Surrey City Council will resume its work after almost month and a half long summer break and will mark last two months of this term which started in 2011. Monday meeting will continue already established and proven tactics of “cruise control” meetings which basically means public is not going to see anything special or much controversial. Two items of interest on agenda are corporate reports R148 (“My Surrey” app) and R150 (Open data policy).
Open Data Policy for new Council and Mayor
Accountability and openness are two key issues in dealing between the public and governments in todays world of widely available informations and communication between all players in public arena. City of Surrey is not excluded from those battles and moves towards it in general but it is still too early to judge them in the area of open government and availability of informations to the public. If approved by Council new Open Data Policy and Program will start after Monday meeting of the Council meeting.
Corporate Report which is coming in front of Council on Monday meeting will deal with Open Data Policy and which City databases will be available to the public. Report states that among others informations which will be available to the public are: crime incidents, Restaurant inspections reports from Fraser Health, Statement of Financial Information, Aerial and Lidan imagery, Sustainability indicators and more than 300 other databases.
Public safety is one of the key issues in Surrey, and will make one of the top election issues later in October and November, and crime reports will found their way to the public through this Open Data Policy. Although it is not clear if numbers related to shootings and murders will be available to the public but some other crime data certainly it will be.
“Crime incident data will focus on those high volume offences where a greater awareness regarding crime occurrences and concentrations of crime will have the biggest impact in terms of directing or influencing community engagement and mobilization to enhance community safety. Having a better understanding of neighbourhood conditions and relative risks with respect to victimization will help residents and businesses make informed decisions about proactive steps they can take to contribute to crime prevention and overall crime reduction efforts across the City. The following crime types will be included in the crime incident dataset: commercial and residential break and enter, auto theft, theft from vehicle, shoplifting and graffiti. Traffic collision data will also be available to help raise awareness of the most problematic roadways and intersections in the City. Crime incident data will be updated and published on a monthly basis”, states Corporate Report R150.
City of Surrey also claims, without stating data for comparison, that once this program is on this will be largest dataset collection available in the country. Beside that City very confidently claims that users of this program will have ability to preview data in a map and download an area of interest only, instead of the entire dataset; Dynamic access to datasets for near real time consumption in Apps; Access to high resolution ortho/lidar/remote sensing datasets (Surrey is the only municipality to provide this feature).
It remains to be seen if all these informations will be available in the way as it is explained in this corporate report and how useful available data would be to the citizens and organizations operating on the territory of Surrey. Also it will be very interesting to see in which format and digital forms data will be available to the public and all those who are interested to learn about actions and situation in Surrey.
New App to maximize awarness
My Surrey app as per Corporate report is not yet available to the public, and will become once Council approves this report, and claims that this app aim is “to maximize citizen awareness of mobile apps and digital services available at the city”. App will be available through Apple iTunes and Google Play. But as much as this app is welcomed step ahead to inform citizens of Surrey of services available at the City it seems that this app will just be directing hub to the other apps already produced by the City.
Part of the corporate report states that “My Surrey” App detects if other City apps are already installed and will either launch them or direct users to download them when selected. If we read this correctly users will need to have other City apps installed to their smartphone or tablet device and those will be activated through “My Surrey” app or separately as needed. If that is true than “My Surrey” app will be pretty much useless addition to users collection of apps on smartphones or tablets.
My Surrey app will combined already available City apps such as COSMOS, Surrey Request, Rethink Waste, Surrey Library and Art Walk with new apps City News, City Events and City Jobs.