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DataBC now Live

BY Andrew Seo | Tuesday, July 19 2011

The province of British Columbia launched an open data portal today called DataBC that allows users to access information about schools, geology faults, and much more.

British Columbia became the first provincial government to launch an open data portal with DataBC, which has made approximately 2,500 data sets public today with plans to release more in the coming weeks and months. Users are also encouraged to request information. Creating web portals to datasets like budget information, population demographics and elections data is a growing trend among governments at all levels, each of which is testing the theory that providing this data for anyone to use will lead to new insights, new ways of interacting with citizens and possibly even new businesses.

The people behind DataBC are interested in making the site a two-way experience by encouraging participation and feedback. It has also created an official Twitter account that has already tweeted at several users who have tried out the site.

On the official blog, Minister of Labour, Citizens' Services and Open Government Stephanie Cadieux says:

"As a way of doing business, open data will not succeed unless we also open the door to dialogue, and starting conversations with those of you who are already keen about open data will create more value for all of us. We want to hear from you and we want you to use this blog to make it your own."

Canadian open government advocate David Eaves praised the initiative on his blog. Key points for Eaves: The license, which copies the licensing the UK offers to make government work shareable and reusable, and the data, which he says is "meaty."

"While I'm still exploring the data available on data.gov.bc.ca one thing seems clear, there is a commitment to getting the more "high-value" data sets out to the public," Eaves writes. "For example, I've already noticed you can downlaod the Consolidated Revenue Fund Detailed Schedules of Payments-FYE10-Suppliers which for the fiscal year 2009-2010 details the payees who received $25,000 or more from the government."

One surprising omission is an analog to the open data request form that the Oregon open data portal uses, which makes the entire process of opening a dataset (or keeping it closed) transparent. While asking for more data is done through a standard contact form, the B.C. government does offer a Google discussion group to talk about this open government initiative.

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