According to the Guardian, Canada is becoming a world leader when it comes to innovative data journalism. Open data sites are popping up across Canada, providing "vast open data resources" and "the latest open data apps" for Canadians interested in all things from transit schedules and one-way street maps to election results by neighborhood.
Datasets and spreadsheets are gathered by journalists around the country, but most notably by Patrick Cain, a Toronto basted data journalist who pursues vast amounts of statistics, files and data and then plugs the compiled information into interactive maps which can be viewed by the public.
Journalists, city and government officials are working together to further develop the project. The Canadian government is in the midst of establishing an open data policy and recently the four biggest data sites, Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Ottawa, have started collaborating to set a series of open data standards, the Guardian reports.
Guardian.co.uk says that Toronto's open data initiative is "run by a small team of enthusiasts in the city authority's web department," who update the site every day with raw datasets in addition to doing their usual work duties. Leader Trish Garner says, "There has been solid support from the very top - our Mayor - and from the City Clerk and the CIO. Indications are that the mayor-elect [Rob Ford was elected earlier this month] will also be a champion. This is key for us."
Canada's open data development follows UK and US initiatives, and more countries are sure to jump on the bandwagon. What does this mean for journalists? Will it just make their search for stats and facts easier or is this a signal of jobs to come? News organizations including CBC, Vancouver Sun, Toronto Star and Ottawa Citizen already have journalists dedicated to hunting data and developing websites full of accumulated information, who is to say more won't follow?
For now, anyone can see that Canada is an open data innovator by just consulting city data sites, but Jury Konga, a developer of G4 Open Data Framework says, "Canada is a hive of activity in Open Government and Open Data and I only see it increasing."