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Yukon gov't launches 'open data' website

The government-run website contains 1,200 data sets, but none with personal information, says the director of E-Services.

The government-run site contains 1,200 data sets on topics such as education, labour and crime

Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn says the government data website brings access to information in the territory into the 21st century. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)

The Yukon's minister of public works says the government's new "open data" website is bringing access to territorial information into the 21st century.

Richard Mostyn said open.yukon.ca, which launched on Tuesday, makes it easier for Yukoners to learn "just about everything" about the territory.

The website, he said, "liberates reams of valuable information that has for decades been locked in the filing cabinets and antiquated servers of this government, and it makes it available to Yukoners in a useful format." 

The site contains 1,200 data sets produced by the Yukon government on topics from labour to education to crime.

But the government continues to be the gatekeeper of territorial data. 

Deputy ministers have the final say on what gets published on the site and what doesn't, said Mark Burns, director of E-Services at the territorial government.

"We wouldn't want to cause harm by making data available, so there are guidelines around that," he said. "But our intention is to make more data available across the spectrum." 

Mark Burns, director of E-Services at the Yukon government, said the website doesn't have personal or third-party information. (Dave Croft/CBC News)

Burns said personal and third-party information will be protected. 

"It doesn't include medical records, or education records, or anything that could personally identify an individual," he said.

The online information archive is not entirely comprehensive. 

A keyword search for "school," for example, produced three results, two of which were based on data from the 2001 census. 

The site took about two years to build and cost $250,000, said Burns. 

He said there will be one full-time-equivalent employee assigned to manage the website, and he expects the site will be expanded over time.

"In order for democracy to work and in order for good government to work, it's important that people have information about what's going on with their government," said Burns.

"Open data ... is the raw material that people can use to make up their own minds, formulate their own opinions, do their own analysis, and understand what's going on with the government."

Written by Sidney Cohen based on reporting by Dave Croft

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