The fact that Link Digital is an established player in the Australian open data space doesn’t mean that we don’t have much to learn about the international market and the local contexts in which we work overseas. In this respect, our participation in the Canadian Open Data Summit in Victoria, British Columbia, in late November represents a milestone in the maturity of our international activities, with new partners and activities announced.

Link Digital has been active as a digital agency, focusing on open data-oriented services since the beginning of Australia’s open data movement a decade ago. We designed, hosted and supported one of the Australian national government’s earliest open data portals, The Australian Government Open Data Portal, established in 2013, and have gone on to work on government data portals in New South Wales (Data NSW), South Australia (Data SA), Western Australia (Data WA), and Victoria (Data Vic), as well as for individual government agencies, non-profits and commercial organisations.

“In establishing a subsidiary in Canada earlier this year, we moved out of our comfort zone,” said Link Digital Executive Director Steven De Costa. “It also became very clear from our initial investigation into the Canadian market that while we have very good technical skills and experience, we need to better engage with the skills and knowledge of local organisations.”

In this respect, Link Digital is thrilled to have formalised official partnership agreements with two key players in the Canadian open data space, Open North and Living Lakes Canada.

“Both Open North and Living Lakes Canada are mission-aligned partners that, like us, are passionate about using open data to solve real-world problems and advance the public good; blending our skills and experience will not only enlarge the three organisations’ geographical coverage in terms of project possibilities but also the value proposition we can bring to future clients.” – Steven De Costa, Chairman and Executive Director, Link Digital

Open North is a Montreal-based not-for-profit that works alongside governments, and civic-focused organizations and businesses on data governance and digital strategy. Living Lakes Canada is a community-based organisation undertaking a diverse range of water monitoring activities in the Columbia Water Basin in the western Canadian province of British Columbia.

Link Digital has worked with Living Lakes Canada previously and recently helped upgrade its Columbia Basin Water Hub. Maggie Finkle-Aucoin, Living Lakes Canada’s Team/GIS and Database Coordinator, spoke at Link Digital’s November 2023 Public Forum on the organisation’s work and the Columbia Water Basin Hub, which won the 2023 Canadian Open Data Summit Open Data Quality Award for its role as ‘a shining example of accessible fresh water data.’

The Living Lakes Canada partnership will be focused on open data projects in the Canadian water sector, including monitoring and stewardship of water resources. This will have many benefits, including generating data that can be used to examine the impacts of climate change at the local, national and international levels.

The partnership with Open North will work towards taking in projects not just in Canada but also in the United States and Europe.

“We are excited to partner with Link Digital, as their expertise in technical development and data portal management complements our data governance and digital strategy advisory services; our combined vision and abilities will provide our clients with a stronger continuum of support.” – Merlin Chatwin, Executive Director, Open North

Policy-to-Practice Accelerator Program

De Costa delivered the keynote at the Canadian Open Data Summit on ‘The Architecture of Trust: Open and Honest Data’. During his time in Canada, he also held an Executive Briefing on the new Policy-to-Practice Accelerator Program tailored for government teams, which will be delivered by Link Digital and Open North in 2024.

The Policy-to-Practice Accelerator Program is aimed at assisting government staff and agencies to explore more adaptive policy management alongside the principles of open knowledge. It will offer practical resources, training, and digital mentorship on using open data and the innovative government practices that can flow from it. The hope is that Policy-to-Practice will help foster government policies to address the needs of our rapidly evolving society in a more effective and responsive manner, from climate change to helping to inoculate civic spaces and processes, like elections, from the impacts of deliberate large-scale malicious disinformation.

Over time, the aim is for the Policy-to-Practice Program to develop into something co-created by a diverse range of international stakeholders. This will ensure its alignment with the principles of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF), as well as crucial open-source software such as Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network, of which Link Digital is co-steward.

 “By aligning with OGP and OKF principles, Policy-to-Practice is committed to enhancing government openness, fostering public participation, and promoting the sharing of open data and knowledge,” noted De Costa. “This alignment ensures that the program will not only be innovative but grounded in the values of open governance.”

Link Digital and Open North invite interested individuals and organisations to join us on this exciting journey towards transformative policy management. Stay connected with Link Digital and Open North to receive updates on the Policy-to-Practice program’s progress.

Be sure to sign up for our kick-off in early 2024, where we will nurture the seeds of change.