Frequently Asked Questions
Doesn’t the city already publish data?
It has started. On October 27th, 2011 after 14 months of effort by Montréal Ouvert and the open data community, the city of Montreal launched an open data policy and portal available here.
But, much work remains to be done. For data to be truly open, all parties must be able to analyze, merge, use, and distribute the data without constraints.
Also, data must be available in a format that is easy for computers to read and manipulate. When information is presented in a PDF, or spread out across several webpages, it becomes excessively hard to analyse and use that data. For a list of standard formats that are truly open, visit the datasets offered by the city of Vancouver (en),Toronto (en), Ottawa (fr) Edmonton, Nanimo, Mississauga, London, Windsor, and Calgary.
This sounds ambitious, who is doing it?
Open Data is not a new concept, and it has been successfully applied at the national, provincial and local levels around the world. In fact, more and more governments are sharing data with their citizens. For example, the United States, New Zealand and the UK are embracing open-data on a federal level. On a municipal level, cities such as San Francisco,Washington, Vancouver, Edmonton, and even Toronto have jumped on board. Each of these governments maintain their own data catalog where citizens can download and use the data without any constraints.
What about my privacy?
Open Data is not about releasing ALL information that the government collects, it is about releasing important data in a usable format. Secure, private and personal documents, such as medical records, will not be made accessible. However, many data sets that contain no personal information – such as budget reports, park locations, and bus stop schedules are all candidates for being released.