CODS17: Open Data Technological Citizenship & Imagined Futures

The 2017 Canadian Open Data Summit was hosted by the city of Edmonton this year.  These slides were part of the closing keynote.  The talk was well received and it was great to work with public officials who are struggling with trying to administer, deliver programs, be innovative and consult with the public, but who were also receptive to the idea that we need to think at a higher moral and ethical level when deploying technologies. YOu can read the full program here.

Webinar 1: Situating Canadian Cities in an International Smart City Ecosystem

This webinar was hosted by GeoConnections and created in collaboration with Open North.  At least 150 people participated in the event across the country.  It is the outcome of a larger GeoConnections funded project entitled Open Smart Cities and I am really happy to be a part of it and to be working with Jean-Noe Landry (ON), Rachel Bloom (ON), David Fewer (CIPPIC) and Mark Fox from (U of T).


I am just back from a fantastic 3 days with history of science and statistics scholars from France, Austria, Hungary, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, the US and Canada. In addition to the list of countries of the participants, articles discussed Cuba, Ethiopia, Senegal, and Kansas. The Colloque Le CHIFFRE et la CARTE was intellectually very stimulating with numerous critical data case studies from around the world by scholars who were not aware that critical data studies exists. This was thick description humanities work with a great many fans of Foucault, Hacking, Dupaquier, Desrosier, and Curtis. A few of the articles that were discussed are published in English and in French, in Histoire & Mesure Vol.32 No1, 2017.  I was also introduced to this great French, English and Spanish Open Access Journal Statistique et Societe Statistics and Society Estadistica y Sociedad.

Critical data studies can benefit from working outside of English, outside of the West, beyond urban, by being more empirical, and should be less a-historical.  There is a need to look at the history of science, statistics and technology, especially since the lesson learned from the past still apply today.

You can read the full program of the Colloque here.

The provenance of the colloque stems from earlier edited work done by Jean-Pierre Beaud and Jean-Guy Prevost in this wonderful work entitled L’ ère du chiffre / The Age of Numbers / Systèmes statistiques et traditions nationales/Statistical Systems and National Traditions, with key papers from Ian Hacking, Alain Desrosiere, Bruce Curtis, Theodore Porter and many others. It also is part of the work of Centre interuniversitaire de recherche sur la science et la technologie (CIRST) based at the University of Montreal.

New Post as an Assistant Professor, Critical Media Studies and Big Data

This is just a short starter post to announce that I am back in Canada starting a brand new and I hope an exciting academic career in Communication Studies as a new Assistant Professor at Carleton University in Ottawa.

My Carleton Profile will provide a list of latest work and publications and you can read about work with my colleagues on the exciting Programmable City Project in the Republic of Ireland.

I will update this blog shortly and will begin to re-post reflections, publications, and discoveries.

Moving to Ireland!

I am leaving the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre (GCRC) in Ottawa for a postdoctoral research position at the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA) in Maynooth Ireland

I leave the GCRC on Aug. 23rd, my academic home of 11 years, at Carleton University in Ottawa under the directorship of D. R. Fraser Taylor to work with Rob Kitchin on the Programmable City Project at NIRSA, National University of Ireland at Maynooth, funded by the European Research Council (ERC). I officially start September 1st and leave Canada on the 25th.

My primary focus will on the following research question:

  • How are digital data generated and processed about cities and their citizens? with some crossover on
  • How are discourses and practices of city governance translated into code?

The particulars will be worked out once the international team gathers for the first time in Maynooth in September. Research activities, reflections and results will be shared on a website or blog once the project gets started. They will of course be disseminated in the usual academic fora.

I will continue to be involved with the GCRC as a member and do watch for the Developments in the Theory and Practice of Cybercartography: Applications and Indigenous Mapping book ed. by Prof. Taylor and myself as associate editor. In addition I will continue to be:

  • a member of the Canadian Geomatics Round Table – Legal and Policy Dimension Task Team,
  • the Chair of the Canadian Cartographic Association (CCA)Mapping Technology & Spatial Data Special Interest Group,
  • and a member of the Research Data Alliance -CODATA legal interoperability of research data working group.

Also, I will continue to monitor issues related to open data and open government in Canada but at a much reduced capacity as I begin to shift my focus on Dublin and Boston, Ireland, the EU and global scales. The blog will continue to be co-authored by Hugh McGuire and I and the focus may become more global. Of course, I will continue to post on the CivicAccess list I co-founded with Michael Lenczner, Hugh McGuire, Daniel Haran, Stéphane Guidon, Gabe Sawhney and others. Open data has come a long way in Canada since we founded this first national list in 2005 and I urge you to register, keep up to date and to take it to the next level. It has been a great ride!

I have worked with many community based organizations in Canada on the topic of bringing data &mapping and evidence-based decision making to the social sector. I will not be able to help as much as I did, but will continue to keep my eyes open and share information on issues pertaining to civil society and open data as much as possible. I will of course continue to respond to information requests. My final talk in Canada will be done remotely for the Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) Sector Snapshots: NFP Trends & Tactics for a Changing Ontario on September 19.

The work on the SSHRC Partnership Development Grant at the GCRC with Teresa Scassa at the Centre for Law, Technology and Society (CLTS) and the Canadian Internet Public Policy Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) will be coming to a close and final reporting for that is underway, and as discussed work on the book is nearly complete.

I will not be in Canada, but will keep linkages open. I will sorely miss my colleagues at the GCRC (Esp. Peter Pulsifer, Glenn Brauen, Amos Hayes and JP Fiset, and others) as we really grew and flourished together, and I am incredibly thankful to Fraser for being such a great academic advisor and for providing us all with incredible research project experience. I am also sad to say goodbye to the great folks at the Carleton University MADGIC, and the Dept. of Geography, but will not be abandoning the ongoing work on the preservation of data as NIRSA has two data archives! Also, keep your eyes open for the GeoConnections Geospatial Data Preservation Primer that will soon be released in September of 2013 on the GeoConnections operational policies website.

I am looking forward to the move to Dublin, working with Prof. Kitchin and a fantastic new group of colleagues and starting the next leg of this academic career and bid you all aurevoir, and not adieu, as I expect we will all keep in touch, you might visit and we may even conjure some interesting International research collaborations and projects.

I will share new coordinates once I have them, but you can also follow me here:

@traceylauriault (twitter)
tlauriau at gmail dot com

New Paper: Legal Issues in Maps Built on Third Party Base Layers

The topic we are addressing  is not new, but it is helpful to have the legal issues well laid out.

by: Adam Saunders, Teresa Scassa and Tracey P. Lauriault

Legal Issues in Maps Built on Third Party Base Layers

GEOMATICA, 2012, 66(4): 279-290, 10.5623/cig2012-054

Abstract: The recent growth in citizen map-making ability has been brought about in part by the availability of base layers of geospatial information on which maps can be built, as well as software tools that allow geographic information to be represented. However, the legal relationship between the creator of the map and the owner of the base layer has received relatively little attention. In this paper, we consider legal issues regarding volunteered geographic information (VGI) submitted to third-party geographic information systems (GIS). This combination raises issues of copyright, database rights, trademark, and End User License Agreements (EULAS). The paper will consider the IP rights on which the EULAs are founded and the corresponding rights of those who build their own maps onto the base layers; analyze some of the key EULAs in this area, and identify important issues for those who create maps using these base layers.

Paper: The Map as a Fundamental Source in the Memory of the World

The paper has just been published on the UNESCO Site.

The Map as a Fundamental Source in the Memory of the World

Tracey P. Lauriault, Postdoctoral Fellow, Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre (GCRC), Carleton University, Ottawa. Email: tlauriau @ gmail . com

D. R. Fraser Taylor, FRSC, Distinguished Research Professor and Director of the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre, Carleton University, Ottawa. He is also a member of the CODATA Data at Risk Task Group. Email: fraser_taylor @ carleton . ca


The central argument of the paper is that maps and spatial information have been fundamental facet of the memory of societies from all over the world for millennia and their preservation should be an integral part of government digital data strategies. The digital era in map making is a relatively recent phenomenon and the first digital maps date from the 1960s. Digital mapping has accelerated very rapidly over the last decade. Such mapping is now ubiquitous with an increasing amount of spatially referenced information being created by non-governmental organizations, academia, the private sector and government as well by social networks and citizen scientists. Unfortunately despite this explosion of digital mapping little or no attention is being paid to their preservation and, as a result, what has been a fundamental source of scientific and cultural information, maps, are very much at risk. Already we are losing map information faster than it is being created and the loss of this central part of the cultural heritage of societies all over the world is a serious concern. There has already been a serious loss of maps such as the Canada Land Inventory and the 1986 BBC Domesday Project of 1986 and mapping agencies all over the world are struggling to preserve maps in the new digital era. It is somewhat paradoxical that it is easier to get maps that are hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of years old than maps of the late 20th and early 21 centuries. This paper examines the challenges and opportunities of preserving and accessing Canadian digital maps, atlases and geospatial information, which are cultural and scientific knowledge assets.

Lauriault, T. P. and D. R. Fraser Taylor, 2013, The Map as a Fundamental Source in the Memory of the World, UNESCO The Memory of the World in the Digital age: Digitization and Preservation Conference, Vancouver, 2012.