The city of Regina, Saskatchewan, leveraging Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud services, recently launched a Web-based open data initiative to put important information into the hands of citizens virtually any time they have Internet access.

With the Canadian city's Open Data Portal, Regina citizens will now be able to visit an online resource that offers easy access to data such as ward boundaries, points of interest, solid waste collection and land use.

"The city is committed to open government and transparency, and this open data initiative is a big part of that," Alyssa Daku, city of Regina’s manager of corporate information governance, said in a statement. Daku said that before offering data in the portal, the city manually processed more than 2,000 data requests every year, many of which were duplicates.

With Microsoft’s Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI) DataLab, a cloud-based, open software offering that enables publicly-available government data to be easily accessed, the city, individuals and businesses are all expected to benefit from the increased access to information.

"OGDI DataLab allows us to work more efficiently, which, in the end, leads to better use of funds and improved public services," Daku said. "This increased access to information is also great for citizens.”

Using open standards and application programming interfaces, the city of Regina can submit its data to the OGDI DataLab repository for use by external developers, government employees or citizens. OGDI DataLab promotes the use of the city's data by capturing and publishing reusable software assets, patterns and practices. Local developers can share and interact with this data via Windows Azure and develop applications with more ease and at a lower cost to the city.


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