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February, 2011:

Open data in Ottawa? Think again…

Why OC Transpo pulled the plug on a valuable tool for Ottawa commuters.

Seriously, why provide a way to improve customer service when you can make a few bucks from Cialis ads instead? Crazy, eh?

Or: “The 87 is late, are you? Find out for sure with Clear-blue early pregnancy tests”

Council Member Inquiry/Motion Form

Demande de renseignements d’un membre du Conseil /Formulaire de motion


Councillor / Conseillère Wilkinson


3 February / février 2011

File/Dossier :
To/Dest. :

Steve Box, Manager, Policy Coordination & Outreach, CMO / gestionnaire, Coordination des politiques et Rayonnement, BDM

Subject/Objet :

Inquiry No. TTC-03-11 – Wilkinson – Open Data City

Demande no CTC-03-11 – Wilkinson – Ville aux données ouvertes

Inquiry/Demande de renseignements :

From the Interim Transit Commission meeting of 31 January:

Pour la réunion de la Commission du transports par intérim prévue le 31 janvier:

Ottawa Council has approved Ottawa as an Open Data City.  As a judge in the City’s Apps contest, I saw many apps relating to providing actual time for bus arrivals.

Why did OCTranspo cut off data for use by those creating those apps?

Why is OCTranspo planning to hire consultants to create the apps for actual bus times rather than permitting members of the public from developing the apps at no cost the City?

Le Conseil municipal d’Ottawa a approuvé Ottawa en tant que Ville aux données ouvertes. À titre de juge au concours municipal AppspourOttawa, j’ai vu plusieurs applications visant à fournir l’heure d’arrivée réelle des autobus.

Pourquoi OC Transpo ne fournit-elle plus les données afin que les créateurs de ces applications puissent les utiliser?

Pourquoi OC Transpo prévoit-elle engager des experts-conseils pour créer ces mêmes applications au lieu de permettre aux membres du public de le faire gratuitement pour la Ville?

Response / Réponse

February 8, 2011 / février

Question 1

OC Transpo fully supports the open data contest and the implementation of technology that will improve customer service.  However, OC Transpo is currently working on a real time arrival project that will be fully integrated into the new technology platform as part of the next stop announcement system, as illustrated in the Transit Services IT Roadmap that has been approved by Council.  This will include enhancements to the current GPS system with the real time arrival to be operational by the end of this year.

As well, there are several issues related to the open data model, such as enabling third parties to deliver OC Transpo real-time bus arrival information, which if it were to continue, could create false expectations and negative results for our customers.  These third parties are not delivering real-time data but a forecast based on the data they have, which may or may not be consistent with what is happening in actual operations.  Control of real-time data by the transit authority is consistent with what other transit authorities throughout North America are doing, such as the Chicago Transit Authority.

Ownership is important.  The next bus arrival information provided needs to be identical in all platforms, be it on Mobile (SMS or mobile Web), Web or Phone (IVR).  Consistency can only be assured if OC Transpo controls the information relayed on each of these three mediums.

Further, ownership is very important for the revenue generation potential arising from future advertising and sponsorship opportunities.  If valuable OC Transpo information was to be disseminated by third-party providers, users would be split through different advertising channels – those of City partners with advertising contracts and those of advertisers buying space on third-party applications.

Question 2

OC Transpo is fortunate to already have internal resources at OC Transpo and IT Services, along with an external technical service provider whose help with these IT and technology issues is included in an existing contract.  In conclusion, consultants are not required in the provision of real-time data by OC Transpo.

Première question

OC Transpo apporte tout son soutien au concours des données ouvertes ainsi qu’à la mise en place d’outils technologiques visant à améliorer le service à la clientèle. Néanmoins, OC Transpo œuvre actuellement sur un projet de temps d’arrivée en temps réel, lequel fera partie intégrante du système d’annonce des arrêts de la nouvelle plate-forme technologique. Ce projet, qui devrait être en vigueur d’ici la fin de l’année, viendra améliorer le système GPS actuel.

Par ailleurs, plusieurs problèmes sont liés au modèle de données ouvertes, notamment la capacité qu’ont les tiers à transmettre les renseignements sur les heures d’arrivée des autobus. Si ces problèmes persistent, ils pourraient créer de fausses attentes et des résultats négatifs pour nos clients. En fait, ces tiers ne transmettent pas des données en temps réel, mais plutôt des prévisions fondées sur les données qu’ils possèdent, lesquelles peuvent être cohérentes ou non avec le déroulement réel des services. La gestion des données en temps réel par la société de transport correspond à la pratique des autres sociétés de transport en commun en Amérique du Nord, notamment la Chicago Transit Authority.

Il va sans dire que le droit de propriété est important. Les renseignements concernant l’arrivée d’un prochain autobus doivent être identiques sur toutes les plates-formes, que ce soit un téléphone cellulaire (SMS ou application Web), Internet ou un téléphone conventionnel (RVI). La cohérence ne peut être assurée que si OC Transpo vérifie les renseignements qui circulent sur chacun de ces trois vecteurs.

De plus, le droit de propriété est très important pour ce qui est du potentiel de recettes découlant des futures publicités et des possibilités de commandites. Si les précieux renseignements d’OC Transpo sont diffusés par des tiers, les usagers seront partagés entre différents canaux de publicité : ceux des partenaires de la Ville qui ont signé un contrat de publicité, et ceux des annonceurs qui achètent leur espace publicitaire sur les applications des tiers.

Deuxième question

OC Transpo se compte chanceux d’avoir accès à des ressources internes, à des services de TI ainsi qu’à des fournisseurs de services techniques externes, dont le soutien pour ce qui est des TI et des problèmes technologiques fait partie intégrante d’un contrat en vigueur. Bref, OC Transpo n’aura pas besoin des services de consultants pour fournir ses données en temps réel.


Clash of the paint jobs – only in Canada…

Don’t forget folks – Harper and MacKay do come from two different political backgrounds. Stuff like this is bound to happen. The funny thing is that the dispute is right up front instead of in the backrooms.

But make no mistake – Stevo will get his way.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I’m partial to the tie-dye! How about you?


Mr. G. Trudeau still has an edge…

Damned liberal media! Always using facts to distort truthiness!

h/t to Dan Gardner.


End faith-based education in Ontario!

This great letter appearing in the North Bay Nugget popped up in my news feed this morning.

This particular paragraph caught my attention:

One-third of the permanent, publicly funded teaching positions in Ontario are effectively closed to two-thirds of the population. Current discriminatory hiring practices by the Separate board preclude the hiring of non-Catholic teachers within their schools.

Question – why hasn’t the public school teacher’s union been vociferously opposing the existence of the Catholic school system. It would seem to be in their best interest, no? Maybe they have – but I haven’t seen anything.

And as one of the commenters correctly notes:

Just think how much money would actually go back into schools if we got rid of all the administration for the four boards, not to mention the transportation costs. All these savings would make for a better education system for ALL.

Better education for ALL. not just those who happen to go along with a certain belief system!

Let’s make this an election issue this fall! End faith-based education in Ontario!


We should all walk the walk – like Egyptians.

Um. How appropriate is this today?

If you are reading this –  and you feel the need to walk.

Do it like an Egyptian.


Mubarak – overthrown by Twitter?

Is Hosni Mubarak the first Dictator to be ousted with the help of social media?

The Twitterverse has been rife with updates on the uprisings – Tweets from within Egypt. The authorities tried to shut down information networks but to no avail. Protesters used social media to get the word out to each other and the rest of the world. Popular uprisings succeed only if momentum is maintained, and the social media fed into this momentum.

Yet this is indeed great news. But questions remain.

Will the Army relinquish control when free elections are held?

Dictators are often replaced by dictators – will this be the case in Egypt?

What country is next?


CHEO psychologists: next Tuesday at Canterbury HS – should be an informative evening

CHEO Psychologists Present:

An Evening of Information

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 from 7:00 – 9:00 pm Canterbury High School Auditorium

Join your friends and neighbours for an exciting evening of presentations and information sharing by psychologists from CHEO.  Each presentation will be offered at 7 pm and 8 pm.

  • Dr. Jenny Demark – “Why Won’t My Child Do As I Say?”, The ABCs of Improving Cooperation and Compliance
  • Mr. Craig Ross & Ms. Alice Rubin-Vaughn – Online Social Networking
  • Dr. Clarissa Bush – Capacity Concerns for Parents of Children Reaching 18
  • Dr. Phil Ritchie & Ms. Amber Johnston – Risky Business: Keeping Your Adolescent Safe
  • Dr. Simone Kortstee – The Importance of Sleep for Children and Adolescents
  • Dr. Annick Bucholz – Obesity in Children and Adolescents
  • Dr. Julie Perkins & Dr. Laurie Clark – Body Image in Children and Adolescents
  • Dr. Christine Beauregard & Dr. Peter Anderson – Concussion 101

This Event will be held at Canterbury High School

900 Canterbury Ave

Ottawa, Ontario, K1G 3A7

To ensure your spot, please register by email at


10 things about Trashy…

… that you didn’t know or didn’t care enough about to ask.

But I’m starving for a topic today so this is the best I can come up with!

1) “Trashy”? Wassup with that?

In my place of employment – which I cannot name cuz I’ll get my hand slapped – I was responsible for a project that involved the waste management industry. Soon after taking on the project back in 1998, one of my colleagues started to call me Trashy in emails that went back and forth between my hockey pool buddies. I have had a few nicknames in my life, but this one stuck. And I liked it.

Plus, it is the name of my favourite character in Stephen King’s The Stand. Don’t ask. I’m weird that way.

I have from time to time considered changing the name of this blog to something more “professional”. But I’m kinda attached to Trashy’s World… at least for now.

2) What is one thing that annoys you most.

Being late. And that applies to me as welll as to others. A nine o’clock meeting means NINE O’CLOCK! Why don’t some people “get” that?

3) What is the most serious issue facing Canada?

Political apathy. If folks don’t care, the pols know that and feel free to pretty much do what they want. We are almost at that point in Canada. I really don’t know what to do about it, but having a leader or three who would show real and intelligent leadership would be a start. Our country – and much of the world – is dumbing down to a level unseen in modern times. Every issue has to be violently and vitriolically confronted by those who disagree. Intelligent discourse has been truncated to 140 character Tweets on Twitter. And politicians of all stripes at all levels strive to find that lowest of lowest common denominators in a neverending quest for votes. It’s all about that. And policy discourse is non-existent.

Truly sad.

4) Speaking of politicians, where are you on the spectrum… cuz sometimes you seem all over the place.

I don’t like the left and right thing. It is seldom that simple. And I have seldom met someone who is on the “left” on every issue or on the “right”. I prefer to classify my stances according to the issue. Extremists at both ends of the pole would like to think that they are 100% consistent in their beliefs – but I am yet to meet someone who truly is.

I am a pro-choice, anti-capital punishment, anti-gun, pacifist who thinks that everyone should be able to marry whomever they wish regardless of sex… and that climate change is real!

But I am also someone who believes that the State does not belong in all aspects of our lives. Outside of education, health, social security, national security and public infrastructure, the day to day involvement of the state in the lives of most Canadians should be minimal.

And fiscally-speaking, governments should not run deficits unless it is absolutely necessary. The current one that the Cons have accumulated does NOT fall into this category.

As well, while the state should provide a safety net for those in true need,  people should not feel a sense of entitlement to all that life has to offer unless they make an attempt at earning it. The social safety net should be a net and not a home.

OK – get the idea? I AM all over the map.

5) So, OK, you are a politically messed up. Which party do you feel closest to?

Right now, there isn’t one. Maybe the Greens. I have belonged to the Dippers, Grits and the PCs for a short time. I guess I would now fit in as a Red Tory or a maybe a middle of the road Grit… but neither of them today.

6) What is your favourite pet?

None of the above. I’m not a fan of pets. I prefer people. We have a cat because my daughter wanted one.

7) Why do you shave your head?

I’m not sure anymore. I just like it this way. Though razor blades are getting more and more expensive…

8) Will there be a federal election this year?

You betcha. 50/50 on whether or not Harper will get his much-lusted-over majority.

9) Since you were a School Board Trustee candidate in the past election, you must be following with some interest the comings and goings on Greenbank Road.

Yup. And I have seen some good things happening there. Some of the Trustees have been quite sensitive to parents’ concerns and have taken action. That being said, I was disappointed when I saw the list of capital projects identified as priorities for the Board from now until 2014 – and not one single school from Zone 6 was on the list.

But the Board has some big challenges over the coming months and years. Fighting Queens Park for more funding and a better funding formula is on top of that list. But building better bridges with Ottawa’s pre-school community has to be addressed as well.

10) Will the Leafs make the playoffs?

No. But they will come tantalizingly close. I do pity Sen fans these days…


Vic Toews

Is this not the slimiest of the slime world. Crap. Move it up at bit Mr. Toews!

Civility continued to slip as question period progressed and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews lashed out at Liberal Mark Holland, who had asked Toews about the hidden costs of mega-prisons. In response, Toews said: “That is an individual who tours prisons and asks about the morale among prisoners, and never a word to the victims.” Holland said the Tories resort to personal attacks “when they’re out of truth … I think it’s been two days since they attacked me personally.”


2011 Super Ex cancelled… meh.

I hope what I’m about to say doesn’t label me as Mr. Fun Hater, but I took the news about the decision to cancel the 2011 SuperEx with little more than a slight shrug of my shoulders. Organizers claim that the availability of a suitable venue is the main reason behind the decision.

Board member Colin McSweeney said the CCEA was hoping it could hold the event on a site near Albion Road, in Ottawa’s south end, but that would not have the necessities in place by August.

“The problem is there is that the infrastructure is not there yet — water, sewer, electric. It would make it very difficult to hold any type of fair there without that type of infrastructure in place,” McSweeney said.

Organizers are hoping a new home for the event will be ready by 2012.

And I’m sure that this was a contributing factor. But I think that in reality, there is more to it than that.

Large scale carnivals are a disappearing artifact of the 20th century. Today’s kids with their Playstations, Wiis, Internet, and all that 21st century technology has to offer, is a much more attractive source of entertainment for today’s youth. They just don’t “get” the carnival thing.

Why deal with a-hole, chain-smoking, hygiene-challenged carnies when you have so many other more palatable options?

There are many, many, many agricultural fairs in Ottawa and environs, so who needs a Super Ex anyways? I love these smalltownish exhibitions with the giant tomatoes and “best Holstein in class” contests.  They remind me of the Foley Fall Fairs that I used to attend as a kid.

I know, I know… I’m not originally from ByTown so do not have those sweet childhood memories of the place, so maybe I’m being a bit harsh. But the day of the circus sideshow freaks finally saw the way to the exit… maybe now is the time for the old time carnival to follow the freaks.