July 04, 2018
Awhile back, I read a wordy press release from an organization called the Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure (CGDI). It was long, and rambly, and it didn’t say much about the future of data sharing in Canada.
The initiative, once upon a time, spawned Geobase, a portal for geospatial information before Open Data was a hit. It has since disappeared into the night, leaving the Canadian Geospatial sector much better than when it first came across it.
But the article was fluff. So I decided to make this list. List most lists of links, things get out of date. But we can update them. Here’s my list of updates:
This isn’t the first attempt at throwing all the data together in one location for all of Canada. First, the Government of Canada has thrown their hat into the ring sometime ago with the Open Government Programs in Canada Map as part of their Federal Government Webpage overhaul. But it’s already old: The calendar hasn’t been updated since Summer 2017, and the map of links is a case example in poor user interface. Bleh!
There are two other notable aggregators. One worth mention is Data Libre - By Civic Access. It’s a blog that offers not only the data, but resources that encourage of dissemination, resources on how to use various bits of data, and examples of this data being used. The second aggregator is another global open data map that is decently-designed, but isn’t always curated. Open Data Inception(Global).
Topographic Information - Once upon a time, there was geogratis. It was decent at holding geospatial information, but it was hard to navagate. But in the last couple of years, the federal government has iterated, and provided a decent geospatial product index, and geospatial extraction tool!
At this point, we should all know that Canada is but a federation of provinces that play their own game according to their own situation. As a result, there are provinces which are very open about their data (BC and Ontario), there are provinces that are using it to support both community and industry (Alberta), there are provinces that are starting, holding off, or walking away from the open data game. Here’s a list of all the provinces and their data holdings:
BC has a older system that processes its data. While some of the UI may be difficult to understand at the start, they have a decent customer service team and dedicated individuals who are part of the community. In addition to the provincial government, many communities boast an open data portal as well as the only Aborginal nation in Canada! The following is a list:
Unlike other large cities, Victoria and Vancouver aren’t amalgamated. This means that the data which is covered in the city’s open data portal doesn’t cover the entire metropolitan area.
Alberta, like BC, supports the distribution of open data for social issues as well as mapping, but also boasts of having high-end datasets which includes some of the most precise digital elevation you could obtain for free in Canada! Unlike the rest of Canada, Alberta appears unique in using private industry to deal with open data through a partnership culminated in AltaLIS.
Saskatchewan contains open data resources provided by myriad provincial authorities, but it isn’t aggregated except at sites such as Open Data Saskatchewan, an advocacy which hasn’t updated its list within the last two years.
There appears to be an open data site, but it hasn’t been updated since 2014. Not only has it been recently neglected, but it’s very old and broken. To get to the data, you must register. The registration process doesn’t verify your email address. Once you’re in, the browser warns you of a lack of a security certificate, and it’s clear the CSS is gone. I’ve been told that the government is rebuilding their website, so there might be a big change in the data landscape for 2017.
Ontario has a well-developed open data catalogue and a strong community that promotes the use and critique of open data. The province holds most of its open geodata on their catalogue.
While not as strong as Ontario, Alberta or Britsh Columbia’s open data sites, Québec has a strong offering, a growing culture and many towns which are growing their own data programs.
This past April, the Premier of New Brunswick News Release. You can see their young data catalogue is at its starting stages. Since then, they’ve taken the grand leap of providing a large LiDAR dataset, earning the distinction of being the first province to do so!
Nova Scotia’s Treasury Board Manual indicates that the government is pushing the public sector towards an “open by default” setting in publishing data.
Prince Edward Island provides open data since as early as 2001, when it had a civic addressing system which offers geographic data on the location of all its addresses. At the same time NB embraced open data, PEI quietly went to an open-by-default and has also removed any licensing requirement before each download.
Newfoundland and Labrador also are new to the open data world. They’ve only been active for two years press release and spout a decent site, despite all the troubles that are ongoing in the eastern province.
Currently, Yukon uses a Geocortex/Esri web portal for serving and diplaying open data. With this infrastructure, it has been busy adding data and imagery across all seasons so far in 2018:
As of right now, there appears to be no collection of data for Nunavut in the open held by a provincial agency or below. However, Nunavit Geoscience holds a portal for geoscience information and data
There are some stellar sources of data which exists outside of Canada with a global reach. I enjoy using this data and so can you!
This is just a snapshot of the data I was able to capture that exists at the end of 2016. I’ve since added updates here or there. There’s a good chance a lot of this data will no longer be at the link by the time you attempt to access it. Websites evolve, scopes evolve and so do agencies. If you feel like you want to carry the torch, you’re very welome to pick up where I’ve stopped. This article was drafted on a Github Repo and breaking this article apart is simple as forking the repository and making this into your own thing. I’d be happy for anyone to carry the torch, or just copy all my links into their own website or map.
Making lists is a long process. There’s a few people who took their time and offered a few links and hints. They are (in no particular order):
To the extent possible under law, Brian Bancroft has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to An aggregation of open data links across canada. This work is published from: Canada.