Freedom of, or freedom from information?


Stewart Brand’s famous quote rings as true today as when he said it:

“On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other”

So in Aurora, which is it?

The key campaign issue of transparent and open government by our Mayor has not only failed to materialize, the opposite is happening. Information free of spin is available but sadly you’ll have to jump through hoops to get it, and it will cost you.

Freedom of Information Requests (F.O.I’s) seem to be the only way to get the answers.  Any citizen is entitled to file an F.O.I. along with submitting a $5 administrative fee.

Even trying to find the form on the town website is an exercise in futility.

To save anyone interested in filing an F.O.I the hassle, you can do so using the form attached:

FOI Application Form.pdf
Download this file

The fact that we have to go to such lengths shows how far Aurora is from having an open and accountable government.

I’m interested in filing my own FOI request on the # of FOI requests filed to date compared to before Phyllis took office.

By comparison Toronto has embraced new technologies to make its municipal data open to the public:

Even the Whitehouse, often critizised for its stance “FOI is the new black” :  has followed suit in creating, it is now pushing to get data sets with high-value information online:

I mentioned in a previous post that Aurora is in desperate need of a Chief Data Officer.

A Chief Data Officer provides an executive-level voice for the management of information resources across business divisions and functions.  Forbes had a great article on the importance of this role here:

Sadly given the structure and resources we have to go about finding information as citizens of our town (don’t even get me started on Information Aurora) I’m not holding my breath until the municipal election in October 2010.

Mitchell Kapor said “Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.”

I guess trying to get information from the town of Aurora is like drinking from an open sewer.




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