On the same day that the New York Times ran an article about open data and Government 2.0, the graduate and undergraduate students in this term’s consulting course did their final presentations. On deck were:
- Managing Twitter Conversations: Tyler Lu, Kevin Regan, Jasper Snoek, and Danny Tarlow
- Finding the Best Place to Live: Andrew Borzenko, Abayomi King, and James McCrae
- Who Has Seen My Data? Fan Dong, Lenny Han, Benton Hui, and Shobhit Jain
- Connecting With the Greenbelt: Michael Gorecki, Jory Graham, Mohit Jain, and Frank Li
- Visualizing Traffic Accident Data: David Nowak, Alyssa Rosenzweig, and Samar Sabie
- Crowdsourcing Translations: Betim Shahini and Peng Su
- Managing Waiting Lines with SMS: Dejana Bajic, Tyler de Witt, Alexander Lee, and Akhil Mathur
About 25 visitors joined us from the city, local companies, and elsewhere for an hour and a half of demonstrations and discussion. The students did well; they’re a credit to the university, and I hope they’re as proud of their work as I am.
- The Toronto Star‘s Map of the Week shows where in Toronto the Canadian casualties of WWI lived. Humbling.
- The Sunlight Foundation‘s goal is greater transparency in government. Laudable, but I think the inverse of Gilmore’s Rule will hold as it always has: criminality will interpret openness as a threat and route around it. Still, a Red Queen’s Race is better than outright defeat.
My Government 2.0 class didn’t meet this Monday, partly because I was on jury duty, and partly to give students a chance to catch up after last week’s two-day showcase at City Hall. Two things I’ve been watching to fill the void are:
- City of Toronto Meeting Monitor — scrolling lists of proposals, amendments, referrals, and what not. I’d love to see something like this for the University of Toronto…
- datato.org (which got a mention at O’Reilly from Nat Torkington). Neat to see that so many people want the same things my students did; kind of sad that some of that data (like household energy consumption) isn’t going to be available for a long time.
My students and I a few hours on Monday and Tuesday (Nov 2-3) at City Hall showing off our projects. It wasn’t as busy as expected, thanks primarily to H1N1 fears, but there was still more traffic at our double booth than at any other I saw, and I was proud of how well the students presented their work. The projects and teams were:
- Q-Me: using SMS text messaging to manages lineups for things like building permits and vaccinations (Dejana Bajic, Tyler de Witt, Alex Lee, and Akhil Mathur)
- I-Spy: allowing you to see who has looked at your medical records (Fan Dong, Lenny Han, Benton Hui, and Shobhit Jain)
- Traffiz: analyzing and visualizing traffic accident data for the Greater Toronto Area (Samar Sabie, Alyssa Rosenzweig, and David Nowak)
- U-Translate: crowdsourcing translation of city documents and information pamphlets (Betim Shahini and Peng Su)
- Toronto ServiceSeeker: helping you find a better place to live based on proximity to facilities and services (Andriy Borzenko, Abayomi King, and James McRae)
- Greenbelt Marketplace: connecting mid-sized farms in the Greenbelt to individual and institutional customers (Michael Gorecki, Jory Graham, Frank Li, and Mohit Jain)
- XTagg: managing conversations in Twitter (Tyler Lu, Kevin Regan, Jasper Snoek, and Danny Tarlow)
Feedback on the whole event is starting to appear — see for example:
I’ll add more as I find them, and post links to video of the sessions and demos when they come in. My thanks once again to the students for doing such a great job, and to all the city staff and others who’ve been so generous with their time.
The project teams in my consulting course will be demoing at the Toronto Innovations Showcase on Monday and Tuesday (Nov 2-3). If you can’t make it down to City Hall, please tune into the webcast. Lots of other projects are moving ahead—just a few days ago, the City of Toronto launched a Meeting Monitor to let people track items that are before city council. We’re looking forward to seeing what else is on show.
Via the CBC: Toronto will miss its target for reducing landfill waste because only 15% (!!) of apartment and condo buildings have green bins. 15% sounds pitiful, but one reason the figure is so low is that the drop in city revenues over the last 12 months has meant cutbacks in the green bin program. I wonder if this would be moving ahead faster if the city’s web site had a dashboard that included week-by-week stats?
All of the students in my consulting course now have projects; most have met their customers and/or have some real data to play with. Lots of other news too:
- The City of Toronto is holding an Innovations Showcase on Nov 2-3 to brainstorm Gov 2.0 ideas. Online registration should open this coming Monday (Oct 19); hope to see you there.
- SeeClickFix have loaded 25,000 town boundaries into their database.
- There’s a Gov 2.0 Expo in Washington DC in May—it’d be cool to see some of our projects there.
- Good story in the Guardian about Gov 2.0 success in San Francisco.
- Not quite Gov 2.0, but worthwhile: Random Hacks of Kindness is getting open source developers to work on projects for disaster relief.
Finally, I’d like to thank everyone from the city and other organizations who has given us so much of their time: it’s been wonderful how many of you have been willing to help us out, and we’re very grateful.
It’s taken a little longer than planned, but what doesn’t? Here are the projects the students in our Government 2.0 consulting course have chosen to work on this term:
- SMS for managing queues at government offices—give it your cell phone number, and it’ll text you as your turn to be served comes up.
- A “where should I live?” tool that scores potential homes by what’s within walking distance.
- Privacy auditing for a medical records management tool used at homeless shelters.
- Dredging the web to find farmers’ markets and independents selling fresh produce in the greenbelt.
- Visualizing traffic accident data.
- Crowdsourcing translation of city information pamphlets and other small documents.
- Comparing individual homes’ energy consumption with neighborhood averages.
Our next deadline is November 2, when students will be presenting their ideas at the City of Toronto Innovation Showcase.