If Toronto opened up its data, any number of wonderful things could happen.
After much pressure and a NOW cover story on the subject, Toronto opened up some data.
So now, where are all those wonderful things that were promised?
David Eaves, Canada's open government advocate, has a few ideas why a movement with an impressive wingspan has yet to fly.
According to Eaves, there are three main areas on inaction: government, media and the developer community.
Firstly, the city. It simply hasn't opened up enough data. The above mentioned TTC data, for instance, is not out in the open yet.
"Cities still think of this as a cost," says Eaves, a guest of this year's Mesh web conference. "Information and data is potentially the most important resource any government has."
Eaves is delivering a gang of keynote speeches this summer around the country, and most will put forth his favourite analogy: Kmart versus Walmart.
"Most governments see themselves a service delivery institutions. It's the same way that Kmart considers itself a retailer," he explains.
"But if you look at a company like Walmart, it's also a retailer, but it understands its data its most important resource. They analyze their data and figure out how to sell products most efficiently and reduce their prices. Our governments think like Kmarts, but they should be Walmarts - putting whatever you think of Walmart as a company aside. From a strategic perspective, Walmart understands its success is driven by data. I don't think most cities get that yet."
Second, the media.
"If we had all the information, local media could deliver valuable services. But I've seen none of the media stand up and say, we would like this. Because they don't get it either."
And third, and perhaps most controversially, Eaves says local web developers haven't done their part.
"I'm not sure the developer community here has pushed as aggressively as say San Francisco or Washington, DC. The biggest question I have for Toronto is: What have you done? How many people have taken the whatever small amount of data here and mashed it up in some way?"
Developers are the essential part of the open data equation. Eaves calls it a bargain: Toronto releases its data, the developers then have a responsibility to use it.