Geothink Summer Institute, May 9th-11th 2016 in Toronto, ON

Get in touch @geothinkca

Who are we?

Geothink is a 5-year Canadian SSHRC partnership grant, awarded in 2012. We have a number of researchers in different institutions across Canada, as well as partners in Canadian municipal governments, non-profits and the private sector. Our expertise is wide-ranging and includes aspects of social sciences as well as humanities such as: geography, GIS/geospatial analysis, urban planning, communications, law. We live in a hyperlocal world, made possible by geospatial technologies like Google Maps and GPS-enabled cellphones. People tweet about potholes; their mobile apps deliver directions to the nearest coffee shop, whose reviews were contributed by individuals. Governments add to the geographic data stream by opening up their data, like real time transportation information. These new forms of map making, called the Geospatial Web 2.0 (or Geoweb), are important for Canada. The emergence of these tools and services provides new capabilities for both non-experts and governments to contribute crowd-sourced geographic information to a host of social, economic and environmental challenges. The widespread accessibility of these capabilities is significant because it blurs distinctions between user and producer of geographic information and allows citizens to volunteer geographic information with their locations and experiences. For more information, visit Geothink's website.

What to expect from the Summer Institute

Our second Summer Institute will focus on providing knowledge and training on the Value of Open Data. You will get your hands dirty working with open data together with other students. You will use the knowledge gained from players in Toronto's open data scene and leverage expertise from  your team members to come up with a way to measure the value of open data. The institute will culminate with a writing skill-incubator where you will learn the writing tips “that no one ever teaches you in school”.


Day 1 - Open Data Iron Chef Teaser

Open Data Iron Chef - Teaser - Geothink Summer Institute from OGT Productions on Vimeo.


Download the agenda for your calendar here
09:00WelcomeAcademic disciplinary approaches to the value of open data from Geothink academicsIntroduction
09:15Writing Workshop Introduction
09:30Introduction to Open Government & Open DataWhy research dissemination matters
09:45Getting your message out: Spotting opportunities, knowing your options
10:15Overview of Open Data Iron ChefBreak
10:30Data Handling 101RecapMaking your case: How to structure a piece of opinion writing
10:45Breakout groups: Creating measures to value open data
11:00Group work
11:15Clear thinking, clear writing: The writer's toolbox
12:00 - 13:00LunchLunchLunch
13:00Group workReport from breakout groups and discussion with morning's presentersGroup exercise: Developing and writing an argument
14:00Panellist presentations and discussion panel
14:45BreakGroup Exercise: Writing an Open Data Opinion Piece
15:00Group work
15:45Breakout groups: sectoral use cases for the value of open data
16:30PresentationsWrap-up and Closing
16:45Report from breakout groups and discussion
18:30Group Activity
Castle Board Games
454 Spadina
Civic Tech Hack Night - 6:30pm - 9pm----


Richard Pietro
OGT Productions
Richard Pietro

Richard Pietro creates Civic Engagement as Art through his company, OGT Productions. Some of his projects include CitizenBridge.org, the 2014 Open Government Tour, and "Open" - The World's first short film on Open Government, Open Data, and Open Source.

James Steenberg
Postdoctoral Researcher, Ryerson University
james steenberg

James Steenberg is an environmental scientist focusing on forest ecology and management. He is a Postdoctoral Researcher and Instructor at Ryerson University in Toronto and the principal consultant with Ecotone Consulting. He received his PhD from Ryerson in the Environmental Applied Science and Management program. Recently, James was also a Fulbright visiting student researcher at the USDA Forest Service’s Northern Research Station in Syracuse, NY. His doctoral research was focused on the vulnerability of the urban forest resource. James received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Environmental Studies from Dalhousie University. His past research has focused on climate change and sustainable forest management, including projects for the Halifax Regional Water Commission and the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers. While employed as research associate at Dalhousie, he was involved in the development of Halifax’s award-winning urban forest management plan. James is also on the Board of Directors at the Ontario Urban Forest Council. Outside of research, he has worked in forest conservation and in silviculture.

Peter Johnson
Assistant Professor Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo

Peter is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at the University of Waterloo. His research seeks to understand how governments, citizens, and private companies share information through geospatial technology, including open data, the geoweb, social media, mobile devices, and the process of crowdsourcing.

Teresa Scassa
Canada Research Chair in Information Law
Professor, University of Ottawa

teresa scassa

Teresa Scassa is Canada Research Chair in Information Law at the University of Ottawa. She has degrees in common and civil law from McGill University, as well as a masters and doctorate in law from the University of Michigan. Her main areas of teaching and research relate to privacy and intellectual property law issues, as they arise in the context of new and evolving technologies. Since 2007 Teresa has been part of several interdisciplinary research teams that have explored issues relating to geospatial data and GIS. She is currently a member of the Geothink project which explores how the Geoweb is shaping government and citizen interactions. Her work on this project has examined the balance between privacy and transparency in open data; the licensing of open data, including real-time data; and the mapping of crime data. She has written about legal issues arising from the use of volunteered geographic information. More recently, she co-authored a study titled Managing Intellectual Property Rights in Citizen Science for the Wilson Center’s Commons Lab. Teresa is the author of Canadian Trademark Law (2d ed. Lexis/Nexis), and is co-author of Electronic Commerce and Internet Law in Canada (2d ed. Lexis/Nexis), and Law Beyond Borders: Extraterritorial Jurisdiction in an Age of Globalization, (Irwin Law 2014). She is a co-editor of the edited collection titled Intellectual Property Law for the 21st Century: Interdisciplinary Approaches (Irwin Law 2014). She is interested in technology-related issues at the intersection of law and geography.

Pamela Robinson
Associate Dean - Graduate Studies and Special Projects (Faculty of Community Services)
Associate Professor, MCIP, RPP
School of Urban Planning, Ryerson University

Pamela Robinson

Pamela Robinson MCIP RPP is the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies and Special Projects in the Faculty of Community Services and an associate professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning, Ryerson. She is also a registered professional planner (RPP). As part of the Geothink research team, Pamela’s research and practice focus on urban sustainability issues with a particular focus on cities and climate change and the use of open data and civic technology to support open government transformations. She serves on the board of directors the Metcalf Foundation and has participated in four Metrolinx Community Advisory Committees. Pamela is an editor of Urban Sustainability: Reconnecting Space and Place (University of Toronto Press, 2013), the forthcoming Teaching as Scholarship: Preparing Students for Professional Practice in Community Services (WLU Press, 2016) and is a columnist for Spacing magazine.

Renee Sieber
Associate Professor, McGill University
renee sieber

Renee is an Associate Professor at the Department of Geography in McGill University. She heads Geothink, a SSHRC partnership grant that focuses on how the Web 2.0 and Geospatial Web 2.0 are changing systems of governance and citizen-government relations. Her research and interests range from GIScience, public participation, and community/minority empowerment; to the Geoweb, big data, and open government.

April Lindgren
Academic Director, Ryerson Journalism Research Centre Associate Professor, Ryerson University School of Journalism
April Lindgren

April Lindgren was appointed academic director of the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre when it launched in 2011. Prof. Lindgren is the principal investigator for The Local News Research Project (www.localnewsresearchproject.ca), which focuses on the role and viability of local news media. Before joining Ryerson’s School of Journalism faculty in 2007, Prof. Lindgren worked for more than 20 years as an editorial writer, economics reporter and political correspondent in Ottawa and Toronto. Her work appeared in newspapers ranging from the Ottawa Citizen and Montreal Gazette to the National Post and Vancouver Sun. She has a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University and a diplôme in international relations from the Graduate School of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2005-2006 she was the St. Clair Balfour journalism fellow at the University of Toronto’s Massey College. Her novel, Headline: Murder, was nominated in 2008 for an Arthur Ellis Canadian Crime Writing award for Best First Novel.

Ann Rauhala
Associate Director, Ryerson Journalism Research Centre Associate Professor, Ryerson University School of Journalism
Ann Rauhala

Ann Rauhala is an associate professor in the Ryerson University School of Journalism. Prof. Rauhala, who has a Master’s degree in English from the University of Toronto and studied journalism at Ryerson University, spent 16 years at The Globe and Mail, where she worked as an editor, beat reporter, and featured columnist. From 1994 to 1997 she was a television reporter for CBC television’s The National Magazine, and was the senior editor of Counter Spin until 1999. In 2000, she worked as an editor at the Toronto Star. Prof. Rauhala won an award from the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women for her beat reporting. The Globe‘s foreign desk received numerous National Newspaper Awards and honorable mentions during her five years as foreign editor. Prof. Rauhala was originator and editor of The Lucky Ones, a collection of memoirs by families who have adopted children from China. In 2010 she won the Faculty of Communication and Design’s Dean’s Teaching Award.


Location: South Bond Building (SBB 306), Ryerson University
Ryerson University Campus map

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