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Frequently Asked Questions

All data in the Open Data Catalogue is provided and maintained by Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) staff. The municipal government considers this the authoritative data.

1. What is open data?
2. What is the HRM Open Data Administrative Order?
3. What are the terms of use?
4. How do I download from the Open Data Catalogue?
5. Does Halifax Transit offer technical support for GTFS to the Developer Community (third-party developers)?
6. Why can’t I read some datasets?
7. What is a shapefile?
8. How frequently is data updated?
9. What is the difference between maintenance frequency and refresh frequency in the metadata?

10.

I reported an error and it still hasn’t been fixed.

 

 
1.

What is open data?

Open data is the philosophy and practice of providing provide some of the municipally-generated data to the public in a machine-readable format, without the restrictions of copyright, patent, or other control mechanisms.

It enables entrepreneurs, academics, community groups, other learning communities, developers, and interested citizens to use data to improve the social experience and stimulate economic growth by developing data applications.

Open data is most commonly released as structured data, including:

  • geographic data
  • operational data
  • statistics
  • financial data

 
2.

What is the HRM Open Data Administrative Order?

The HRM Open Data Administrative Order is a piece of legislation that enables the municipality to open up the doors on its data and make that data available to anyone and everyone, with no control mechanisms to limit its use and reuse.

 
3.

What are the terms of use?

The Halifax Open Data Catalogue has adopted the Common Open Government License (OGL). This brings Halifax in line with the direction recommended by the Canadian federal government and the current global open data movement, making our data even more open and keeping the license simple and clear.

 
4.

How do I download from the Open Data Catalogue?

Data is offered for download in several ways. The data can be downloaded as shapefiles or KML for GIS applications and as CSV for tables and spreadsheets. Additionally, by using the API option, data from this site can be interfaced in other applications using the GeoServices REST or the GeoJSON specifications.

 
5.

Does Halifax Transit offer technical support for GTFS to the Developer Community (third-party developers)?

Unfortunately, we do not have the resources. Google does provide detailed documentation for GTFS (https://developers.google.com/transit/gtfs/reference/). Developers may also post questions to the Google Transit Data Feed Developer's Group (https://groups.google.com/groups/googletransitdatafeed). Issues with the actual content of the data provided should be reported to 311.

 
6.

Why can’t I read some datasets?

The datasets are machine-readable, which means that you sometimes need a special program like ArcGIS Explorer  to view the files.

 
7.

What is a shapefile?

The Esri shapefile, or simply a shapefile, is a popular geospatial data format for geographic information system software. It is developed and regulated by Esri as an open specification for data interoperability among Esri and other geospatial software products.

Or, put plainly: shapefiles spatially describe features like points, lines, and polygons to represent features such as buildings, topography, or roads. Each item usually has attributes that describe it, such as name or size.

 
8.

How frequently is data updated?

The data is updated on a weekly basis where the data is being constantly maintained. Certain datasets like the LiDAR DEM or the Pre-Amalgamation Boundaries are static and therefore do not need to be updated. Data is normally refreshed on the Halifax Open Data site every Monday morning.   Periodically there may be delays due to maintenance.

Halifax Transit GTFS real-time data is updated every 15 seconds. The static data is updated every three months.

 
9.

What is the difference between maintenance frequency and refresh frequency in the metadata?

Maintenance frequency refers to how often the dataset is updated in its source environment, whereas refresh frequency is how often the dataset is updated on the Open Data site.

 
10.

I reported an error and it still hasn’t been fixed.

The time to investigate a potential data error can vary depending on the nature of the data. The issue will remain in our log until it is either resolved or closed.