RVS Learning Specialist – For many years, municipal, provincial, and federal governments collected, generated and then published data back to their citizens. In the past few years, the availability of free data has increased and a variety of websites share data. Data can often be downloaded and re-used easily for visualization purposes. With a few clicks, entire data sets can be placed on maps to generate powerful visuals. Learning about and visualizing the numbers of the world we live in has become more accessible.

According to Wikipedia, “Open data is the idea that some data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control”.  This represents fantastic learning opportunities for everyone and I am going to share an example below.

First though, let’s look at some open data sites:

Open data from the Government of Canada:
Slogan: “Search open data that is relevant to Canadians, learn how to work with datasets, and see what people have done with open data across the country.” http://open.canada.ca/en/open-data

Open Government, Alberta Government:
Slogan: “Use government information to do research, build apps and gain insights”

Calgary Region Open Data :
Slogan: “The Calgary Region Open Data catalogue provides free and open access to over 100 datasets from all over the Calgary Region and new datasets are being added on a continual basis. Open data is freely available to everyone in one or more open and accessible formats.

Let’s take a look at how we can play with this and have some fun. In the Calgary Region Open Data site, I found a number of interesting data sets about Airdrie on this website:  http://www.calgaryregionopendata.ca/browse/2939 Using Google Earth, I wanted to find out where the green spaces are in Airdrie. I then wanted to know where benches and garbage cans are. Below you can see my results.

View the maps here

Hover over the map below to reveal a menu to navigate


Analyzing the data before me, I can now ask informed questions, gain insights and possibly decide on further investigations that may have sparked my interest. A neat tool for the classroom. Check it out.

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