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Canada

Increase the Availability and Usability of Geospatial Data (CA0054)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Canada Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Natural Resources Canada

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Open Data, Records Management, Science & Technology

IRM Review

IRM Report: Canada End-Term Report 2016-2018, Canada Mid-Term Report 2016- 2018

Starred: No

Early Results: NR

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: NR

Description

Increase the Availability and Usability of Geospatial Data Why do this: Over the last five years, federal departments have worked together to establish a single platform to collect and share geospatial data. This effort enables Canadians to more easily discover, view, and understand geospatial data. Building on this strong foundation, the focus in the coming years will be to increase the quality and usability of geospatial data to derive additional information, solve problems, help with context setting, and assist with evidence-based decision-making. How it will be done: The geospatial data collection will be expanded, and the technologies to access that data will be improved, thereby fundamentally changing the way geospatial assets can be accessed and used by government and the public. The single window to federal geospatial data, open maps, will support progress towards a modern, networked, and tech-enabled society. It will ensure effective program delivery, improve services to Canadians, and support them in their day-to-day activities.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

13. Increase the Availability and Usability of Geospatial Data

Commitment Text:

The Government of Canada will make more high-quality, authoritative, and useable geospatial data available in open formats to support better services to Canadians.

Milestones:

13.1. Improve access to open geospatial data through the expansion of open maps:

Increase the number of federal geospatial datasets available through a single window enabling Canadians to more easily find relevant geospatial data that can be mapped and visualized;

Provide access to satellite imagery through an open licence; and

Work with researchers, data enthusiasts, and developers who use geospatial data to share their work through the open maps gallery.

13.2. Develop geospatial data and web service standards:

Increase the quality and standardization of critical geospatial data assets through strategic investments;

Implement a management and investment framework for high value federal geospatial data assets; and

Participate in geospatial standards bodies to ensure that Canada’s data continues to be accessible and interoperable nationally and internationally.

13.3. Develop Geospatial Applications:

Build mobile applications to disseminate key information to Canadians in an interactive format, which makes complex and large amounts of information easy to understand;

Provide targeted applications, which use open geospatial data to address the policy priorities of government; and

Provide the ability for Canadians to share data they collect through standardized tools.

Responsible institution: Natural Resources Canada

Supporting institutions: Member departments of the Federal Committee on Geomatics and Earth Observations (FCGEO) supporting the Federal Geospatial Platform (FGP)

Start date: Not specified

End date: Not specified

Editorial Note: The text of the commitment was abridged for formatting reasons. For full commitment text, visit: http://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Canada_AP3.pdf.

Context and Objectives

The collection and sharing of geospatial data has been an early focus of Canada’s open data efforts, and Canada’s public laboratories have strong expertise on this issue. Although geospatial data represents the largest quantity of publicly available data by a significant margin, this commitment includes milestones aimed at expanding the information available still further. However, and more significantly, the commitment also focuses on increasing the usability, searchability and accessibility of this data. Standardisation is a major part of this effort as a necessary first step toward integrating datasets developed by different institutions from various levels of government. International engagement is another key component, as Canada aims to lead in the development of global data standards in order to promote usability across jurisdictions. This commitment aims to advance Canada’s open data work across these themes by improving access to geospatial data, developing geospatial data and web service standards, and developing geospatial applications. The milestones are relatively clearly defined, including identifying specific types of applications they seek to develop and sub-thematic priorities such as mapping. The commitment addresses an important practice area and provides for significant continuing progress, though it is scored as having moderate potential impact, rather than a transformative one, because the specific milestones represent a continuation of existing policies rather than transforming existing practices.

Completion

Over the course of the action plan, Natural Resources Canada has increased the total number of records available on the Open Maps component of the Open Government catalogue from 200 to 573.[Note105: Available at: http://open.canada.ca/data/en/dataset?q=&collection=fgp.] All datasets are available through an open licence. However, regarding engagement with researchers, data enthusiasts, and developers, Natural Resources Canada indicates that the map gallery is not ready yet to host user-contributed content, though they indicated they plan to have this online by June 2018. The self-assessment rates substantial progress on this milestone, and that it is on schedule for completion, which appears accurate.[Note106: The draft self-assessment for Commitment 13 is available at: http://open.canada.ca/en/mtsar/commitment-13-increase-availability-and-usability-geospatial-data.]

In terms of progress to develop geospatial data and web service standards (Milestone 13.2), the self-assessment reports that Natural Resources Canada is participating in the US Federal Geographic Data Committee Open Geospatial Consortium (OCG), the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management, and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Consultation with Natural Resources Canada indicates several avenues through which this participation aims to improve the quality of geospatial data and web services, including using the Open Geospatial Consortium Quality of Web Service Experience Domain Working Group and through sharing relevant discussion papers.[Note107: 'Ensuring Quality of Experience with OGC Web Services Discussion Paper', Open Geospatial Consortium, 30 June 2017. Available at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/13DCBYBR7t7AaZlRBIlPHSidoqt6xGJ0AERlBT4I0rM0/edit. See also: 'Spatial Data on the Web Best Practices', W3C Working Group, last edited 28 September 2017. Available at: https://www.w3.org/TR/2017/NOTE-sdw-bp-20170928/.] Natural Resources Canada also hosted a Data Work Committee of the Federal Geospatial Platform to provide advice and recommendations related to information management and new geospatial data investment to the FGP Board of Directors. The Committee met for the first time in April 2017. Together, this represents substantial progress, and this milestone is on schedule for completion.

For Milestone 13.3, Natural Resources Canada has developed several applications which use geospatial data, including the DFO Marine Spatial Data Infrastructure, [Note108: See: http://msdi-idsm.maps.arcgis.com/home/index.html.] the Demonstration Application of Arctic Food Security Policy,[Note109: See: https://esrica-ncr.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=c8633273d784445a97473d699e8b9aac.] Clean Energy Resources and Projects (CERP) in Canada,[Note110: See: http://atlas.gc.ca/cerp-rpep/en/.] North American Cooperation on Energy Information (NACEI),[Note111: See: http://geoappext.nrcan.gc.ca/GeoCanViz/map/nacei-cnaie/en/index.html.] Ten years of Drought in Canada,[Note112: See: http://maps.canada.ca/journal/content-en.html?lang=en&appid=ec76e685b0fc41c69c566dd3a97f05bb&appidalt=08cf0944bfa84f7e9dba5614475e0d79. ] and the Crowdsourced Geographic Information Pilot Project.[Note113: See: http://arcg.is/2sXaHHB. ] This represents substantial progress, and the milestone is on track to be completed.

Next Steps

There is a high potential impact going forward, provided this action area is recalibrated to fully harness the potential of Canada’s open data experts. As an early leader in this area, Canada’s research institutions have developed their own advanced expertise regarding best practices for collating, managing, delivering, and presenting diverse datasets. This will be particularly challenging considering the fundamental tension between processing data in a manner which allows it to be shared, manipulated, and centrally accessed while still preserving its original context, the latter being of fundamental importance to researchers.

Stakeholders, and in particular Dr. Tracey Lauriault, have noted that while this particular challenge is being addressed by researchers, and in particular those from Canada’s geospatial research centres, the government’s centralised open data portal is conspicuously weaker than systems established by other agencies. The IRM researcher recommends granting a stronger role to leading data institutions in the setting of standards and benchmarks, including those involved in this commitment. This will capitalise on work the institutions have already done and enable them to innovate new ways to package and deliver information. This echoes a recommendation which was made in the 2015 midterm assessment, which also noted the expertise of the geospatial community as a resource which could be better utilised.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

13. Increase the Availability and Usability of Geospatial Data

Commitment Text: The Government of Canada will make more high-quality, authoritative, and useable geospatial data available in open formats to support better services to Canadians.

Milestones:

13.1. Improve access to open geospatial data through the expansion of open maps:

Increase the number of federal geospatial datasets available through a single window enabling Canadians to more easily find relevant geospatial data that can be mapped and visualized;

Provide access to satellite imagery through an open licence; and

Work with researchers, data enthusiasts, and developers who use geospatial data to share their work through the open maps gallery.

13.2. Develop geospatial data and web service standards:

Increase the quality and standardization of critical geospatial data assets through strategic investments;

Implement a management and investment framework for high value federal geospatial data assets; and

Participate in geospatial standards bodies to ensure that Canada's data continues to be accessible and interoperable nationally and internationally.

13.3. Develop Geospatial Applications:

Build mobile applications to disseminate key information to Canadians in an interactive format, which makes complex and large amounts of information easy to understand;

Provide targeted applications, which use open geospatial data to address the policy priorities of government; and

Provide the ability for Canadians to share data they collect through standardized tools.

Responsible institution: Natural Resources Canada

Supporting institutions: Member departments of the Federal Committee on Geomatics and Earth Observations (FCGEO) supporting the Federal Geospatial Platform (FGP)

Start Date: Not specified

End Date: Not specified

Editorial Note: The text of the commitment was abridged for formatting reasons. For full commitment text, visit http://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Canada_AP3.pdf.

Commitment Aim

The collection and sharing of geospatial data constituted an early focus of Canada's open data efforts, and Canada's public laboratories have strong expertise on this issue. This commitment includes milestones aimed at further expanding the information available and boosting its accessibility and uptake. The commitment intended to improve access to open geospatial data through the expansion of open maps, development of geospatial data and web service standards, and development of geospatial applications.

Status

Midterm: Substantial

Over the course of the action plan, Natural Resources Canada increased the number of records available on the Open Maps component of the Open Government catalogue from 200 to 573. The department made all of the records available through an open licence (Milestone 13.1).[Note102: Available at “Open Government Portal,” Government of Canada, http://open.canada.ca/data/en/dataset?q=&collection=fgp.] In terms of progress to develop geospatial data and web service standards (Milestone 13.2), Natural Resources Canada engaged various entities on this endeavour. These entities included the US Federal Geographic Data Committee's Open Geospatial Consortium, the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management, and the World Wide Web Consortium.

Regarding Milestone 13.3, Natural Resources Canada developed several applications which use geospatial data. These applications include the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' Marine Spatial Data Infrastructure,[Note103: See “ArcGIS,” Esri, http://msdi-idsm.maps.arcgis.com/home/index.html.] the Demonstration Application of Arctic Food Security Policy,[Note104: See “Arctic Spatial Data Pilot Project,” Esri Canada, https://esrica-ncr.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=c8633273d784445a97473d699e8b9aac.] Clean Energy Resources and Projects in Canada,[Note105: See “The Atlas of Canada—Clean Energy Resources and Projects (CERP),” Natural Resources Canada, http://atlas.gc.ca/cerp-rpep/en/.] North American Cooperation on Energy Information,[Note106: See “Energy Infrastructure and Resource Potential of North America,” Natural Resources Canada, http://geoappext.nrcan.gc.ca/GeoCanViz/map/nacei-cnaie/en/index.html.] Ten Years of Drought in Canada,[Note107: See “Ten Years of Drought in Canada,” Government of Canada, http://maps.canada.ca/journal/content-en.html?lang=en&appid=ec76e685b0fc41c69c566dd3a97f05bb&appidalt=08cf0944bfa84f7e9dba5614475e0d79. ] and the Crowdsourced Geographic Information Pilot Project.[Note108: See “Flood/Ice Observations,” NRCan Observer, http://arcg.is/2sXaHHB. ]

End of term: Substantial

Over the second year of implementation, Natural Resources Canada increased the number of records available on the Open Maps component of the Open Government catalogue further, from 573 to 781. It did so through contributions from 14 departments and agencies, up from the previously contributing eight departments and agencies.[Note109: See “Open Government Portal,” Government of Canada, https://open.canada.ca/data/en/dataset?q=&collection=fgp&sort=metadata_modified+desc&_organization_limit=0.] The government also completed the second part of Milestone 13.1. It published a new collection of high-resolution elevation data derived from LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). It also released a Canadian component of the Arctic DRM and Canadian flood mapping.[Note110: See “High Resolution Digital Elevation Models (HRDEM)—CanElevation Series,” Government of Canada, https://open.canada.ca/data/en/dataset/957782bf-847c-4644-a757-e383c0057995 and “Floods in Canada—Current Year,” Government of Canada, https://open.canada.ca/data/en/dataset/b1afd8d2-6e14-4ec4-9a09-652221a6cb71.] However, Natural Resources Canada faced challenges in implementing the third aspect of Milestone 13.1, due to technical difficulties in establishing the Open Maps gallery. In a follow-up email, Natural Resources Canada noted the costs associated with responding to the “Directive on Open Government” made it difficult to sustain momentum on this milestone. It pointed out the high amount of human, technological, and bureaucratic energy required to make contributions under the directive available on the open government portal. The department further added that the Federal Geospatial Platform (FGP) “has been successful in quickly bringing a significant amount of geospatial data to the open government portal, primarily because FGP applications, standards and processes made the effort easier for departments but also because a significant amount of this data was relatively easy for departments to make available without impacting ongoing operations. This will not always be the case.”[Note111: According to correspondence with Natural Resources Canada, received on 4 September 2018.] The self-assessment evaluates this milestone as having substantial progress. The IRM researcher concurs.

For Milestone 13.2, Natural Resources Canada created a National Elevation Data Strategy. The strategy's goals include developing a national system for the management and dissemination of elevation data, national LIDAR data acquisition guidelines, and automated methods for extraction of additional cartographic features from the elevation data. The self-assessment lists several other standardisation efforts advanced through the FGP Initiative agreement and the FGP project. These efforts include collaborations with eight provinces and territories to carry out data and metadata inventories and exchange geospatial metadata and services. However, follow-up discussions with Natural Resources Canada revealed that strategic investment was not obtained in time for the end of the reporting period. The department also noted that the public cannot view or use the management and investment framework for geospatial data.[Note112: Email received on 4 September 2018.] As a consequence, this milestone is marked as having substantial progress, rather than as complete.

Under Milestone 13.3, the self-assessment points to a number of applications which were developed over the course of this action plan. These include the Marine Spatial Data Infrastructure group on ArcGIS Online, the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility Story Map App, and a new version of the Data Extraction tool.[Note113: See “MSDI Pacific,” ArcGIS, http://www.arcgis.com/home/group.html?id=d00890035ad8418dba10b83c236a8ec8#overview; “Inuvik Satellite Station Facility Story Map App,” ArcGIS, https://www.arcgis.com/home/item.html?id=83f52eea3b8643d78d476aa76c702580; and “Geospatial Data Extraction,” Government of Canada, http://maps.canada.ca/czs/index-en.html.] However, the milestone is scored as having substantial progress, rather than as complete, because many of these applications are not available to the public. The reasons for their unavailability include the following: the developer deems the content sensitive, the application contains data that is not available under the open licence, or the application does not meet the web accessibility guideline for the federal government.[Note114: According to correspondence with Natural Resources Canada, received on 4 September 2018.] Moreover, the government developed no applications specifically for mobile devices. This task has proven more challenging than the development of web applications.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Marginal

Geospatial data represents the largest quantity of publicly available data by a significant margin. Over the last five years, federal departments established a single platform to collect and share geospatial data. The focus of this commitment was to increase its quality and usability to derive additional information, solve problems, help with context setting, and assist with evidence-based decision making. Although geospatial data remains a leading component of Canada's open data offerings, communications with Natural Resources Canada suggest that promoting uptake and use remains a challenge. Further progress requires not only that users be provided with problem-specific, relevant, and hands-on learning opportunities to empower them to use to data, but also that dataset owners embrace new users and uses of their data. Limited progress has been made in addressing the core cultural component. Hence, this commitment is coded as marginal. This rating should be understood in the context of the advanced nature of Canada's geospatial offerings at the outset of the action plan.

Carried Forward?

The first commitment in Canada's fourth action plan focuses on user-friendly open government. Milestone 1.3 focuses on increasing the availability and standardisation of geospatial datasets.


Canada's Commitments

  1. User-friendly open government

    CA0064, 2018, Capacity Building

  2. Financial transparency and accountability

    CA0065, 2018, E-Government

  3. Corporate transparency

    CA0066, 2018, Beneficial Ownership

  4. Digital government and services

    CA0067, 2018, Capacity Building

  5. Open science

    CA0068, 2018, Capacity Building

  6. Healthy democracy

    CA0069, 2018, E-Government

  7. Access to Information

    CA0070, 2018, Capacity Building

  8. Feminist and inclusive dialogue

    CA0071, 2018, Capacity Building

  9. Reconciliation and open government

    CA0072, 2018, Capacity Building

  10. Open government community

    CA0073, 2018, Capacity Building

  11. Enhance Access to Information

    CA0042, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  12. Streamline Requests for Personal Information

    CA0043, 2016, E-Government

  13. Expand and Improve Open Data

    CA0044, 2016, E-Government

  14. Provide and Preserve Open Information

    CA0045, 2016, E-Government

  15. Define an Approach for Measuring Open Government Performance

    CA0046, 2016, Capacity Building

  16. Develop Open Government Skills across the Federal Public Service

    CA0047, 2016, Capacity Building

  17. Embed Transparency Requirements in the Federal Service Strategy

    CA0048, 2016, Capacity Building

  18. Enhance Access to Culture & Heritage Collections

    CA0049, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Enhance Openness of Information on Government Spending and Procurement

    CA0050, 2016, Capacity Building

  20. Increase Transparency of Budget and Other Department of Finance Information

    CA0051, 2016, Capacity Building

  21. Starred commitment Increase Transparency of Grants and Contributions Funding

    CA0052, 2016, Capacity Building

  22. Improve Public Information on Canadian Corporations

    CA0053, 2016, E-Government

  23. Increase the Availability and Usability of Geospatial Data

    CA0054, 2016, Capacity Building

  24. Increase Openness of Federal Science Activities (Open Science)

    CA0055, 2016, Capacity Building

  25. Stimulate Innovation through Canada’s Open Data Exchange (ODX)

    CA0056, 2016, E-Government

  26. Align Open Data across Canada (Open Data Canada)

    CA0057, 2016, Capacity Building

  27. Implement the Extractives Sector Transparency Measures Act

    CA0058, 2016, Capacity Building

  28. Support Openness and Transparency Initiatives around the World

    CA0059, 2016, Aid

  29. Engage Civil Society on Open Government

    CA0060, 2016, Public Participation

  30. Enable Open Dialogue and Open Policy Making

    CA0061, 2016, Capacity Building

  31. Promote Open Government Globally

    CA0062, 2016, Capacity Building

  32. Engage Canadians to Improve Key Canada Revenue Agency Services

    CA0063, 2016, Fiscal Transparency

  33. Implement Directive on Open Government

    CA0030, 2014, Open Data

  34. Starred commitment Open Data Canada

    CA0031, 2014, Open Data

  35. Canadian Open Data Exchange (ODX)

    CA0032, 2014, Capacity Building

  36. Open Data for Development

    CA0033, 2014, Capacity Building

  37. Open Data Core Commitment

    CA0034, 2014, Open Data

  38. Starred commitment Open Science

    CA0035, 2014, Science & Technology

  39. Starred commitment Mandatory Reporting on Extractives

    CA0036, 2014, Extractive Industries

  40. Open Contracting

    CA0037, 2014, Open Contracting and Procurement

  41. Open Information on Budgets and Expenditures

    CA0038, 2014, Fiscal Transparency

  42. Digital Literacy

    CA0039, 2014, Capacity Building

  43. Open Information Core Commitment

    CA0040, 2014, Right to Information

  44. Consulting Canadians

    CA0041, 2014, Marginalized Communities

  45. Starred commitment International Aid Transparency Initiative: Publish plan to make CIDA activities available and accessible

    CA0010, 2012, Aid

  46. International Aid Transparency Initiative: Implement plan

    CA0011, 2012, Aid

  47. Opening Government of Canada Records: Increase access to archived federal documents at Library and Archives Canada

    CA0012, 2012, Records Management

  48. Opening Government of Canada Records: Issue new mandatory policy on document classification

    CA0013, 2012, Records Management

  49. Opening Government of Canada Records: Make classified information available online

    CA0014, 2012, E-Government

  50. GCDOCS: Deploy wave one of electronic record and document management solution

    CA0015, 2012, E-Government

  51. GCDOCS: Deploy across federal government

    CA0016, 2012, E-Government

  52. GCWEB: Develop consolidated web presence

    CA0017, 2012, E-Government

  53. GCWEB: Implement new platform

    CA0018, 2012, E-Government

  54. Data.gc.ca: Expand number of datasets available

    CA0019, 2012, E-Government

  55. Data.gc.ca: Implement data.gc.ca portal

    CA0020, 2012, E-Government

  56. Data.gc.ca: Improve standardization of data

    CA0021, 2012, E-Government

  57. Government of Canada Resource Management Data: Publish resource management and performance data

    CA0022, 2012, E-Government

  58. Government of Canada Resource Management Data: Enhance search and data tools

    CA0023, 2012, E-Government

  59. Consulting Canadians: Develop new platform for consultation

    CA0024, 2012, E-Government

  60. Consulting Canadians: Develop standard approach to use of social media

    CA0025, 2012, E-Government

  61. Consulting Canadians: Pilot a crowdsourcing initiative

    CA0026, 2012, E-Government

  62. Consulting Canadians: Enable use of common online tools

    CA0027, 2012, E-Government

  63. Open Regulation: Federal regulators to post forward regulatory plans

    CA0028, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  64. Open Regulation: Simplify engagement activities

    CA0029, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  65. Open Government Directive: Issue Directive on Open Government

    CA0001, 2012, E-Government

  66. Open Government Directive: Implement Directive on Open Government

    CA0002, 2012, E-Government

  67. Starred commitment Open Government Licence: Issue Open Government Licence

    CA0003, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  68. Starred commitment Open Government Licence: Adopt Open Government Licence

    CA0004, 2012, Records Management

  69. Modernising Administration of Access to Information: Pilot of online request and payment service

    CA0005, 2012, Fiscal Transparency

  70. Modernising Administration of Access to Information: Implement ATI Solution

    CA0006, 2012, Fiscal Transparency

  71. Modernising Administration of Access to Information: Make completed ATI request summaries searchable

    CA0007, 2012, Right to Information

  72. Virtual Library: Begin design of virtual library

    CA0008, 2012, E-Government

  73. Virtual Library: Launch virtual library

    CA0009, 2012, E-Government