Open data portals: It isn’t rocket science
An interesting review of open data portals appeared on the MangoMap blog site last week. As I read the article I couldn’t help but agree with just about every point the author was making. In particular:
- frustrations with the overall experience
- being ‘designed by committee and crippled by bureaucracy’
- lack of access to the raw data
We commented on similar frustration last year in the post Data data everywhere, not any point to map, bemoaning the amount of time that was wasted on fruitless data searches.
However, there are some data portals that are emerging as the exceptions to this norm. The MangoMap blog directs readers to the portal hosted by the Province of New Brunswick, where a data catalogue is provided in the form of a simple grid listing of dataset names in alphabetic order, formats and pricing. No obscure folder structures to navigate, no in-house naming conventions to translate and no proprietary formats to confound.
Given the number of datasets that are currently available from this site, the grid works well but if/when more datasets are made available additional search options may be useful to quickly refine the selection. That said, the New Brunswick portal is refreshingly easy to use and demonstrates what is possible with some thought.
Another data portal that merits a mention is the beta release of European Union Open Data Portal. Launched early in 2013, the EU portal provides a single access point for a variety of data from the institutes and organizations in the EU.
Two clicks, one search and I had a short list of candidates …. and the data are available to download in a variety of open formats. It isn’t rocket science.