The BC Data Catalogue (Catalogue) attracts more than 11,500 visitors per month, who conduct more than 18,000 sessions and download more than 150,000 datasets annually. There are now data assets in the Catalogue from all Ministries and many broader public sector entities (like the Oil and Gas Commission, WorkSafeBC and DestinationBC).
The Catalogue team had a productive year in 2016, publishing 191 new records, 71 of which were published under the Open Government License – British Columbia (OGL-BC). This included the release of data related to compensation, property transfer taxes, and consolidated revenue fund payments. Other notable data releases included the ParcelMap BC Parcel Fabric, geographic datasets that support resource development and exploration, data to support emergency response, and data related to the accurate location of government services including aboriginal business listings and Francophone services.
There was also considerable attention to curating and enhancing Catalogue records and data. There are now more than 3,200 datasets, applications, and APIs publically listed in the Catalogue.
In addition to ongoing maintenance items, a number of enhancements were made to the Catalogue last year to improve the user experience:
- File display file size now appears next to the resource reference and the date the file resource was uploaded is recorded and displayed as Resource Last Modified Date;
- Introduction of Catalogue measurements and reporting;
- Addition of Open Geospatial Consortium compliant WMS resources for all public datasets in the BC Geographic Warehouse;
- Data download improvements;
- Embedded consoles for developers to explore API resources; and the
- Addition of a data visualization showcase on the data.gov.bc.ca page.
Changes are being implemented to improve the way users download datasets from the BC Geographic Warehouse, a central repository of government spatial data. Rather than redirecting users out of the BC Data Catalogue to an external service to download data (the Data Distribution Service), users can now download directly from the Catalogue.
Agriculture Land Reserve (ALR) Zones is one of many datasets accessible via this new interface.
We continue to share out CKAN code back to the community on GitHub so our contributions can be used by other governments around the world. Our development tasks are also openly logged.
Consolidating sets of data that pertain to different timeframes into the same Catalogue record improves user ability to find all the data that they are looking for. New sets of data are sent to Data BC in a variety of timeframes, depending on the subject matter: every month, quarter, year and more to add to the Catalogue. After receiving multiple sets of data, the data is consolidated. An example would be the open data dataset BC Schools – Satisfaction Survey – Consolidated. Sets of data were initially received in 2005, and subsequent annual sets of data were received until 2014 and consolidated into one easier to locate space.
It was a good year for training. There were three in-person seminars offered in Victoria, with 52 people attending and one online workshop that 41 people attended. It was exciting to share knowledge with data suppliers and see their interest!
The Catalogue enables clients to discover and learn about APIs offered by the Province of BC. A new resource, API consoles was added for developers.
API consoles make it easier for developers to learn how to use our APIs. An API console is an interactive document listing the inputs and outputs of an API. They can also include information such as terms of service, license, user guides and contact information.
The screen capture below shows the API console for the Geomark Web Service.
Each section can be expanded to reveal more specific details. Examples include definitions, data type and drop boxes where multiple options exist. Corresponding OpenAPI specification files on GitHub have been saved for developers to make API consoles for their own APIs. An ‘API Spec Editor’ page has been added to make it easier for developers new to writing OPenAPI specifications. Corresponding code can be updated on screen and exported to a new file.
Datasets stored within the Catalogue in a CSV format are also made available through an API. We have a number of data visualizations utilizing the datastore API displayed on our landing page https://data.gov.bc.ca/.
The Catalogue continues to collect and share statistics on the number of record views and downloads . These usage statistics are available for each month, at the branch level. Higher level site analytics, such as information on total page views and country and operating system used are also available.
Stay tuned as we continue to improve the BC Data Catalogue and expand its data holdings.