Open Data

Ensuring citizens have access to data should be considered a critical component of digital governance policy. Within certain limits, such as when handling personal information, putting data into the hands of citizens can allow for a more evidence-based discourse on public policy and it can also lower the cost-burden on institutions. This has impacted me personally as I participated in the University of Waterloo’s DataFest 2019 in which my classmates and I used data to discover relationships, provide policy recommendations and support them with evidence. For our topic, we looked at whether Canada lags behind other OECD countries in terms of R&D investment and what structural factors impact this. We found that Canada does lag behind international counterparts and it is because our economy is structured in a way that is not attractive to research investment. We were able to present an argument that was backed by facts because we had access to data, specifically the amount of money spent on R&D in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. We also had access to Statistics Canada’s data which we used to find several other datasets that helped inform our analysis. As a result, we were able to provide some insights to policy-makers at relatively little cost to them that they may consider when developing policy in the future. After my experience with DataFest, I can say that I fully support providing open data to citizens.

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