Do-it-Yourself Open Data Toolkit


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What is the Do-It-Yourself Open Data Toolkit?

The Do-it-Yourself (DIY) Open Data Toolkit is an instructional manual that provides a step-by-step guide on how to develop your open data initiative. It brings together training materials, best practices, tools and resources to help you prepare for and implement an open data project.

Who is the DIY Open Data Toolkit intended for?

The Toolkit is primarily intended for municipalities that have not yet begun an open data project and need some guidance on how to implement one. It is also a useful reference to other governments or organizations who are considering initiating an open data initiative.

How does the toolkit work?

The DIY toolkit takes you through the process for identifying, planning and implementing an open data initiative, including:

  • Open data orientation;
  • Planning considerations;
  • Publishing sample data sets;
  • Adopting an open data policy;
  • Executing an open data pilot project with community engagement; and
  • Moving your open data initiative from pilot project to operational program.

Why you need the Open Data Toolkit?

The DIY Open Data Toolkit is more than just a manual. It’s a resource that can help you create opportunities for collaboration with the public, encourage innovation, and provide greater accountability and transparency by:

  • Enabling citizens to make better-informed decisions;
  • Equipping users with tools to better navigate open data portals;
  • Improving a user’s understanding of open data; and
  • Providing a roadmap to creating a more responsive and efficient government

Get started exploring the DIY Open Data Toolkit here, or use the navigation bar on the left-hand side of your screen to jump to a specific section.

Join the exciting open data community

DIY Open Data Quick Start
DIY Open Data Quick Start - Text version

This Figure is a flow chart that depicts the overall steps for initiating and implementing an open data project. Start by getting familiar with open data (by reading the DIY toolkit). The second step is to create an internal working group (that will include data custodians, GIS and data users). The third step is to propose and plan an open data pilot project (which will provide the needed experience prior to implementing an open data program). The forth step is to undertake the pilot project addressing areas such as governance, policy, the actual open data, using some technology to launch an open data catalogue and promoting the open data pilot within your community. This is followed by community engagement, which is a key activity within the pilot project and should be started early in the process, with lines of communication being always kept open with the end user community and interested stakeholders. Finally, the great experiences gained through the pilot project can be leveraged to build an open data ecosystem within your community to assist in meeting community needs.


The DIY Open data toolkit is the outcome of a pilot project between the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and OpenNorth.

The toolkit was made possible thanks to the:

  • DIY Open Data Municipal Advisory Committee for providing technical advice
    • City of Vancouver, BC - Linda Low
    • City of Surrey, BC - Bill McKay
    • City of Edmonton, AB - Soumya Ghosh
    • County of Grande Prairie, AB - Tracy Archibald
    • City of Regina, SK - Cindy Howden
    • City of Winnipeg, MB - Andrew Burton
    • City of Guelph, ON - Sasha Einwechter
    • Niagara Region, ON - Connie McCutcheon, Nathan Childs
    • City of Toronto, ON - Denis Carr
    • City of Ottawa, ON - Rob Giggey
    • City of Montreal, QC - Stephane Guidoin
    • City of Quebec, QC - Frederic Martel
    • City of Fredericton, NB - Rob Lunn
    • City of Halifax, NS - Mark Helm
    • International Open Data Charter Secretariat - Robert Palmer
  • DIY Open Data Prototype test sites for undertaking to test the DIY toolkit prototype
    • City of Barrie, ON - Rhonda Bunn, Brent Harlow
    • City of Pitt Meadows, BC - Darrin Fast, Gord Gillespie
  • Open government and open data communities for supporting the project through their communications and encouragement.
  • Principal Authors: Jean-Noe Landry and Jury Konga (Open North).


The following are some common terms associated with open data.

Open Data: “Open data is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone - subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike”

International Open Data Charter: “The Open Data Charter was founded in 2015 as collaboration between governments and experts who came together and agreed on six principles for how governments should be publishing information. The shared aspiration was that data should be open by default, timely and interoperable”

Open Government: “For the Government of Canada, Open Government means a governing culture that fosters greater openness and accountability, enhances citizen participation in policymaking and service design, and creates a more efficient and responsive government.”

Open Government Partnership: “The Open Government Partnership is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. In the spirit of multi-stakeholder collaboration”

Open by Default: “Open by default is a broad principle that means publicly releasing government data and information that is of value to Canadians, with information being withheld only for necessary privacy, confidentiality and security reasons.”

Open Data Formats: One of the aspects of open data is to have the data in a machine readable formats such as XML, CSV, KML, JSON, GeoJSON, SHP.

GIS: “A geographic information system (GIS) is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present spatial or geographic data”. GIS data is commonly the first open data released. Quoted

Open Data Catalogue: An open data catalogue is a website with centralized access to government open data including ability to view and download the data together with metadata describing individual datasets (here is an example).

Metadata: “Data that provides information about other data”.

Open Government Licence: Definition

Additional Resources

Additional materials on:

  • Use Cases
  • Open Data Benefits and Impacts
  • Open Data Standards; and
  • Other resources

are being curated by Open North and will be frequently updated (see link here)

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