What is Open Data?

Wikipedia defines Open Data as “The rationale behind open government data can be considered as twofold.

  • September2014 - OpenData - r-halfFirst, advocates contend that making government data available to the public in open formats increases government transparency and accountability.
  • Second, open data should enable third parties to leverage the potential of government data through the development of applications and services that address public and private demands.”

One example, in lay terms, imagine all the political donations being readily available to everyone in an Excel formatted file. You didn’t need to submit a request, or drive to town hall, but rather, required access to an unrestricted web page. If you’re proficient with Excel, what information could you derive from that data?

A parallel can be drawn against Open Source software, and how that model has revolutionized the computing ecosystem. The most popular open source products run ecommerce sites of some of the world's largest online retailers. In all probability, your company is also using Open Source products.

Why is Open Data useful?

To continue quoting Wikipedia, “The best open government applications seek to empower citizens, to help small businesses, or to create value in some other positive, constructive way.”

The massive amounts of data our government have collected is ours. The vast majority of it however is unavailable to us. Understandable for data containing personal or security information, but no longer acceptable for the rest.

Where can I Find the Open Data?

Here are some examples of Canadian sources of Open Data:

Who is using Open data?

Here are five examples of effective uses of public open data which provides citizen enablement (with screen captures of each following - click on image to enlarge or goto source):

  1. The mobile transit app (free) tells shows you the nearest bus stop, scheduled ETA, and map of route. Works with Burlington and Oakville transit. http://thetransitapp.com/
  2. A mobile app (free) which accurately tells you when the next train or bus will arrive (Toronto) http://rocketmanapp.com/
  3.  Chicago’s farmers market locations
  4. During a May 2014 Edmonton Open Data Hackathon, a citizen produced this City of Edmonton budget visualization (infographic). Their Mayor was later quoted “I’ve dealt with seven budgets … (this visualization was) very very helpful for me to understand our budgets through the eyes of a citizen
  5. Geo visualization of who donated to the 2010 Rob Ford campaign

Rocketman appChicago farmers market locations City of Edmonton Budget Visualization .Oakville Kerr Bus line example 140w

Ford 2010 Campaign donations City of Toronto.

Click on images to enlarge or goto source.

Get Started

Imagine leading or being witness to the genesis of some bold new commercial or open source app that brings life changing possibilities?

Eventbrite - Open Data. Open Gov. Shape The Future.

On September 9, 2014, join a intensive highly engaged round-table workshop with your peers. You’re in control. You can share and brainstorm on your challenges, your needs, and your ideas around citizen centric services and apps that require open data. Learn more here, or Register here.  

About the Blogger

Stomphorst Avatar 2014Rick Stomphorst is the President of SearchVelocity, providing recruitment services to technology companies to identify and acquire high-value technology staff. Rick is a technology leader with over 25 years experience with SaaS & on-premise software, large IT professional consulting firms and five software start-ups. He is a cofounder of Silicon Halton. [@StompR]

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Entrepreneurial Advice

start - blog imageSo, you are starting a business? This is a difficult decision, and congratulations on taking the leap. You have an idea you’ve been researching for years. Picture this: time to launch, you sit down at your desk at home, in a coffee shop, or even better a coworking space :). But now… What do you do, day one? It is generally understood time is of the essence when launching any new venture. So then why, on day one, week one, or month one, are you focused on building a flashy website, setting up an LLC through a lawyer, or even designing a logo?

Most people will say they are setting the groundwork or even getting everything laid out to start operating business. While certain activities are necessary to facilitate business, most activities are not crucial to testing the viability of the business.

Think about any business idea you had before or are pursuing now. What is the gamble that must work for you to be successful? What is the hardest thing you need to achieve to make this new venture successful? Maybe it is a good idea to focus on that. (Note: If you do not know what this variable/gamble is, please re-examine your business plan.) Use whatever rule you want - 80/20 seems to make sense. Spend 80% of your day ensuring your business is viable: get that first client, build that list of subscribers, anything that is crucial/hard/important for the business. 20% can be used for the other areas.

Too many times you see smart, driven people drowning in work being side tracked with these “nice to haves” that are not pinnacle to the company’s success.

I invite you to examine your daily activities and label an activity as vital and nice to have. This sometimes is sobering, but well worth it.

Think of a car, many people would agree A/C, decent stereo, leather seats are all great features. But, all of these don’t matter if the pistons aren’t firing. Build that engine, make sure those four wheels are rolling, and then add the nice to haves. GM gets a bailout when they mess up, entrepreneurs aren’t always so lucky.

Alex MazurewiczAlex Mazurewicz is the Community Director of the Burlington HiVE. Burlington’s only co working office space. For more information visit www.burlingtonhive.com or for a tour or questions please email him: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Follow the HiVE @BurlingtonHive

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Hire a Gen Y

Hire a “Gen Y.” - The Benefits to Youth, Community & Your Business

Gen Y

The Millennial Generation (aka Generation Y’s) are people born sometime between the mid-80s to the late 90s. Ambitious, confident and achievement-oriented, they are the fastest growing segment of our future workforce.

Many of Ontario’s young people possess definite employment and career advantages, such as education, innovation, tendencies toward social development and strong global connections. A global generational study conducted by PwC (a network of member accounting firms) characterized today’s youth as “civic-minded with a strong sense of community both locally & globally”, these future leaders and employees of our companies and organizations are talented, team-oriented and certainly, tech-savvy.

However, even with the employability odds stacked in their favor, the unemployment rate for Halton’s young workforce is unacceptably high - almost double the average provincial rate. The cause and determining factors are mixed – some say companies hire only those with work experience requiring minimal training, while others cite the rise of minimum wage as a deterrent for hiring. Nonetheless the fact remains many youth are not being hired and if this issue is not addressed, it will have a negative, ripple effect on our aggregate economic health.

The issue of youth unemployment can persist for many years. The impact of this prolonged detachment to the labour market may result in individuals not having obtained the necessary experience to support career progression and advancement. Also, the economic loss can be substantial, significantly hindering their ability to become financially independent/self-sufficient and preventing them from making the necessary contributions to their communities.

As part of Ontario’s Youth Jobs Strategy, the Youth Employment Fund was developed to support the expansion of employment opportunities and assist youth with acquiring work experience and real-life skills that will benefit them throughout their careers. The goal is to connect businesses with talented, career focused job seekers from 15 to 29 years of age in an effort to help 30,000 young people across the province build skills, find work and/or start a business.

By providing the opportunity of a job placement, employers may be eligible to receive incentives that help cover the cost of wages and training for new hires.

The Youth Employment Fund benefits youth in the workforce and also provides eligible employers with the following:

  • Up to $6,800 for training incentives
  • Support funds for additional skills development
  • Free recruiting support and job matching service

There are various programs, supports and assistance available for businesses and organizations who hire youth talent, students and young entrepreneurs.

Kimberly Neale 150x150Kimberly Neale – Job Developer with The Regional Municipality of Halton, Employment Halton. To get more information or to apply to be eligible for the Youth Employment Fund initiative, please contact Kimberly: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. // 905-825-6000 ext. 2705

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We’re honoured and proud to be a sponsor and supporter of Angel One’s Founders and Funders Celebration taking place June 18th at the Ron Joyce Centre located at McMaster University’s Degroote School of Business in Burlington, Ontario.

The evening is an opportunity to meet with and learn more about Angel One's members and their investee companies. This year will mark a special milestone for Angel One Network with the recognition of two successful exits in 2013.

Silicon Halton members are invited to come out and help us celebrate the winners of the Pauli Awards for Founder of the Year, Funder of the Year and Contributor of the Year.  Last years winners are depicted below. Members can register here.


2013 Founders and Funders Celbrants (left to right):  Dan Lawrie - Funder of the Year; Paul Subject - Contributor of the Year; Larry Innanen - Chair; Karen Grant - Executive Director; Stefano Plati - Founder of the Year.

About Angel One

Since incorporating in September 2011, Angel One members have invested over $12 million into 45 investments.  According to the National Angel Capital Organization's surveys on angel group activity, Angel One has ranked as one of the top angel groups in Canada for 2012 and 2013.

Additional facts:

  • Syndication investments with: Golden Triangle Angelnet, Niagara Angel Network, York Angel Investors, Georgian Angel Network, Capital Angel Network, Maple Leaf Angels, Boston Harbor Angels and MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund
  • Members are accredited investors who live, work or have strong interests in Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton and other communities in Southern Ontario.
  • Close to have of their investments are in technology companies
  • Network works with the following RIC Centres: Innovation Factory (Hamilton), HalTech Regional Centre (Halton Region); Innovation Guelph, The RIC Centre (Mississauga), VentureLab (Markham), and Innovate Niagara (St. Catharines)

[Sources: 2013 Founders and Funding Program Guide; Karen Grant, Executive Director of Angel One]

You can check out Angel One member investments and follow them on my unofficial investees Twitter list. Better yet, come and meet some of the founders and funders June 18th! Remember to register, there's limited seats!


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Silicon Halton is a grassroots high tech community focused on Technology, Community, and Growth