How do I find data on the open data portal?

Start by searching on the open data portal. You can filter your search further by topic, division, and other attributes in the catalogue’s left sidebar. If you can’t find what you need the first time, try searching with different keywords. If you absolutely can’t find the data, email us at opendata@toronto.ca.

What do I do if I run into an error when I download a file?

If you find a problem with a file, please report it to us directly at opendata@toronto.ca. Please include the name of the dataset and a detailed description of the problem – the more details we have, the more we’re likely to be able to help you. Be sure to verify that you have the right software to open the data set before notifying us, as we are unable to provide user support for the data itself. If you have questions about dataset contents, check with the division that publishes the data itself for specific questions. You’ll find the relevant publisher’s contact information listed to the left of every dataset.

How can I get help with mapping?

While we’re unable to provide technical support for third-party software, we provide maps in a range of formats that can easily be converted using free tools to the Google-supported KML format. For example, you can convert SHP to KML using this free online converter.

Can you help me with an assignment?

We’re excited that you’re using open data for learning! While we can’t give you all of the answers (your teachers probably wouldn’t like that), we can certainly support you if you’re using open data as a student. If you have questions about a specific dataset, we recommend contacting the Data Publisher, listed in the left sidebar of every dataset. Visit the Knowledge Centre for articles and tutorials on how to work with open data for a wide range of technical skills.

Can you look up a record for me?

The Open Data team is committed to making City data available for anyone to access online. Due to time and resource constraints, we cannot accommodate requests to perform individual look-ups or queries for single data points or records available in an open data search. For help with filtering or searching within a single dataset for an individual record, please contact the Data Publisher listed on the dataset page.

Can I preview data before downloading it?

Some of our datasets are enabled with extended visualization capabilities! Please note that this feature is only available if the data set was uploaded to our CKAN datastore. We encourage every division to load their data directly from a source system so they can take advantage of special features like instant visualization.

I made something cool with open data! How can I share it?

From web apps to visualizations, Toronto’s open data is used to build some incredible tools, services, and projects. We’re lucky to have an engaged and diverse community, and we’re proud to show some of the best examples of where open data has been used to innovate solutions. Share what you’ve made with us on Twitter @open_to or via email at opendata@toronto.ca

Is personal information private?

The City complies with the freedom of information and privacy laws and will only be releasing public information layers. Every data set goes through a privacy lens before publishing to ensure it has met MFIPPA laws.

How are datasets selected for publishing?

Datasets are selected and released in accordance with Motion GL8.22 and by relevance to civic issues. Priority is given to data that is already being collected and digitized on the City’s website.

What are the licensing arrangements and restrictions for open data?

In accordance with our Open Data Policy and License, you can copy, redistribute, and use the material for any purpose, providing you give appropriate credit, include a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.

Can I use this data as a part of my business?

You sure can! Datasets are made freely available for anyone under the City’s Open Government License, which is based on version 1.0 of the Open Government Licence – Toronto. This licence allows worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, non-exclusive use of the City’s open datasets, for both commercial and non-commercial use.

How can I get more information about a dataset?

While every effort will be made to request the additional data, please keep in mind that divisions/agencies will not necessarily be asked to change their business methods to facilitate requests to collect new data but rather asked whether the data you’re requesting is already collected, in which case it may be added to the Open Data Portal. In some cases, you may need to submit an FOI request for more specific data or historical data that may not be available through our open data catalogue.

Can I request a specific dataset?

Feel free to contact us with your request by emailing opendata@toronto.ca or tweeting us at Open_TO. Please keep in mind that we have three initiatives that will prioritize the release of data sets requested. See civic issues campaign and committee Motion Gl.88.

You may also want to look up your question or request for data using the 311 knowledge base.

How do I publish a dataset on Toronto Open Data?

Drop us a line to opendata@toronto.ca and someone from the Open Data team will reach out with assistance within 2 business days.

How do I start an open data program?

Did you know that we release all of our code repositories under an open license, free of charge? A ton of our UX research, data science, and analytical documents is also available under a shared Google Drive folder. We thrive on giving back and enabling other cities to leverage our content and resources to help them get a head start. Feel free to reach out to us with your needs to gain access to our resources and please get in touch with us, we’d love to help. We’ll publish the link here soon.

I’m an educator. How do I bring open data into the classroom?

Invite us to your classroom! We’ve partnered with many schools along with teachers and students to help them use our data for final projects. Drop us a line opendata@toronto.ca and we can discuss further.

How do I open a specific file format?

We’re excited that you’re taking the plunge into open data! We’re assuming that you want to explore and/or work with the many open data files available in our data catalogue.

We aren’t officially endorsing anything as the “tool of choice” or “best tool”, etc, so your mileage may vary. That being said, we’re especially interested in ensuring that technical knowledge and price aren’t a factor when it comes to accessing our datasets. For this reason, we’ve published an article that shares how to work with some of the many file formats you’ll find on the portal: What the @#%! is a Shapefile?. Can’t find what you need? We suggest using Google and Stack Overflow to find your answer.

How do I download a dataset?

Start by searching on the open data portal. Once you find what you’re looking for, scroll down to the “Download” tab and select the format you’d like.

How do I report a problem with a file?

If you find a problem with a file, report it to us directly at opendata@toronto.ca. Please include the name of the dataset and a description of the problem. Please be sure to verify that you have the right software to open the data set before notifying us. We do not provide user support for the data.

How do I bring your data into Google or Apple Maps?

Unfortunately, we don’t provide user support for specific third party tools. We have different formats that can easily be converted to a Google Supported Format, like KML. You can find free converters online like SHP to KML Converter.

I have a question that isn’t covered here; what should I do?

We strive to answer all your questions within a 24 hour window. Please note that we are unable to answer questions outside of the scope of the open data portal. For questions about dataset subject matter, contact the division listed next to the dataset. For technical questions, we recommend using Google, Stack Overflow, or contacting the support team for the product or software you’re using.

What is a “Data Quality Score”?

It’s a rating system that gives you insight into how valuable a dataset could be without even opening it. It’s based on 5 dimensions – usability, metadata, freshness, completeness, and accessibility – each contributing a different weight to the final score.

Each dimension is measured with specific metrics, which are automated to ensure rapid and accurate scoring. You can read more about each metric and its calculation in this blog post.

We use a Bronze, Silver, and Gold medal system to quantify each dataset. You can also see the details of each score summary under the accordion “Data Quality”.

What is “Data Last Refreshed”?

“Data Last Refresh” refers to the most recent date our system checked for updates and applied changes to a dataset. It’s crucial to distinguish this from data accuracy. Even if data is refreshed, it doesn’t automatically imply accuracy. For instance, a dataset on yearly rainfall might be refreshed daily, but the rainfall values themselves are only updated annually. “Data Last Refresh” simply shows when we last checked and implemented any available updates, not the most recent or correctness of the data itself.

The “Refresh Rate” meta data refers to the agreed-upon frequency at which the dataset is updated by the data owners. This could be daily, weekly, monthly, annually, or ‘as needed’. This indicates the cycle for adding new data or revising existing data, ensuring users understand the timeline for updates and can gauge the dataset’s relevance and timeliness.

This is where you might see “Data will not be refreshed” as a refresh rate, which is clarified in the next question.

What’s the difference between a retired page and a page not refreshed?

The Open Data Toronto Policy aims to ensure that the data is managed and updated in a transparent and accountable manner. As part of our open data policy, the permanency principle is applied to dataset pages in order to maintain an open record of the data.

When it comes to the difference between a retired page and a page not refreshed, the distinction lies in the relevance and status of the data. A page with a “will not be refreshed” status in the frequency refresh rate indicates that the dataset will not receive any future updates. This could be due to various reasons, such as the data being from a one-time survey or the program associated with the data is no longer in operation. Although the data will not be updated, it remains relevant and available for users to access and analyze.

On the other hand, a retired page is one where the dataset is considered outdated or no longer valid for use. In this case, a note will be displayed on the page to inform users about the retirement and direct them to a more up-to-date dataset page for relevant information.

What is a “Data Type”?

A “Data Type” refers to the format or method in which the data is presented on the dataset package page.

“Document” refers to a static form of data often found in Word or Excel files.

“Map” denotes data presented in a Geographic Information System (GIS) format, which can be used to visualize and analyze geospatial information. Usually this data has coordinates in either Lat/Long or XY coordinate systems.

“Table” indicates that the data is organized in tabular form, often as a result of a direct connection to the source system, facilitating easy reading and analysis.

“Website” refers to a type where the user is redirected to an external website to download or view the raw data.

What is the “Civic Issue”?

“Civic Issues” are areas of significant importance that the city has identified as key focus points. In the context of Toronto Open Data, these civic issues, which currently include affordable housing, poverty reduction, fiscal responsibility, climate change, and mobility, guide the prioritization of dataset releases. If a dataset pertains to one of these civic issues, it is given priority for release, as these datasets align with the city’s strategic areas of focus and support data-driven decision making. Some datasets might not be related to any of the identified civic issues and are therefore not given any civic issue metadata.

What is “Topics”?

“Topics” represent the primary subject areas that each dataset package is associated with. They help users navigate the portal and locate relevant datasets. Current topic tags include “Locations and mapping”, “City government”, “Community services”, “Transportation”, “Public safety”, “Development and Infrastructure”, “Health”, “Finance”, “Environment”, “Business”, “Culture and tourism”, “Parks and recreation”, “Permits and licenses”, “Water”, “Garbage and recycling”, “Location and mapping” and “Development”. Each dataset is tagged with at least one of these topics, allowing for streamlined and focused searching.

What is “More Information” on each dataset page?

“More Information” refers to a URL or link that leads you to additional resources or context related to the specific dataset you are viewing. This could be documentation, an article, a report, a visual representation, or an application that uses the data.

What is a “License” in the context of Open Data?

A “License” in the context of Open Data refers to the legal framework that outlines how data from the Open Data portal can be used, reused, and distributed. The City of Toronto’s Open Data License allows you to freely copy, modify, publish, translate, and distribute the dataset, as long as you credit the City of Toronto as the original source.

What is “Published By” on a dataset page?

“Published By” refers to the division or department within the City of Toronto that is responsible for collecting, managing, organizing, and updating the specific dataset in the Open Data portal.

What is “Contact” on a dataset page?

The “Contact” section refers to the designated data owner who would be the best point of contact for any inquiries related to business processes, collection methods, or any other questions regarding the division or team that handles the data. The data owner is responsible for managing and maintaining the data and can provide more specific information about its origin, updates, and any relevant details. We recommend reaching out to the designated contact person/email listed for the dataset in question.

What are the “About” and “Limitations” sections of a dataset page?

The “About” section provides a brief description of the dataset that the data owner wants you to know before downloading it. It offers key details such as the dataset’s purpose, scope, and relevance. Some datasets may include a “Limitation” section that lists disclaimers and constraints associated with the data, ensuring transparency and helping users make informed decisions before downloading the data.

What is the “Data Preview” section?

The Data Preview table/chart/map section is a dedicated feature designed to provide users with a visual representation of the dataset they are viewing. Instead of manually downloading and opening the data to understand its contents, this preview section offers a quick glimpse into the data structure and content. These previews only contain a sample of the records in one of the dataset. It will likely not contain all records, depending on the data’s size. This feature is only present for “Table” or “Map” Data Types. These previews only contain a sample of the records in one of the dataset. It will likely not contain all records, depending on the data’s size.

The preview can come in the form of:

Table: A tabulated representation that organizes data into rows and columns, allowing for an easy scan of the data points and their respective categories.

Map: For geospatial datasets, a map preview provides a spatial visualization, showing where particular data points are located geographically.

What is the “Data Features” section?

The “Data Features” section outlines the specific attributes or columns in a dataset, accompanied by definitions. Essentially, it’s a quick guide to the dataset’s components and their meanings. This feature is only present for “Table” or “Map” Data Types. It will only be populated when definitions have been provided by the data owner.You will find a readme file attached to the data to better explain the features/column descriptions.

What is the “Download” data section?

The “Download” data section provides users with a direct link or option to obtain the dataset in its entirety. It allows for easy access to the data in a usable format, enabling users to save, analyze, or integrate it into their own analysis or applications.

If the data was provided to us through a source system connection, this feature will provide users with the ability to select a number of data formats to download the data with. They are, but not limited to: SHP, XML, CSV, GEOPACKAGE, GEOJSON and two different projections: WGS84 and MTM10.

Upon downloading the files, this might prompt the user to save the files onto their desktop or any location desired.

What is “Explore Data” section?

The “Explore Data” feature allows users to interactively view and analyze a dataset directly within the platform. Instead of just downloading the data, users can:

  • View it in tabular form.
  • Create basic visualizations like charts or maps, if applicable.
  • Filter or search specific records.
  • Inspect the data’s structure and contents at a glance.
  • It’s essentially a tool that offers a hands-on approach to understanding the data before deciding to download or use it further