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Canada's Open City Champions Announced

Canada's Open City Champions Announced

More so than ever before, citizens demand greater transparency and accountability of their governments. Because of which, open data is a pillar of government today; it is one of the great enablers of government transparency and accountability. Yet beyond upholding these two important principles, open data also gives way to enhanced economic growth and service delivery. For example, reported in the results of our 2017 Open Cities Index survey, an increasing number of survey respondents noted that local entrepreneurs are utilizing open data to create apps that service the community.

Public Sector Digest launched the first Open Cities Index (OCI) survey in 2015, becoming the national standard in Canada for municipal open data benchmarking. In 2018, PSD added another component to its open data program: Canada’s Open City Champions Awards. The success of an open data program is highly contingent on those who advocate and support open data in their communities. Canada’s Open City Champions was created to celebrate those individuals.

PSD launched a call for nominations in three award categories: community leader, city council leader, and city administrative leader – receiving an overwhelming number of submissions. PSD organized a panel of expert judges to determine the winners in each category, guided by three overarching considerations:

1) Did the nominee provide an outstanding contribution to the development, improvement and/or continuous support of their community's open data initiative? 
2) Did the nominee stand out among all nominees in their category?
3) Did the nominee receive multiple nominations?



PSD is proud to announce the winners of Canada’s Open City Champions Awards:

Community Leader – Bianca Wylie

Receiving multiple nominations, Bianca Wylie is a true champion of open data in Toronto. As the Head of the Open Data Institute, Bianca tirelessly advocates for open data. In her role, Bianca organizes various open data events, including the Toronto Public Library hackathon. Bianca is also adamant about writing on topics related to open data, being a consistent contributor to Torontoist’s Civic Tech column. Additionally, she co-founded Civic Tech Toronto that seeks to create solutions to public problems through the use of open data. Bianca was also an active participant in creating Toronto’s Open Data Master Plan. As is evident, Bianca has an endless portfolio of open data work which clearly exemplifies her passion about open data – a key consideration to the panel of judges who awarded her the Community Leader title. As one respondent who nominated Bianca stated, “We appreciate and recognize Bianca for her innate ability to truly make open data accessible, using data storytelling to help illustrate just how data can help us better understand what solutions we need to combat everyday issues.”

City Council Leader – Councillor Bill Harper

Councillor Bill Harper has been awarded champion for the City Council Leader category. Core to the judges’ decision to award him this title was his open data work – not only advocating open data work, but also participating in open data activities, including the City of New Westminster’s first Hack our City hackathon event. Bill is recognized as being an early supporter of open data in the city and key to getting the program off the ground. He is the founding co-chair of the City’s Intelligent City Advisory Committee and supported the collaboration on open data work between the City and the University of British Columbia. Always encouraging the City to increase their open data work, Councillor Bill Harper supported the creation of an Open Data user feedback loop that provides suggestions on how best to enhance the City’s open data efforts.

City Administrative Leader – Matthew Pietryszyn

Upon reviewing the nominations for City Administrative Leader, the panel of judges found that the City of Brampton’s GIS Leader, Matthew Pietryszyn, earned the champion position for his efforts to engage and collaborate with so many stakeholders in the community. Matthew is working with the City of Brampton’s HR training team to implement a School of Open Data and also participates in the GIS Ambassadors program to engage with local school boards to promote and educate on GIS and Open Data. Moreover, he also created the GeoHub that allows users to explore, visualize, and analyze open datasets. Engagement between multiple stakeholders is invaluable to the success of a city’s open data program. Matthew’s collaborative open data effort is a model that ought to be celebrated.