Opening Ontario's Data
A vast amount of facts and statistics exists across the Ontario government, such as school enrollment, birth registrations and drinking water sources. The province is taking steps to make this data open by default, limiting access only to protect privacy, security and confidentiality.
Ontario's data sets are published on the open data catalogue, which was launched in November 2012. The catalogue currently has more than 170 data sets.
To unlock more data, Ontario is building a data inventory for the public. The descriptions and titles of more than 1,000 data sets have been posted for public voting, which will help prioritize the order that data sets are made available. This inventory will continue to grow as more potential open data is identified.
This inventory is part of Ontario's Open Government initiative and will help to ensure more government data and information is accessible to the people of Ontario.
Voting on the data inventory
The public can access the data inventory at Ontario.ca/OpenData and explore more than 1,000 data set titles and descriptions. Through this inventory, people can:
- Vote on their favourite data sets
- See how many votes each data set has received
- Track what data has been published on the catalogue.
When a visitor votes on a data set, the voting button instantly changes from 'vote' to 'voted.' And, when a data set is published, the data set will have a button that says 'opened' with a link to the catalogue.
People can visit the site - and cast their votes - as often as they like, but can only vote once for a specific data set.
Voting will be an ongoing process as Ontario updates the inventory and works to open more data for the public. The government will assess votes on a regular basis and take the steps necessary to prepare data sets in an open and machine-readable format.
Five steps are required to publish data on Ontario's data catalogue:
- Identify - potential data sets are identified, including raw data (e.g., statistics) and geospatial data (e.g., information from maps), and added to the inventory
- Assess - potential data sets are reviewed to protect privacy, security and confidentiality
- Prepare - data sets are converted to open, machine-readable formats, such as XML (extensible markup language), CSV (comma-separated values) or text files
- Review - data sets are reviewed to ensure accuracy and accessibility
- Post - final data sets are posted on the open data catalogue
This process for posting data sets can take from several months to a year or more, depending on the volume and complexity of the information.
Data in action
Across the country - and around the world - citizens and businesses are using government data in a variety of unique ways. For example:
- Web and mobile applications - Ontario is supporting the development of new apps through the Energy Apps for Ontario Challenge. Using electricity data collected by smart meters, new apps like these will help consumers make informed decisions about their energy consumption
- Visualizations - the Open Knowledge Foundation developed WhereDoesMyMoneyGo.org to depict United Kingdom government spending with images and graphs, using expenditure data.
- Web-based tools - Google created a Person Finder Tool and Crisis Map when Typhoon Haiyan struck in the Philippines. These resources helped families and friends find their loved ones and stay informed.
Governments around the world are finding ways to be more open and accessible to citizens. Today, 63 countries, including Canada, have joined the Open Government Partnership, a joint commitment to strengthening accountability and responsiveness for the public.
Ontario launched its commitment to Open Government in October 2013.
Open data is a big part of this initiative. Sharing data online can help foster innovative discoveries, improve people's lives and encourage economic growth.