Durham Region revamps Open Data portal with ArcGIS

December 6, 2016 Erica Belforte

Durham Region’s new Open Data portal leverages ArcGIS Online to provide citizens with easy access to several open datasets. Since its release in March 2016, the portal has gone through a number of enhancements to provide greater transparency and accountability. Read this blog to learn more about this engaging portal.

The Region of Durham promises greater accountability and transparency with its new Open Data portal. The new portal has been a long time coming and has already gone through a number of enhancements since its release in March 2016. Additional datasets were added to the website in July, and in October, the region migrated the site to Esri’s ArcGIS Open Data solution.

Durham made the decision to migrate to an ArcGIS Open Data site to provide the end user with more functionality and overall improved experience. Previously, Durham used a custom web page to provide access to static files, which were updated on a schedule.

According to Tania Laverty, Manager, Communications, The Regional Municipality of Durham, “with the ArcGIS-based portal, users are getting data that is up to the minute, and it’s a much simpler process to add new data to the portal.”

Some primary benefits to the new system include searching within a map area, previewing data, table filtering and an easier-to-use interface.

The new portal supports Durham Region’s goal of becoming an open government by allowing community members to access data freely, easily and without restrictions from copyright or other mechanisms of control.

The portal leverages ArcGIS Online to provide citizens with access to seven data categories: addresses & housing, boundaries, business, community services, education, health and transportation. Each category features in-depth information that can be used to analyze, review and develop mobile apps. For example, within the Durham housing sub-category alone, the public can access data on senior residences, communities, civic addresses and affordable housing in the region.

Durham’s Open Data portal allows users to access and download diverse datasets in support of innovative applications. Since its launch in March, the site has received more than 770 download requests.

In addition to geographic datasets, the portal features various interactive maps developed and maintained by the Region of Durham, Corporate Services Department – Information Technology Division GIS team. It includes maps of the region’s parks, trails, roads, civic facilities, schools, construction projects and health information, among others.

The yourDurham interactive map allows users to explore many geographic views of Durham Region and provides detailed information about schools, childcare facilities, government offices, recreation and parks, trails and community services.

As plans to add new datasets are moving forward, the next step is to further involve the community by asking the public for feedback on the site.

“The Open Data pilot initiative has created increased transparency, enhanced public engagement, and demonstrated leadership around open government—showcasing a commitment to continuous improvement,” said Matthew Gaskell, Commissioner of Corporate Services, Durham Region. “Based on the numbers, it’s clear this data is informative and helpful. However, we want to know more about people’s experiences. It is through this feedback that the Region can develop a portal specific to the needs of our community.”

Explore Durham’s Open Data Portal and learn more at http://www.durham.ca. Tell us what you think about the portal by leaving a comment below.

About the Author

Erica Belforte

Erica Belforte is a Marketing Communications Intern with Esri Canada. She reviews and develops content for the company’s various marketing channels and provides support for several communications programs. Along with her Diploma in Advertising from Sheridan College, Erica recently completed her Honours Degree in Communications at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her passion for marketing began in high school when her favourite teacher suggested the career path based on Erica’s creativity and success in Business Communications classes. In her spare time, Erica enjoys spending time outdoors and exploring new restaurants with friends and family.

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