News / Edmonton

City of Edmonton opens door on open data from residents

After cyclist Tim Bulger started counting how many bikes parked at a bike rack using a smartphone app — which Metro reported on earlier this month — something changed.

Not only is Bulger finding a way to make an argument for more bike racks, he’s shifting how the city sees data gathered by its own residents.

In short, they’re thinking about accepting it and using it.

“It’s definitely something we’re interested in and want to be a part of,” said Jackie Ortiz, spokesperson for the city’s open data sector, of crowdsourced data.

Bulger’s dataset spanned more than six months. Now, city officials are working with him and potentially others to collect information.

It’s part of their Open City initiative.

Within the next two weeks, administration will decide how the city will accept or incentivize crowd-sourced data.

It’s a move some local techies are welcoming with open arms.

Lydia Zvyagintseva, co-founder of resident-led tech group Open Edmonton, says many residents already have an interest in data, evidenced by events like HackYEG, where enthusiasts experiment with open datasets.

But Zvyagintseva said there’s a green light from the city to accept user-generated data is a huge incentive for new data to be collected – without the city needing to be behind it.

“I think that as more of these initiatives are put forward, the more we become sophisticated and literate in the data sense,” she said.

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