How to share and interpret open data


Open Data is an outgrowth of the e-government movement of the 1990s, in which government computerized the data it had collected and began making it available on floppy disks.


Canada United States (U.S.)
The Government of Canada first launched its Open Government strategy in March 2011 and with it an Open Data Portal – – which now has more than 272,000 datasets from 20 departments. Since launch, over 100,000 dataset downloads have occurred.


The governments of Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec all have open data websites from which data can be downloaded. New Brunswick announced a new Open Data policy in 2016. In addition, more than 55 Canadian cities now have Open Data strategies, and they’re working together to exchange knowledge, case studies and digital tools.

In the U.S., the Federal Government, Utah, California and the cities of San Francisco and Washington, D.C., began opening data in 2009.In May 2013, Barack Obama issued an executive order that established the Open Data Policy along with a memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget, which supported that policy. implements the 2013 executive order on making government data open and machine-readable. To date, at least 43 states and 47 cities and counties have created open-data sites.


The guiding principle for Open Data initiatives is to make government more open and accountable. Opening government data increases citizen participation in government, creates opportunities for economic development, and informs decision making in both the private and public sectors. For governments to do things well, they need to do evidence-based planning, evidence-based programming and evidence-based decision-making. Open data enables better government programming and planning that ultimately results in more efficient government, healthcare, education and a prosperous business climate.


Governments have come to realize that simply making data available isn’t the same as making it accessible. Without making information available in a non-technical, understandable form, stakeholders may not be able to find the information they seek in reams of data sets and documents or they may misunderstand the information they do find.


In early 2017, Canada’s Open Data Exchange (ODX), a partner network committed to making it easier for Canadians to access and commercialize open data, conducted a Cross-Canada tour to find examples of how municipalities and companies work together to achieve commercial results from Open Data. By bringing multiple stakeholders from both the private and public sector together, ODX gained a deep understanding of the challenges that companies face when trying to commercialize open datasets.


It came as no surprise to ODX that all public sector organizations they met with face similar challenges when becoming data publishers and suppliers. These challenges are generally technical, and primarily centered around publishing data in easy-to-use, accessible formats.


In response to the growing trend of Open Data initiatives in all levels of government, Questica’s public sector-focused budgeting software experts developed OpenBook, a powerful data visualization tool. It allows a wide variety of data to be brilliantly visualized in an array of interactive charts, tables and graphs. With descriptive text, informational pop-ups, filtering and sorting, all interested parties can now discover information that was once hidden in a spreadsheet.


With OpenBook’s responsive design, data from any source can be shared through social media, embedded on websites, and accessed through mobile devices. OpenBook sets up in mere minutes and like all Questica tools, it is intuitive and easy-to-learn. Dedicated to serving the North American public sector, Questica’s budget, performance and data visualization solutions have been implemented by over 600 customers.


To find out how your organization can make Open Data available for both internal and public use in a compelling manner, schedule a demo of Questica OpenBook today.