Cobalt and the case for open data

Third party app developers

There’s a reason why governments are pushing their open data initiatives, and it has to do with what happens when you make data available to people outside of parliament.

Research and data analyses

One of the more compelling things open data can do for us comes from data science and research. Last year, the City of Toronto hosted Traffic Jam, a hackathon targeted towards using open data to build solutions to Toronto’s notorious traffic problems. This is a brilliant example of what easily accessible data for the masses can do for us.

Historical datasets

As it is right now, when a new school year’s data is published, the previous year’s data becomes inaccessible to the public. Keeping historical datasets solve this; all of Cobalt’s datasets have a full history tracking every change that has ever happened to the data since its inception. This can lead to the finding of stronger regressions and can surface patterns that a single dataset just can’t do.

We still have a long way to go

This is only the first phase of what Cobalt and other university open data initiatives can become. In an ideal world, our data doesn’t have to be scraped with a high level of difficulty; it should be given in a machine readable format by the institutions themselves.

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