[open-government] OGD in the IT system procurement cycle
Tracey P. Lauriault
tlauriau at gmail.com
Mon Oct 31 13:05:33 GMT 2011
APELL (l'Association Professionnelle des Entreprises en Logiciels Libres)
in Québec successfully won a court challenge that has resulted in changes
in the procurement practices of the province when it comes to IT and open
source. The Treasury Board Minister of Québec addressed open source
developers on this issue at the Salon du logiciel libre conference and you
can listen to Madame Michelle Courchesne's speech here -
http://s2lq.com/zone-vid%C3%A9o.. What was most impressive in her speech
was that she addressed the roles of education, small businesses, the open
source community and government in creating a community of developers that
can help build infrastructure for the province by growing a thriving local
open source developers sector.
It is true that there are legacy systems in place, which produce data in
formats that are not always open. I would argue that we need to get the
data out in the formats within which they were created until which time
systems change. Geogratis in Canada did just that, they made their
geomatics data accessible in the formats within which they were created,
and provide conversion services (
http://geogratis.cgdi.gc.ca/geogratis/en/index.html). Geogratis can be
considered as one of Canada's first open data services.
That does not mean we should not be moving towards more open formats, and
more importantly toward *interoperability*, which is a term I do not hear
very often in the open data parlance, most apps for instance are not
interoperable nor standards based and are built in non open systems or upon
semi open systems such as Google, focused very much on mobile devices.
Apps developers would also have to practice what they preach and
standards, preservation, scalability and interoperability as well as open
I want my public service to share data, and it is up to me to work on the
conversion, for now, and I think it is reasonable that we ask government to
build interoperable systems and at the very least provide services to
convert formats, but I do not think it is reasonable to expect all
government institutions to toss what they are doing now, and waste the
millions spent on enterprise wide systems. But we can ask that those legacy
systems become interoperable and that new systems be more open.
Also, when government purchases data from a survey engineers, satellite
data providers or consultants who conduct studies, contracts should include
a clause in the contract that states that the data be open and accessible
to the government and its citizens. At the moment much data are purchased
and made inaccessible because data creator holds the rights even after
having sold the data to the government. We have such deals in Canada with
big data providers from Radar and Satellite systems. The government can
use the data to govern but cannot share it back with citizens. This also
happens with municipalities and planning or traffic studies, etc.
There is merit to looking at how Geospatial Data Infrastructures have done
this work of standardizing, interoperating, catalogs, metadata, open
architectures, and procuring to build an infrastructure and to acquire
services and technologies that will last. They think in infrastructural
terms, and we in the open data world may want to look at solid examples of
solid systems and practices as we move forward. Geomatics deals with big
data and has done so for a long time, and there is much to learn from them.
I cc'd *Laurent *from APELL as perhaps he can share some links about what
they did in Québec.
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