Toronto’s open data community has a new book club, and it’s one that doesn’t involve reading any books.

Open Data Book ClubTaking the cue from the successful incarnation in Ottawa, the Toronto Open Data Book Club is a monthly gathering that encourages people in the community to look at data sets the way a normal book club would analyze a book. Each gathering will include discussions about the gaps in the data set, challenges presented by the data, and the opportunities for applications, services and research that can come from the data set in question.

We’re excited to host the Open Data Book Club here at MaRS; the first meeting’s focus is on Toronto’s Open 311 Data Sets. Here’s a quick description from the Open Toronto Meetup page:

The 311 program was created to improve Torontonians’ accessibility to non-emergency City services and increases the City’s effectiveness in responding to public inquiries.

This is a very active program. In 2014, they received over 400,000 calls about a wide range of issues, including pot holes, bees, lack of adequate heat, and storm clean-ups. These calls are logged and released as open data sets.

Spend the month of April reviewing, creating, or finding trends within Open 311 Data Set. On April 28th, we’ll have a discussion about our findings, and we can even give you the opportunity to deliver a 2–5 minute presentation about what you’ve found, or created.

We will also have Denis Carr from Toronto’s 311 program and Keith McDonald from Open Data Toronto in attendance where they’ll be able to listen to your feedback and answer any questions you might have.

We’re excited to be part of this amazing community initiative and look forward to seeing you on April 28 to talk about Toronto 311.


(Photo from a recent Open Data Book Club meeting in Ottawa.)

Sameer Vasta

Sameer Vasta works on public policy, government relations, public affairs, and communications for MaRS Data Catalyst. He’s also a flâneur, letter-writer, hopeless romantic and hugger extraordinaire. See more…