How does Canada’s new Open Data Portal and licence fare.

Today the federal government announced that it would make Canadian public sector information (PSI), or administrative data (admin data) or government data more accessible and useable.  A new portal was launched, data are now being disseminated under a more open licence and some additional services are being provided and there is an apps gallery and a developers corner.

This announcement coincides with today’s endorsement of the G8 Open Data Charter.

The licence gets high marks!  It is more open and is less restrictive.  The Government consulted on this file and listened to experts.  Teresa Scassa, Canada’s Research Chair in Information Law provides an excellent overview of the new licence here. Interestingly, BC, Ontario and Alberta will also be adopting this licence, which demonstrates legal interoperability between jurisdictions.  This is excellent.

The Portal is still a little buggy, and folks on the list are reviewing its features and commenting on it.  See the archived threads here.

In terms of data, the issues I am concerned about do not yield any results, homelessness for example yields National Household Survey, clearly there are some tagging issues.  I also searched charity, charities, business, business registries, poverty and the results were either null or sub-par.  Cities yielded close to 800 hits while health outbreaks yielded none and brown fields yielded 4.  When data are accessed the interface, description, and location map are very good, as seen here.

The new Search Summaries of Completed ATI Requests is also very useful and this should simplify the access to information (FOI requests) process and reduce costs.  I was happy to find homelessness information in it, and it is interesting that these data are not linked with those in the portal.  Some work to be done here.

I will need to engage with it more, however, overall it is an improvement over the Pilot.  Please send me your comments here at tlauriau at gmail dot com

In terms of a more open government and greater transparency!  This is one good step in that direction, but we have a few other issues, such as a cancelled census, a lack of a data archive, the bullying of NGOs who speak out against the government, the muzzling of scientists, the closing of monitoring stations, a lack of evidence based policy and the decimation of the Library and Archives Canada.  Soo…..