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Opening up Open Data: Making Data Available to Everyone

One of the wonders of our innovation-powered lives is that we can use technology to consume and share knowledge at a rate that we never have before. Often characterized as slow innovators, governments around the world are quickly catching up and catching on to the notion of Open Data: the idea that certain information collected and analyzed by governments should be made public, in easy-to-understand formats, with no constraints on its reuse. Advocates have touted the ability of open data to empower and educate citizens, to enable third parties to leverage the data in ways that serve the public interest, and to make modern, democratic governments more transparent and accountable. The open data ecosystem in Canada is in full bloom all around us. How will you be impacted? We've brought together two experts, Bianca Wylie, Co-Founder of the Canadian Open Data Institute and an Associate at public consulting firm Swerhun and Keith McDonald, Open Data Lead for the City of Toronto, to open our minds to the open data movement.

May we formally introduce our esteemed speakers:

Bianca Wylie
Co-Founder, Canadian Open Data Institute & Associate, Swerhun 

Follow Bianca on Twitter @biancawylie 

Bianca is a facilitator that designs and delivers public consultation processes. Previously she has worked in the technology sector in communications, training, operations and product management, most recently at Thomson Reuters in the webcasting division. She has also worked at the Code Project, one of Canada’s most successful online communities. In her current facilitation role, she works within several sectors made up of diverse stakeholder communities, including: transportation, urban planning, libraries, environmental assessments, park design, economic policy and strategic planning. Through her work in community engagement, and seeing the opportunities to better use data in public decision-making, Bianca recently connected to the open data community and co-founded the Canadian Open Data Institute.

Bianca will break down the human side of open data. What is it? Why does it matter? Who should pay attention to it? (Spoiler: Everyone!) What are the technical aspects of open data, and what are the political and human aspects of open data? What kind of stories bring open data to life? Bianca will explore the Open Data as a human-centric technology opportunity that is slowly coming of age, and will expand on the many ways that anyone and everyone can get involved in the movement.

Keith McDonald
Open Data Lead I&T, City of Toronto 

Follow Keith on Twitter @COTkeith 

Keith promotes Open Data and Open government "within and without" the City of Toronto. He leads a team of wildly agile players in an effort to "educate", "stimulate", "pontificate" and "job-relate" in order to bring data to the open data web "real-estate" ( This includes blogging, tweeting and socializing open data along with liaising with the developer community, other levels of government and citizens. Keith calls himself an Open Data Advocate, Communications Strategist, evangelist & Presentation Scientist: He landed on the web early becoming a web writing specialist and teaching others to write well for the Internet and social media. He's also a busy guy. He freelance coaches about presentation skills and stays practised being in front of an audience via on the job presentations, freelance teaching and consulting and, through his "off-the-day-job" life as a working musician, performing and recording under the name: "Sheryl's Crush".

Keith will help us put a face on The City of Toronto's open data efforts. Just how did come about? It was actually a perfect storm of confluences and influences continuing to the present day. He'll share insights about the early days and early learning getting the City of Toronto up and running, the zen of Open Data, baking the Open Data "cake" and even an Open Data song or two.

Special thanks to our partners:

Digiflare is a digital agency at the forefront of creating engaging connected user experiences. We harness the potential of Web, Mobile, Tablet, Connected TV, Game Consoles, and emerging devices to deliver cutting-edge solutions to our clients. Working with top tier Media and Entertainment brands, we provide strategy, design, development, and systems integration, helping them achieve their vision and extend their reach to their customers. Follow @Digiflare on Twitter and visit

Make Web Not War is a passionate community of open tech enthusiasts. We love everything that is open: Open Standards, Open Source, and Open Data. The community recognizes that collaboration is what openness is all about. We work together to make the world a more open place, leading to better solutions and apps for our fellow citizens: family, friends, neighbours. We welcome anyone building that cool app, learning how to use Open Data, government providing the Open Data or just a citizen using the apps. Let’s make an open web together. Follow @WebNotWar on Twitter and vist

HackerYou offers Toronto’s best full- and part-time courses for people who want to learn to code. Whether you’re looking to climb the corporate ladder, upgrade your skills, or start an new career, HackerYou is for you. Follow @thisishackeryou on Twitter and visit

FITC produces design and technology events worldwide which inspire, educate and challenge attendees. We've got two tickets to FITC Toronto April 27-29 to give away at our next event to two lucky attendees! Didn't win? You can still receive $100 off tickets with code "GGTO". Follow FITC on Twitter @FITC and visit

SYPA (Stuff You'll Probably Ask): 

You: What time do the presentations start?

Us: Doors open at 6:30pm and we begin the talks at 7:00pm. Before and after the talks, there are opportunities for conversations, and the enjoyment of refreshments and hors d'oeuvres.

You: Hors d'oeuvres, you say? Is there dinner?

Us: We always organize food and beverages for everyone, be it sandwiches or hot appetizers. Come hungry.

You: Why the $10 fee?

Us: All monies collected go directly to bringing you a top tier experience with notable speakers each month. Some months we get help with sponsorship and others months we do not, so the small fee balances out over the year and ensures that the events can continue to grow. Food and refreshments are provided each month and vary based on the venue. Your $10 directly goes towards covering the costs of food, drinks, thank you gifts for our speakers, hosting of our web spaces and other costs incurred to run events. We are a non-profit group run by volunteer organizers and we do not make money through this group.

Join or login to comment.

  • Caroline C.

    Up now on our YouTube channel, Keith McDonald's presentation on the city of Toronto's open data efforts.

    April 24, 2014

  • Caroline C.

    The first video from our Open Data event is now up on our YouTube channel. Watch Bianca Wylie's presentation on the Human Side of Open Data:

    April 9, 2014

  • Mila

    Loved the talks, loved meeting all of you! Can't wait for the next one. In the meantime, I'm actively looking for a project that uses open data to make cities more walkable.

    3 · March 19, 2014

  • Bethany

    Thanks for another great event! Awesome speakers, left inspired, great space, great event vibe. Looking forward to the next one!

    3 · March 19, 2014

  • Trisha

    My first Girl Geeks event, and I'll totally be back :) Beautiful space, great spread, knowledgeable presenters, and a friendly, approachable crowd.

    5 · March 19, 2014

    • Anna S.

      Great to hear Trisha - we think so too :) We'd love to see you again!

      1 · March 19, 2014

    • Caroline C.

      Thanks for the feedback, Trisha. Glad you enjoyed your first event with us and look forward to seeing you again!

      1 · March 19, 2014

  • Pamela K.

    Thanks for the insights into Open Data. Really enjoyed the discussions about how to make data into "stories", understandable and relevant to everyone. Only problem ... now I can't get that damn song out of my head! :)

    4 · March 19, 2014

    • Caroline C.

      Hahaha, once we have Keith's presentation up online, you can watch it over and over again! Thanks for joining us.

      March 19, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Don't know about the rest of you, but *I* had a lot of fun! Where else can you go to a meetup about data and end up dancing at a live concert? Most excellent.

    5 · March 19, 2014

    • Caroline C.

      We applaud you for being a leader, and for your guest being a follower that leads!

      1 · March 19, 2014

    • Anna S.

      Glad you enjoyed it Duncan...Dancing in the aisles, a first for GGTO! :)

      1 · March 19, 2014

  • David E.

    Worth the price. Great value. Thanks.

    3 · March 19, 2014

  • Caroline C.

    Thank you to everyone who joined us at our open data event, with special appreciation to Bianca Wylie and Keith McDonald for sharing with us their passion and work, and some musical talent, too! Was great to see familiar faces and many new ones with us. Thanks to Matthew Potter for streaming and recording the event, we will have the two presentations posted on our YouTube channel soon. And of course thank you to Lanny Geffen of Digiflare for their ongoing partnership, to Make Web Not War for collaborating with us, to FITC for the conference tickets to give away, and HackerYou for providing us a great space to meet. Look forward to seeing you all again soon!

    2 · March 19, 2014

  • Soni

    Very interesting and informative topic. Professional and entertaining speakers, fun discussions .

    3 · March 19, 2014

  • Andrea C.

    Great topic and engaging speakers. Food was awesome too.

    6 · March 18, 2014

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