MaRS Data Catalyst is proud to be a supporting partner of the upcoming Canadian Open Data Summit in Ottawa. The summit will bring together policy-makers, practitioners and thought leaders in the arena of open data to address the most pressing challenges facing the national open data community.

Canadian Open Data SummitWe at Data Catalyst believe that we creating an environment where companies can build new products and services on top of open data will not just spur economic activity, but provide new opportunities for government to work with innovators to create new and better public services. I did a short interview with Open North about our hopes for the Canadian Open Data Summit, and we’re sharing that interview (with permission) here:

Why does open data matter?

Beyond the oft-repeated reasons for the need for open data — transparency, openness, accountability, all of which are important — there is a crucial need for us to think of open data as a form of public works. Like bridges, roads, electrical systems, and water reservoirs, the release of high-value open data sets by the public and private sector creates a base infrastructure upon which we can build organizations, businesses, services, and communities. By looking at data as this public infrastructure, we see it as a necessary and basic investment that will show return through better lives lived by people across the country.

What are your hopes for the Summit?

The upcoming Canadian Open Data Summit will provide us an opportunity to address the conversation of data as a public work, as a piece of public infrastructure at a national level. While there is significant work being done around open data in communities across the country, any kind of movement towards a comprehensive strategy for Canada will require a coordinated effort by all of these communities, together. The Summit should look at challenges and opportunities around sustainability and scale of services and solutions built on open data; the issues of sustainability and scale are best addressed at a national level, and international, level.

How would you like to see the open data community grow?

The outcomes of the Canadian Open Data Summit should and will be driven by the priorities of the communities that will be participating; among those priorities is the reframing of open data as more than just a niche, technology-driven issue, but instead a national public good that needs input and involvement from both the public and private sector. Once we move the conversation beyond one of transparency or technology and into one of public service and private investment, the discussion and use of open data will become more mainstream, and thus will drive continued momentum and involvement after the event.

You can register for or learn more about the Canadian Open Data Summit on the Summit website.

(Feature photo of Ottawa Open Data Hackathon by Edward Ocampo-Gooding.)