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Open Data Learning Summit 2012

Held: Friday, 21 September, 2012, 9:00-4:30, at UBC Robson Square, downtown Vancouver (agenda)

Presented by: BC Libraries Cooperative, in partnership with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner BC and Libraries and Literacy, Ministry of Education.

Summaries: Video | Blog post


Journey to Open Data (David Wrate): The Province of BC is the first province in Canada to implement an open data program. David Wrate from DataBC will provide a view into what brought the program to life, share lessons they’ve learned, and chart a course for the future.

Love Open Data (Loren Mullan): Excited about open data and the prospect of its use in your library or community? How do you get others on board in developing strategies for sharing data and supporting and facilitating its use? What are the tools? What hooks can you use? How do you talk effectively about open data to those new to the concept?

Open Data 101 (Herb Lainchbairy): New to open data? Open Data 101 is an open data literacy session on its origins, terminology, how it is used, and who is using it.

New Public Service (Darrin Fast): What role do librarians and information managers play in leading open data? Why is this important? What data could and should libraries be releasing? Join the discussion!

Planning a Hackfest (Mark Jordon): What are hackathons? What elements are needed to put on a successful hackathon? What are they good for? Who can participate in them?

Best Practices (Sue Bigalow): What are best practices in open data and who can help design them? Learn from the perspectives of an open data user, digital conservator and access and privacy enthusiast.

Storytelling with Data (Chad Skelton): How can open data be used to tell compelling stories? Hear from a panel of journalists, new users, and open data experts on their experiences and thoughts on open data storytelling.

Mashup Tools

Google Fusion Tables: Google’s experimental data visualization app allows users to combine  data with other open data to collaborate and share, host and manage data in the cloud.

Tableau Public: free and easy-to-use tool that allows users to publish interactive visual data to the web. Frequently used by bloggers and journalists, no tech chops required!

iMap BC: web-based mapping tool that uses land, resource and other geographic data hosted by the BC Geographic Warehouse.

ManyEyes: IBM’s answer to data visualization. Browse existing data sets, upload data sets and create visualizations.

Panda: open source data analysis tool based on the Python programming language.

EasyLOD: simple framework for exposing Linked Open Data from arbitrary sources.

Google’s Geocode API: Google’s API for converting street addresses into geographic coordinates.

View Share: free platform for generating and customizing views (interactive maps, timelines, facets, tag clouds) that allow users to access digital collections.

OpenRefine (formerly Google Refine): free, open source power tool for working with messy data and improving it.

Hackathon Projects



Municipal Debt Comparatron

School Zone

Van Shelter

Great Places to Start



City of Vancouver

City of Naniamo

Vancouver Sun Data Central

Guardian Data Blog

Speaker & Presenter Biographies

Keynote: Elizabeth Denham was appointed Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia in May, 2010. Since her appointment, Ms. Denham has led the B.C. office to take a proactive approach to the enforcement of access and privacy laws, with a focus on the impact of new and emerging technologies on privacy. Prior to her appointment, Ms. Denham served as Assistant Privacy Commissioner of Canada (2007-2010) and Director, Private Sector, for the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta (2003-2007).

Keynote: David Eaves – A public policy entrepreneur, open government activist and negotiation expert David is retained by several governments to advise on open government and open data, works with two spin-offs of the Harvard Negotiation Project and advises businesses on open source strategies and community management. David writes on open innovation, public policy, public service sector renewal, open source and network systems. He posts multiple times a week on his blog, publishes regularly in various forums including the Globe and Mail website, the Toronto Star, and written numerous chapters such as his piece in the O’Reilly Media book on Open Government.

Liam Arthurs – education officer, Ministry of Education, BC

Jessica Asch – policy analyst, Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner

Sue Bigelow – Sue is a Digital Conservator at the City of Vancouver Archives, preserving both digital and analogue records in many media. She is also responsible for the Archives digitization program, which has expanded over the past 15 years to include images, textual records, maps and plans, film, video and audio. A founding member of the Open Data Society of B.C., Sue is interested in making archival data useable for digital research.

Brian Campbell – Retired Systems and Technical Services Director, Vancouver Public Library, founding President, Vancouver Community Network, founding Chair, British Columbian Library Association and Canadian Library Association (CLA) Information Policy Committees.  Among his awards are the Distinguished Alumni award on the 25th anniversary of the UBC School of Library, Archival and Information Studies and the CLA Outstanding Library Service Award.

Steven Chan is a member of the team at the BC Libraries Co-operative to deploy an open source system for public and academic libraries in BC. He is also associated with the Vancouver Community Network, a nonprofit and charitable organization. He has been a steady participant in open data hackathons in the Vancouver area, when they started as a result of the open data legislation approved by city council in 2009.

Ross Collicutt – Ross is an applications analyst for the City of Nanaimo. He leads their open data project and implemented the current version of the Nanaimo Open Data Catalogue, a customized version of Microsoft’s open-source Open Government Data Initiative.  Ross is interested in opening government data and combining forces with the private sector and volunteers to promote the use of that data for innovative ideas and products. When he’s not in front of the computer, Ross is exploring the backcountry of Vancouver Island with bikes, skis and hiking boots and writing about his experiences at PureOutside.com.

Rhiannon Coppin (@coppinr) is an alumna of Simon Fraser University’s School of Engineering Science and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York. She explores tools for data collection, analysis, and visualization and works part-time at CBC Vancouver (cbc.ca/bc) as an online writer and editor.

Darrin Fast graduated from the Vancouver Film School in Multimedia and am finishing a joint Computing Science – Philosophy major at SFU. Darrin has worked with the City of Vancouver for 10 years in various roles involving information and data management. Over the past 3 years, Darrin has been involved with the City’s Open Data Program both in an operational and strategic planning capacity.

Eve Gaudet – As Director of Open Government with the provincial Ministry of Education, Eve is responsible for implementing the ministry’s Open Government Strategy in support of the ministry’s transformation of education to a system that will meet the needs of students in the 21st century. This includes leading the ministry’s files of open data and open information.  She formerly held the position of Director, Provincial Literacy Planning & Performance working across provincial government ministries, pan-Canadian jurisdictions and with key literacy organizations.

Mark Jordan is Head of Library Systems at Simon Fraser University. He has organized two Hackfests and is currently organizing two more.

Herb Lainchbury is an open data strategy and technology consultant. He is the CEO and founder of Dynamic Solutions Inc., a firm providing internet technology consulting, design and delivery services. Mr. Lainchbury was a part of the organizing team for the first conference on open government in B.C., held in Victoria in November 2010, and has since founded OpenDataBC, a grassroots community dedicated to promoting the understanding and use of open data in British Columbia.

Loren Mullane is the DataBC Evangelist for the Province of BC. He promotes the use of the Province’s public data and engages with communities passionate about data and the opportunities it presents. He believes in open data’s potential to inform citizens about their government and to be the raw ingredients that spark innovation.

Anne Olsen– Vancouver Public Library. Anne Olsen is a manager at the Vancouver Public Library and has worked in public, academic and special libraries. She is interested in developing a better understanding and further exploration of the relevance of open data in a public library environment and the ways librarians can assist in connecting communities with open data and open government.

Tara Robertson – Tara Robertson, Accessibility Librarian, CILS (http://www2.langara.bc.ca/cils/).  She managing alternate format production of textbooks and other course materials for post-secondary students with print disabilities. Also she advocates for students with print disabilities and collaborates with other agencies to better serve post-secondary students with print disabilities.

Chad Skelton is an award-winning investigative reporter at The Vancouver Sun, specializing in FOI requests and data journalism. Chad has received the Jack Webster Award, B.C.’s top journalism prize, five times. His most recent Webster was in 2011 for a series on daycare safety that included a searchable database of daycare inspection ratings. Chad also teaches journalism part-time at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, where he developed the popular Citizen Journalism course.

Danielle Westbrook – Danielle is a recent graduate of the Library and Information Studies program at the University of British Columbia. While a student, she completed a visual analytics and data visualization course with Dr. Victoria Lemieux, incorporating library data into a final project. In addition to exploring visual analytics and data visualization for library storytelling, she is interested in the use of open data and data sharing in academic research.

David Wrate is the Director of Citizen Engagement for the Province of BC. Actively engaged in open data for the past two years, he has been in the thick of developing and growing DataBC, the Provinces’ open data program. He’s keenly interested in how data can be used to improve lives and change how citizens interact with government.