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October 28, 2017 12:06 am

City Improves Access to Information

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 @ 10:45 AM

Prince George, B.C. – In a bid to ensure transparency, the City of Prince George has opened a new open data portal on its website.

The aim is to give citizens easier access to information through what city hall is calling “a new, easy-to-use interface.”

Along with improving transparency, it’s being touted as a way to provide “aid for future economic development opportunities.”

The data is free and can be accessed by all devices including phones, tablets and desktops.

The City says the first data sets included in the portal were selected based on the following factors:

High levels of public interest in specific reports/data
Currently available reports on www.princegeorge.ca
Review of other municipal open data catalogs
Interviews with staff to identify high volume data requests

Some of the types of information available in the portal include city staff compensation over $75k, active business licenses, active building permits, active development permits, and awarded contracts and suppliers over $25k.

The City’s IT Services started developing the program last fall in order to support the City’s 2016-2018 Corporate Plan.

To access the portal, click here.


I consider myself rather computer savvy. I went to this site, which is very difficult to find from the City of PG’s webpage, and I had so much trouble trying to maneuver through it that I finally just gave up. On top of that, the information that I did find (Council Salary) was outdated. I don’t normally complain about this sort of thing, but this page is HORRIBLE! It’s hard to be transparent with information if people can’t even find the information to begin with.

    I thought is was some high school kid’s project. I wonder if he got an A?

      Think the kids woulda done a better job.

    City salaries report as well as Council is actually not outdated. It is 2014. That is the latest available. The 2015 data set has to be reported out sometime in May/June, I believe.

    Other than that, I am 100% with you.

    I think the salary is a good example that shows that a very short intro is required on each dataset why the dates are what they are. Some people may actually think that they are almost instantaneous.

    There needs to be an educational component to this.

    Where is our communication guru Rob vA on this. It is the type of thing he should be involved with to test drive it before it goes public!!!

Just typed in my address, ended up in Maryland USA.

    I allowed by my location GPS data to be viewed by the site and ended up three houses over. That is about as good as it can get for accuracy.

Just navigated the site some links work some don’t lots of information parced down to area information and unless you know how to read it most makes little or no sense to the average user. Fortunately I understand most of it but still have to take time and read it properly

    I am 100% with you one this.

    What I am starting to get suspicious about is the number of thumbs down votes. I am not a conspiracy theorist, far from it, but it makes me wonder if city staff or associated parties are influencing the count.

So, if I’m not a computer geek (which I’m VERY NOT!) I’m out of luck!! that’s not transparency!! there’s another word which I won’t say. the initials are BS

    I agree that this site is too early to have gone public. Then again, if this is how it is going to continue, it does not look like it is going to accomplish much.

    I spent 10 minutes there trying to find something on water quality testing. Nothing popped up. Hopefully it is just because the site is in its early stages. I searched under “water test” … no dataset found … under fluoride, he same result. Under chlorine, one result … what a clear well is.

    I use the PGMap site to look up map based information about once a month on average. So far, what I am getting is information that has been taken from PGMap GIS system and it has been duplicated in a different format on the new site. Some of the layers on PGMap seem to not have been available to the public. So now we can see where all the gate valves, butterfly valves, plugs, etc are on the sanitary infrastructure are. Something for engineering techs working on built projects in the city. The average individual interested in the operation of the city want different information than that. I see none of that so far.

    Here, btw, is the license that users of the site agree to by using the site.

    There is definitely nothing user friendly about this site …. Hopefully it is just “so far” and not forever.

    Again, if they wanted a more user friendly interface between the general public and the data that they are willing to make public ….. THIS IS NOT IT!!!!!

Can we see who is managing this operation and the experience he/she presents to this type of project?

It is the worst start up site I have seen in my life.

I think the problem the general public is facing is contained in this sentence on the opening page of the site.

“Open Data Prince George is the City of Prince George’s official Open Data portal. Launched in 2009, the portal contains hundreds of city data sets.”

It looks to me what we have been presented with a hybrid of an internal centralized data portal which has been available in this format since 2009. It was intended to be used by employees for their areas of specialty. I am sure that they all received some sort of introductory training on the use of it and, ideally, will likely have had input into its menu structure/interface.

The problem now is that without some better intro page that gives that sort of context and provides people with instructions on how to maneuver through the site, it is getting the reaction it is on here.

First thing that is missing in my view??…..

1. Folks, this is an early version of where we are going
2. it has been used by technical staff and consultants up to now.
3. we need you feedback of how well it is working for you.
4. Please let us know at least one thing you like about the site
5. Please let us know one thing you do not like about the site
6. how would you go about changing that one thing.
7. what were you looking for that you could not find.

I’m with gopg2015. It looks like this site provides public access to the city’s Geographical Information System. That makes a lot of information available, in sophisticated ways, but you have to know how to use it. For planners, researchers, and others who know how to use such systems, this is a big step forward.

There are links to documentation and to an introduction to help the uninitiated. Some people will be able to use the system after consulting these. Others will need to take a GIS course, or won’t be able to use this system.

Some of the information no doubt should be made available in ways that are easier for the average person to use, but that’s another step. From what I’ve seen so far, this site does not deserve the criticism that it has received.

    To clarify, I disagree with gopg2015’s criticisms but we seem to be largely in agreement as to the nature of the site.

      I do not know whether you have been using PGMap. For City hard infrastructure assets as well as topo, aerial imagery from 1993 onward census, floodplains, ecology, cadastre, admin. Areas, OCP, census blocks, assessed values, etc. PGMap has been there for around a decade with various levels of public access over time. The interface portal is located at

      The new site has a different portal, located at “data.cityofpg.opendata.arcgis.com” and what is presented there is a different interface to the same data map based data.

      Essentially what I am doing is when I go there, I am learning how to use a new interface to much of the same data that has been available through PGMap. Both interfaces are still accessible through two different portals.

      Here is the problem as I see it. The functional literacy of the average person who uses a computer for emails, reading the news, visiting friends on the so-called social media, finding which restaurants to go to, when stores are open, doing banking on line, etc. – in other words, an individual who is within a spectrum of the abilities of people who use computers and the internet on a daily basis – will likely not have the same functionality with an interface which is geared to data that is presented in a geographic relational database for data which is not primarily geographically related.

      In my humble opinion, an individual like that, an individual who I believe is more the average individual, needs a different interface. To me, it as simple as that.

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