The Open Government Tour: Changing Canada by Exploring it

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July 29, 2014

Guest blogger: Richard Pietro

This summer I am travelling across Canada on my motorcycle - approximately 20,000 KMs in total - to bring attention to the Open Government and Open Data movements.

The Open Government Tour is putting into practice the theories and principles that make up these movements: transparency, accountability, and engagement.

But first...

Why I Think Open Data and Open Government are Important

I like to say that Open Data is a technology that will give us a more accountable, transparent, and engaging government.

Open Government is the willingness to use that technology. It is the culture change required by both government and citizens that will create a much more collaborative and productive relationship, in which to build trust and to create environments where everyone can work together.

It is also important to keep in mind that this change isn’t a one-sided conversation. The public also has a role to play– and providing constructive feedback is a way for Canadians to act as catalysts. For example, not only am I doing grand gestures like the Tour, but I try to get involved on smaller scales like this brief comment I posted on the Government of Canada’s ongoing Open Government consultation.

Believe you me, posting just one constructive comment can sometimes have a much greater impact than you think.

17 Cities, 17 City Champions

With the Open Government Tour, I hope to show what Open Government can look like on a national scale - the plan is to have the Tour visit 17 cities across Canada. I’m working with a Champion in each city to help organize the local events, which may be part of a conference, a session at city hall, or a small group in a coffee shop. The common thread is that each stop will be a conversation about how engaged citizens, government employees, and private sector representatives can improve their community through the Open Government and Open Data movements. It will be an opportunity to connect, share, discuss, and learn.

A Non-technology-based Open Source Project: Civic Engagement as Art

Too often, civic engagement is viewed as a statistic (how many people voted) or duty (“we all have to get involved!”), but rarely is it viewed as art. That’s why the Open Government Tour is framing civic engagement as an art and will profile and promote those “artists” who decide to take on that challenge.

Artists serve society by looking at the world not only as it is, but as how it has been in the past, and could be in the future. Then, they apply their skills to capture that vision in such a way to have an impact on others.

That’s the Tour: finding passionate people and helping them create and share their own messages about Open Government and Open Data.

To learn more or to get involved, visit the site for the Open Government Tour.

Richard Pietro is a recovering politician who is now an active member of the Open Government and Open Data community. His current project is a cross Canada motorcycle tour (www.opengovtour.org, or #OGT14 on Twitter) that will show Canadians how Open Gov/Data can turn civic engagement into a rock concert.

The opinions expressed in this blog post are not necessarily those of the Government of Canada.

Note from the data.gc.ca team:

This is how Richard is contributing to Open Government in Canada. You can also participate by joining the ongoing discussions for the Action Plan on Open Government 2.0 Consultation.

Best of luck and safe travels, Richard!

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