Saint John Takes Small Step For Big Data

SAINT JOHN – Canada’s oldest city is opening the door to “Big Data.”

The city of Saint John has launched a pilot open data portal on the city’s website. The project comes after a resolution passed by Common Council and marks the first step the city’s broader open data plans. The goal of the portal is to provide information to citizens; improve quality of life; and help create new community-based economic development opportunities.

“With the launch the this pilot portal, the city has made over 80 geo-spatial data sets available to the public, free of charge, and through the use of existing city technologies and resources,” the city said in a release.

“Next steps in the development of the portal will focus on collecting user feedback; identifying value-added data sets from municipal planning, public safety, economic development, energy and utilities, recreation, and financial information; and evaluating the need for potential requirements for new technologies and resources.”

Citizens are welcome to give feedback on the portal along with suggestions for future datasets through an online form. City staff will collect the feedback and report to city council early next year.

T4G public sector vice-president and New Brunswick Innovation Foundation chair Cathy Simpson says Saint John is making an important move.

“I believe we need to push ourselves in becoming a truly digital city and data is the fuel to making that happen.  Think of data like an untapped natural and renewable resource coming at us in volumes, variety, and speeds like never before,” she said. “Open data initiatives allow more people to understand public information and that will lead to higher citizen engagement and collectively citizens, businesses, and government coming together to better understand the opportunities to make Saint John even better both socially and economically.”