[Talk-ca] New project with OSM at Statistics Canada

Ellefsen, Bjenk (STATCAN) bjenk.ellefsen at canada.ca
Mon Jul 18 15:27:25 UTC 2016

Dear members of the Board of Directors,

My name is Bjenk Ellefsen. I am working for the Data Exploration and Integration Lab at Statistics Canada.

I am writing to inform you that earlier this month, Statistics Canada initiated a two-year pilot project aimed at understanding the potential of data crowdsourcing for statistical purposes.

We are planning to use OpenStreetMap as a platform for inviting contributors to crowdsource information on non-residential buildings (footprints, addresses and simple building attributes). The pilot project will focus on the Ottawa-Gatineau region.

We have assembled a multi-disciplinary project team, which includes people from five divisions of Statistics Canada and also from the municipalities of Ottawa and Gatineau.

In November of last year, my chief, Alessandro Alasia, spoke with Paul Norman. At that time, we were exploring the idea of crowdsourcing. We have done quite a lot of background research and planning since then (although much learning remains to be done). The preliminary idea has evolved in a proof of concept proposal and, from there, into the current project.

Earlier this month we held a first meeting/conference call with the local (Canada/Ottawa) OSM community. We hope to strengthen these ties further in the coming months by engaging the OSM community through Talk-ca.

This pilot project is a major innovative undertaking for our Agency. There are a multitude of aspects that we need to assess and learn about (including the IT dimension, communications,  legal aspects, etc.).

For this reason, there is also a lot of excitement about the project and much curiosity from senior management. We know that crowdsourcing is a reality but, as far as I know, there has been no other attempt to assess its potential from the perspective of a national statistical office.

One of our Assistant Chief Statisticians, in particular, who is championing the innovation projects at Statistics Canada, has a keen interest in this project. At some point, we would like to have an "institutional" meeting between Statistics Canada and OSM (although I am not quite sure in which shape and form this can take place). I am open to your suggestions.

I am copying my colleague Bjenk Ellefsen, who is part of our team and who will follow-up on most of the communication with the OSM community on Talk-Ca.

I look forward to hearing from you and to engaging the OSM community on this project.

I will soon write more about the project!


Bjenk Ellefsen, PhD

Data Exploration and Integration Lab (DEIL) | Lab pour l'exploration et l'intégration de données (LEID)
Center for Special Business Projects | Centre des Projets Spéciaux sur les entreprises
Statistics Canada | Statistique Canada
(343) 998-3004

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