Founded in 2011, OpenNorth is Canada’s leading non-profit organization specialized in open data and civic technology and a global open government leader. It consults with government institutions on how to publish data, has published reports on best practices for standardising open data and metadata, and previously co-led the standards stream of the Open Government Partnership’s (OGP) Open Data Working Group.
OpenNorth is also a steward of the Open Data Charter, plays an advisory role in the Global Initiative on Fiscal Transparency (GIFT), and actively supports and promotes standards initiatives such as Open Corporates, Open Contracting, Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) through its national and international networks. Through the Open Data Charter’s principles, we incentivise greater inter-jurisdictional interoperability and standards adoption in Canada, at from municipal to federal levels of government.
At the city level, we approach data standardisation through networks of municipalities (such as the Municipal Information Systems Association) to achieve widespread impact and adoption. We work closely with open data leads to understand dataset priorities and achieve consensus on proposed standardisation of datasets, from the choice of data schema for consistent data structuration to naming conventions for reliable federated search. OpenNorth has developed three data standards: Popolo, Represent, and Open511.
Do you have a focus on a specific type of standard or sector?
Our standards originated from development/problem-solving needs, but our more work on standards adoption is not restricted to a specific standard or sector.
What standards have you helped to develop or support?
We have developed: Popolo, Represent, and Open511.
Popolo is legislative data interchange standard designed to improve the sharing of information on politicians and political activities. This standard underpins the design of parliamentary monitoring apps from the civic tech sector, and is used by organisations such as mySociety.
Represent is a CSV schema that structures basic contact information for politicians. This is implemented in our Represent API and by participating municipalities and legislative bodies across Canada. Represent API allows the public to query elected representatives at all levels of jurisdiction in Canada.
Finally, Open511 is a data standard for road events, such as roadworks, and is implemented via API. It is implemented in Canada by the Province of British Columbia’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure in its real-time DriveBC dataset.
What type of support can you offer to organisations interested in developing open standards for data?
We provide consultancy support for governance aspects of standards development. With extensive expertise in problem framing and multi-stakeholder engagement, we convene the appropriate set of stakeholders given a specific domain.
We work with stakeholders, such as municipal governments, to make recommendations on the selection of data vocabularies and schema to be applied to datasets. We also work with municipalities to promote consistent naming conventions for datasets, which aides in querying and discovery. Our work promoting the adoption of open data standards is framed within the Open Data Charter’s principles.
For more information, visit www.opennorth.ca