The current premier of British Columbia has committed to supporting the concept of Open Data by creating DataBC. Never before have British Columbians had access to so much public data. If you’ve never heard of Open Data, the open definition is
Open data is data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone – subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike.
You can read more about the definition at opendatahandbook.org. I personally have used the data from DataBC for a few fun projects, most recently publishing a map of every government liquor store in British Columbia. What makes this process unique to me is I had the idea for such a map, so I contacted the folks at DataBC and made a request for the data. Once they published it in their data catalogue, they notified me it was now available! DataBC also has a blog that might interest you.
If you find yourself more creative in the company of your peers, check out hackathons; events where software developers and the community get together and typically in one marathon stretch, to create something that didn’t exist before. My friends at OpenDataBC regularly host hackathons, if you have the chance to participate in one, don’t miss it, even if you have no software development experience. They’ve started a list of projects created at hackathons. If you’ve got a lot of hackathon experience under your belt, you might also want to check out AngelHack, an annual hackathon that spreads 4 major U.S. cities that has angel investors offering advice and funding for your hacks.
As the concept of Open Data is relatively new, one of the biggest challenges in the community is spreading awareness of the concept, and potential uses for the data. As such, I was excited to hear about yesterday’s launch of the Open Data Society of British Columbia that appears will resolve these issues.
Can you think of any government data you could use for commercial or fun? Get started today by going through the data catalogue, or contact them and ask for the data you’re looking for, and join the Open Data Society of British Columbia, they’re actively looking for members!