Idea details: Open Data Institute (ODI)


As announced in the 2014 Budget, the government will work with partners in the private sector, academia, and government to establish an Open Data Institute. The Institute will act as hub for Canadian open data initiatives, and will play a key role in encouraging the commercialization of open data.

Potential activities may include:

  • Developing and promoting the use of common open data standards across Canada;
  • Stimulating the “app” economy by supporting Open Data “appathons”; and
  • Encouraging the use of Open Data to increase productivity and create new products and services to benefit Canadians.

Your collaboration will help make this proposed activity become a reality. In addition to your general comments, please let us know:

  • What do you see as the ultimate goal for this proposed activity within a two year span?
  • What are the specific actions and milestones required to meet this goal?
  • Who else should be involved in the implementation of this proposed activity?
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Hi Everyone,

I've started a grass roots called the OpenSpark project to help accelerate the use of Open Data in Canada. I have 20 years background in integration/data and since first working with open data 4 years ago I noticed that a free education platform is one of the key elements to success. As a result, I decided to implement a platform that removes a lot of the complexity that developers experience in working with Open Data. I'm hoping to launch in late January, 2015 (the site is currently up and running in test mode at with a couple of Open Data connectors created). I'm in the process of aggregating open data from and creating new api's that will be available soon. If you have any requests for api's based on Canadian data, feel free to reach out to me and I'll put them on my list to create.


I notice in this commitment that civil society is conspicuously absent from the list of partners that the government plans to work with to develop the ODI. Civil society plays a central role in the open data movement, utilizing data for innovation, disseminating data, and interacting with data in other ways. A commitment in the OGP Action Plan 2.0 for an Open Data Institute that does not put civil society at the heart of the initiative, would demonstrate a failure to understand the key elements and approach to political change and development which is at the heart of the OGP itself.

This sounds great. Will this be a collective or collaboration between academic, industry and government partners? Or will it be a physical location, with staff to help coordinate these initiatives and develop some of the programs mentioned above?

Thank you for your comment. As you may already be aware, the Government of Canada announced in its 2014 Economic Action Plan that it would provide $3 million over three years for the creation of the Open Data Institute. The Institute will be spearheaded by the Canadian Digital Media Network, with additional support from the Institute’s other partners, including Desire2Learn, OpenText Corporation, Communitech and the University of Waterloo. Details of the structure and work plan of the ODI are still being developed. The ODI will leverage modern communication and connection technologies to collaborate extensively with partners from industry, civil society, academia, and government. Combining its physical presence in the Waterloo region with modern communication technologies and outreach techniques, the ODI will serve as a physical and virtual hub for open data activities in Canada, with a particular focus on the commercialization of open data.

I participated in the Code Hackathon and one improvement that would go a long way in allowing more people to experiment with the data is making the more of the data available in formats such as JSON or CSV.


Also, please consider creating application programming interfaces (APIs) that are free and open to anyone that wants to access Canadian Government data programatically (i.e. bypassing the on-line search forms and database querry pages). These allow automated data collection and analysis, and let people integrate data into their own projects/databases/websites/etc.
Look at what the US government is doing with their APIs, and also CanLii, Eur-Lex, etc.

Several governments (provincial and internaitonal) have set up APIs for regulatory text and offical publications (the equivalent to Canada Gazette). This would be helpful for anyone working in regulatory development domestically and internationally to quickly search the collection of Canadian legislation. I use APIs produced by the US federal government and several non-profit legal organisaitons for this kind of work to search regulatory informaiton for thousands of chemicals.

Thank you very much for your suggestion. Currently the Government of Canada offers several APIs and more are planned for release. If there are particular APIs you are looking for, please make a suggestion through our Suggest a Dataset form and we will be happy to work with the data owner to see if we can release it in a timely manner.

Here is a list of the currently available APIs:


Delimitation service

Elevation API

Geolocation Service


Vehicle Recalls Database

Earthquakes Canada - Earthquakes API

Earthquakes Canada - Seismograph Stations API

Country Travel Advice and Advisories


NHN WPS Service (Upstream/Downstream)

The Canada Base Map - Transportation (CBMT): Text and Geometry, LCC

The Canada Base Map - Transportation (CBMT): Text Only, LCC

The Canada Base Map - Transportation (CBMT): Geometry Only, LCC

The Canada Base Map - Transportation (CBMT): Text Only, Web Mercator

The Canada Base Map - Transportation (CBMT): Geometry Only, Web Mercator

The Canada Base Map - Elevation (CBME): Hillshade, LCC

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