[Talk-ca] Crowdsourcing buildings with Statistics Canada

john whelan jwhelan0112 at gmail.com
Sun Jan 22 02:34:50 UTC 2017

It's to do with the way government works and is structured.  What you have
is an official interpretation which carries weight.  Quite a lot of weight.

Essentially both Canada and the UK are run by acts of parliament.  However
these are normally interpreted by civil servants to keep things running
smoothly. For example in the UK by an Act of parliament of 1837 bicycles
are not permitted to  use the sidewalks but administratively you will not
be prosecuted for cycling on the sidewalk in certain parts of the UK.  The
act hasn't been repealed but it is simply not enforced.  The decision was
taken by a civil servant after consultations but is upheld by the

The day to day running is done by civil servants interpreting the
minister's wishes or act of Parliament.  There will be discussion and
debate at a greater depth than either a minister or Parliament have the
time for and the decision will be recorded together with the reasons for
and against it.  This can lead to a formal report with a recommendation.
It is a brave manager or minister who doesn't accept the recommendations.
Have a look at Yes Minister and you'll see that brave here means foolish.
There has to be a level of trust between the politicians and the civil
service for this to work.  The direction is set by the politicians but the
day to day stuff by the civil servants.  If a civil servant screws up then
its special assignment time which is the civil service way of terminating
you.  So an interpretation is not given lightly.

It has taken three or four years of discussion to get this far.  My
understanding is the City of Ottawa licence actually makes reference to the
Federal government licence in the FAQ basically because all the expertise,
hard work and effort on licensing was done at the federal level.

I think in this case you have to rely on civil servants and retired civil
servants expertise.  Both Bjenk and I are of the opinion, as his his
manager, that for practical purposes the OGL-CA and the Municipal
equivalent are identical.  There are a number of CANVEC employees and
retired employees floating around as well who will have an opinion but I
think it will be supportive.  The open data manager at Ottawa is also of
the same opinion.  My casual contacts at TB on the Open Data side are also
of the same opinion.

My hope is that we can accept Open Data from municipalities that are
covered by the equivalent of the OGL-CA.  What you seem to be asking for is
a resolution or vote by each municipality of their councillors before OSM
can use the data.  This I think is getting towards the unreasonable and
unwieldy side of things.

Canadian cities would like to encourage their citizens to walk, cycle and
use public transport.  Tagging which paths maybe used by cycles helps both
sides.  In Ottawa until I sat down with the cycling specialist and pointed
out on their cycle maps one path running through a park was on their cycle
maps and an identical one in the same park wasn't so how was I to know
which could be used?  I was armed with photos from both paths and of the
signs, they were identical.  After that the city expanded its official
cycle path network by many kms.  "The *city of Ottawa* has a vibrant
*cycling* culture and now boasts over 600 km of multi-use pathways, *bike*
lanes, off-road paths and paved shoulders"  We need the City to identify
these so they can be correctly tagged on the map.  Often there are no signs
on a path to say if it maybe used by cyclists or not.

Metrolink has done a fair bit of address mapping in OSM in support of
getting people to use public transport.  They're in Toronto by the way.
Both sides are better off with imported bus stops.

Life was so much simpler when OSM was just a group of cyclists going round
with GPS devices recording tracks but I think times are changing and there
are benefits.  The main problem in my mind is controlling the quality of
data for an import and in its careful merging with existing data.  For the
City of Ottawa data the quality is reasonably good and some of it is
already present in the CANVEC data.  The GTFS bus stop position data is far
better than many American cities because of the automated stop announcement
system to assist blind or partially sighted people.  They went out and very
carefully checked the position of each and every bus stop with a high
accuracy GPS system so it would be correct.

There is another issue and that is volume of data.  If you are using OSM
data on a phone off line the smaller the database the faster it is but that
is a different kettle of fish.  At least if its there you can filter out
those things you don't need.

My suggestion is both the OGL-CA and the municipality equivalent should be
acceptable to OSM based on the interpretations you have from civil servants.

Cheerio John

On 21 January 2017 at 19:37, Paul Norman <penorman at mac.com> wrote:

> On 1/21/2017 4:34 PM, john whelan wrote:
>> What you have is an interpretation of the Federal Government license.
>> From my background in the civil service my understanding is for a statement
>> it would have to be over a minister's signature or by act of parliament.
>> No one else has the authority unless it is delegated.
> If that's true and we can't rely on a statement from a government employee
> to interpret their license, then we can no longer use OGL-CA data.
> _______________________________________________
> Talk-ca mailing list
> Talk-ca at openstreetmap.org
> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/talk-ca
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