Oilsands Information Portal

The Alberta Government announced a new portal to be "a one-window source for information on the environmental impacts of oil sands." A brief review.


  1. The portal can be found here; it will open with a description which says in part:  "The portal focuses on the cumulative effects of development in the oil sands region and looks at Air, Water, Land, Climate Change, Wildlife, and Conservation."  "The data library is a searchable data repository. The data library provides reports, static images, links, graphs and tables." 
  2. A number of news organizations carried stories about the release of this new portal:
  3. And, the new Minister of the Environment provided leadership for the release of this information:
  4. The new portal was generally well received in the twitterverse -- seen as a good step forward in transparency.
  5. The Minister's account clarified the data here was always accessible; it is the ease of access that is improved.
  6. Last night, a tweet came identifying the potential for using the portal's data for a hackathon -- which I understand would result in the development of apps to utilize the data:
  7. I noted for people the questions that have arisen regarding the quality of the data:
  8. But, I also realized I hadn't looked closely at the portal.  What data is actually there?
    When you start to link in to get some of the data, you find this truly is a portal -- the data does not all reside here but it integrates from others.  For example, when you use the map to pull up water flows on the Athabasca, you get the Environment Canada data warehouse:
  9. And, looking for water quality data, you are given access to the RAMP datasets:
  10. which has seen more than it's fair shair of criticism.  e.g.  
  11. When you look into the data library, you certainly do find there are a large number of reports, analyses, etc. that have been prepared (mostly by government agencies, government contractors and industry (required submissions and otherwise.)  

    It is certainly a step forward for access to the available reports etc.  I am not sure it enables individuals to more readily utilize the underlying data to develop their own analysis or conclusions.  I am not sure it will support a 'hackathon' as I understand them -- it isn't a data source per se.

  12. The article in today's Edmonton Journal speaks to what is really needed to ultimately support a hackathon:  the planned monitoring improvements promised by two levels of government need to be moved from planning to action.