Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Canada’s most-awarded
newsroom for a reason
Stay informed for a
lot less, cancel anytime
“Exemplary reporting on
COVID-19” – Herman L
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Treasury Board President Tony Clement responds to a question during in the House of Commons on May 9, 2013.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

The Conservative government will allow unrestricted commercial use of its public databases in the hope of spurring private app developers to tackle the mountain of information collected by Ottawa.

From waiting times for immigration processing or border-crossing delays to satellite imagery of forest cover and other environmental information, there are opportunities to turn large sets of federal information into a format that Canadians would want to use – and may even pay for.

That's the thinking behind a federal announcement Tuesday led by Treasury Board President Tony Clement, who is responsible for Ottawa's "open data" efforts. The minister will announce the new open-government licence and a relaunch of the federal open-data portal at a Toronto's XMG Studio Inc. – an app development firm. He'll be joined by Robert Herjavec, the celebrity software entrepreneur who has starred on the CBC's Dragons' Den and the show's U.S. version, Shark Tank.

Story continues below advertisement

The federal open-data portal was first launched as a pilot project in March, 2011, but Mr. Clement acknowledged in an interview that the original site did not lead to much interest from private-sector app developers. He expects an easier-to-use site and new, less-restrictive licensing rules will make the information more attractive.

British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario have signed on to the same licence and there are efforts to bring more governments together.

"This is really responding to the feedback we were getting from the research community, entrepreneurs in our society, citizens from all walks of life who wanted access to the data in a much more usable format," he said.

Governments around the world are opening up their databases to the public for use by developers and researchers. Ottawa plans to follow the lead of other governments by hosting an app-developer competition for the best use of federal data.

"This could really take off from an entrepreneurial perspective," he said.

Several Canadian municipalities have released real-time GPS tracking of public transportation, allowing developers to create mobile apps so people can accurately time when their next bus will come.

Mark Laudon has been recognized in several municipal and international competitions for his app that uses government data to track rainfall in specific locations and shows how to capture rain to reduce municipal water consumption.

Story continues below advertisement

In an interview, Mr. Laudon said he had to use global data on rainfall for his apps, because he couldn't get his hands on Environment Canada data from the federal government.

He said Ottawa "certainly has a ways to go" on open data in comparison to cities like Edmonton and Vancouver, and the B.C. provincial government.

"Federally, it seems like it's quite difficult to find information," said Mr. Laudon, who works for the City of Surrey.

Though Mr. Clement says his government is committed to "transparency," it continues to face broad criticism that its actions prove the opposite. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has said government departments continue to deny requests for detailed information on spending cuts. Further, Edmonton-St. Albert MP Brent Rathgeber recently quit the Conservative caucus after his own party blocked his proposal to have the salaries of senior public servants disclosed.

"The government's lack of support for my transparency bill is tantamount to a lack of support for transparency and open government generally," Mr. Rathgeber wrote in announcing his resignation.

Still, Mr. Clement insists the government is taking positive steps.

Story continues below advertisement

"When you look at our record, we really have opened up the Canadian government," he said, pointing to a new database that makes it easier to track government spending. "I think we're making progress."

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies