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Final Report: Aligning Canadian Open Data Programs with International Best Practices

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Across Canada, the release of open data by municipal and provincial governments is rapidly growing. Given this momentum, there is a need to assess the policies that guide open data provision and ensure their framework supports open and innovative data initiatives. An emerging set of principles, the International Open Data Charter (ODC), have been adopted by forty-one governments around the globe to guide the development and release of government open data. In December of 2016, the Federal Government of Canada committed to adopting the International Open Data Charter. However, with the exception of the Province of Ontario, which committed to adopting the ODC as a part of their Open Government Partnership commitments in December 2016, there has been very limited conversation on adopting the ODC by subnational governments.

In our role as Open Data Charter Stewards and in collaboration with the SSHRC-funded research partnership, GeoThink.ca, OpenNorth researched the potential benefits and challenges to Canadian provinces and municipalities in adopting the ODC.

The complete report is now available: What Could Open Data Programs Gain from Aligning with International Best Practices? Mapping existing open data practices in Canadian sub-national governments to the International Open Data Charter

Based on interviews with 4 provinces and 10 cities, OpenNorth’s study revealed several key findings on the potential role of the Open Data Charter in Canadian provinces and municipalities.

  • There is an existing overall alignment between current open data policy tools in Canadian provinces and municipalities and the International Open Data Charter.

  • Adopting the Open Data Charter presents opportunities to magnify existing outcomes of open data in Canadian provinces and municipalities. For example, adopting the ODC can facilitate better coordination among existing inter-jurisdictional partnerships.

  • There is a need for support package for municipalities that includes guidelines and best practices on a range of issues, including open data policies, data inventory methodologies, use cases, evaluation matrixes.

  • Many of the common barriers identified that inhibit the release, access and innovative use of open data in Canadian provinces and municipalities could be minimized 20 through the adoption of the International Open Data Charter. For example, adopting the ODC can accelerate change management and reduce internal resistance to open data release.

  • Canadian provinces and municipalities are well-positioned to adopt the International Open Data Charter. The adoption of the ODC by subnational and federal governments enhances interoperability and can bring a range benefits for Canadians, including greater inclusion, data literacy, job creation

The report provides extensive analysis of the barriers and opportunities in adopting the Open Data Charter and presents a range of specific actionable recommendations for open data leaders in government.

The following provincial and municipal governments participated in this research project:

  • Provinces: Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario;

  • Cities: Edmonton (AB), Grande Prairie (AB), Greater Sudbury (ON), Guelph (ON), Kitchener (ON), Montreal (QC), Ottawa (ON), Regina (SA), Surrey (BC), Vancouver (BC).

OpenNorth looks forward to continuing this conversation with governments across Canada and supporting their open data programs and initiatives.

A big thank you to Erin Bryson and Prof. Peter Johnson from GeoThink.ca.

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