Open Data in Canada
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.
Government 2.0 is a way to engage individuals and businesses in government decisionmaking and services. Integration of tools such as wikis, development of government-specific social networking sites and the use of blogs, RSS feeds and Google Maps are all helping governments provide information to people in a manner that is more immediately useful to the people concerned. There are also aspects of improving Freedom of information in Canada but the main focus of Government 2.0 is citizen engagement.
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.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Federal
- 3 Multijurisdictional
- 4 Provincial
- 5 Municipal
- 6 Online Tools
- 7 Information and Advocacy
- 8 Criticisms
- 9 References
- 10 See also
- 11 External links
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, 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 is to support the use of open source in the government, but which also calls for "open access to government information".
On October 21, 2010 the Liberal Party of Canada released a party platform document, the Liberal Open Government Initiative. It includes 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".
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics (ETHI), 40th Parliament, 3rd Session is conducting a study of Open Government. Recorded audio (Windows Media format) and minutes of their meetings are available. Submissions and briefs on the subject of open government in Canada can be submitted to the Committee’s mailbox at ETHI@parl.gc.ca
Federal department sites include:
- GeoGratis from Natural Resources Canada - "Geospatial data available online at no cost and without restrictions"
- Data Collections from Environment Canada
- GeoConnections Discovery Portal - "Enabling discovery and access of Canada's geographical information on the Internet"
- Currently 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.
On July 19, 2011 the Province of British Columbia launched DataBC, Canada's first provincial open data site http://data.gov.bc.ca/ 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.
In 2007, The British Columbia government met with representatives from Google Earth on an initiative whereby the government will supply updated information about the province for Google Earth and Google Maps. They plan to supply information on such things as traffic and mineral resources, information on highway construction projects, as well as data and images banked in the 'Integrated Land and Resource Registry', which gives detailed information about all areas of the province.
Toronto Life magazine reported on May 25, 2011 that Ontario’s minister of research and innovation, Glen Murray, is working on a provincial data portal. Minister Murray indicates "the project is fully funded through MaRS - it is being built over the next few months".
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment has a Data Downloads page.
The Revitalizing Ontario’s Infrastructure site provides information about stimulus spending, in particular the By the Numbers section provides charts and graphs of various spending areas and projects. However, the raw underlying data are not provided, this site visualises information without providing any open data.
Report was released for the February 10, 2010 Finance and Corporate Services meeting. Recommendations included "Direct Administration to pilot a public data catalog with the relaunch of City On-line expected in 2010 Q2".
Site launched in late September 2010.
London, Ontario launched an open data catalogue (Open Data London) in September 2010.
Medicine Hat launched an open data catalogue in April 2011, there is some background information at http://www.medicinehat.ca/City Government/Open Data/
Mississauga has released data and will move towards providing the data sets in open formats.
The city's of Nanaimo, B.C.'s planning department has, over the past five years, steadily produced enough municipal data to warrant a Time magazine article on open-government, and been dubbed 'the capital of Google Earth'. Working directly with Google, the city fed it a wealth of information about its buildings, property lines, utilities and streets. The result is earth.nanaimo.ca, city data viewed through the Google Earth 3D mapping program.
The city also offers free public access to its internal mapping data via a site called eMap.
The Apps4Ottawa contest submission period ran from September 29, 2010 to January 3, 2011  followed by a voting period and awarding of prizes.
In May 2009 Vancouver passed a resolution that states, "the City of Vancouver will freely share with citizens, businesses and other jurisdictions the greatest amount of data possible while respecting privacy and security concerns."
Note: the following sites are unofficial; they are not sites created by Canadian governments.
- disclosed.ca - keeps track of 247253 contracts available since 2004
- FixMyStreet.ca - lets citizens report and discuss local problems like potholes, bad lighting, and unsafe pathways
- data dot gc . ca - an unofficial national open data site
- http://www.emitter.ca/ (powered by data dot gc . ca)
- http://representme.ca/ - currently City of Ottawa only
- http://vantrash.ca/ - Vancouver garbage collection reminder service created with Vancouver open data
- http://waterenvironmentalhub.ca/ - a not-for-profit open web platform to aggregate and federate water and environmental data, focused initially on Western Canada (beta website available after July 1)
- http://www.waterly.ca/ - BC watering reminder created with Environment Canada data
- http://www.opendatabc.ca/ - an unofficial BC open data catalogue with data from federal, provincial, local, community and academic organizations
- http://www.governmentexpenses.ca/ 
- Expense Visualizer - "an online tool that takes advantage of modern web technologies to provide a visual, interactive window on the Canadian Hospitality & Travel Expenses dataset"
Note: parl.gc.ca remains the official Parliament site; some of these sites may not be completely synchonized with it.
- http://openparliament.ca/ - tracking activity in Parliament
- HowdTheyVote.ca - keeps track of how members of Parliament voted
- http://mycelium.ca/ - unofficial site for Parliamentary video
- Politwitter.ca - tracking the social media activity including Twitter & Facebook of federal & provincial politicians
- TweetCommons.com - tracking the Twitter activity of federal Members of Parliament and members of provincial legislatures
- parliament2.ca - an unofficial ideas market where people can suggest priorities for Parliament
- http://citizenfactory.com/ - info about MPs and Senators, committees, debates, votes
Information and Advocacy
- CivicAccess.ca List is where the CivicAccess.ca network discusses how levels of government can & should make civic information and data accessible at no cost in open formats to their citizens.
- datalibre.ca is a blog, inspired by civicaccess.ca, 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.
- VisibleGovernment.ca is a Canadian non-profit that promotes online tools for government transparency.
- There have been several ChangeCamps across Canada.
- 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.
- A collection of uses of social media in Canadian government can be found here.
- The Campaign for Open Government is a coalition that spans the spectrum of issues, politics, and ideology
- I Believe in Open .ca - "a national movement challenging politicians to commit to five key improvements in government transparency"
- Let the Data Flow - a campaign to make water data open and accessible
A number of the cities use licenses that are arguably not Open Data licenses as defined, 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.
- ^ Environmental Protection Agency Web 2.0 Whitepaper
- ^ Open Government - Resolution of Canada’s Access to Information and Privacy Commissioners (at OIC site)
- ^ Open Government - Resolution of Canada’s Access to Information and Privacy Commissioners (at Privacy Commissioner site)
- ^ Parliament of Canada - Order Paper and Notice Paper No. 82 - October 19, 2010
- ^ Liberal Open Government Initiative
- ^ Interested in Open Data? You Should Be.
- ^ http://greenparty.ca/media-release/2010-11-25/greens-call-federal-open-data-policy
- ^ Minister Day Launches Open Data Portal
- ^ "Google Earth eyes partnership with B.C. governments". http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/business/story.html?id=9a331eff-ae47-4609-b7cf-3452a742c64a&. Retrieved 2009-08-27.
- ^ Bring on the hackers
- ^ @Glen4TC (Glen Murray) on Twitter
- ^ FCS2010-05 report in response to NM2009-38 Access to City Data and Services (PDF)
- ^ Shaw, Rob (2008-03-10). "Postcard from Nanaimo: How Google Earth Ate Our Town". Time. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1720932,00.html. Retrieved 2009-08-27.
- ^ Ottawa open data site launched
- ^ Council approves plan to release city data, hold app contest
- ^ City launches $50,000 app contest
- ^ Open Data holds promise, city told (Nov 9, 2010)
- ^ "Open Government? Vancouver Leads". http://thetyee.ca/Mediacheck/2009/08/04/VancouverLeads/. Retrieved 2009-08-27.
- ^ Website tracks local pollution levels - Edmonton Journal - Nov 11, 2010
- ^ High-flying civil servants - Maclean's - August 25, 2010
- ^ Introducing the ExpenseVisualizer
- ^ http://zzzoot.blogspot.com/2010/07/its-not-open-data-so-stop-calling-it.html
- ^ http://sunlightfoundation.com/policy/documents/ten-open-data-principles/
- GeoBase (geospatial data)
- Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics
- Open politics
- Open source governance
- Data.gov (Open data from the national government of the United States)
- Data.gov.uk (Open data from the national government of the United Kingdom)
- How Canada became an open data and data journalism powerhouse - Guardian - by Simon Rogers - Tuesday 9 November 2010
- Open data from Canada on CKAN, an open source registry of open data
- Data.gov.au (Open data from the national government of Australia)
Freedom of information legislation by country
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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