Open Data focuses on using new and emerging technologies to access raw, previously unavailable or unusable government data, and transforming it into user-friendly applications that spur innovation and economic opportunity and enhance our quality of life.
The Government of Canada is committed to the Open Data movement in Canada and around the world. To this end, on June 18, 2013, Prime Minister Stephen Harper adopted the G-8 Open Data Charter at the Leaders Summit in Lough Erne, and announced the upcoming launch of the next-generation Open Data Portal in Canada at data.gc.ca.
Open Data Charter
Canada has long been a strong advocate of greater alignment and standardization of international Open Data activities.
The Open Data Charter will increase government data availability, and ensure all data released is easy to use, comparable, and inter-operable with other datasets among G-8 members.
The Charter requires G-8 members to agree to five key Open Data principles – Open Data by Default, Quantity and Quality, Useable by All, Releasing Data for Improved Governance, and Releasing Data for Innovation. It also requires countries to implement a set of international best practices for increasing access to government data by the end of 2015. Canada’s current and planned Open Data practices exceed or meet the requirements of the Charter, and were used to help shape the content of the Charter through ongoing discussions between G-8 member countries.
Next Generation Open Data Portal, data.gc.ca
The Open Data Portal is a one-stop shop for federal government data that can be downloaded free of charge by citizens, researchers, voluntary organizations, and the private sector.
Data.gc.ca contains datasets compiled by over 20 departments and agencies, covering a broad range of topics, from housing, to health and environmental data. Some of the most popular datasets include: data on immigration issues, city weather, wait times at border crossings, aircraft registration, and information about soldiers in the First World War. The Portal is a work in progress and more datasets will be accessible through the Portal as they become available.
The next generation data.gc.ca portal, which will be officially launched on June 18, 2013, will include new interactive and search capabilities and Web 2.0 features, including a Developers Corner, where Open Data developers can access specific technical information to assist them in creating user-friendly applications.
A key feature of the next generation data.gc.ca site will be the new Open Government Licence, which will offer unrestricted commercial and non-commercial re-use of Government information and data. The new licence is also being adopted by Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, making it easier for users to combine data from different levels government to create richer, more contextualized information and applications.
Some examples of how existing Government data has been used or combined to create new tools for Canadians include the creation of:
- A Recalls and Safety Alerts application, which delivers up-to-date and reliable health and safety information right to a mobile phone. This free app brings together the most recent recalls and advisories from Health Canada, Transport Canada, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
- The Government of Canada's first ever mobile linguistic app, which lets smartphone and tablet users search the Government’s terminology and linguistic data bank, and quickly find equivalents for nearly four million English and French terms.