Finding Open Data

Search engines  will get you most of the way there–with keywords like the place or type of data you want to acquire, or by searching something like ‘Open Data Canada’ to get results like:

Open Data Publishers

Data might be published by a number of different types of organizations. Most commonly, Open Data refers to data collected or used by the government which has been made available to the public (see below). Data might also be published by organizations that collect that information for a specific cause, like the Neptis Foundation’s Geoweb, Centre for Information and Analysis, or Global Humanitarian Assistance and places that aggregate data sets, like reddit/r/datasets.

Often, Open Data Publishers make their data available via a portal. Publishers often use some of the following tools to make it easier to interact with the data:

  • Filters allow users to only look at data with certain properties, like checking only data posted by a single department, in a single year, tagged with a certain topic, or by format
  • Visualizations make data accessible by displaying data sets in context, or making connections between data sets. Visualizations might include charts and graphs, plots on maps, or infographics
  • APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, are set ways that people can program computers to interact with data sets
  • Integrations with other popular applications and programs and systems (like content management and publishing systems) make it easier for people to publish and collect open data using popular set-ups