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Canada

Align Open Data Across Canada (Open Data Canada) (CA0057)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Canada Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Open Data

IRM Review

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

Starred: No

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Align Open Data across Canada (Open Data Canada) Why do this: Across Canada, different governments at the federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal levels have varying levels of open data implementation. While some governments have launched open data portals and made numerous datasets available, others do not have official open data or open government policies or initiatives. Furthermore, governments set priorities for different types of data for release, which may make it difficult for Canadians to compare data across jurisdictions. Each government may also measure and record data differently, which can make it difficult to compare data even when that data is open. The true value of open data can really be unlocked when similar, high-value data is released using consistent, standardized approaches, so that Canadians can easily compare data among departments, across geographic locations, and over time. How will it be done: The Government of Canada has made preliminary progress with its counterparts at the provincial/territorial level on the development of common open data principles, common licencing, and promotion of the reuse of open data. Moving forward, the Government of Canada will work with other levels of government to expand collaboration across jurisdictions and to develop a list of high-value datasets that are priorities for governments to release. This work will help increase the comprehensiveness of open data available to Canadians and encourage comparability of data across different governments. In addition, work will begin with one or more provincial partners to collaborate on a pilot project that will allow users to search data from multiple governments via a common portal. This pilot project will provide an opportunity to accelerate data standardization efforts and better understand the challenges and opportunities associated with federated search

IRM Midterm Status Summary

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

Commitment Text:

The Government of Canada will expand collaboration with provincial, territorial, and municipal partners on further standardizing and harmonizing the delivery of open government data across jurisdictions.

Milestones:

16.1. Foster the adoption of common open data principles that are consistent with the International Open Data Charter by all levels of government.

16.2. Develop a list of high-value, priority datasets for release in collaboration with key jurisdictions to make it easier for Canadians to compare data across different governments.

16.3. Launch an online, federated, multi-jurisdictional open data search service in partnership with one or more provinces and territories to allow Canadians to search and access data from across jurisdictions, regardless of its origin.

16.4. Host a national Open Data Canada summit in 2017 to bring together federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal officials to collaborate on setting a national agenda for aligning and improving the delivery of open data across the country.

Responsible institution: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Supporting institutions: Provinces, territories, municipalities, and Indigenous Peoples

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/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/Canada_AP3.pdf.

Context and Objectives

This commitment aims to mitigate the challenges that Canadians face in obtaining and comparing information from different jurisdictions by fostering common open data principles in line with the International Open Data Charter, developing a list of high-priority datasets for release, launching an online open-data search service, and hosting an Open Data Canada Summit in 2017. Some of the milestones, in particular 16.1 and 16.3, are continuations of action areas included in the previous action plan. However, as a federal system, whose governments at the national, provincial, territorial, and municipal levels have differing priorities and standards for collecting and publishing information, standardisation is a difficult problem to tackle. As Fred Vallance-Jones of the University of King's College, noted, it answers a strong need to 'break down the balkanization' of the current system.[Note138: Halifax consultation, 12 September 2017.] The milestones are reasonably clear and specific, except for the Milestone 16.2, which could be improved by defining how many datasets and how many collaborating jurisdictions will be involved. There is a substantial gap between the potential impact of the different milestones, but overall the commitment is reasonably ambitious. In particular, a move toward common data standards at every level of government in line with the International Open Data Charter would be game-changing for researchers or civil society organisations who work across jurisdictions.

Completion

Over the course of the first year of implementation, the government’s attempt to develop common open data principles (Milestone 16.1) was carried out in collaboration with Open North. Open North worked to develop a Do-it-Yourself (DIY) Open Data Toolkit for Canadian municipalities in consultation with fifteen Canadian municipalities, the federal government, and the International Open Data Charter group.[Note139: See: http://open.canada.ca/en/blog/coming-soon-do-it-yourself-open-data-toolkit.] The Canadian Open Government Working Group has developed a draft plan for expanding open data activities going forward. The Open Government Working Group also shared actions on the adoption of the International Open Data Charter at 2017 Canadian Open Data Summit, and created a collaborative space for collecting Open Data Charter resources. The government reports substantial progress on their self-assessment, which seems accurate, though implementing this standard across the country’s different levels of government will be a monumental task, which may be challenging to complete in the course of the current action plan.

The government’s self-assessment reports limited progress on Milestone 16.2, which is currently being carried out in collaboration with the provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia. A draft work plan has been developed, along with a criteria tool for identifying high value datasets for prioritization.[Note140: The work plan is available for download at: https://gccollab.ca/file/view/71053/encogwg-work-plan-draft2017-06-19frcogwg-work-plan-draft2017-06-19 (registration required).] Although the low specificity of the milestone makes it difficult to assess, it seems likely that the datasets will be released by June 2018.

The Treasury Board Secretariat developed a draft work plan on a cross-jurisdiction federated search service (Milestone 16.3), which will be piloted by the provinces of Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec.[Note141: The work plan is available for download at: http://pilot.open.canada.ca/ckan/en/dataset/5cc8b7ea-1fb2-527c-a73f-824da6ef69a6.] The self-assessment notes that the deliverable is at risk of not being completed by the end of the action plan cycle, though this should be understood in the context of the complex and challenging nature of the project.

In line with Milestone 16.4, the Canadian Open Data Summit took place in Edmonton from 12-14 June 2017.[Note142: See: http://opendatasummit.ca/.] At that event, the Government of Canada hosted a meeting of the Canadian Open Government Working Group on June 12 to discuss thematic areas of collaboration across the country. This milestone has been completed.

Early Results

An early result from this commitment has been a change in tone among inter-jurisdictional working groups, along with an increase in collaboration and joint meetings, according to Open North.[Note143: Montreal Consultation, 20 September 2017.] This is important since, in a federal system, strong collaboration and open engagement among the different levels of government are essential pre-requisites for aligning open data practices.

Next Steps

Canada’s federal structure, and the inability of the national government to compel compliance among provincial and municipal counterparts, means that this action area is likely to be a long-term challenge. Implementing common open data standards will require ongoing federal leadership, as well as an important supporting role by civil society organisations like Open North.

In addition to working cross-jurisdictionally, the IRM researcher recommends that the government work to enhance implementation of strong open data standards across the federal government itself. Even within the current action plan, stakeholders noted that disclosures under Commitments 11 (information from grant recipients) and 17 (information from companies subject to the Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act) failed to meet best practices in terms of formatting and searchability. Indeed, in terms of standardisation challenges, Mike Gifford of OpenConcept Consulting noted that there are still differences across departments regarding the format of how dates are written.[Note144: Interview by phone, 12 October 2017.] In discussing this commitment, Open North also noted that Canada has yet to adopt the international open data charter, though the province of Ontario and the city of Edmonton have.[Note145: See: https://opendatacharter.net/adopted-by-countries-and-cities/.] The IRM researcher recommends making this an area of priority for the next action plan.

As standardisation work progresses, Dr. Tracey Lauriault noted that it was important to maintain a parallel focus on integrating datasets, since both components are key to breaking down the jurisdictional boundaries that limit data use.[Note146: Interviewed in Ottawa on 18 September 2017.]

IRM End of Term Status Summary

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

Commitment Text: The Government of Canada will expand collaboration with provincial, territorial, and municipal partners on further standardizing and harmonizing the delivery of open government data across jurisdictions.

Milestones:

16.1. Foster the adoption of common open data principles that are consistent with the International Open Data Charter by all levels of government.

16.2. Develop a list of high-value, priority datasets for release in collaboration with key jurisdictions to make it easier for Canadians to compare data across different governments.

16.3. Launch an online, federated, multi-jurisdictional open data search service in partnership with one or more provinces and territories to allow Canadians to search and access data from across jurisdictions, regardless of its origin.

16.4. Host a national Open Data Canada summit in 2017 to bring together federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal officials to collaborate on setting a national agenda for aligning and improving the delivery of open data across the country.

Responsible institution:Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Supporting institutions: Provinces, territories, municipalities, and Indigenous Peoples

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/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/Canada_AP3.pdf.

Commitment Aim

This commitment aimed to mitigate the challenges that Canadians face in obtaining and comparing information from different jurisdictions. It planned to foster common open data principles in line with the Open Data Charter and develop a list of high-priority datasets for release. It also intended to launch an online open-data search service and host the Canadian Open Data Summit in 2017.

Status

Midterm: Substantial

Over the course of the first year of implementation, the government worked with Open North, a civil society organization, to develop a Do-it-Yourself Open Data Toolkit for Canadian municipalities. The government consulted 15 municipalities and the Open Data Charter group in the development.[Note137: See “Coming Soon: Do-It-Yourself Open Data Toolkit!” Government of Canada, http://open.canada.ca/en/blog/coming-soon-do-it-yourself-open-data-toolkit.] The Canadian Open Government Working Group developed a draft plan for expanding open data activities going forward. The group also shared its activities at the 2017 Canadian Open Data Summit and created a collaborative space for collecting Open Data Charter resources. Regarding Milestone 16.2, the government created a draft work plan and a criteria tool for identifying high-value datasets for prioritisation. On this, it collaborated with the governments of Quebec and Nova Scotia.[Note138: The work plan is available for download at https://gccollab.ca/file/view/71053/encogwg-work-plan-draft2017-06-19frcogwg-work-plan-draft2017-06-19 (registration required).] Under Milestone 16.3, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat developed a draft work plan on a cross-jurisdiction federated search service. It collaborated with the provinces of Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec.[Note139: The work plan is available for download at http://pilot.open.canada.ca/ckan/en/dataset/5cc8b7ea-1fb2-527c-a73f-824da6ef69a6.] The government completed Milestone 16.4 as the Canadian Open Data Summit took place in Edmonton from 12 to 14 June 2017. The summit included a meeting of the Canadian Open Government Working Group.[Note140: See homepage, Canadian Open Data Summit '18, http://opendatasummit.ca/.]

End of term: Complete

Regarding Milestone 16.1, the most significant development since June 2017 has been Canada's own adoption, in March 2018, of the Open Data Charter.[Note141: See Scott Brison, president of the Treasury Board, Letter to Members of the Advisory Board of the Open Data Charter, 12 March 2018, https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4pnyLgEJbI6SGItV1g1M0xPSFZ3S0dZX0M3MUhOdHBDelE4/view.] This constitutes an important step forward. Also worth noting, the milestone is responsive to a recommendation in the IRM's 2017 midterm assessment. The government completed this milestone.

Regarding Milestone 16.2, on 28 June 2018, the Canada Open Government Working Group published 17 high-value datasets to be prioritised for release by federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments across Canada.[Note142: See “Multilateral Intergovernmental Collaboration on Identifying Datasets of High Value,” Government of Canada, https://open.canada.ca/en/blog/multilateral-intergovernmental-collaboration-identifying-datasets-high-value.] The government completed this milestone.

Under Milestone 16.3, the government launched the federated open data portal on 28 June 2018. It allowed users of Canada's open data portal to access information from the province of Alberta alongside information from the government of Canada.[Note143: See “Open Government Portal,” Government of Canada, https://open.canada.ca/data/en/dataset?portal_type=dataset&jurisdiction=provincial.] The government completed this milestone.

The government had completed Milestone 16.4 by the midterm assessment.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Major

Generally speaking, the progress made under this commitment constitutes a significant step toward improving the accessibility and usability of open data across the country. Federal leadership, particularly through the Canada Open Government Working Group, is particularly important in this area. Open North, which participated in some of the Open Government Working Group meetings, found the group to be useful for connecting to leads of different jurisdictions. However, Open North noted that these opportunities should be extended to more civil society organisations. Open North also noted that, while the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat has done a good job of working with provinces, there is room for stronger engagement with municipalities.

It is also worth noting that the output of the Canada Open Government Working Group appears to have thus far focused on prioritisation, rather than the more important task of standardisation. However, these collaborations should help to set the stage for valuable work going forward. Similarly, although the federated open data portal has, thus far, integrated information only from a single province, the development of this technical architecture should allow the system to be further scaled in future.

Carried Forward?

Canada's fourth action plan contains a few milestones aimed at harmonising open data across the country. One commitment explores the adoption of common contracting data standards across Canada (2.4). Another involves coordination with provincial and territorial governments on improving beneficial ownership information (3.3). Yet another extends the federated open data portal to at least two additional provinces and municipalities (10.4).


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, Civic Space

  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, Civic Space

  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