ALBERTA

Alberta's Open Data Portal Puts Raw Data Online For Study, Business

05/28/2013 04:38 EDT | Updated 07/28/2013 05:12 EDT
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EDMONTON - Who knew that compared with the rest of Canada, Alberta is a Y chromosome extravaganza, with 101 men for every 100 women?

Or that there were six cases of mumps in 2012, that 19 per cent of Alberta men say they binge drink, and that we share the road with more than 3,000 licensed drivers aged 90 or over?

And that in Alberta, Big Tobacco isn't giving up without a fight. In the last decade the number of men who smoke has remained steady at 20 per cent.

The data is among the reams of charts, graphs and searchable tables launched Tuesday by the Alberta government for intrepid researchers and entrepreneurs to either learn from or spin into commercial gold.

Service Alberta Minister Manmeet Bhullar said the service is called the Open Data Portal.

"The portal marks a new beginning in the way the provincial government shares data," Bhullar announced at the offices of a business consulting company in downtown Edmonton.

"It provides Albertans with a single access point for all publicly available provincial government data."

Bhullar said it's not only a responsible move but one that can help Alberta keep a step ahead.

"In our digital landscape, data is a very, very powerful resource, one that can unleash enormous social and economic innovation," he said.

"Governments collect a wealth of data on behalf of Albertans and today we are opening the door for that data to Albertans."

There are already more than 280 data sets on the portal — found at http://data.alberta.ca — with more to come once they are vetted to make sure they don't violate privacy rules or proprietary rights.

Albertans can also request data sets be made available.

The charts already online cover a range of tables from drivers' licences to health surveys and numbers on which post-secondary school handed out the most parchments in 2012.

Among the items, the 101-100 man-woman ratio in Alberta, compared with 96 men per 100 women Canada-wide.

Other factoids already online include:

(Text for mobile users below)

9 Facts About Alberta Revealed By Open Data Portal

— Nineteen per cent of men call themselves binge drinkers by having five or more drinks at a time at least twice a month. That's compared with eight per cent for women.

— Bike helmets have a long way to go. Forty per cent of males say they rarely or never use the lids compared with 33 per cent of females.

— The percentage of female smokers has dropped slightly in the last decade, from 18 per cent to 14 per cent.

— More than 35,000 Albertans went to the emergency room for a sports injury last year; three-quarters of those patients were men.

— Alberta's population is pushing four million and is expected to come close to six million by 2042.

— When it comes to freedom of information requests, nothing can touch the environment. In the last five years, the number of access requests on water and environment annually hit about 1,000, compared with 50 or less in every other department or public body. Most of the environment requests were tossed out, by the way, because of non-existent records.

— The University of Alberta remains the Big Daddy of the mortar boards. The institution handed out 8,487 parchments in 2011-12, about 25 per cent more than the University of Calgary and four times that of the University of Lethbridge.