Overview of Canadian open data portals
Open data initiatives have seen a surge in the recent past, with interest being shown at all levels of government. However, after a quick survey of existing open data portals, we see a distinct lack of coordination, with portals from federal, provincial, down to regional and municipal levels, all for the same geographic area. It is an interesting reflection of the system of governance in Canada. (What is an Open Data Portal?)
Below is table presenting an overview of data portal licenses (a few are not open data) in Canada.
‘No’ = no clause included ‘Yes’ = clause included
(scroll to the bottom of the table to see the text for comments in individual cells)
The table attempts to give an overview of some of the most common features of data licenses. The most common features of open data licenses appear to be that users are allowed to do three things to the data: redistribute, modify (and create derivative work), and use commercially. Where there appear to be more differing opinions are in the general areas of ownership and liability. Some municipalities explicitly state that they retain ownership of the data, whilst others do not. Some require attribution, and even provide a set statement of attribution for users to cite, whilst others do not.
It may be in the best interests of governments to standardise their open data licenses across Canada. While standardisation of licenses would not affect the ability of governments to share data amongst themselves (as they create their own license agreements between them), it would benefit users who wish to integrate datasets from multiple sources into one derivative work, and also limit confusion for the public when presented with so many terms that may sometimes be conflicting. However, to do so, common definitions for terms in the license must be agreed upon.
Below is a spreadsheet showing occurrences of different formats. A green box means there was at least one instance of data being served in that format. A red box means that the format will be served in the future.
A comparison of formats for a single genre of datasets was not done, as many open data portals still have incomplete catalogues.
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