Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thank you to Keith, our DATAeh? communications guy, for managing this blog for the past year.

With any luck, we'll coax him back soon -- because we know he loves being a key member of the open data team here at the City of Toronto.

In the meantime, we are working on new features for -- such as...

  • ...An Apps page, showcasing all the apps we know of, out there, that use City of Toronto open datasets. 
  • ...An Ideas page where we'll share with you ideas for apps from other cities. 
  • ...And we'll update our FAQ page, based on the most common questions coming into our mailbox --

Sound good?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Are We There Yet?

By Keith McDonald

After a couple of years of riding along the Open Data trail, how are you feeling? The question assumes you were an early adopter and have been along for the ride so far?

It's good to see that those in government who've "cracked 'er open" continue to add data and build. That includes the City of Toronto.

It comes to mind though, the traditional question all kids ask when on a long drive: "Are we there yet?"

In the Open Data world, we could ask instead: "Are we any nearer the promise of Open Data?"

My Dad used to answer the how long to go question with: "Just another couple of hours". He'd say that, no matter how far away we were from the destination. Funny, Dad!!!!

Open Data Journey

I'm not sure how far away we are from the full promise of Open Data but the ride is just as important perhaps.

On a personal note, I've enjoyed the journey so far.I'll be stepping away from writing the DATA eh? blog for a bit. Hope the dialogue continues in what ever form and format follow.


DATA eh? #31

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"Apps Maps" Resolved (For Now) and Happy Holidays

By the DATA eh? Team

You might have heard by now Google Maps returned to IOS 6 recentlyoptimized for iPhone 5. Just thought we'd resolve that in the distance between this and our last post.

Speaking of posts, we've slowed down a bit over the last few months but we do want to get a quick message of goodwill in tune with the season. Happy Holidays from DATA eh? 

And all the best for a great 2013.

DATA eh? #30

Friday, September 21, 2012

Apple Maps Apps Pap

By Keith McDonald
Riffing off my last post, I downloaded the new iOS6 for my iPod Touch yesterday. Today, I find there is a great blast of dissatisfaction right now in how the new Apple Maps aren't as good as what was there before from Google.

I wrote here once about "being only as good as your data", most recently in reference to the Google Car. Are we seeing that potential danger happen here in real time?

Looks like, for any reason, if the new Apple Maps were driving the new Google car, you would likely end up on no road at all and perhaps be driven into a lake or stream! Judging from all the chatter throughout the social media universe, the Apple map app isn't ready yet.

dead end sign with words: ''who told you there was a road here?''

Who Gets More Slack?

Whenever web launches something new,

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Appetite for apps

By Keith McDonald

Timing is everything ... correct?

For me it is anyway. I finally broke down and bought an iPod Touch just two days before the announcement from Apple that they would be releasing a new version.

I have to confess I'd been holding off buying any mobile device for some time. Won't go into the reasons why but I find it so totally "the story of my life" where the timing of a new release would be so close to my purchase.

Perhaps, on my registration of the unit, Apple saw it, and that's what kicked in their announcement! Maybe I was the bazillionth user and they had to reach this magic number before they could move ahead to the "next generation"? That isn't likely, I know, but I need a rationalization.

streetcar with advert on the outside saying: ''there's an app for this'' beside a picture  of the words data eh? shaved into a person's head

Monday, July 23, 2012

Some Like It Hot

By Keith McDonald
That's some weather we are having here in T.O.this summer.  July 23, in fact, was our hottest day on record ever! At least, since temperatures started being recorded. 

I've said before, you are only as good as your data. So, we may very well have had higher temps in the years before 1937 (when record keeping began at Pearson Airport). We just can't say for sure. I bet lots of people alive in the years before 1937 would swear there were hotter days!

Without the data though, it's impossible to prove.

But, how many of you would say: "Who cares! ... hot is hot!"?

Maybe it doesn't matter in actual degrees (plus or minus a few) but, if you are farming or gardening or even planning an event outside, it does make a difference.

each at sunset with DATA eh? in sand writing on beach

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy Canada Day (Belated)

By Keith McDonald
Did you wish Canada a Happy Birthday this year? I did and was impressed by how media covered our 145th B-day.

What impressed me most was the data. We're doing pretty well for 145. Consider these data bytes gleaned from the Toronto Sun's Canada Day visualization page (not found on-line): 

canada eh? birthday cake with 145 candle

Monday, June 18, 2012

Never Learning From History Is Like Ignoring Data

By Keith McDonald
Saw some interesting statistics about surviving summer today in the Toronto Sun. In the the paper edition, a number of stats are shown with the article.

What caught my eye in particular is the reference to "Drivers under 25" as a factor in off-road vehicle collisions in Ontario for 2009.  The stat is 37%.

That's huge. I was surprised that "under 25" is actually a category unto itself. But, as an afterthought, it isn't surprising in many ways. "Under 25 and vehicles" is often mentioned and connected in negative stats. It's been so since I can remember.

Thinking about open data, it occurred to me to ask what we are taking from data like this.

cell phone with message: you are about to do something stupid alert

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

DATA eh? presents MapJam!

By the DATA eh? team
Continuing to contribute to the Open Data dialogue, we're sponsoring MapJam! - a special geospatial follow-up to our May 3rd DATA eh? Day.

The City of Toronto's geospatial team will be on hand to take questions about city geographic data, mapping, technologies used, tools, apps and standards and demo mapping capabilities. Stations [so far] include "Conversion Tables" and "Architects GIS" plus a "Meet Up" table.If we're fortunate, Joey Coleman [fingers crossed!] may join in after 2:00 p.m. to teach a Fusion Tables workshop.

DATA eh? identifier with slogan we want to take you higher

There are three time slots available for the same presentations:

  • 1:00 - 2:30
  • 2:45 - 4:15
  • 4:30 - 6:00

The MapJam! is in the afternoon, Wednesday, June 20. Pick a time and sign up at Eventbrite!

DATA eh? #25

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Giving The Finger To The Google Self-Driven Car

By Keith McDonald
So, by now, you've probably heard the buzz about the Google self-driven car being approved with the first "autonomous vehicle licence" in Nevada right? If not, it's a car, now legal in Nevada, that does the driving for you using GPS, laser range finders, video cameras, position estimators, radar and an inertial motion sensor. In short ... data!

I thought this might be another example to help explain why data is valuable and why we are so keen to have open data out and be as acurate as possible.

one way sign saying DATA eh?

Clearly, if you are going to trust a car to do the driving for you, you are going to want it to have all the data it needs to do so.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

DATA eh? Shout Outs

By the DATA eh? Team

At our May 3 DATA eh? Event we gave shout outs to individuals the Open Data team agreed "went beyond the call of duty" getting up and running. We presented 10 Eh's in all. Here are the script notes acknowledging the Eh? winners:

DATA eh? Award photo - small wooden plant with the word: Eh? spelled out in red at top

Friday, May 4, 2012

From Meaningless To Meaningful!

By Keith McDonald

For me the best of the quotes from yesterday's DATA eh? Event were:
  • "Move data from meaningless to meaningful"
  • "I'm not a bureaucrat"
and (sorry it's my own)
  •  "No animals were harmed in the making of the DATA eh? awards"

alphabet soup with DATA eh? Quotes in letters in the soup

If you attended, did you have any favourites?

DATA eh? #22

Thursday, May 3, 2012

DATA eh? eh ...

By Keith McDonald

Well, I'm stoked!  Fresh from our first DATA eh? Event, our team has much to ponder as do (does?) the communities. The event planners really, really wanted to enable networking. Looking at the twitter feed #dataeh, I think we got there! Yay!!

We taped the session and, when I get the footage, I'll work up some clips. Just heard (2012/05/07) the video coverage did not come out so we won't be able to post clips :0(

More later as I get some distance and perspective and chat with our team.

If you were there, thanks for coming. Let's continue talking here!

shot of Council Chambers and screen in room saying Panel Jam

DATA eh? #21

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

While We Were Away ...

By Keith McDonald
Oh my, it's been a few days since our/my  last post. We haven't had much take up on actual visualizations unfortunately. Thanks to the few responders for their immediate thoughts. We're actually hoping to have completed material to demo here so we need developed visualizations to go forward.

Speaking of visualizations, the City of Toronto's 1st Annual DATA eh? Event happens May 3 and part of a panel discussion will cover the importance/significance/need for visualizations to the Open Data process.

We communicated the event via Eventbrite and tweets. We're seeing this as another extension of the DATA eh? concept where networking can happen.

palm of hand with writing on it: check this out

Monday, March 12, 2012

Call For Visualizations

By the DATA eh? team 
When we launched DATA eh?, we hoped to add visualizations and go beyond just text "posts".To our way of thinking, that would be a great way to demonstrate how data is useful to readers who may be questioning why all the fuss.

Well, we've discovered the DATA eh? Blog Team isn't that good at doing visualizations yet. We're hoping some of you landing here might want to offer up some of yours. If you've used and worked with City of Toronto data in any way, let us know and share your interpretations. You can get in touch with us here or at

paper fortune teller with DATA eh? showing as result

DATA eh? #19

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Back To The Future With Data

by Keith McDonald
I've been having a debate with a friend about time travel.

It started with a discussion around where you'd go if you could go back in time and escalated into making a top 5 list of the moments in history we'd want to visit. One of the first places my buddy said he'd want to go is November 5, 1955. Anyone know what is significant about that day?

I didn't get it at first but that was the day Doc Brown invented the Flux Capacitor in the Back To The Future movie series. For those of you who don't know or remember, the Flux Capacitor is the thing that made time travel possible.

Well, I didn't blow one of my choices on a fictional movie time period but it did occur to me that Open Data actually gives us a chance to do time travel right now - kind of like having the data version of a Flux Capacitor.

fortune cookie saying ''Open Data doesn't lie''

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

DATA eh? Interviews Reham Gorgis, Open Data Coordinator, City of Toronto

By the DATA eh? Team 
DATA eh?: Hi Reham, we're presenting another in our series of interviews with the DATA eh? team and, guess what, you're next!

RG: Ah, OK.

DATA eh?: Tell us what you do as part of the team.

RG: I help coordinate all the requests for data that come to us through various channels like twitter and the Open Data mail box ( I sort these into ones needing answers that I can provide or ones I can’t answer and have to send to division staff. Beyond that, I also initiate contact with the client divisions – introduce City staff to the initiative and set up initial appointments so we can get to know their area and what data they have and host.

DATA eh?: You're actually one of our best known people because you make these first contacts for us.

picture of Reham smiling

Thursday, February 9, 2012

School Of Data - Shades Of School Of Rock

By the DATA eh? team

Rufus Pollock, Director and Co-Founder of the Open Knowledge Foundation, and Philip Schmidt, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Peer 2 Peer University announced recently a School of Data.

school of data logo - graduation hat and school of data written out as text

We're reminded of the movie: School of Rock. Where we see the parallel in the call for support is the unlimited potential for what the school can be. Like the School of Rock, We expect a number of brilliant people (and are not all the people working in this budding area, "brilliant"?) to bring amazing ideas to the table. And, like the movie, there may be quite a difference in how the school might come together.

We put in an expression of interest - which is not to say we think we are "brilliant" but we sure like this idea.

DATA eh? #16

Friday, January 27, 2012

Stuff We Know Of Page ... Coming From Our Open Data

by the DATA eh? team 
You asked for it and now we respond with a listing of apps and other that leverage City of Toronto data presented at

BlackBerry with apps from City of Toronto data listed on screen

Fine Print
We present this listing with no editorial or endorsements what-so-ever. It's just a list of what the DATA eh? team knows to be "out there" and attributable to our data. This isn't an exhaustive list - there are some uses we may not have heard of yet - you can help make the list more complete by contributing to it here via comments.

Apps* & Other:
There's more on the list ...