Engaging in Open Data


Monday, October 28

1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Explorer Room


Engaging in Open Data

Data are all the rage in 2019, and for good reason. Most organizations collect data, and all organizations need data:

  • Data can help make services more accessible and operations more efficient
  • You can use data to frame or reframe problems your community faces
  • You may also be able to use data to hold elected officials accountable

One of the biggest reasons why more organizations don’t utilize data at the moment, though, is that many groups and government agencies don’t share their data. This could be because it is technically difficult to do so, or because the data is considered too valuable, or because of concerns about the range of (possibly nefarious) uses to which a dataset may be put. In this context, open data is a collection of approaches to make data more readily available and usable, and to normalize government release of its data holdings. 

In this interactive workshop, we will explore the open data landscape, and practice downloading and analyzing open data. You will hear some horror stories and some success stories, and advise for how to collect your own data for sharing. We will also take a look at the YYC Data Collective, an initiative that aims to streamline data sharing among non-profit organizations, community associations, and charities. And we will generate some tips and tricks to protect the privacy and security of data you share with other organizations. At the end of the workshop you will have a better sense of what datasets are available and how to use them in your work.

What Will Be Covered:

  1. Crash course on open data: what it is and why it matters
  2. Mapping the open data landscape: websites, platforms, institutions
  3. How YYC Data Collective fits into this ecosystem
  4. Open data stories (bad): sharing horror stories and what not to do
  5. Open data stories (good): success stories that highlight the possibilities, show some impactful visualizations
  6. Tips and tricks for collecting data, with the ultimate intention of sharing it
  7. Thinking seriously about privacy and security (recognizing risks but contending with them responsibly)
  8. Practical hands-on work

Workshop registration is separate from the Cyber Summit registration



Ryan Burns
Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, University of Calgary

Ryan Burns is a geographer working at the intersections of GIScience and human geography. Much of his research questions how people, places, and knowledge come to be encoded as data, and then analyzed and acted upon through other digital objects and practices. He is drawn to the politics underwriting the reasons places and phenomena are represented the way they are in open data platforms, and the implications of open data platforms on community organizations' strategies in city politics. For this, he started the YYC Data Collective, a platform for community associations and non-profits to share their data – a complement to Open Calgary. He also helped launch Smart Cities Partnership YYC, a collaboration with the City of Calgary on their smart city strategy; and an Urban Alliance project reviewing municipal data sharing agreements across North America.