by Peter Galli on March 23, 2010 08:25am

 

More good news about Microsoft and Open Source coming out of Canada this week: Microsoft Canada and a Vancouver-based developer, Nitobi, are working together to help make government data more easily accessible and useful for citizens.

Nitobi, leveraging the City of Vancouver's Open Data catalogue and Microsoft's Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI) platform, has developed VanGuide, a web and mobile based social mapping application that enables citizens to tag, rate and comment on Vancouver landmarks and locations. 

The codebase for the project has been released as an Open Source framework on Codeplex, to enable the creation of new community driven "mash ups",  creating new opportunities for increased citizen participation and collaboration.

"We are using open source components with Microsoft technologies to quickly respond to business needs and create innovative mobile and Web applications. Our Vanguide application and the underlying Open Data Application Framework are clear examples of the power of open standards on the Microsoft platform, enabled by open source to make information available for all citizens," says Andre Charland, the CEO of Nitobi.

VanGuide is just one example of how Microsoft is working to build a vibrant application ecosystem around Open Data catalogues in Canada and around the world by leveraging the power of technology.  Watch the related video here.

"Microsoft is open to Open Source. We actively foster application development using Open Data catalogues on a variety of application platforms to help government organizations meet their transparency, citizen participation and agency collaboration goals. By helping Canadian cities transform how they deliver services, our continued focus is on interoperability and helping close the digital divide," says Nik Garkusha, the Open Source Strategy Lead for Microsoft Canada.

This latest initiative is just one of the many ways in which Microsoft's Open Government efforts are being felt across Canada. Others include the use by Edmonton of the Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI) cloud-based solution from Microsoft for its Open Data Catalogue.  The catalogue was implemented at minimal cost to the City using open source components and Microsoft's newest cloud operating system, Windows Azure.

Also, since the launch of Vancouver's Open Data Catalogue, local programmers have been working on applications , to make the data useful for the citizens of Vancouver. Apps like Vancouver Parking, Map Way and FreeFinders, are the result of a Microsoft sponsored competition to encourage the development of open government apps.

Local developers and municipal IT staff are also using open standards and application interfaces to easily retrieve data for use in innovative online applications that can help improve citizen services, enhance collaboration between public and private organizations and increase City transparency.

Microsoft is also currently working with the cities of Nanaimo and Calgary on new Gov 2.0 projects.