Mayoral candidate Brian Bowman promises open data at city hall
One of Winnipeg's candidates for mayor, Brian Bowman, is pledging to make a variety of city information easily available to the public if he is elected.
Bowman announced on Thursday that if he's elected mayor in the Oct. 22 civic election, he would make data available online for things such as pothole reports and what neighbourhoods are at risk of frozen pipes. Bowman also mentioned mosquito trap counts, but those are available on the city's website.
A privacy lawyer by profession, Bowman said the city currently does a poor job of making information available and easy to access.
He added that Winnipeg is well behind cities such as Regina, Edmonton, and Toronto in having an open data policy.
"It's a culture change. It's very different than what we have right now," he told reporters, adding that he would make information available even if it may be embarrassing politically.
Bowman said all City of Winnipeg information should be "freely and proactively available to the public" by default "unless they contain information legally required to remain confidential."
The data should be made available in a timely manner and in a standardized, machine-readable format, said Bowman.
By keeping the data free of any restrictive licensing agreements, it would be available for researchers, community organizations and entrepreneurs to use, he added.
Bowman said by making more information freely available, he aims to reduce the number of Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) requests by 25 per cent during his first year in office.
He added that would identify the 20 most requested pieces of city information and ensure they are released.
Bowman said he isn't sure of the costs related to introducing an open data policy at city hall, but he said there would be cost savings in the long run.
"It's not going to happen overnight and I'm certainly not saying that [on] Day 2 we're going to have everything changed. I mean, we know that there's going to be an investment required," he said.
Councillors voted on Wednesday to add an extra employee to deal with the growing number of information requests being made to the city.