Thanks to everyone who pitched in with comments and ideas for my City of Toronto 2.0 Web Summit talk yesterday. The idea that we can create a ‘city that thinks like the web’ — and that Toronto can learn from projects like Mozilla — seemed to go over well. Here are the slides:
… and the audio:
As outlined in my call for ideas last week, the talk ended with three simple challenges to City Hall. They went something like this:
- Open our data. transit. library catalogues. community centre schedules. maps. 311. expose it all so the people of Toronto can use it to make a better city. do it now.
- Crowdsource info gathering that helps the city. somebody would have FixMyStreet.to up and running in a week if the Mayor promised to listen. encourage it.
- Ask for help creating a city that thinks like the web. copy Washington, DC’s contest strategy. launch it at BarCamp.
I also made off the cuff encouragements for the city to open source the software it produces and put Firefox on every desktop. Didn’t want to push these, but had to at least mention ;).
A fun story: the mayor was in the front row for the whole talk. Every time I’d say something challenging or controversial, he’d start typing madly on his his Blackberry. I thought he was taking notes. Turns out he was emailing people on his staff with questions about opening TTC data for Google Transit, open sourcing city-made code, and so on.
When my talk finished, the mayor came back immediately with ” … I’ve been emailing people about your challenges. Open data for Google Transit is coming by next June, and I don’t see what we shouldn’t open source the software Toronto creates.” He also said “I promise the City will listen” if Torontonians set up a site like FixMyStreet.com. Great news, and hopefully real encouragement for TransitCampers and open web geeks into Toronto start hacking away at online tools that make our city better. I’ve uploaded audio of the mayor’s remarks here:
The one challenge the mayor didn’t address directly: doing an Apps For Democracy-style contest like the one done in Washington, DC. I still think this is a super and low cost idea. I talked to Tonya, Mark K and Will P about it after the Summit, and all said they want to make something like this happen. In fact, Tonya offered to host a Toronto Social Innovation Camp (geeks gather to sprint on solutions to a problem) where people hack on ‘make Toronto better’ web projects. This could totally blend in with the contest idea. All we need is for City Hall to is open up some data and pitch in the prize money. Fun times ahead.
One the talk itself: a little longer than I’d hoped (40 mins) and got a few Mozilla facts wrong (ooops), but overall think it was okay. Comments on how to improve for similar talks welcome.