#CyberFLASH: New Brunswick making open data ‘baby steps’

1297516661469_ORIGINALThe New Brunswick government is inching toward an open data portal that will allow citizens to click through public information that has been previously locked inside government servers.

The commitment to opening up public data sets came when Premier Brian Gallant announced a digital government initiative earlier this month.

Governments across this country, and many other countries, have long embraced open data, a policy where governments post public information in usable formats that can be freely used by citizens.

But New Brunswick has, until now, dug in its digital heels, refusing to budge.

Shawn Peterson, a Saint John developer, has built a website that allows people to view and compare property tax assessment information.

But he’s done that by scraping data already posted online and he’s repeatedly run into problems with the provincial government trying to limit his ability to get data.

Getting access to that basic information in an open, useable format would be a major victory.

“I don’t think anybody is expecting them on Day 1 to release everything in a perfect format. But nothing is stopping us from taking some baby steps,” he said.

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