One Year of Open Data

Nova Scotians are using data to create new opportunities and innovations while government continues to make more information available.

Government is marking the first anniversary of its open data portal by making more than 50 new and refreshed data collections available to the public today, Feb. 7. This brings the total number of datasets publicly released over the past year to nearly 400.

“The open data movement continues to grow in our province and our portal is a valuable tool many entrepreneurs, students and citizens can use to access information,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “Nova Scotians are finding new ways to use data to innovate, solve problems and grow the economy.”

The open data portal presents information in an accessible, easy-to-work-with format. Among the new datasets added today are:

  • provincial immigration nominee program statistics, 2012-2015
  • community and family services program access
  • African Nova Scotian family names
  • No. 2 Construction Battalion nominal roll
  • farm registrations
  • Nova Scotia Museum locations
  • funding programs, grants and awards
  • employment service centre locations
  • school boards and public school locations

Two Nova Scotians using the data in their business are Alastair Jarvis and his business partner Will Martin. They created WoodsCamp, an online tool that uses the province’s forest inventory data to match woodlot owners with loggers and markets for their timber.

“Data-rich problem spaces are ripe for social enterprises whose job it is to find new business models to solve problems that governments don’t have the time or resources to take on effectively,” said Mr. Jarvis. “Making government datasets available to innovators invites experimentation and innovation that delivers impact.”

Mr. Jarvis believes others will use open data as a foundation for innovation. Check out this video on how they’re using the open data portal: 

Nova Scotia launched the open data portal to give free, easy access to a wealth of government information. The portal was expanded several times over the past year to include data collections, high-resolution 3D maps and some information previously only available for a fee.

The portal has received about 300,000 page views and 8,000 downloads. The most accessed datasets include public service information, historical vital statistics and environmental monitoring reports. The site has logged visitors from all over the world and more than 60 per cent of visitors return.

Open data is just one way government is being more transparent. Earlier this year, Nova Scotia became the third province to start posting completed Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPOP) requests online. Over the last few years, government has made other great strides in becoming more transparent by posting ministerial expenses, funding investments and creating forestry harvest maps.

The website address is