Ontario Appoints Special Advisor on Data Authority
August 06, 2021
TORONTO — The Ontario government has appointed public data expert, Andy Best, to support the development of a provincial Data Authority that will be responsible for building modern data infrastructure to support economic and social growth, while keeping that information private and secure. The first of its kind in Canada, when fully established, the Data Authority will equip people, organizations and communities with the information they need to thrive as the province accelerates its economic recovery. “Over the last two years of public consultations, the people of Ontario told us that government should build public data infrastructure to better serve them and their needs. Mr. Best is well-positioned to provide our government with recommendations on how we can do that while keeping public data safe and secure,” said Kaleed Rasheed, Associate Minister of Digital Government. Mr. Best is the CEO and co-founder of Civic Digital Network, a non-profit organization that creates data infrastructure frameworks to help public institutions adapt and evolve to meet today’s digital realities. Over the coming months, Mr. Best will support planned public consultations with citizens and leading data and privacy experts to understand how public-governed data infrastructure can help grow Ontario’s businesses, support communities and enable individuals to succeed in a more connected world. He will also advise on the design and infrastructure requirements of the Data Authority, which would help harness the immense potential of government-held data to spur innovation and social good. “The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone to adapt, and government is no exception,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance. “Ontario needs a modern approach to better managing, sharing and protecting data generated by public institutions. The Special Advisor’s work will only further support our goal of harnessing the power of government to unlock innovative social and economic opportunities that will build a more prosperous future for the people of Ontario.” Public consultations taking place Summer 2021 will focus on helping government develop new data stewardship models, governance and standards, as well as early use cases to become digital “shovels in the ground” projects. “Ontario’s new Data Authority is a game-changer, a forward-thinking initiative to build strategic public infrastructure that can tap into the opportunities of the data-driven economy but also manage its risks. Andy Best’s expertise in data governance will help Ontario set the standard for Canada’s data stewardship and, also, become a world-leading digital jurisdiction,” said Jim Balsillie, Chair, Council of Canadian Innovators.
Mr. Best has helped cities design and integrate new data programs into their operations to support innovation and better decision-making. While leading the innovation file for the City of Guelph, he implemented Canada’s first municipal open government action plan and co-designed its Civic Accelerator innovation procurement program.
Ontario has, and will continue, to seek the advice of the Information and Privacy Commissioner as it develops a provincial Data Authority.
The Data Authority initiative, first announced in Ontario’s Digital and Data Strategy in Spring 2021, directly responds to calls heard during two years of public consultations to improve the fragmented public sector data landscape.