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...
By Mike Gifford on 13/05/2012
We were happy to have supported 10 Years from GOSLING to GOOSE event earlier this month. We've been coming on/off for a long while now and have always found the conversations encouraging.  It's been a long, long struggle to get the right individuals in government thinking about how the public sector values of participation, cooperation & standards can be reflected in software.
Government has evolved a risk averse culture and so it is much easier to adopt new ideas when others inside government have tried (and succeeded), than to feel like you are breaking new ground. Having a network of...
By Mike Gifford on 30/03/2011
I've actively encouraged NGOs to use Google Docs for real-time collaborative editing. They have a really great suite of tools which really should make emailing Word Documents between editors a thing of the past.  There have been a limited number of tools that allowed for this type of process, however we've been experimenting with a great open source tool called Etherpad which will make this process much more common, especially within government agencies. 
We've been using this interface at iEtherpad now and have been quite impressed by it's ease of use.  It's simpler than Google Docs, but has...
By Mike Gifford on 01/04/2010
This is a reprint of the post I wrote for GovFresh. It's mostly a re-write of the earlier blog post I wrote specifically for the Canadian government.
Most western governments have in the last decade developed an accessibility strategy for their websites, often based on WCAG 1.0. At the end of 2008, the WC3 announced the final version of WCAG 2.0 and the public sector is now struggling to keep up. In Canada there was a recent announcement about a revised Common Look and Feel (CLF). In the USA the Section 508 is in its first of six revisions, part of which will be to adapt to the new approach...
By Mike Gifford on 22/03/2010
Very recently Canada's Treasury Board announced that the Common Look and Feel (CLF) for the Internet 2.0 Standard is being updated. Now, for those folks who don't spend a lot of time on Government of Canada websites it's not something that you are likely to notice. However for both people with disabilities & the Canadian tax payer at large it could be a very big deal.
Improved Design
I want to first point out some of the good work done rethinking the CLF. Thomas Bradley's Proposal for CLF3.0 predated the public announcement for the update and presents a neat vision. More recently...
By Mike Gifford on 13/10/2009
A lot has changed since our initial posting about the AODA in 2009. For folks looking for general information (particularly pertaining to the web), I would suggest reading our more recent articles. If you're particularly interested in enforcement of this law I would suggest looking towards posts by Blakes(March 2011), Weirfoulds (July 2011) and FirstReference (August 2011).
Ontario implemented the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) in 2005 and in January 2010 it will begin to enhance the level of services that people in this province can expect from their governments. ...
By Mike Gifford on 28/09/2009
The following article was prepared by OpenConcept for Summit Magazine, Canada's magazine for public service procurement. The full article is available within the PDF copy of the magazine.
After publication I was sent this PDF about open source procurement in the Netherlands that was worth sharing.
How Can Government Responsibly Procure Free Software?
Free software is “free” in two senses: it is distributed free of charge, and can be freely used and shared because it is unencumbered by onerous and restrictive licenses. This software model has been refined over the past twenty-five years, and...
By Mike Gifford on 22/05/2009
I've been thinking a lot recently about the accessibility of information that the government collects sometimes even distributes. We've blogged about problems getting information about postal code to riding data in the past. We ended up purchasing the data, but each time we do it is so inefficient it seems like it must cost the government more to sell it to me than give it away. Fortunately, there's been a lot of movement in this area around the world and there are a lot of good things to be inspired by.
In the USA today the Obama administration launched which aims to "increase...