About

The Ontario government, generates and maintains thousands of datasets. Since 2012, we have shared data with Ontarians, via a data catalogue.

Open data

Open data is data that is shared with the public. Click here to learn more about open data and why Ontario releases it.

Ontario’s Open Data Directive states that all data must be open, unless there is good reason for it to remain confidential.

Ontario’s Chief Digital and Data Officer also has the authority to make certain datasets available publicly.

Other data

Datasets listed in the catalogue that are not open will have one of the following labels:

  • To be opened – The dataset has been screened and will be shared soon.
  • Under review – The dataset is still being screened. It may become open or it may be restricted and not released.
  • Restricted – The dataset has been screened and will not be released to the public. The record will be listed in the catalogue, but the data will not be shared.

License to use the data

If you want to use data you find in the catalogue, that data must have a licence – a set of rules that describes how you can use it. A licence:

  • grants you rights to download and use the data
  • outlines your rights
  • tells you what terms and conditions apply

Most of the data available in the catalogue is released under Ontario’s Open Government Licence. However, each dataset may be shared with the public under other kinds of licences or no licence at all.

If a dataset doesn’t have a licence, you don’t have the right to use the data.

If you have questions about how you can use a specific dataset, please contact us at opengov@ontario.ca.

What do we tell you about data (metadata)?

Each dataset listed in the catalogue might have the following details as part of its description:

ID (database name: id)

A unique set of numbers and letters.

Example value: 027f8366-1edb-45e7-9631-8e6a2b28267e

URL (database name: url)

The URL of the page in the catalogue that lists the dataset.

Example value: https://data.ontario.ca/dataset/ontario-top-baby-names-male

Title (database name: title)

A unique title that describes the data.

Example value: Abandoned airports

Name (database name: name)

Same as title, except with dashes ("-") instead of spaces (" ").

Example value: abandoned-airports

Description (database name: notes)

A brief introduction that helps users understand the data.

Example value: *Abandoned airports and airports that are not recognized at the national level with an airport identifier.

This layer is derived from data provided by Nav Canada. This layer should not be used for navigation purposes.

Official LIO title: Airport Other*

Any detail updated (database name: any_detail_updated)

The last time that any of the files or details about this data were updated.

Example value: 20190516T16:06:15+00:00

Last Validated Date (database name: current_as_of)

The last date someone responsible for the data reviewed the data files and their information to confirm it was still current.

Example value: 20190516T16:06:15+00:00

Date Opened (database name: opened_date)

The date that the data files were first posted to the Open Data Catalogue (and shared with the public).

Example value: 20190516T16:06:15+00:00

Update Frequency (database name: update_frequency)

How often the data maintainers plan to update the data.

Example value: yearly

Licence Start Date (database name: licence_range_start)

Some datasets are released under a licence, which is a set of conditions you must follow when using the data. If the conditions apply only for a certain period of time, this field will tell you when this period of time starts.

Example value: 20190516T16:06:15+00:00

Licence End Date (database name: licence_range_end)

Some datasets are released under a licence, which is a set of conditions you must follow when using the data. If the conditions apply only for a certain period of time, this field will tell you when this period of time ends.

Example value: 20190516T16:06:15+00:00

Date created (database name: metadata_created)

The date that the data is first listed on the open data catalogue.

Example value: 20190516T16:06:15+00:00

Tags (database name: keywords)

Terms that you might use when describing this data.

Example value: airports, aviation, transportation, land use

Geographic Coverage (database name: geographic_coverage)

A term describing the geographic boundaries of this data.

Example value: Ontario

Access Level (database name: access_level)

The status of data that has been reviewed or is being reviewed to see if it is safe to share with the public on the Open Data Catalogue.

Example value: open

Access Instructions (database name: access_instructions)

Instructions on accessing the data if it isn’t directly accessible (i.e. accessible through one click).

Example value: Navigate to https://www.javacoeapp.lrc.gov.on.ca/geonetwork/srv/en/main.home?uuid=1d9372b7-3786-448f-b72a-1da2aa1ab6ce and select the “Airport Other - shape file download package” link. Then provide your email, name, and organization and the shapefile will be emailed to the address you provided.

Licence (database name: licence_id)

An ID that corresponds to the terms and conditions of the licence.

Example value: Ontario Open Government Licence

Creator (database name: creator_user_id)

The ID of the employee who initially listed the data in the catalogue.

Example value: Joe Smith

Ministry (database name: owner_org)

The ministry that is responsible for the data.

Example value: Ministry of Labour

Maintainer (database name: maintainer)

The name of the person or group that can be contacted with questions about the data.

Example value: Centre of Excellence for Evidence-Based Decision Making

Maintainer Email (database name: maintainer_email)

The email address of the person or group that can be contacted with questions about the data.

Example value: joe.smith@ontario.ca

Author (database name: author)

The name of the person or group that is the original author of the data.

Example value: Centre of Excellence for Evidence-Based Decision Making

Author Email (database name: author_email)

The email address of the person or group that is the original author of the data.

Example value: putting_outcomes_first@ontario.ca

Maintainer Branch (database name: maintainer_branch)

The Ontario government branch responsible for maintaining the data.

Example value: CoE for Evidence-Based Decision Making

Exemption (database name: exemption)

The reason why the data was not shared with the public.

Example value: privacy

Exemption Rationale (database name: exemption_rationale)

An explanation as to why the data was not shared with the public.

Example value: Dataset contains confidential client contact/personal information.

Files

Each dataset listed in the catalogue might include multiple related files. Each file might have the following details in its description:

ID (database name: id)

A unique set of numbers and letters.

Example value: 027f8366-1edb-45e7-9631-8e6a2b28267e

File (database name: url)

The web address where you can find the file on the internet.

Example value: https://www.javacoeapp.lrc.gov.on.ca/geonetwork/srv/en/main.home?uuid=1d9372b7-3786-448f-b72a-1da2aa1ab6ce

Name (database name: name)

A unique title for the file that helps you quickly understand what it is.

Example value: Airport Other - shape file download package

Description (database name: description)

A text introduction to the data that helps you understand the file in detail.

Example value: Airports that have been classified as abandoned or are not recognized at the national level with an airport identifier. This layer is derived from data provided from Nav Canada as well as from the existing airports NRVIS data class.

Version (database name: version)

The number of previous versions of this file that exist.

Example value: 1.8

Data Range Start (database name: data_range_start)

The start-date and time for the data in the file.

Example value: 20190516T16:06:15+00:00

Data Range End (database name: data_range_end)

The end-date and time for the data in the file.

Example value: 20190516T16:06:15+00:00

Data Birth Date (database name: data_birth_date)

The (estimated) date that the data in this file first started to be collected.

Example value: 20190516T16:06:15+00:00

Data made public date (database name: date_publicly_available)

The date the file became available to the public.

Example value: 20190516T16:06:15+00:00

Added to Catalogue (database name: created)

The date and time that the file was first listed in the catalogue.

Example value: 20190516T16:06:15+00:00

Type (database name: resource_type)

A label that helps you understand whether a file contains data or just helps you use or understand data.

Example value: data

Format (database name: format)

The extension of the file.

Example value: xls

Language (database name: language)

The language the information in the file is stored in.

Example value: English

Contains geographic markers (database name: contains_geographic_markers)

Whether each row of data has coordinates or another type of mappable information that describes a geographic area.

Example value: TRUE

Size (database name: size)

The amount of space the data file takes up on a computer.

Example value: 1078

Contact us

For questions about a dataset, you can contact the publisher directly, if they’ve provided contact details. For questions about the catalogue, please contact Open Government at opengov@ontario.ca.

Features

We launched the first Ontario government data catalogue in 2012 and have used it to share nearly 3,000 datasets. We are now improving the catalogue, building on what we’ve learned about usability and user needs.

The catalogue will have new features – ones that will improve your experience by helping you find and use the data you want.

In the sections below, we highlight features you will find in the catalogue. If you have any thoughts on these features or others, send us your feedback at opengov@ontario.ca or tweet at @OpenGovON.

Metadata

The catalogue has new metadata fields that describe the datasets. Fields include:

  • Data access instructions – When accessing a certain dataset isn’t straightforward, data creators can include “how to download” instructions to help you access the data.
  • Geographic breakdown – A field that tells you how the data is broken down geographically (for example, by municipality, city or watershed).
  • Last updated – A time stamp that tells you when the dataset was last changed, including changes to the title or description.
  • Last validated – A date stamp that tells you when the data creator last reviewed the dataset and confirmed that it is still current.
  • Language – A field to help you find the data in the language you want, without having to open the files.

Visualizations

The catalogue has tools that enable all users to visualize the data in the catalogue without leaving the catalogue – no additional software needed. Have a look at our walk-through of how to make a chart in the catalogue.

Data creators can also include visualizations with the datasets they share in the catalogue to help share data with you in different ways.

Notifications

Get automatic notifications when datasets are updated. You can choose to get notifications for individual datasets, an organization’s datasets or the full catalogue.

You don’t have to provide and personal information – just subscribe to our feeds using any feed reader you like using the corresponding notification web addresses. Copy those addresses and paste them into your reader.

A screenshot of the configuration screen of a RSS reader. The feed url for the data catalogue has been entered into the form field for the feed url.
Figure 1 - Pasting the notification address for the full catalogue into the feed reader.

Your feed reader will let you know when the catalogue has been updated.

A screenshot of an RSS reader displaying recently updated datasets from the data catalogue. The latest four datasets are listed.
Figure 2 – Receiving notifications on the latest updates to the catalogue

APIs

APIs (Application programming interfaces) let software applications communicate directly with each other. If you are using the catalogue in a software application, you might want to extract data from the catalogue through the catalogue API.

How to use the API feature

  1. Find your dataset.
    A screenshot of the dataset search results page. The user has searched for the word pepper and 3 results are displayed.
    Figure 3 – Dataset search results for “pepper”.
  2. Click Preview to go to the file you want to access through the API.
    A screenshot of the data and resources section of the dataset description page. Each file in the dataset is listed. To the right of each file name is a preview button and a download button. An arrow is overlaid onto the screeshot that points to the preview button.
    Figure 4 – Click the Preview button.
  3. Click the Data API button.
    A screenshot of the file description page. The data api button is found in the top right corner of the page.
    Figure 5 – Click the Data API button and follow the instructions.

Have a feature request? Want to provide feedback on an existing feature? Please contact us at any time to share your feedback by tweeting at us at @OpenGovON or emailing us at opengov@ontario.ca.

Engagement

We built Ontario’s data catalogue to give you better access to government data.

We are now developing an enhanced catalogue and we want your input on it.

Here is how you can give us feedback:

  • Tweet at us (@OpenGovON) or email us at opengov@ontario.ca.

    As we improve the catalogue, we want you to tell us what you think of it. This catalogue is for you, so the more feedback we get, the better our final product.

  • Participate in user testing.

    Work with us directly by testing the catalogue in our offices. If you are interested in doing this, send an email to opengov@ontario.ca.

  • Join community consultations.

    We will be coming out to communities across the province. We will let you know where we are headed and we are also open to suggestions. If you want to recommend a region, meeting or event where we can hold a consultation, email us at opengov@ontario.ca.

  • Stay in the loop.

    We’ll be highlighting new features and project milestones, so follow us on Twitter (@OpenGovON) or subscribe to either the Ontario Digital Service Medium blog or our Open Government Newsletter.

  • Complete a survey.

    You may come across a survey while using the catalogue. Please complete the survey and tell us how we’re doing.