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May 17, 2008

Chris Taggart on the city's development application search

Earlier this week, the City of Ottawa launched a new Application Development Search to "provide the community with convenient access to identify, investigate and make comments on applications within the development process."

Ottawa blogger Chris Taggart says the service is a big step forward, but offers these suggestions to the city to improve it:
  • being able to subscribe to a RSS feed of all application updates, or RSS updates to a specific application that might impact you.
  • Being able to comment publicly (as well as privately to the Planner) would reduce duplicate inquiries to the Planning Department and encourage more dialogue around applications. While not everyone can attend planning meetings, everyone can share their comments in an open forum.
  • A high-level Google/Yahoo! map with the locations of the developments marked would provide a quicker route to finding developments in relevant areas.
  • Exposing what is already (supposedly) public data in a raw accessible form (XML or JSON would be fine) would further allow us to build interesting tools and mashups (and many of the aforementioned features) with this data without resorting to screenscraping - and without incurring presumeably more consulting fees.
(Read the entire post on ChrisTaggart.com)

Our complaint: It's hard to find. There's no link from the city's news release, or anywhere on the main page, and no link that we can find on the main Development review process page. We couldn't find the link using the City of Ottawa's web site search -- we ended up finding it using Google.

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