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Coquitlam city hall opens its books with launch of new data portal

Today (July 14), the city launched its Coquitlam Open Data portal, a website that has more than 120 datasets for users to play with — for free.
open data screen shot
A screenshot from a mobile device of the new Coquitlam Open Data portal, which launched July 14.

Coquitlam residents, businesses and groups that want to find new and old maps, reports and photos of the city can now tap into one online source.

Today (July 14), the city launched its Coquitlam Open Data portal, a website that has more than 120 datasets for users to play with — for free.

For example, viewers can check out where the off-leash dog parks are in the city, review budgets and see aerial images dating back to the 1960s.

As well, there’s information about utilities, streets, property boundaries, transportation, Wi-Fi locations, the environment and neighbourhoods.

In the past, specific information had to be requested through city staff.

As the portal evolves, more user-friendly material will be added to the platform by the Open Data working group; that team is responsible for what city information can be published and when.

Nikki Caulfield, general manager of corporate services, told the city’s council-in-committee last month that there are no extra costs as the portal is included within her department’s existing software licensing operating budget.

And she wrote in her report that users trying to get municipal data “has become ever more important in a post-COVID-19 world, as expectations around access to enhanced online services and information have continued to increase.”

Danny Bandiera, Coquitlam’s manager of information and communication technology, said the Open Data portal has a similar search engine as the city’s website; however, the new portal is easier to navigate for metadata.

No personal information is being stored on the portal, he told councillors.

Coun. Steve Kim, who owns a communications firm, applauded civic staff for gathering the data into a central location during the pandemic while Coun. Trish Mandewo said the portal will be well-used as a research tool.

“I’m quite happy that we’re going this route because data is key,” she told the committee.

Still, Mandewo questioned its name, suggesting the title "Coquitlam Open Data" might be “misleading…. There are lots of resources for residents. We want them to utilize it.”

Mayor Richard Stewart said the portal has many functions and layers, and should be shared widely. “I would hate to see stuff that’s available to folks that they don’t even know about that might make their lives easier, their professions easier,” he said. “It might drive some curiosity about their community as well.”

Open data portals are common with local governments in Metro Vancouver.

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