Posted on 02-10-2013

Two Canadian municipalities have adopted the Canadian Open Government Licence, a significant advancement for the publishing of open data by municipalities.

The moves by the City of Nanaimo, BC, and the County of Grande Prairie, Alberta, mean that users of their data, such as application programmers, can be assured that the data can be used under the same legal framework as those applied by the governments of Canada, British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.

"Open Data is a really wonderful thing – it's revolutionized the way the County shares information by making various, non-personal types of municipal information accessible to the public any time, anywhere and free of charge online through our Open Data Catalogue,” Natalia Madden, information systems manager of Grande Prairie, said in a news release July 19.  

"The information we share is not only valuable but can be applied in a number of creative ways. Two or more data sources can be combined with a simple click of the mouse creating a completely different set of information.”

The County's Open Data Catalogue is available at . Information about the Canadian Open Government Licence and its terms and conditions is published at .

A growing number of municipalities across Canada have published a variety of data sets in accessible formats since Nanaimo initiated the practice in the mid-1990s. Progress, however, has been hindered up to now by the lack of a standard users' contract. Without it, data and applications have only been usable for practical purposes in the publishers' local areas.

On June 18, the federal government launched the next generation of its open data portal ( ) and also announced a newOpen Government Licence. It was developed through public consultation and in collaboration with the Alberta, BC and Ontario governments.

The following day, the Province of British Columbia published a version of the Open Government Licence, compatible with the federal version but reflecting BC's privacy laws and jurisdiction. The day after that, June 20, Nanaimo announced that the information in its Open Data Catalogue,  
, is available under the same terms as the Pan-Canadian Open Government Licence.

"This is all about improving service for citizens,” Per Kristensen, director of information technology for Nanaimo, commented during a teleconference of the MISA/ASIM Canada Board of Directors on July 17.

"The objective is to make things consistent across municipalities and all levels of government, to improve transparency and operations and make it easy for developers and others to use the open data.”

Kristensen called upon all Canadian municipalities publishing open data to adopt the same Canadian licence.

Kathryn Bulko of the City of Toronto, president of MISA/ASIM Canada, pointed out that Canada has become the first country in the world to have a standard open-data users' licence that applies to all levels of government.


Canadian Open Data:

Ontario Open Data:

British Columbia Open Data:

Alberta Open Data:

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