Tag Archives: crosspost

Crosspost: Geoweb, crowdsourcing, liability and moral responsibility

This post is cross-posted with permission from Po Ve Sham – Muki Haklay’s personal blog. Muki is a Geothink collaborator at the University College London and the co-director of ExCiteS.

By Muki Haklay

Yesterday [March 3rd, 2015], Tenille Brown led a Twitter discussion as part of the Geothink consortium. Tenille opened with a question about liability and wrongful acts that can harm others

If you follow the discussion (search in Twitter for #geothink) you can see how it evolved and which issues were covered.

At one point, I have asked the question:

It is always intriguing and frustrating, at the same time, when a discussion on Twitter is taking its own life and many times move away from the context in which a topic was brought up originally. At the same time, this is the nature of the medium. Here are the answers that came up to this question:



You can see that the only legal expert around said that it’s a tough question, but of course, everyone else shared their (lay) view on the basis of moral judgement and their own worldview and not on legality, and that’s also valuable. The reason I brought the question was that during the discussion, we started exploring the duality in the digital technology area to ownership and responsibility – or rights and obligations. It seem that technology companies are very quick to emphasise ownership (expressed in strong intellectual property right arguments) without responsibility over the consequences of technology use (as expressed in EULAs and the general attitude towards the users). So the nub of the issue for me was about agency. Software does have agency on its own but that doesn’t mean that it absolved the human agents from responsibility over what it is doing (be it software developers or the companies).

In ethics discussions with engineering students, the cases of Ford Pinto or the Thiokol O-rings in the Discovery Shuttle disaster come up as useful examples to explore the responsibility of engineers towards their end users. Ethics exist for GIS – e.g. the code of ethics of URISA, or the material online about ethics for GIS professional and in Esri publication. Somehow, the growth of the geoweb took us backward. The degree to which awareness of ethics is internalised within a discourse of ‘move fast and break things‘, software / hardware development culture of perpetual beta, lack of duty of care, and a search for fast ‘exit’ (and therefore IBG-YBG) make me wonder about which mechanisms we need to put in place to ensure the reintroduction of strong ethical notions into the geoweb. As some of the responses to my question demonstrate, people will accept the changes in societal behaviour and view them as normal…

See the original post here. twitter

#Geothink Chat Transcript, 20 January 2015

Twitter Chat on #IntellectualProperty, #copyright, and #geodata, hosted by Cheryl Power, PhD student at UOttawa’s Faculty of Law.

Cross-posted from Mapping Mashups.

@geothinkca Jan 20, 2:59pm Welcome all to our #geothink chat, hosted by @cheryldpower on #IntellectualProperty, #copyright, and #geodata! Thanks for joining us!
@cheryldpower Jan 20, 3:00pm Good evening everyone, Cheryl speaking – Let’s hear from the audience who is out there tonight? #geothink #cheryldpower
@mappingmashups Jan 20, 3:00pm Today on #geowebchat we’re joining a chat organized by @geothinkca. Use the hashtag #geothink instead! #geowebchat will be back in 2 weeks.
@re_sieber Jan 20, 3:02pm Can we copyright a geodataset? My understanding is no in US; yes in Canada #geothink
@notgregorypeck Jan 20, 3:02pm #geothink hello all. looking frwrd to discussion with @cheryldpower
@mappingmashups Jan 20, 3:02pm @cheryldpower Hi Cheryl. I work at @stamen making maps with #opendata/#openstreetmap. Also doing a PhD at UBC. #geothink
@AmrEldib Jan 20, 3:03pm @cheryldpower hey, Cheryl. I’m Amr in Vancouver, and wanted to hear all about @geothinkca and #geothink
@cheryldpower Jan 20, 3:04pm @re_sieber #geothink See feist *US
@mappingmashups Jan 20, 3:04pm @cheryldpower I also run #geowebchat… hoping the regular #geoweb audience joins this #geothink chat.
@AmrEldib Jan 20, 3:04pm @re_sieber wouldn’t think be like copyrighting an API which is the topic of dispute between Oracle and Google #geothink
@mappingmashups Jan 20, 3:05pm @cheryldpower We’ve done a few #geowebchats about #opendata. Check out our transcripts after this #geothink chat: mappingmashups.net/geowebchat/
@re_sieber Jan 20, 3:07pm .@cheryldpower I know ab Feist, although it leaves copyright door open for more complicated db structures #geothink
@mhaklay Jan 20, 3:08pm Will it be interesting to explore ODBl opendatacommons.org/licenses/odbl/ for this #geothink discussion?
@JamesLMilner Jan 20, 3:08pm Tuning in to #geothink ; not to hot on IP and copyright but know a little about open source licenses
@cheryldpower Jan 20, 3:09pm @re_sieber #geothink Science technology and IP & Innovation for 10 years !!
@re_sieber Jan 20, 3:09pm @AmrEldib Here’s EFF on copyright case ab copyrighting APIs eff.org/press/releases… #geothink
@cheryldpower Jan 20, 3:10pm @re_sieber #geothink Is it an original selection of data discuss?
@notgregorypeck Jan 20, 3:10pm #geothink can you copyright dataset – according 2 interview with David Fewer, hving a dbase isn’t enough for copyright in CanPost case
@re_sieber Jan 20, 3:12pm Also hot in Canada, copyright case of Canada post v @geolytica cbc.ca/news/technolog… #geothink
@notgregorypeck Jan 20, 3:12pm #geothink intrview with David Fewer – one essential ingrdient for copyright: skill of judgement in selection and arrangement of data
@TenilleEBrown Jan 20, 3:14pm @notgregorypeck Do you have a link for that interview Peck? #geothink
@re_sieber Jan 20, 3:15pm .@notgregorypeck Big diff btwn Canada & US in terms of “sweat of brow” vv copyright #geothink
@re_sieber Jan 20, 3:16pm .@notgregorypeck In Canada, you can count some “sweat of brow” as well as creativity in asserting copyright #geothink
@JamesLMilner Jan 20, 3:16pm ODBI license looks solid but could be more clear about commercial use as per tldrlegal.com is about Apache 2.0, MIT etc #geothink
@geothinkca Jan 20, 3:16pm @TenilleEBrown Here is the link to the #Geothink newsletter, the interview is on page 12!
@cheryldpower Jan 20, 3:17pm Have you been exposed to any type of licensing in association with your research project? #geothink #cheryldpower
@notgregorypeck Jan 20, 3:18pm #geothink CIPPIC, in Geolytica case, are arguing about that disctntion on ‘sweat of brow’. not easy to determine when everything is sftwre
@geothinkca Jan 20, 3:19pm @TenilleEBrown geothink.ca/geothink-newsl… #geothink
@mappingmashups Jan 20, 3:19pm @JamesLMilner Yes, #ODbL was meant to clear up a lot of the commercial use cases for #OSM, but many think it’s still not obvious. #geothink
@cheryldpower Jan 20, 3:19pm @JamesLMilner #geothink Do you have a link?
@ClausRinner Jan 20, 3:20pm Re @re_sieber : What do people think/know about postcodes in OpenStreetMap? Seems a great platform to collect them systematically. #geothink
@cheryldpower Jan 20, 3:21pm @mhaklay #geothink Do you have specific questions? Have you experience with the license?
@re_sieber Jan 20, 3:21pm Copyright in geospatial realm draws on precedence of both pictures (maps), easier to copyright, v. data, difficult to copyright #geothink
@JamesLMilner Jan 20, 3:23pm @mappingmashups interesting. Just read this article about #ODbL issues openstreetmap.org/user/lxbarth/d… #geothink
@mhaklay Jan 20, 3:23pm @cheryldpower No, I don’t have any specific question. Just noticed that it created a lot of noise from different directions! #geothink
@re_sieber Jan 20, 3:23pm .@ClausRinner @geolytica case show us Canada Post asserts copyright over 6 digit postal codes, regardless of collection platform #geothink
@cheryldpower Jan 20, 3:25pm @re_sieber #geothink Tele-Direct v. American Business Information, need original intellectual creation
@re_sieber Jan 20, 3:25pm .@ClausRinner What can be done legally in US vv copyright can’t nec be done legally in Canada. Prob for intl platform lk #OSM #geothink
@mhaklay Jan 20, 3:25pm @cheryldpower e.g. lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/lega… or openstreetmap.org/user/lxbarth/d… #geothink vs osmfoundation.org/wiki/License #geothink
@re_sieber Jan 20, 3:28pm .@cheryldpower Tele-Direct case still asserted that min degree of skill in arrangement is protected by copyright under Canada law #geothink
@mappingmashups Jan 20, 3:29pm @ClausRinner @re_sieber Related to postal codes in #OSM is the openaddresses.io project which is a parallel database w/out #ODbL #geothink
@re_sieber Jan 20, 3:30pm .@cheryldpower’s mention of Feist, Tele-Direct highlights that geospatial db law derives from phonebooks #geothink
@TenilleEBrown Jan 20, 3:30pm @JamesLMilner Its aimed at the user of the software? So aimed at informing public what they are able to do with said data-set? #geothink
@re_sieber Jan 20, 3:31pm Welcome @geolytica, to our twitterchat discussion of geospatial data & copyright #geothink
@cheryldpower Jan 20, 3:32pm Do you think there should be any type of IP protection on forms of data for example databases ? #geothink #cheryldpower
@re_sieber Jan 20, 3:33pm .@geolytica has personal experience w the assertion of copyright in Canada vv geospatial data #geothink
@nixzusehen Jan 20, 3:34pm @JamesLMilner spatiallaw.com/Uploads/ODbL_a… #geothink
@mhaklay Jan 20, 3:36pm @cheryldpower maybe IP protection help in securing privacy & control. e.g. indigenous groups geodata – might deter biotech abuse? #geothink
@re_sieber Jan 20, 3:36pm Advertisement: #geothink researches copyright, IP and licenses regarding geoweb (also social justice, particip..). Partners inc CIPPIC, OSM.
@geolytica Jan 20, 3:38pm @re_sieber I recently gave a talk at the state of the map on this topic. #geothink My slides are here: geocoder.ca/onetimedownloa…
@geothinkca Jan 20, 3:38pm @mhaklay Are you referring to biotech companies patenting traditional knowledge? #geothink
@TenilleEBrown Jan 20, 3:40pm @mhaklay @cheryldpower yes to biotech use. As well as abuse of the areas of traditionally owned land #geothink
@mhaklay Jan 20, 3:41pm @geothinkca for example. Beyond biotech, other companies using information about specific plants/resources etc. ? Not sure though! #geothink
@re_sieber Jan 20, 3:41pm .@mhaklay any insight into why UK didn’t go after OSM vv crown copyright violations compared to Canada? #geothink @geolytica
@JamesLMilner Jan 20, 3:44pm further reading implies that ODbL is very patchy indeed; big issues re: when “share-alike” provisions apply spatiallaw.com/Uploads/ODbL_a… #geothink
@re_sieber Jan 20, 3:44pm .@cheryldpower I’d argue that crowdsourced datasets should give IP protections to contributors, including Yelp, fb, TripAdvisor #geothink
@mhaklay Jan 20, 3:45pm @re_sieber @geolytica which violations? OSM community in the UK was vocal to new members about copyright in the early days #geothink
@mhaklay Jan 20, 3:47pm @JamesLMilner this study is funded to support MapBox view of the ODBl issue, so take it with a pinch of salt … #geothink
@re_sieber Jan 20, 3:48pm .@mhaklay ownership not just ab copying. CanadaPost asserting tm over “postal code” o.canada.com/business/canad… @geolytica #geothink
@cheryldpower Jan 20, 3:50pm .@mhaklay #geothink I view the IP & privacy issues through different lens with IP potentially granting exclusive rights in a form of data
@mhaklay Jan 20, 3:51pm @re_sieber @geolytica not yet, because ‘postcodes’ and addresses are a completely messy issue in the UK because of the Royal Mail #geothink
@mhaklay Jan 20, 3:52pm @re_sieber @geolytica see alpha.openaddressesuk.org and …al-government.governmentcomputing.com/news/cabinet-o… as a way to overcome it #geothink
@cheryldpower Jan 20, 3:52pm How do we provide incentives for the open sharing of data? #geothink #cheryldpower
@re_sieber Jan 20, 3:54pm As sidebar to @cheryldpower, a justif for “sweat of brow” inclusion in crown copyright is to protect investment of creator,inc gov #geothink
@mhaklay Jan 20, 3:55pm I wonder if there is any value in studying the discourse at OSM legal talk about lay concepts? lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/lega… #geothink
@notgregorypeck Jan 20, 3:56pm .@cheryldpower #geothink probly need alternative revenue streams – open you data, but need that data to feed into use of other services
@re_sieber Jan 20, 3:57pm @mhaklay “studying the discourse at OSM legal talk about lay concepts” sounds like a potential whitepaper to me for #geothink @cheryldpower
@notgregorypeck Jan 20, 3:57pm .@cheryldpower #geothink a Google model for business. provide free service, and tunnel your customers into your other services
@cheryldpower Jan 20, 3:58pm @re_sieber @mhaklay Absolutely we should talk in the days to come #geothink
@geolytica Jan 20, 3:59pm @mhaklay @re_sieber 1M UK addresses, what percentage of the total is that? Our database in Canada currently stands at over 12M. #geothink
@geothinkca Jan 20, 4:00pm @notgregorypeck @cheryldpower Opening data may also crowdsource expensive problem-solving and optimization #geothink
@mhaklay Jan 20, 4:01pm @cheryldpower some ideas from @DrBobBarr about Core Reference Geographies agi.org.uk/storage/events… & agi.org.uk/storage/events…#geothink
@geothinkca Jan 20, 4:02pm Just a few more minutes of this #geothink chat, if you has any more comments! (We’ll return again in the future)
@mhaklay Jan 20, 4:04pm @geolytica @re_sieber en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postcode_… – 29m addresses #geothink
@re_sieber Jan 20, 4:04pm In future would love to have either #geowebchat or #geothink chat just on licenses.
@geothinkca Jan 20, 4:06pm Thanks evryone 4 joining this #geothink & #geowebchat. Thanks @cheryldpower for hosting. Well be back in th future, stay tuned @geothinkca
@mappingmashups Jan 20, 4:08pm @geothinkca I’ll archive this #geothink chat alongside the other #geowebchats here: mappingmashups.net/geowebchat/ Will post in a few days.
@mappingmashups Jan 20, 4:09pm @re_sieber The next #geowebchat is Feb 3rd. Do we want to talk about licenses then? #geothink
@re_sieber Jan 20, 4:11pm .@mappingmashups Great idea #geowebchat. Licenses for geospatial data #geothink

Special thanks to Cheryl for hosting, and @mappingmashups for mashing #geowebchat chat with our #geothink chat. Love Twitter chats? Have an idea for a Geothink Twitter chat? Get in touch: @geothinkca!

Crosspost: Ryerson journalism and the Neptis Foundation partner to teach students data journalism

Neptis researcher and transportation engineer, Erin Toop, explains statistics during a Senior Reporting data journalism workshop at Ryerson University on Oct. 9.

By Prajakta Dhopade

I stared blankly at the rows upon rows of transportation statistics on my computer screen. My heart thudded in my chest, my eyes darted to my classmates’ faces. Did they get it? The numbers in the intimidating Excel spreadsheet I was scrolling through didn’t make much sense to me. I thought I’d left math class behind when I came to journalism school.

As the initial panic subsided and I actually took a moment to think about the variables in the data set before me, I began to see how they correlated, how the numbers might raise important questions that could lead to stories I can tell as a journalist.

Which of the 16 zones Toronto is divided into has the most cyclists and what does that say about cycling infrastructure in parts of the city? Has there been an increase in people cycling to work? The possibilities seemed endless.

My foray into data journalism occurred in Ryerson journalism instructor Gavin Adamson’s senior reporting class last month when researchers from the Neptis Foundation, a charitable, non-partisan research organization, came to share the results of an unreleased Transportation Tomorrow Survey (TTS) with students.

It was an opportunity for us to produce story ideas from a vast collection of data about the modes of transportation used in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

The Neptis-led data journalism workshop was organized after April Lindgren, director of the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre (RJRC), and Marcy Burchfield, executive director of the Neptis Foundation, met at the annual meeting of the Canadian Geospatial and Open Data Research Partnership this summer.

“We have partnered with other universities on previous projects and have always had a relationship with up-and-coming planners, [and] transportation engineers, so this seemed like a good fit—to introduce some young, up-and-coming journalists to an important data set that tells a lot about travel behaviour in the region,” said Burchfield.

The TTS is sponsored by the Ministry of Transportation Ontario and is a collaborative effort by regional governments and transportation associations to collect data revolving around how people travel in southern Ontario.

The survey sample is large, involving five per cent of the population in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).

Neptis shared summary data for 32 variables with us, meaning there were 1,500 possible comparisons to make during our analysis.

According to Burchfield, while the TTS has been used widely for several years for analysis surrounding land-use and urban development, for a long time it has been behind an archaic graphic user interface that limited its accessibility.

She says Neptis hopes to “break down a barrier of access” so that you don’t have to be an expert to draw conclusions from the TTS.

Erin Toop, transportation engineer and a Neptis researcher, was one of the presenters who condensed the complicated raw information into accessible spreadsheets for us to sift through.

The Neptis team members began their Oct. 9 presentation to my class with an explanation of why combiningstatistics with journalism is so important in seeing the big picture.

“With data journalism, you can actually assemble all the information that is out there and you’re able to see trends, you’re able to see how things come together… [and] share these stories in a meaningful way,” said Phinjo Gombu, a former Toronto Star urban affairs reporter who is now working with Neptis.

The presenters emphasized that the ability to decipher raw data and draw conclusions from the numbers is vital in determining the truth and holding politicians accountable.

As a journalism student, this exercise made me realize that having data journalism skills is a valuable asset to have in an industry that is starting to value digital literacy over much else—but our curriculum is only just shifting to accommodate what the job market demands.

Lindgren said the purpose of the partnership between Neptis and Ryerson’s journalism school was to explore different ways of teaching data journalism.

“It’s quite a challenging thing to do because of the technical requirements…You need to know how to work with spreadsheets and data, so there are several levels of complexity in terms of learning,” said Lindgren. “And also the data are so interesting and the story potential is so great that it was a real hands-on opportunity to do real stories with real data.”

While the Excel spreadsheets prepared by Neptis were much less intimidating than the original data format, we were still faced with the daunting task of tackling numbers and making sense of the 32 variables we were given to work with. Transportation modes, trip purposes, trip rates—how were we supposed to see the trends and their significance?

Adamson says that hands-on work with data helps break down numeracy fears, a critical hurdle for journalists, who often must sift through data evidence to analyze governmental and corporate decision-making.

After Toop gave us an overview of how the survey worked and what each variable represented, the class divided into groups to generate story ideas.

What really worked about the workshop is that we had the Neptis researchers to help us understand the feasibility of comparing variables while our journalism instructors encouraged us to think about how the data related to what’s happening in the city.

We learned to simplify our approach to finding patterns in the data and to think about what our lede would look like.

Fourth-year journalism student Marija Petrovic went on to use the TTS data to write a story for Adamson’s reporting class.

She discovered that cycling within Toronto has increased more than 50 per cent in the past four years as more people choose to ride their bikes to avoid congestion on city roads.

“I liked seeing data that was something that I see happening every day and that is such a big part of a Ryerson student’s life,” said Petrovic, who confessed she found the workshop challenging at times because math is not her forte.

We didn’t come close to taking the data and creating ambitious graphic visualizations like the images shown to us by the Neptis researchers — indeed, following through with the analysis would be another obstacle to tackle— but the exercise got us thinking.

“Although it was a good three-hour workshop, it wasn’t enough,” said Michael Chen, a fourth-year journalism student who attended the presentation.

He thinks it was a great opportunity to look at the data and ask questions but would like to have spent more time learning about Excel sheets and analyzing statistics.

I definitely agree that we needed more time to become comfortable with the numbers; even as I started to figure them out, I still found them overwhelming.

Finding patterns wasn’t easy either, but it was helpful receiving the Neptis researchers’ feedback because it was reassuring to realize we weren’t grasping at straws– that maybe we were onto something.

Adamson hopes to partner with Neptis again for other classes in the journalism program, including the masthead publication, The Ryersonian.

Prajakta Dhopade is a fourth-year journalism student at Ryerson. She is an aspiring online journalist with an interest in women’s issues. Her work has also been published by the Canadian Press.

Cross post from the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre

Civic Hackathons: Innovation, Procurement, or Civic Engagement?

By Peter Johnson

I’ve recently published a jointly-authored viewpoint piece with Dr. Pamela Robinson from Ryerson University in Review of Policy Research. Titled ‘Civic Hackathons: Innovation, Procurement, or Civic Engagement?‘, we take a critical look at the recent phenomenon of civic hackathons – time limited contests typically run by governments designed to promote use of open data resources, and potentially solve local issues.

Both Pamela and myself have been struck by the high level of interest and hype that many civic hackathons have received, and decided to examine the multiple end points and implications generated from these events. For example, do civic hackathons have the potential to replace the traditional ways that government purchases products and services? Similarly, are these events considered to be new vectors for citizen engagement, and if so, who is actually participating in them, and for what purposes? This is a rich area for future questions, as this paper provides guidance towards a more fully developed research program that critically evaluates the hackathon process and outcomes.

Peter A. Johnson
Assistant Professor
Department of Geography and Environmental Management
University of Waterloo

Cross post from Geospatial Participation

Re-identification Risk and Proactive Disclosure of Data for Open Government: Lessons from the Supreme Court of Canada?

By Teresa Scassa

One of the challenges with the proactive disclosure of government data, and with open data more generally, is the obligation that governments have to not disclose personal information. This challenge is made more acute by the fact that the definition of “personal information” is, generally speaking, “information about an identifiable individual”.

Courts in Canada have said that identifiability is not considered solely in the context of the particular data set in question – information is personal information if it can lead to the identification of an individual when it is matched with information from virtually any other source.

The Supreme Court of Canada has just released a decision dealing with the issue of whether Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services was right to refuse to disclose information relating to the province’s sex offender registry. The concern in this case was that although the applicant sought only data about sex offenders living within the forward sortation areas, indicated by the first 3 letters of a postal code, this information could still be matched with other available information to specifically identify and locate individuals. Although the case deals with the province’s access to information regime, lessons can be extracted that are relevant to both the proactive disclosure of government information and to open data.

For more detail, see my blog post about this case, here: http://www.teresascassa.ca/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=159:re-identification-risk-and-proactive-disclosure-of-data-for-open-government-lessons-from-the-supreme-court-of-canada?&Itemid=80

Teresa Scassa University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law