WHEREAS municipal decision-making is best aided and informed by access to fulsome data; and
WHEREAS rural municipalities face constraints in accessing expensive data subscriptions such as LiDAR; and
WHEREAS several provincial ministries, including Municipal Affairs, Health, Transportation and Economic Corridors, Environment and Protected Areas, and Forestry, Parks and Tourism, enjoy substantial data capacity and data warehousing; and
WHEREAS provincial ministries have occasionally proven unreasonably data-protectionist; and
WHEREAS entering into data-sharing agreements with individual ministries is cumbersome and time-consuming, as it imposes severely limited scope and terms; and
WHEREAS Albertans should not be required to pay for access to data that they have already paid for through their tax dollars at higher orders of government; and
WHEREAS considerable progress has been made in the last decade by provincial ministries in enhancing Open data; and
WHEREAS unlocking data provides opportunities for crowd-sourced solutions, efficiencies, collaboration, public safety, and economic development;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta advocate to the Government of Alberta to continue to prioritize increased access to Open data for municipalities.
Open data is a practice that makes data freely available, easy to access, and most importantly, simple to reuse. This can help empower stakeholders and citizens to make informed decisions, to build or grow their business, to better understand issues, and to hold government to account.
There are many ways we can expect Open data to be of value, just as there are also many groups and organizations who can benefit from the availability of Open data, including government itself. Smoky Lake County believes that it is imperative that the Government of Alberta continues to endeavor to increase municipal access to Open data. In turn, this would support for innovation, research, and informed decision-making, as well as proactive disclosure and increased accountability.
The nature of innovation is that advancements often stem from unlikely places.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Alberta Technology and Innovation
Alberta’s government recognizes that rural communities are essential partners in growing the province’s economy and building the province’s technology and innovation sector. As the RMA has acknowledged, the Government of Alberta has made efforts to improve open data access for municipalities, research organizations, and all Albertans. Alberta’s Technology and Innovation Strategy is committed to “advancing a system of supports that facilitate commercialization of Alberta research and innovations.” To further the goals of Alberta’s Technology and Innovation Strategy, the government also continues to advance a data strategy. This strategy will leverage the value of the data that government creates and collects to allow for better access and analysis, enhanced security, and the continued protection of personal information.
Technology and Innovation is also responsible for Open Government Program, which includes the Open Government Portal. Users of the Open Government Program, including municipalities, can request and suggest specific publications, datasets, and resources that would support innovation and our shared economic goals. We are committed to continually exploring opportunities to provide open data to support local governments, businesses, and Albertans, and you can find more information at https://open.alberta.ca/suggest.
Reliable, accessible, and open data is an essential tool to support informed, effective decision-making; provide services; and enhance economic diversification. Appropriate data management is critical to achieving this.
While much has been achieved in advancing access to data, we recognize there is more work to be done. Technology and Innovation welcomes municipalities and the RMA to share with the department any feedback and specific opportunities regarding data.
I understand that the Honourable Nate Horner, Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, will be providing a comprehensive response to Resolution 16-23S — Applied Research Funding. From the Ministry of Technology and Innovation’s perspective, Alberta has developed a strong network of private and public organizations that play a significant role in supporting Alberta, attracting investment, and growing the province’s technology and innovation sectors, including agricultural research. One of these organizations is Alberta Innovates, which provides funding for programs covering agri-food and bio-industrial innovation, material research, and graduate student scholarships.
I am always interested in learning of further opportunities for collaboration with municipalities. Thank you again for taking the time to share these new resolutions with the Government of Alberta.
The Government of Alberta response indicates an awareness of the need for improved access to Open Data and a commitment to continue to utilize Alberta’s Technology and Innovation Strategy to advance this priority. The Ministry also welcomed feedback and specific opportunities from municipalities, which aligns with the RMA’s goal of increased communication between levels of government. The RMA will engage with members to develop a better understanding of what data municipalities require access to and will use this information to follow up with the Government of Alberta. RMA will monitor the implementation of the Alberta’s Technology and Innovation Strategy in regards to open data access. RMA assigns this resolution a status of Accepted in Principle. The resolution will be revisited moving forward to determine whether more data is ultimately made available to municipalities.