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Breaking Through Canada's Data Wall

Disclaimer - I'm an American who is just dipping his toe in the waters of open data and transparency issues in Canada - I welcome input from those more informed :-)

After releasing our "Guide to Nonprofit Mapping" last week, we quickly got inquiries from countries outside the US seeking localized and translated versions (which is underway! :-).  While exchanging emails with some colleagues in Canada, I started researching the availability of Canadian data sources.  First, I tried to find the Canadian equivalent to the US federal government site, a repository of publicly available data from executive branch agencies in the US government (the UK has a similar site,  The closest thing I could find after some cursory searching was the website for Statistics Canada (StatCan) the official government body tasked as Canada's central statistical agency.

Africa Map: Browse and Explore African Datasets

picture layer in Africa MapThe Africa Map project, currently in beta, is an online map and data viewer created by Harvard University.  The map combines data sets of numerous categories from a wide variety of sources, allowing thematic maps to be viewed and explored.  The purposes of the project, according to the project web site:

  1. Interact with the best available public data for Africa
  2. See the whole of Africa yet also zoom in to particular places
  3. Accumulate both contemporary and historical data supplied by researchers and make it permanently accessible online
  4. Work collaboratively across disciplines and organizations with spatial information about Africa in an online environment

Interactive Map of US County Public Health Statistics

screenshot of County Health Rankings siteA new website called County Health Rankings analyzes public health statistics for each county in the US, creating state-by-state reports of the healthiest counties.  The website, a joint project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, analyzes healh factors (statistics about disease incidence, tobacco use, etc.) and health outcomes (such as life expectancy) to create county-by-county rankings of each state.  These rankings are then mapped for each state, using Flash-based Fusion Maps software (not free/open source) so that users can drill down to access county-level data.

Accessibility Maps

While working on the MapRoots project lately, I built a set of icons to represent accessibility resources on a map: Braille placards, TTY/TTD devices, wheelchair-accessible buildings, etc.  (You can download the icons here :)

When I started researching this part of the project, I came across various examples of accessibility maps created by cities and organizations - I thought some of these were worth sharing.

Accessibility Icon Set #1 Release for Drupal.Gmap

As part of our work on the Maproots prototype, we've been adding custom Google Map markers that might be useful in a community mapping context.  Today we're releasing a 10-marker set of accessibility icons, along with the required marker.ini file for drop-in implementation on any site using Drupal's Gmaps module.

contact strip of accessibility icons