How using a marketing approach can help open data

One of the biggest barriers to the growth of the open data movement in my opinion is that nearly every open data related meeting/event is still comprised primarily of data geeks and app developers. The language that is used by this community (e.g. machine readable data, open access, genomes, geo-spatial, etc…) confuses the typical non-geek beyond hope. If you don’t capture the minds of the non-geeks out there to stimulate demand, how on earth are open data initiatives (e.g. data.gov and data.gc.ca) going to stay alive? Continue reading “How using a marketing approach can help open data”

Hidden Canadian Government Gems

Hidden Gem

I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll mention it again, certain government departments are full of great hidden online products/tools that few people know of. Those outside of government walls may find it hard to believe, but it’s true. Some departments have been told to keep a low-profile on their offering for political reasons, others don’t yet realize just how much value they could potentially bring to audiences beyond their existing niche. In other cases still, it’s the complete lack of a well thought out marketing strategy that is to blame.

This will soon change. It’s becoming harder and harder to remain invisible. Believe it or not, we are slowly moving into the early adopter phase of Government 2.0 here in Canada. A demand for increased transparency, collaboration across multiple stakeholders, and a wide variety of new channels for participation with Canadian citizens, are all bringing to light some of these existing little gems, and rapidly giving birth to new ones. We’re still a far cry away from U.S initiatives such as data.gov and apps.gov, however here are three great Canadian online products/tools that I’ve stumbled upon through my consulting:

Working in Canada Tool – A government mash-up tool that allows you to search for an occupation that you’re interested in and receive up-to-date, accurate information from a wide variety of integrated databases. It puts certain private sector fee-based tools to shame. It was initially developed for skilled immigrants looking to work in Canada. Once you try it out yourself you’ll realize that it’s useful for much more than that.

Termium Plus – An incredible translation tool initially only used by government departments internally. It’s now available to the public. Try typing in a word in English and see just how thorough it is.

GC Surplus Auction – If you think you can find great things to buy on e-Bay, take a look a this Canadian Federal Government auction website. I just found a 2003 Yamaha ATV with a starting bid of $100.

There are plenty more of course. And they will only get better, especially as they begin to transition into stand-alone mobile applications. What I’m curious about though is what you’ve come across lately? Whether you’re a public servant, consultant, or citizen, there’s bound to be an online government tool that impressed you.