Frequently Asked Questions

What is Open Data?

Our formal definition is - data that has undergone an Open Data Assessment, meets the requirements included in this “Policy”, and is listed in the Open Data Catalogue. Such Open Data is then made available to the public for copying, publishing, distribution, transmission and adaptation under the terms of the Open Government Licence. More simply put, governments collect a lot of data and there is a movement underway that advocates for governments to share this data in a downloadable format that users can manipulate as they see fit and hopefully generate economic and social value. Open data also speaks to governments being more open and transparent and improves dialogue in the community.


What is the City of Saint John’s Open Data Initiative?

In the fall of 2013, Saint John Common Council resolved that all city departments and Agencies, Boards and Commissions (ABC’s) be engaged to develop an Open Data Policy. A cross functional project team formed to undertake this task and spent much of 2014, conducting research and engagement initiatives, working with community partners, attending conferences, participating in webinars and liaising with a peer learner – the City of Edmonton. In early 2015, Common Council approved a draft open data policy along with a governance structure and license agreement and authorized the implementation of a pilot open data portal. City staff will report to Council in early 2016 with an assessment of costs and benefits associated with a recommended permanent open data program. Follow the links in our Resources section for more information.


How were the first datasets selected for release by the City of Saint John?

A 2014 Open Data Summit held in Vancouver produced a list of most desired municipal datasets – many of which were land centric. The City’s initial offering was also based on the opportunity to offer many of the GIS datasets for free that were traditionally available for a charge. It is the City’s intention to continue to work with stakeholders to identify additional datasets. You can suggest a dataset by clicking here.


What are the terms of use?

Our license is based on Version 2.0 of the Open Government Licence – Canada, which was developed through public consultation and a collaborative effort by the federal government and some provincial governments. The adoption of this license is consistent with best practices in other municipalities.


Why do I have to accept the licence agreement each time I attempt to download a dataset?

The City is being cookie friendly by not placing a small text file on an internet user’s hard drive. Websites use cookies for different reasons such as to remember a user’s preference, monitor web surfing, target for marketing, etc. The City is not using this web portal for such purposes. Accepting the license agreement each time also helps to ensure that the terms of use are understood.


How can I submit ideas for datasets?

Please click here to submit an idea for future dataset, or email us at


Will personal information be at risk?

No, the datasets that are available through the Open Data Catalogue have undergone an assessment and meet the requirements outlined in the policy.


How will I learn about engagement initiatives, improvements or updates to the City’s Open Data Program?

Please see the resource section for news and new datasets, other important information may be listed on the City’s homepage. Please email opendata@saintjohn.ca for any general inquiries.


What software is required to view the datasets?

The datasets offered in the catalogue are in various file formats. These formats result from their original data source platforms and provide for ease of manipulation.
The following table provides guidance on what software is used for a specific file format.

 Excel (XLS, XLSX) Microsoft Office Excel
 PDF PDF viewer software (i.e. Adobe Reader)
 JPEG, JPG, TIFF, GIF, BMP Image viewer software (i.e. Windows Photo Viewer)
 Esri Shapefile GIS software program (i.e. ArcExplorer)