catalogue represents a huge advance. It means that citizens will have easy access to much more information than they could have achieved even a few years ago. And with data comes knowledge and understanding. Knowledge and understanding that can be used by citizens to increase their engagement with government.

So, kudos to Ontario. Kudos to the Open Government Partnership. So far, so good.

 

Find out who wants to join your Facebook group

Better Tools for Facebook Group Administrators

Facebook Groups are used by many organizations and groups to bring their members and communities together in an accessible discussion forum. Now, Facebook has provided group administrators with the ability to set up a brief questionnaire that prospective new members would answer when requesting membership in the group. It’s not a big thing. But it will help administrators to understand who is joining the group and what has drawn them to it.

We’ve set up a questionnaire for new members of the Inside PR podcast Facebook Group. The questions are simple:

  • Where did you hear about the Inside PR podcast?
  • What topics would you like to hear about on the Inside PR podcast?
  • Which other podcasts do you find most useful to you in your work?

Easy to answer questions that will provide us with new insight into the evolving membership of our Facebook Group. A small innovation, but a valuable innovation.

Martin Waxman, Gini Dietrich and I discuss the new Facebook Group questions on the Inside PR podcast, episode 474.

Two Inside PR episodes in one week

I just posted Inside PR 473. This is me playing catch up. As some listeners noticed, I fell behind in posting and episodes were dropping two weeks after we recorded them. But now we’re up to date and I’m hoping to publish each future episode within two days of recording.

As for episode 473, after several weeks of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Gini DietrichMartin Waxman and I all together for this episode. We talk about Twitter’s deal with Bloomberg to produce video, Feedly’s coming mute filters, Sysomos’ new integrated platform, and the end of Yik Yak.

You can listen to episode 473 on the Inside PR podcast blog.

 

The New York Times and Snapchat: All the Media that fit?

The New York Times has had perhaps the greatest success of any traditional top-tier newspaper in moving toward being able to sustain its business based primarily on its online presence. And it keeps exploring new channels that may be part of the new revenue mix. The Times has been on Snapchat for the past two years. In April, it joined Snapchat Discover.

NY Times animated GIF of Travis Kalanick

Travis Kalanick

Kudos for the Times for experimenting. But it’s hard to see how Snapchat Discover matches the nature of the Times content. Take an early Discover article as an example. On Sunday April 23, the Times ran a major feature on Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. The version of the Times Website clocked in as just under 4,000 words.  The next morning, the Times launched its Snapchat Discover channel with the Kalanick story. And what a difference! The Snapchat version contained an animated GIF and three text panels containing under 160 words. That’s right. 4,000 words on the Times site. Less than 160 on Snapchat.

It strikes me that this is one channel that may prove a dead end for the Times. It is arguable that the in-depth reporting that leads to a 4,000 word story is the essence of the Times attraction and the reason that it is thriving in the era of alternative facts. Boiling that down into 160 words is little more than a tease, the equivalent of publishing the headline and a quote. And that’s not what the New York Times is.

Of course, their thinking may be that every revenue stream makes a contribution. And I can’t argue against that. Every content marketer knows the effectiveness of repurposing content for multiple channels.

On the other hand, if the thinking is that Snapchat Discover will provide an on-ramp for a new generation to discover the value of the full NY Times, I’m skeptical. I just don’t think that people who come to the content in a flow of brief video clips and 160 word stories anchored in the zeitgeist of celebrity culture are likely to convert into subscribers to the Times flagship property. It’s  a different medium that it does not translate well.

Of course, time will tell. So, it will be worth checking back in on this experience every quarter until the Times declares its success or reassesses the effort.

Martin Waxman and I discussed the New York Times on Snapchat, along with several other topics on the Inside PR Podcast episode 472. So, if you’re interested in hearing our discussion, click over to the Inside PR podcast blog or subscribe on iTunes.