This edition's topics – February 2018


2018 promises to be an exciting and busy year, and we’d like to start off by thanking you for staying connected! Here is the latest CDS news:  

Product Updates

Here is the latest info on CDS products on the go:

Impact Canada Challenge Platform

The partners: Privy Council Office (PCO) and Infrastructure Canada

The product: A scalable, reusable platform that creates new opportunities for innovators and entrepreneurs to help find solutions to Canada’s biggest challenges, similar to Teams compete for a cash prize, the opportunity to grow a business or market, and the satisfaction that comes from solving important problems.

Status and next steps:

  • The Beta version of the platform, designed and built by CDS, was launched in November with the Smart Cities Challenge.

  • Work is currently focused on making improvements to the platform, including researching, designing, and building new functions, which will be rolled out gradually over the next few months.

Improving the Citizenship Rescheduling Process

The partner: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)

The product: A service that will allow people to reschedule their citizenship tests and oath ceremonies online, moving away from paper-based processes. Currently, citizenship applicants receive an appointment notice for their citizenship testing or ceremony just a few weeks in advance. Waiting to confirm that an appointment has been rescheduled can be stressful for applicants, for whom the ceremony can be as important as a graduation or wedding.

Status and next steps:

  • The solution is based on research work CDS undertook to observe a citizenship test and an oath ceremony, interview applicants, and shadow immigration officers at IRCC.

  • CDS is working with IRCC to confirm the technical implementation and infrastructure approach for the build. The product team, including program staff and a developer from IRCC will work closely, co-locating when it makes sense.

  • CDS will be providing guidance for capturing data elements, leading content redesign efforts for the rescheduling notice, and assisting IRCC to secure cloud services required for the service.

  • The solution will be deployed as an alpha version targeted for the Vancouver office. Following a period of live user-testing, its use could be expanded to other offices.

To find out more about the user research undertaken to understand how people experience scheduling issues for citizenship tests and oath ceremonies, view the December CDS Show and Tell (starts at 34:24).

Improving Access to Benefits for Veterans

The partner: Veterans Affairs Canada

The product:  An online tool to make it easier for Veterans to determine what benefits, programs and services they may be eligible for.

Status and next steps:

  • Led by the Code for Canada fellows who joined CDS last October, discovery work was completed in January.

  • Findings from discovery have been analyzed, and user research with Veterans is being planned to confirm service pain points and inform the development of solutions.

Read more about Code for Canada’s experience via their blog post Benefits at a Glance.

Opening up EnerGuide Data

The partner: Natural Resources Canada

The product: A public-facing application programming interface (API) to open up access to EnerGuide Home Energy Ratings data in a transparent and reusable way. The product will allow homeowners to quickly access the energy use data for their home, and enable researchers and interested citizens to see neighborhood trends in energy use.

The initiative is also valuable as it involves working with legacy databases, and includes user research with communities that work with unique data sets (including provincial governments and academic researchers).

Status and next steps:

  • Discovery and research to confirm user needs and privacy requirements were completed in December.

  • Research insights and build recommendations were shared with NRCan in January.

  • CDS will work with NRCan to stand up a cloud-based database to serve the API. CDS will also be building a proof of concept web application, to show how digital services can be built to make use of open data.

E-Briefing app

(In-house product)

The product: a basic minimum viable product (MVP) of an application to replace paper-based briefing binders, undertaken prior to CDS’ official launch as a way to test the “art of the possible” using modern digital tools.

Status and next steps:

  • Since launching as a fully functioning prototype, updates – made thanks to the input of the community – have included an administrative tool that lets departmental teams assemble the e-briefing, and the ability to update briefing material while on the road.

  • CDS has shifted to other, public facing products, however, in an effort to have departments continue to experiment with the MVP, both the iOS e-briefing app and the content management system are available on the CDS Github repository.

To learn more about the e-briefing app and how, if you work in government, it could be used in your organization, check out our recent blog post on getting prototypes out the door.

Hiring for a data guild… and more

The CDS team continues to grow! If you are a data engineer, analyst, or scientist, you might be interested in joining Jason White’s data guild to come and work for Canada.

CDS is looking for talented individuals across four other streams of work as well.  If you are looking for an opportunity to make government services simple and easy to use, apply to be a part of our team today! The CDS general recruitment campaign is ongoing, which means there isn't a deadline to apply.

Upcoming events

#CanadaDotCa Top Task Week 2018

There are two upcoming events related to usability, and optimization on on February 12 and 13 planned by our Treasury Board Secretariat colleagues.

  • On February 12, join in on the Twitter chat on making better for citizens on the @TBS_Canada Twitter from 3:00 pm EST – 4:00 pm EST.

  • On February 13 watch for the livestream on improving high web demand content, featuring user experience expert @GerryMcGovern.

For more information please email or tweet at #CanadaDotCa.


uOttaHack - Be a student mentor or a volunteer

University of Ottawa students are hosting the first uOttaHack, on February 17 and 18. The hackathon is open to university and high school students, at any skill level, from any field of study. It’s a weekend where students from all across Canada will come to turn their ideas into real projects, learn and have fun along the way!

The organizers are looking for volunteers and mentors. Check out the hackathon website to find out more or apply as a volunteer or a student mentor.


The City of Montreal is sharing on GCcollab

GCcollab is a collaboration platform accessible by federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments, and by colleges and universities across Canada. If you’re working on digital government and would like to network and share, GCcollab is a good place to do it. Recently, the City of Montreal shared many valuable resources, including digital principles, an open standards catalogue, and more.

To access the resources from the City of Montreal, share your own, or network:

  1. Join GCcollab by creating a profile

  2. Join this group

  3. Check under Files and Discussion

Coming soon: Blog Digest

CDS publishes blog posts on a regular basis to provide an insider’s view of our work, to share lessons learned and engage the community in problem solving. Starting soon, we will send out a monthly blog digest providing an overview of recent publications. Since you subscribed to this newsletter, this digest will arrive in your Inbox automatically.

Canada’s next national action plan on Open Government

The Government of Canada is building its next national action plan on open government, and would like your feedback and ideas!

Open government is about making government more accessible to everyone. The goal is to make it easier to find and use government data and information, and to promote innovation, transparency, accountability and participation in government. To support this work, the Open Government Secretariat is looking to make a series of commitments to guide its work over the next two years.  What do you think should be included in the plan? How can the Government of Canada be more open?

You can share your ideas on’s ideas discussion, or find an online or in-person event.

Contact us

All feedback, comments and questions are welcome! We’re also looking to expand our reach and stay connected with the broader digital community in Canada, so we encourage you to share this newsletter!

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