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Open North Spring 2016 Newsletter

Open North’s Spring 2016 Newsletter

We’ve had a busy start to 2016! Here’s a quick update about some of the things that we’ve been working on and what’s coming up this spring:


Feature update: Every two years, Canada – along with the 68 other member countries of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) – drafts an Action Plan setting out commitments to improve access to information, civic participation and public accountability. Canada needs to prepare it’s third Action Plan this year. To ensure that Canadians are meaningfully engaged, we established the Canadian Open Government Civil Society Network. We’re in discussion with the Government to coordinate our efforts. To join the network, contact Please spread the word!

In collaboration with MTL DataFACIL, and The City of Montreal’s Smart City Office we hosted a public event on March 4th, for International Open Data Day, to identify opportunities and mechanisms to grow and engage local open data communities.

In January, we had the pleasure to contribute the data lens to discussions at the System Change Community of Practice (CoP) gathering with Social Innovation Generation (SIG), The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, and the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), among other leaders in the social sector.

Our Executive Director spoke on February 5th at Make Web Not War’s online web conference on open data innovation about scaling local open data initiatives at the global level. Watch the 30 minute presentation and Q&A.

Treasury Board President Scott Brison kicked off the consultations on open government by hosting a Google Hangout with Open North and other leading experts and leaders on April 6. The Canadian Open Government Civil Society Network will have a key role in supporting the consultation. Stay informed, join the network today!

What’s Coming Up:

On April 27, Open North, Data 4 Good, and New Brunswick Social Policy Research Network are convening community organizations at Data 4 Impact to workshop opportunities and challenges facing the social sector in sharing data more effectively.

Our Executive Director, Jean-Noé Landry, will also be speaking at the Canadian Open Data Summit in Saint John, NB, on April 28th, and at the 4th edition of the Go Open Data conference in Markham, ON, on May 6th.


Feature update: We’re excited to work again with the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer of Canada (PBO) to further develop Ready Reckoner, our online simulation platform for parliamentarians and the general public. Thanks to our new groundbreaking and interactive features, for the first-time ever, you can now tool with the overall effects of tax and spending changes on economic output and the labour market, as well as the impact of varying several key assumptions (ie. real GDP growth, GDP inflation and interest rates) on the PBO’s fiscal projection.

OPORA, our local civil society in Ukraine, launched the local version of Open Australia Foundation (OAF)’s vote tracking website They Vote For You. Open North supported OAF to complete this project with the generous support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

We were honored to be invited by the Canadian Embassy to Costa Rica to participate in the launch of the national legislative assembly’s open parliament action plan on March 10th. Thanks are due to local parliamentary monitoring organizations Accesa and Abriendo Datos for their warm hospitality. Read our blog post here (ENSP)

What’s Coming Up:

Open North was invited by ParlAmericas, the regional network that fosters parliamentary collaboration in the Americas and the Caribbean, to participate in the annual gathering of its Open Parliament Network (OPN) in Paraguay on May 26-27. Open North will be sharing its experience and expertise on open data to help inform the development of an open parliament roadmap for the hemisphere.

Based on international legislative openness standards, Open North will evaluate the access and useability of parliamentary information of the Parliament of Canada.


Feature update: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) solicited the services of Open North to conduct a small study to better understand the data needs of stakeholders involved in newcomer settlement across the Canada. This timely project positioned Open North as an intermediary between government and data users to help advocate for increased data accessibility and effective responsiveness. Our combined quantitative and qualitative assessment methodology is entirely scalable to other stakeholder groups. Stay tuned for the public report later this Spring.

In case you missed it, Open North’s founder, James McKinney co-authored a timely article entitled What’s needed to deliver federal government’s open by default policy? in the April online edition of Policy Options.

As mentioned in the full update below, Citizen Budget has been taken in new directions! Our newest version — the Capital Project module — has proven very popular in municipalities across Canada. A special shout-out to civic engagement and technology leaders Edmonton, London and Guelph, among others, who have recently held a slew of very creative and groundbreaking online budget consultations. And lastly, congratulations to Newmarket and Langley Township, two engagement pioneers, who completed their fourth consecutive Citizen Budget consultation this year!

What’s Coming Up:

Open North and Public Sector Digest, which published the Open Cities Index in February 2016, signed a partnership agreement paving the way for Open North new product offerings for cities seeking strategic and technical advice on open data plans and initiatives.

We’re pleased to support Canada’s Open Data 150, a joint research project between the New York based Govlab and Canada’s Open Data Exchange (ODX), which seeks to understand how open data is used by businesses to create new lines of activities or jobs, and drive innovation.

Our Executive Director will deliver a workshop on open data and leadership in the public sector for the Institute on Governance (IOG)’s Executive Leadership Program. Jean-Noé will also speak on evidence-based decisionmaking at the IOG’s 2nd annual Digital Governance Forum on May 12-13.

Citizen Budget Update

Our busy fall/early winter period concluded successfully, with a slew of very creative and groundbreaking online budget consultations from recognized innovators Edmonton, London and Guelph, among others. These civic engagement and technology leaders have taken Citizen Budget in new directions: displaying live budget consultation analytics and results on their website budget page for all to see; embedding budget videos on the platform, integrating operating and capital budget consultations along with creative new applications of the slider widget.

Promoting your budget consultation effectively is critical to its success. Some cities are seeing great results by taking wifi-enabled tablets to community and government events and engaging residents one-on-one, or establishing temporary “kiosks” where the public can complete the online budget consultation. Of course, a diverse promotional strategy – combining traditional as well as online tactics– is the most effective in reaching a maximum number of residents.

Our newest version - the Capital Project module - is proving popular with cities and residents alike in Cambridge, Kelowna, Saint-Rémi, Moose Jaw, and Grande Prairie, with the latter seeing the most feedback of any engagement effort to date.

Congratulations to Newmarket, Ontario and Langley Township, British Columbia who completed their fourth consecutive Citizen Budget consultation this year! These two online budget engagement pioneers earned a free customization (value = $1,000) on their 4th consultation and our endless admiration for their dedicated, long-term community engagement.

L’Institut du Nouveau Monde and Open North partner up! Public participation, when properly planned and implemented, is an asset for policymakers, who can not only count on a population that is more aware and mobilized, but also better understand the community’s aspirations. Open North and l’Institut du Nouveau Monde are pooling together their expertise for the development of a fun, educational and in-depth service for municipalities in Quebec. Stay tuned for more details on this exciting pilot project this spring!

Open North is Growing

As the trend towards online budget engagement continues apace, we’ve added two new Budget Engagement Advisors to our team. We’re happy to have Nik Lopez and Jean-François Côté on board, assisting municipalities with their budget consultation needs. Nik is based in the greater Toronto area, while Jean-François will be our dedicated Quebec representative.

We’re also pleased to announce the arrival of Lisa Cerasuolo, our new Communications Coordinator, who will be handling our communication needs. To meet the growing demand for our services, Open North is recruiting open government experts in Canada. We’ll shortly be announcing new Associates of Open North.

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