Open data in Canada

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Open data in Canada describes the capacity for the Canadian Federal Government and other levels of government in Canada to provide online access to internal data in a standards-compliant Web 2.0 way.

A number of efforts have been made to expose data gathered by Canadian governments of all levels in ways that make it available for mashups.

Overview[edit]

Public information in Canada is the subject of the Information Act and Proactive Disclosure.

Federal[edit]

Canada's President of the Treasury Board is the political lead on Canadian open government, including open data.

On March 17, 2011, Minister Stockwell Day, then president of the board, announced the launch of the 12-month pilot period for Canada's national open data site.[1] On April 11, 2012, Minister Tony Clement, the current president, announced Canada's Action Plan on Open Government, a 3-year plan for open data including:

  • expansion of the number of datasets made available, gathering requirements for the next generation platform, in the first year; and
  • design and implementation of the new data.gc.ca portal, improving the level of standardization of data, in the second and third years.[2]

On June 18, 2013 an updated version of the portal was launched, along with an updated Open Government License.

In addition to the main portal site, other Federal department sites include:

Multi-jurisdictional[edit]

  • GeoConnections Discovery Portal - "Enabling discovery and access of Canada's geographical information on the Internet"
  • Community Accounts covers Newfoundland only - "providing users at all levels with a reliable source of community, regional, and provincial data" - but the Senate has endorsed making it Canada-wide.

Provincial[edit]

Alberta[edit]

On May 28, 2013, the Province of Alberta launched the Alberta Open Data Portal with approximately 280 datasets.[3] As of April 2014, there are 373 datasets available to the public, including datasets connected to GeoDiscover Alberta. The portal also includes a blog, descriptions of how datasets are chosen and published, and an option for visitors to suggest datasets that may be of interest.

British Columbia[edit]

On July 19, 2011, the Province of British Columbia launched DataBC, Canada's first provincial open data site. It contains data across a broad spectrum of subjects, access to tools to analyze the data, and a blog featuring data-related posts. Previously the site had been used just to host environmental data as part of the Apps 4 Climate Action contest, Canada's first app development contest.

Ontario[edit]

As of November 8, 2012, the Province of Ontario has an open data portal. It launched with 63 files.

History: Toronto Life magazine reported on May 25, 2011, that Ontario’s minister of research and innovation, Glen Murray, was working on a provincial data portal.[4] Minister Murray indicated "the project is fully funded through MaRS - it is being built over the next few months".[5]

Quebec[edit]

The Gautrin Report (Rapport Gautrin, "Gouverner ensemble : Comment le Web 2.0 améliorera-t-il les services aux citoyens?") released May 2, 2012, announced many open government initiatives, including an open data portal.[6]

The open data portal went live June 28, 2012.[7][8]

Municipal[edit]

The number of municipalities adopting open data policies and releasing open data has been steadily increasing since 2008. The cities of Edmonton, Ottawa[9] and London have organized contests with cash prizes to encourage use of their open data.

Background[edit]

NOTE: Open data in Canada dates back to the 1970s with the sharing of satellite imagery, the Data Liberation Initiative in the early 1990s, Geogratis and Geobase at the turn of the millennia, the Information Commissioner's call for Open Government, and any number of other civil society actions and events. The following is a partial and recent history/background by politicians.

The governing party in the 40th Canadian Parliament was the Conservative Party of Canada. The consultation paper for the government's Digital Economy Strategy, released May 10, 2010, included the statement that "Governments can help by making publicly funded research data more readily available to Canadian researchers and businesses".

On September 1, 2010, Canada’s Access to Information and Privacy Commissioners issued an Open Government Resolution,[10][11] but this does not have the force of law. They called for governments at all levels across Canada to endorse open government, and for them to proactively disclose information in open formats (i.e. open data).

On October 18, 2010 Charlie Angus, an NDP MP, introduced a Private Members' Motion M-587 who primary purpose was to support the use of open source in the government, but which also called for "open access to government information".[12]

On October 21, 2010, the Liberal Party of Canada released a party platform document, the Liberal Open Government Initiative. It included a commitment to create a national open data site opendata.gc.ca / donneesouvertes.gc.ca on which to "make as many government datasets as possible available".[13]

On October 25, 2010, Green Party blogger Emma Jane Hogbin raised the issue of open data[14] and on November 25, 2010, the Green Party called for a Federal Open Data Policy.[15]

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics (ETHI), 40th Parliament, 3rd Session was conducting a study of Open Government. Recorded audio (Windows Media format) and minutes of their meetings are available.

Information and advocacy[edit]

  • The CivicAccess.ca List is where the CivicAccess.ca network discusses how levels of government can and should make civic information and data accessible at no cost in open formats to their citizens. A similar network with a focus on British Columbia is The Open Data Society of British Columbia.
  • datalibre.ca is a blog which believes all levels of Canadian governments should make civic information and data accessible at no cost in open formats to their citizens. Data are collected using Canadian tax-payer funds, and use of those data should not be restricted to those who can afford the exorbitant fees.
  • The Lac Carling Congress annually brings together professionals from all three levels of government in Canada with private sector companies. The event focuses on the advancement of electronic delivery of government services in Canada.
  • There have been several ChangeCamps across Canada in 2009 and 2010.
  • There are several citizen advocacy groups throughout Canada that work with governments and institutions to adopt open data policies:
    • Alberta
      • Edmonton: Change Camp Edmonton
    • British Columbia: Open Data Society of BC
    • Ontario
      • Guelph: OpenGuelph
      • Halton: OpenHalton
      • Hamilton: OpenHamilton
      • London: Open Data London
      • Mississauga: Mississauga Data
      • Ottawa: Open Data Ottawa
      • Waterloo Region: Open Data Waterloo Region
      • Windsor: Open Data Windsor
    • Québec: Québec ouvert
      • Gatineau: Gatineau ouverte
      • Montréal: Montréal Ouvert
      • Québec: Capitale ouverte

Criticisms[edit]

A number of the cities use licenses that are arguably not Open Data licenses[16] as defined,[17] and allow for arbitrary and retroactive banning of use. They also do not have versioning of licenses and/or datasets, which is also in conflict with the Sunlight Foundation's principle on permanence.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]