Yesterday la Ville de Montreal hosted a press conference at Notman house announcing it’s Open Data initiative.

The data allows people to create interesting hacks and discover nifty information about the city. For example you can analyze the location of firehydrants and compare it to insurance quotes in the area. Others have created web-sites which allow you to see which restaurants received the biggest amount of fines for hygiene violations. There’s even a web-site which allows you to check condition’s of skating rinks.

Thanks to efforts of people like Diane Mercier, Ph.D and Martin Lefebvre this initiative became a reality. I had a chance to speak with Mme. Mercier (Conseillère en gestion des connaissances – Ville de Montréal and advisor of Montrealouvert) before the beginning of press conference. She’s very excited about this initiative and glad to see that Montreal is joining the ranks of cities like Barcelona and New York.

Her enthusiasm could be easily explained because Open Data is a Win-Win situation not just for the city, but also for it’s many hackers. A good example is NYC’s BigApps. Hackers get a chance to win a prize of 50 thousand dollars while the city gets software submissions often worth 100 times that amount.

At this point the datasets are slim and few, but Mme. Mercier says that it’s just the beginning. According to her the city didn’t want to wait additional several months before making this project a reality with additional datasets. I guess the city also follows the lean start-up model.

Get your fix of Montreal data here and don’t forget to follow Mme. Mercier on twitter, she is in charge of the Open Data initiative and is open for dialogue.

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