Celebrating 10 years of Open Data in Calgary
The power and potential is unlimited
Have you recently purchased a home, used a Facebook, Reddit, LinkedIn or Snapchat map, or accessed one of our mobile apps? Chances are, you’ve benefitted from Calgary’s Open Data portal – perhaps without even knowing it.
March 7, 2020 is international Open Data Day, an annual celebration of open data all over the world. This year Calgary has an even bigger reason to celebrate as 2020 marks 10 years since the launch of Calgary’s initial data sharing pilot in 2010.
What exactly is “open data,” you ask? Akin to Wikipedia’s crowd-sourced knowledge base, open data is a collection of datasets made available around the world by governments, businesses and academia for anyone to use – for whatever purpose they want. And data’s a big deal – It has even been compared to oil for its value to be refined into new, products and uses.
“Sharing our data has so much value, not only for external use, but also within The City of Calgary for our day-to-day operations. It allows us to increase transparency, improve public participation and enhance services for citizens,” explains Kiyoshi Robson, Leader, Innovation, Intellectual Property and Data Access, in Corporate Analytics & Innovation.
The Open Data Portal takes data already being created as a byproduct of City business operations and opens it up for citizens.
How did it all come to be? In 2009, the Vancouver Open Government project - a new concept at the time - was mentioned to former Councillors Joe Ceci and Brian Pincott in discussions with local blogger DJ Kelly. This set the wheels in motion, and the Open Data Motion passed in March 2010, officially kicking off the Public Data Catalogue pilot project.
The rest is history? Not quite – open data is most definitely still history in the making.
Since its modest launch with 15 datasets, the Open Data Portal has grown to host around 300 datasets with information on everything from the size of Calgary’s trees, to transit schedules, crime rates and even water consumption. Don’t see what you need? Tell us what you’re looking for!
The number of datasets and the impacts of the Open Data Portal have led to another reason to celebrate open data in our city this year – Calgary has placed fourth on the 2019 Open Cities Index, only missing second place by a tenth of a percent. The index benchmarks the openness of municipalities, based on the readiness, implementation and impact of their open data programs. Canada currently has 61 cities and 10 provinces sharing data on a global scale.
“We’re really proud to be continuously improving and among the leaders when it comes to being open and transparent. This is a testament to the work that’s been done by our small team and colleagues at The City over the past 10 years,” says Kiyoshi. “We are actively collaborating across business units in The City to open up more datasets and provide further value to the open data network and our citizens. We’re looking forward to seeing what the next 10 years will bring.”
Open Calgary, The City of Calgary’s Open Data Portal, can be accessed online at calgary.ca/data.
You don’t have to be a “data nerd” to use open data. Calgary’s portal enables users to explore and visualize the data in new and exciting ways.
- Skip the trip to the mountains and find Calgary’s larch trees using the Urban Forest Management Map or use the Heritage Trees in Calgary dataset to find some of Calgary’s oldest residents.
- Moving to a new neighbourhood? Check the Community Crime and Disorder Map or the Census Information to glimpse into what you can expect.
- Commuting on a snowy day? Check Traffic Cameras in Open Data for current road conditions and Travel Times to better plan your commute.
- Last year, a dataset was even created by the Open Data team to identify west-facing benches for watching the sunset for your next date or evening stroll.
- The possibilities of what can be done with the data are endless. Take a look through and see for yourself.