Skip to main content

Sudbury transportation plan: open data formats please!

2 min read

I had the pleasure of speaking at Sudbury City Council's public meeting on the draft Transportation Master Plan today; here is (roughly) what I said:

Thank you your worship and councilors for the opportunity to speak to you; I am humbled to follow so many excellent speakers tonight. My name is Dan Scott, and I am speaking independently today. I have lived in the South End of Sudbury for 9 years now, after surviving many years commuting via motorcycle on the Don Valley Parkway and taking public transit (and occasionally cycling) from midtown Toronto to Markham. Now, as a librarian at Laurentian University, I am particularly interested in the availability of information and data for reuse by academics and members of the public. As such, I had the distinct pleasure of being an invited speaker at the Open Government Tour held at City Hall last fall.

Looking, then, at the Transportation Master Plan; the current document contains a number of maps which are available, to the best of my knowledge, only as PDF--a read only format. While this is a useful format for the purposes of reading the plan itself, it does not allow for reuse in other contexts. For example, overlaying the proposed routes with different data layers such as ecological habitats of various species, watersheds, planning zones, commercial centres, cultural entities, parks, or as Matt Alexander painstakingly constructed, the plotting of accident data, could enable new insights into the intersection of these various facets of our city.

Therefore, in the spirit of this Council's recent and laudable adoption of the "open data by default" policy, I would request that the source formats for the data and particularly the maps contained in the plan be made publicly and openly available as soon as possible, in formats such as KML and/or SHP files that support their reuse in the creation of new maps, and that they be kept up to date as the plan undergoes revision in the future.