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It is very odd that national health organizations are not reporting COVID-19 cases aggregated into health regions even though provinces and territories are mostly reporting them in that way. And where is the national health framework datasets?

Framework data are a “set of continuous and fully integrated geospatial data that provide context and reference information for the country. Framework data are expected to be widely used and generally applicable, either underpinning or enabling geospatial applications” P.7.

Federal Electoral Districts for example, are the official framework data for Elections Canada and these data are updated for each election.  They are used to administer elections, report the results of exit polls during the elections, and show the results after an election.  Framework data are available in multiple formats as well as in cartographic or mapping products for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) such as ESRI, MapInfo or Tableau (Shapefiles), in KML formats for GoogleMaps, and in standardized online mapping GML Formats which also happens to also be a Treasury Board Secretariat of Standard for Geospatial Data. Election result data are aggregated into these framework data along with other socio-economic data, and once these data are mapped we can compare and can tell a more nuanced local, regional and national story, we can see patterns across the country.  The benefit of framework data are many, what is also great is they are created once by an authoritative source, they are updated and reliable, they are used many times, they are open data and everyone knows where to get them.

Considering that health care spending is one of the largest expenditures we have as a nation state, and it would be expected that in an era of accountability and transparency and where outcomes based management is the norm, it is astonishing that health data including its social determinants data are not disseminated in this way.  Yes, there are privacy issues, but we are capable of addressing those with the Census and Elections, which means we can also do so for health. We need to have an evidence based conversation about population health now more than ever, and we will need these data to tell a socio-economic story as well. Could we have done better? Who is doing great and why and who is not doing so great and why, what can we learn and what is the remedy?

Numerous useful and insightful interactive maps were published after the elections (CBC, CTV, Macleans, ESRI and many others), and these generated much discussion, people could see the results, they could situate themselves, they could see what friends and family in other places were experiencing.  Analysts and policy makers also had what they needed to understand and plan a new context. This is what democratic evidence based data journalism and policy making is all aboutt!

Natural Resources Canada is normally the producer of Canada’s framework data but it does not produce a health region framework dataset for Canada.  Arguably, these data would not only be useful during a pandemic, but also for administering and reporting health associated with natural resources such as allergies in the spring and fall, food insecurity, health and farming, or health after a natural disaster such as flooding and fires.  They data would also be useful to see where money is spent providing Canadians with the evidence they require to advocate for change.

So why no national heath reporting by their administrative boundaries and where is the health region framework dataset?

National Health Reporting Canada:

Virihealth.com and ESRI Canada produced the the first National ge0-COVID-19 reporting:

https://virihealth.com/

https://virihealth.com/

https://resources-covid19canada.hub.arcgis.com/app/eb0ec6ffdb654e71ab3c758726c55b68

https://resources-covid19canada.hub.arcgis.com/app/eb0ec6ffdb654e71ab3c758726c55b68

Federal Government:

Canada as a federation has jurisdictional divisions of power, and one of those jurisdictional  divides is health. We have the Canada Health Care Act (CHA) that

“establishes criteria and conditions related to insured health services and extended health care services that the provinces and territories must fulfill to receive the full federal cash contribution under the Canada Health Transfer (CHT)”.

The Canada Health Transfer (CHT) provides long-term predictable funding for health care, on a per capital basis and

“supports the principles of the Canada Health Act which are: universality; comprehensiveness; portability; accessibility; and, public administration”.

The provinces and territories receive cash transfers to deliver health care to Canadians and health care data reporting is done by the each province and territory separately. This alone justifies the creation of a national health region framework dataset. Which organization should be responsible for it?

There are three main organizations which are part of the Canada Health Portfolio  that currently report official COVID-19 cases. At the moment, they do not publish COVID-19 case data by health regions.

Health Canada ”is the Federal department responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health, while respecting individual choices and circumstances.” Health Canada is an official and authoritative national source of COVID-19 data and it publishes the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update. Reporting includes an interactive map and a line graph of data by Province and Territory.

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html

Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) promotes and protects the health of Canadians through leadership, partnership, innovation and action in public health and it does so by: Promoting health; Preventing and controlling chronic diseases and injuries; Preventing and controlling infectious diseases; Preparing for and responding to public health emergencies; Serving as a central point for sharing Canada’s expertise with the rest of the world; Applying international research and development to Canada’s public health programs; and Strengthening intergovernmental collaboration on public health and facilitate national approaches to public health policy and planning. PHAC now disseminates an excellent interactive dashboard entitled the National Epidemiological Summary of COVID-19 Cases in Canada. Their data sources are: Public Health Agency of Canada, Surveillance and Risk Assessment, Epidemiology update; Natural Resources Canada – Grey basemap with Credit: COVID-19 Situational Awareness tiger team Powered by ESRI-Canada and COVID-19 Canadian Geostatistical Platform, a collaboration between Public Health Agency of Canada, Statistics Canada and Natural Resources Canada.

https://phac-aspc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/e968bf79f4694b5ab290205e05cfcda6

https://phac-aspc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/e968bf79f4694b5ab290205e05cfcda6

Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada’s health research investment agency and its mandate is to “excel, according to internationally accepted standards of scientific excellence, in the creation of new knowledge and its translation into improved health for Canadians, more effective health services and products and a strengthened Canadian health care system.” Although a research funding organization, CIHR could publish a national framework dataset of health units to help researchers in Canada and to also to disseminate the findings of research either about COVID-19 or any other research according to those administrative boundaries. (Update 07/04/2020 CIHR does not have a framework data file)

A national non-governmental organization, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) also disseminates national comparative health data, mostly about the administration of health and it would make sense for them to also publish data by health units and to have such a framework dataset. CIHI is an independent, not-for-profit organization that provides essential information on Canada’s health system and the health of Canadians. (Update 07/04/2020 CIHI does not have a framework data file). CIHI’s mandate is

“to deliver comparable and actionable information to accelerate improvements in health care, health system performance and population health across the continuum of care”.

Natural Resources Canada is the producer of most of Canada’s Framework data, and it could with the help of the Canadian Council on Geomatics Provincial and Territorial Accord could create this framework file and this was discussed at the 4th Annual SDI Summit meetings hosted in Quebec City in the Fall of 2019.

Statistics Canada produces Provincial and Territorial Health Geographies and it does seem to have a national GIS Health Regions: Boundaries and Correspondence with Census Geography file for 2018, and if that is the case, why are health geographies not reported by these boundaries? (Update 07/04/2020 StatCan has a 2018 GIS national health geography file).  Here is a PDF version of the 2018 map.

https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-402-x/2018001/maps-cartes/rm-cr14-eng.htm

https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-402-x/2018001/maps-cartes/rm-cr14-eng.htm

Provincial and Territorial Official COVID-19 Case Reports and health geographies:

Below I have compiled a list of official COVID-19 Case reporting by province and territory, and when I could find them, I included a link to health administration geographies. That does not mean that data are reported in maps, but data are generally tabulated according to health administration geographies.

Alberta

British Columbia

Manitoba (Updated RHA and Map info. 07/04/2020)

Newfoundland and Labrador (Updated RHA and Map info. 07/04/2020)

New Brunswick (Updated RHA and Map info. 07/04/2020)

North West Territories

Nova Scotia

Nunavut

Ontario

Prince Edward Island (Updated Health PEI info. 07/04/2020)

Quebec (Updated Map info 08/04/2020)

Saskatchewan

Yukon (Updated Health Region info. 07/04/2020)

I have emailed each of the Provincial and Territorial governments to confirm that I have the latest heath geography framework data.  I have received updates from Yukon, Quebec,  PEI, New Brunswick, and Manitoba, and have updated map data accordingly. I have also received correspondence from Statistics Canada, and CIHI.

For the moment ESRI Canada and some of the Provinces and Territories are reporting Official COVID-19 Cases by health region geographies.  Why aren’t Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada doing so?  And where is the National Health Region Framework Data file?

Open TreeMap

OpenTreeMap is open source software for collaborative, geography-enabled urban tree inventory.

Why use OpenTreeMap?

Urban street trees have myriad proven benefits for communities including providing shade, improving air quality, assisting with stormwater runoff, raising property values, decreasing utility bills, and enhancing the look and feel of communities. While tree inventories provide municipalities with vital data to consult when managing the urban forest, creating a complete inventory is a time consuming and resource intensive process.  OpenTreeMap provides an easy-to-use public inventorying platform that enables individuals, organizations, and governments to collaboratively contribute to an interactive and dynamic map of a community’s tree population. OpenTreeMap can be used in a single municipality or cover a broader geographic region with many communities.

[more...]

It looks like a biased toward industry monitoring agency Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP) has left the public in the dark about fish abnormalities in waters in and around the oil sands sites.  It is also a case where the monitoring agency is aggregating the data into annual reports and not providing the raw data for others to scrutinize.

“That is the problem. To get the actual data, you need the raw data,” not just annual reports, said Kevin Timoney, an Alberta ecologist and oil sands researcher. “They release just enough so they can say that they did, but they don’t give you enough to see what’s really going on.”

Pembina Institute: “An essential component of any credible monitoring program is that all the data should be available to the public,

Hundreds of deformed fish found in rivers running through the Alberta oil sands have been collected and documented by an industry-led monitoring body, The Globe and Mail has learned, but the findings were not shared with the public or key decision makers in government.

That body, the Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP), has been criticized in scientific quarters as secretive and is under the scrutiny of three reviews. Former environment minister Jim Prentice ordered one of those reviews after being shown photos this fall of a few malformed fish, and it was delivered Thursday to Environment Canada.

The Monitoring agencie’s Steering Committee is mixed between Oil industry, public health agencies, First Nations and government with very heavy emphasis on big oil industry:

Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board (formerly Alberta Energy and Utilities Board Health Canada
Alberta Environment Husky Energy
Alberta Sustainable Resource Development Imperial Oil Resources
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. MEG Energy Corp.
ConocoPhillips Canada Nexen  Inc.
Devon Canada Corporation Northern Lights Health Region
Environment Canada Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
Fort McMurray First Nation Shell Albian Sands
Fisheries and Oceans Canada Suncor Energy Inc.
Fort McKay First Nation Syncrude Canada Ltd.
Hammerstone Corporation Total E&P Canada Ltd.

I tried to find out who the members of the technical committee are but only found the following org chart which illustrates that the 3 non government stakeholders are First Nations or Metis Groups and these are dwarfed between industry and government. On the Government side you also see an Energy and Utilities Board, while on the industry side, by the largest number representatives,  is the petroleum & energy industry:
The following are the labs RAMP states it subs it’s work to.  I do not know enough the science to assess them.  I do wonder if they would have the raw data in their shops and if they would release these to the public.  A lab that is sub-contracted may or may not be the owners of the data and may or may not have given up the rights to publish them.  This is often the issue with the procurement of data, for instance, survey engineers claim IP on their data and share them with a city only for city assessments, but the city has to send citizens back to the survey engineer to view those data and the city cannot share these with citizens openly.  In this case, it would be more trustworthy to acquire the raw data from the labs directly.  However, it also depends who owns these labs.  They could very well be owned by the industries that need tests done, or they could be biased toward those industries as they would be their major source of revenue.

  • ALS Environmental – most water and sediment quality analyses
  • Alberta Research Council – some ultratrace metal analyses
  • AXYS Laboratories – sediment concentrations of PAHs
  • HydroQual – water and sediment toxicity analyses
  • Flett Research – mercury analysis in non-lethal fish tissue samples
  • Jack Zloty – benthic invertebrate taxonomy

RAMP shares its information only in annual monitoring reports.  There is an interactive web map of their monitoring sites.  The legend indicates fish tissue monitoring site, and I only found 2 fish tissue sampling sites that do not provide much data except that a sample was taken. According the the G&M article:

Much of the raw data collected by RAMP is kept private, deemed proprietary because of the industry funding. But even among its members, it has faced pressure to open up. Syncrude, which did much of the testing before RAMP’s inception, has called for data to be released, spokeswoman Cheryl Robb said.

In RAMP’s news section there is reference to an article indicating that they would make their database available to the public.  I could not find this database on their site and have sent them an email requesting to see it.  The email I recceived regarding this request is as follows:

Good morning Tracey,

Thank you for your e-mail.

As indicated by the media post you pointed out, the database will be available to the public by the end of the year and that is still our intention. Please check back next week.

Best regards,
Hailey
RAMP Communications

This is a classic lack of transparency situation and a seeming stacked deck leaning heavily toward meeting industry interests. It is very reminiscent of the Environment Canada refusal to share Mine Pollutant Data, a government agency supposedly overseeing the public interest not sharing key data.

Abstract: Canada’s Information Commissioners have adopted a resolution toward Open Government and part of the open government process is open access to public administrative, census, map and research data.  A number of Canadian Cities,  innovative government programs such as GeoConnections, forward thinking research funding such as International Polar Year have become OpenData cities, implemented data sharing infrastructures and fund data sharing science.  Access to data are one part of the open government conversation, and it is argued that opendata bring us closer to more informed democratic deliberations on public policy.

Event: Open Access Week 2010, Carleton University, October 21, Noon to 1PM.

Open Vancouver City

The City of Vancouver will soon vote on a Motion to have:

  • Open Standards
  • Open Source
  • Open Data
  • CBC News: Vancouver mulls making itself an ‘open city’, by Emily Chung

    Via: Digital Copyright Canada

    Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI) is

    Canada’s national science library and leading scientific publisher, provides Canada’s research and innovation community with tools and services for accelerated discovery, innovation and commercialization.

    CISTI delvers science data and information to Canadians online, in the Depository Service and as paper delivery service to researchers in Universities.  But its days of doing that are numbered…

    CISTI has just suffered very serious budget cuts – 70% cut – that affects scientific innovation, access to scientific data, the dissemination of Canadian Science and open access publishing.

    The Government of Canada and the National Research Council of Canada have decided that the journals and services of NRC Research Press will be transferred to the private sector.

    Privatization? In a sense they are a victim of their own success.  The NRC frames it as follows in a letter to their clients (e.g. Depository Service Program):

    this transformation is not the development of a “new business” but the movement of a successful program into a new legal and business environment. It is our belief that this new environment will afford us more flexibility to manage our publishing activities.

    More flexibility to reduce services to Canadians more like it since the Depository Services Program (DSP) and the delivery of online access to journals to Canadians cannot be funded by an entity outside of the Federal government, and it is expected that the termination date to journals delivered in this way will be sometime in 2010.

    This means less access to scientific journals to Canadians. Research Canadians have paid for!  CISTI journals deposited in the DSP were important, since the DSP’s:

    primary objective is to ensure that Canadians have ready and equal access to federal government information. The DSP achieves this objective by supplying these materials to a network of more than 790 libraries in Canada and to another 147 institutions around the world holding collections of Canadian government publications.

    In addition, hundreds of government jobs – scientists, librarians and researchers are expected to be lost.  The budget cut is $35 million in annual expenditures.

    This plan includes a reduction in NRC’s a-base funding totalling $16.8 million per year by 2011-2012 (announced in Budget 2009) as well as reductions in revenue-generating activities.

    Hmm! Wonder what our current Federal Minister of State for Science and Technology’s thoughts are about science?

    Here are a couple of articles:

    Actions:

    Here are a few articles:

  • NRC cuts could affect 300 positions, The Ottawa Citizen
  • Access to CISTI Source to End
  • Action:

    Britain from Above

    From the BBC:

    Andrew Marr takes to the skies exploring Britain from above.

    An epic journey revealing the secrets, patterns and hidden rhythms of our lives from a striking new perspective.

    Join host Andrew Marr as he discovers how each and every one of us is interconnecting making Britain what it is today.

    Britain looks very different from the skies. From a bird’s eye view of the nation, its workings, cities, landscapes and peoples are revealed and re-discovered in new and extraordinary ways. [more...]

    City Geography Markup Language

    CityGML:

    The City Geography Markup Language (CityGML) is a new and innovative concept for the modelling and exchange of 3D city and landscape models that is quickly being adopted on an international level. CityGML is a common information model for the representation of 3D urban objects. It defines the classes and relations for the most relevant topographic objects in cities and regional models with respect to their geometrical, topological, semantical and appearance properties. Included are generalization hierarchies between thematic classes, aggregations, relations between objects, and spatial properties. In contrast to other 3D vector formats, CityGML is based on a rich, general purpose information model in addition to geometry and graphics content that allows to employ virtual 3D city models for sophisticated analysis tasks in different application domains like simulations, urban data mining, facility management, and thematic inquiries. Targeted application areas explicitly include urban and landscape planning; architectural design; tourist and leisure activities; 3D cadastres; environmental simulations; mobile telecommunications; disaster management; homeland security; vehicle and pedestrian navigation; training simulators; and mobile robotics. [more...]

    Mobile Millenium

    Mobile Millenium:

    In a partnership between Nokia, NAVTEQ, and UC Berkeley, coordinated by the California Center for Innovative Transportation (CCIT) and supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation and Caltrans, researchers have constructed an unprecedented traffic monitoring system capable of fusing GPS data from cell phones with data from existing traffic sensors. The research and development phase of this project was dubbed Mobile Millennium for the potential thousands of early adopters who will participate in the pilot deployment, launching in early November, 2008. [more...]

    The visuals I saw while watching the US elections on the tele on Tuesday were just plain dazzling.  Lots of speculative data, predictions, interactivity leading to scenarios and more speculation on the results, good visualizations, resulting from a visualization dissemination and creation infrastructure which manufactures the geographic imagination of the US Nation.  Obama stated in the speech that won him the candidacy for the Democrats (UK Guardian)

    that there were no red states, no blue states, only the United States.

    The maps we saw on US election night however, were all about blue and red differences.

    Map of results by state

    Map of results by state

    Zooming into county maps shows a different picture where colour speckles add up to a uniform blue for Ohio on the state map above. Many voices are not seen on the state map, the county map shows lots of diversity, as would the sub county map.  Maps tell all sorts of stories and can portray silences or consensus where in fact cacophonies and polarities exist. The county map looks way more red than blue for the Democratically won state of Ohio.

    Speckles of red and blue in Ohio became a uniform Blue

    Speckles of red and blue in Ohio became a uniform Blue

    Reading about the US Electoral system helps explain how this works out.

    The map in popular culture is key to the formation of the collective imagination of the nation.  I do wonder if viewers will actually think that Hawaii and Alaska are really located in the ocean south of Arizona instead of one connected to Canada’s North and the other in the middle of the Pacific!

    1 square = 1 electoral vote

    1 square = 1 electoral vote

    Information Aesthetics produced an excellent blog post which includes links to numerous electoral visuals.  Watching this also highlighted the lack of maps and visuals during the Canadian 2008 Elections.  Eventually I did see a map on the Tele, around 11:30 PM on Radio Canada, while CBC showed none!

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