Government

By Mike Gifford on 05/02/2016
Open standards, open-source, open data, open government and open dialog. These are just some of the great benefits of the open web and why you should consider getting involved in the Open Source Initiative. It represents a real shift toward transparency that allows citizens to become engaged and can empower civil servants in their everyday work.
The Open Source Community
In Canada, the biggest success for open thinking was the Web Experience Toolkit. This project engaged existing open source projects like jQuery & Bootstrap to address the challenge of providing a multi-lingual, performant...
By Mike Gifford on 07/01/2016
This article was initially posted on Dec 22nd, 2015 in the Hill Times.
If you have been on a federal government website in the past year, you may have noticed that it looks a bit different. Or you might not. The differences to the look and feel of the sites are a bit subtle for your average user. Almost all Canadians are unaware of the imminent  plans to shift these sites to a proprietary content management system hosted in the US.  
The move from having government sites hosted in Canada and supported by Canadians, to being managed in the USA by a huge American company should concern people....
By Chris Wright on 02/09/2014
Wetkit Logo
I had the opportunity to attend CodeFest 2014 in Ottawa.  This two-day conference was a great chance for anyone who “works in the web” to get together, share their expertise and learn from their peers.
Background
Codefest is a free, volunteer-run conference centered around the Web Experience Toolkit (WET). 
 
WET is an open source project led by the Government of Canada that is developed openly on GitHub. The focus of WET is to develop an innovative, user-centered web experience that can be widely deployed through an open and collaborative process of development.
Topical Chats and Technical...
By Mike Gifford on 16/04/2014
Back in 2007, Russell McOrmond, Phillip Smith and myself decided to set up a service for the Canadian NGO community to make it easier to match individuals with their elected officials. It seems like a pretty basic component of any effective democracy, but it still isn't something that is available to Canadians.
At the time, Statistics Canada offered a database of postal codes to riding associations. For $3000 you could buy a database on a CD and have the rights to buy updates every year. The license allowed us to resell access to the database through an API (Application Programming Interface...
By Mike Gifford on 31/10/2013
It is really, really embarrassing that a kid in elementary school could hack into any government computer system, however a 12 year old boy has pleaded guilty to doing just that in 2012. I'm not sure how much is known about how he did this, and no doubt he is a very bright and curious child, but this really needs to be a glaring warning about a systemic problem with how governments in Canada manage security. 
In my dealings with government IT, I find far too often that departments go only so far as to apply a CYA approach security. Far too often this comes down to choosing a big vendor, and...
By Mike Gifford on 11/06/2013
Buckminster Fuller was a real visionary, but he died in 1983 and the backbone of the Internet TCP/IP was only standardized in 1982, so it would be hard to imagine how he would have been able foresee either the World Wide Web, let alone the re-thinking of intellectual property that has come about with the growth of Free Software (or Open Source Software). He definitely thought out of the box as he strove to "make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation."
One of his main critiques of our economic system was that capitalism forces value...
on 31/05/2013
As the newest member of the Open Concept team, I wasted no time trying to learn as much as I could about various initiatives using Drupal as its main platform. This mainly entailed watching numerous videos from DrupalCon, starting with Ottawa’s own DrupalCamp in March (organized in part by Open Concept), and now I’m slowly getting through all the new material coming out of DrupalCon Portland.
 
Although some of the code-heavy videos targeted towards developers tend to elude me, I do find myself interested in the ones discussing open government. This probably has to do with my background in...
By Mike Gifford on 13/02/2013
Ontario government home page

We were happy to see that at the end of 2012, the main website for the Government of Ontario(GoO) moved to Drupal 7.  Their new site demonstrates that it is possible to have a visually interesting site that meets the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act(AODA).  Many folks reading this blog post will know that the AODA requires a wide range of organizations within Ontario to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0 AA). WCAG is an International standard organized by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), they are responsible for a number of standards for the Internet...
By Mike Gifford on 11/06/2012
Following our work on analyzing federal sites with Ben Balter's Site Investor script, we surveyed over 111 Ontario Government domains using this tool and found some more interesting findings. The Government of Ontario isn't as large as the Federal government, but it is the most comparable level of government in Canada and also is the province where OpenConcept is based. Our collective tax dollars have paid for these sites and I believe that they need to be built to be accessible to its citizens. Because Ontario doesn't yet have an Open Data portal, where I could simply download a list of...
By Mike Gifford on 30/05/2012
I ran into Ben Balter's article Analysis of Federal Executive .Govs and really liked the simple but effective analysis that he did on the US government. Not that the technology behind it is simple, his Site Inspector and WordPress Domain Inventory plugin module are great. It does a pretty good job at tracking the site status, support for non-WWW and IPv6, use of Content Delivery Network (CDN), choice of Content Management System, Cloud Provider, Analytics, JavaScript Libraries, and HTTPs support. I do hope that I have some time to add some enhancements to this project, but first I was...

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