Curating Open Government Data at the City of Toronto

Nathan Moles


Governments throughout the world are releasing public-sector information as open data. Open Government Data (OGD) released in this way consist of structured datasets derived from information originally created or collected as part of the administration’s regular business functions, the management of services to the public, and to inform decision-making. These publicly-released datasets play a crucial role in open government initiatives, foster innovation, and generate insights through a range of activities that include data mining, remixing, mashups, visualizations, and combining OGD with other data.

This diversity of use, and the viability of OGD for specific purposes, is directly influenced by the curation processes that shape these datasets and lead to their release. The realities of managing digital information necessitate curatorial processes of selection, preparation, representation, and quality assurance to ensure a usable information product. Actions and decisions within this process affect the ability of the data to contribute to openness in government and function as part of political, economic, technological, and innovational objectives.

Drawing from dissertation research that explores the open data operations at the City of Toronto, this presentation will outline progress made to date in defining OGD curation processes and how they are structured, in terms of the participants involved and their relationships. This research provides a window on to highly consequential business processes often ignored by academia and assumed to be straightforward and simplistic by the broader open data community. The objectives of the larger dissertation project and the placement of this work within it will be discussed, as will the expected contributions to the field.


Nathan Moles is a PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto. He holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Information from the University of Toronto and is a graduate of the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation at George Eastman Museum. His research interests are in the area of digital curation and preservation. In 2013, Moles was involved in the DigCurV project, and from 2015 to 2016 he was a research assistant on the BenchmarkDP project.