Engaging parliamentary data users to better respond to their needs


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Submitted By
Open North
Votes: 104

The data published by the Parliament of Canada -- like votes and speeches,
and much more -- is generally of high quality and consistency. Yet,
parliament could make more data accessible in open data format if it's information management approach engaged parliamentary data users more systematically.

High volume data users like Parliament.ca note that too often information that's technically available sometimes lacks documentation, support of any kind, or the licensing is not open/permissive. In some cases, like audio/video, the data is available internally but not available to the public, or in open data format. The demand for this data may not be clearly communicated nor acknowledged.

Committee schedules and other committee data, on the other hand, are not published as data. For a few years post-2011, whenever a section of parl.gc.ca was redesigned, XML data was included. Unfortunately, when the committees website was (nicely!) redone a few months ago, no data was included. It would be useful to include open data in all new development work.

There are other potentially interesting legislative data that isn't available, like structured data for legislation, written questions/answers and other tabled documents.

The work of the Hansard office is also a noteworthy example. While it does truly heroic indexing work, carefully categorizing each speech within a structured ontology, this isn't included in their public document XML, which could be extremely useful for research. A lot of great technical work is done, but in isolation from the needs of data users.

For parliamentary data users, and Canadians at large, having someone in the House of Commons with "open data" in their job description, who could engage with users, would be great step towards increasing open communication. This commitment idea, therefore, calls for an engagement process with parliamentary data users and stakeholders. This National Action Plan is an opportunity to develop a common approach and vision for a dynamic and innovative parliamentary data ecosystem in Canada.

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