Common questions about Halifax’s open data

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

The datasets do not contain any personal information.

What is open data?

Open data is the philosophy and practice of providing 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  applications.

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

  • geographic data
  • scheduling
  • statistics
  • demographic data

What is the Halifax 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.

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.

How do I download from the Open Data Catalogue?

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.

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

Unfortunately, Halifax Transit does not have the resources. Google does provide detailed documentation for GTFS. Developers may also post questions to the Google Transit Data Feed Developer's Group.  Issues with the actual content of the data provided should be reported to 311.

Why can’t I read some datasets?

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

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.

ArcGIS Explorer is a free viewer that can read shapefiles.

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 at 4 am. Periodically there may be delays due to maintenance.

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.

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.