A City that thinks like the Web

The City of Toronto’s Web 2.0 Summit held November 26th and 27th will go down in history as the moment that Government 2.0 landed in Toronto.  The truly historical moment was Mark Surman’s keynote at lunch, with an audience that included Mayor David Miller.  Surman posed three challenges to the City:

  1. Open our data. transit. library catalogues. community centre schedules. maps. 311. expose it all so the people of Toronto can use it to make a better city. do it now.
  2. Crowdsource info gathering that helps the city.  somebody would have FixMyStreet.to up and running in a week if the Mayor promised to listen. encourage it.
  3. Ask for help creating a city that thinks like the web. copy Washington, DC’s contest strategy. launch it at BarCamp.

The Mayor responded immediately by pre-announcing that TTC routing data would be opened up in Google Transit format in June of 2009, and said that, while he couldn’t promise that the City would be ready to process the output, that Toronto’s web geeks should go ahead and do a Toronto version of FixMyStreet and that City would listen. This is huge.

The moment was the culmination of a lot of our hopes and dreams for a city that understands the power of open, the meaning of participation and a signal of a more effective and responsive government of and for the people of Toronto. Will Pate and I have offered our assistance to make this vision a reality and we hope others will join us.

Mark’s presentation was excellent and highly recommended.  I have embedded the slides here, but you should go to Mark’s blog for the full audio presentation (and audio of Mayor Miller’s response) for the full effect.

6 thoughts on “A City that thinks like the Web”

  1. Back a couple years ago when I worked for CHUM and we were trying to come up with useful tools for the local news sites we were building, this lack of data was a HUGE problem. We had tons of ideas for truly useful mashups but could just not make them happen in a reliable enough way.

    Am very happy to hear that this summit turned out to be a good thing.

    I’m along with you Mark – how can I help make this stuff a reality?

  2. It was amazing to see the Mayor so excited and eager to tap into the Toronto web community for their expertise. Now, let’s hold him accountable to his words.

    I may be in and out of town Mark, but even when I’m not around, I want to help in any way possible to make Toronto a better place. It’s home, after all.

    Let’s get this started!

  3. Thanks Andre and Sameer! Also a big shout out to Tamera Kremer for her thoughtful critique.

    I would like to have some conversations with as many government participants at the TO Web 2.0 Summit as possible to talk about how we can engage our communities together around a shared agenda of Gov 2.0 innovation and practice. If you were there and would like to connect, please email me at mark@remarkk.com.

  4. Hi,

    Thank you for your contributing remarks. The Web 2.0 summit has been a quite learning experience for us at the city with many new insights of possibilities, opportunities and improvements for the city to consider options in engaging Toronto citizens and communities.

    Also I personally appreciate many constructive remarks and suggestions made on the Summit in the past few days and these will be definitely discussed in the debriefing session for future planning. One thing that stood out from the three months of hard work to pull this off is the spirit of teamwork and volunteering across the city to make this event possible.

    There is no doubt that this is just the beginning of what’s next in Thinking Big and Deliver Success in small bites with open dialogues and collaboration. We are now compiling all the suggestions and comments from the summit participants (in person and online both) to start our discussion on what’s next in order to keep the momentum and create a reality.

    I am very encouraged with many of your thougthful remarks from many many blogs and look forward to connect with you all in the future.
    Thanks again Mark for your suggestions. Will take you up on that.

    Lan Nguyen
    Chair, Web 2.0 Summit Planning Committee
    Director, Business Enablement
    City of Toronto
    Tel: 416-338-1822
    email: lpnguyen@toronto.ca

  5. Thanks for the comment Lan! The fact that you are commenting here and elsewhere already proves that there is readiness for change and engagement at the City.

    I think it is important to note that the Toronto web community is one of the most vibrant and open in the world. It is in a very real sense already engaged in the act of community and city-building. It is here for you to engage in ongoing dialogue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *