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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Table of Contents


WHO’S WHO AT DATABC

Technical Support regarding DataBC products and services

  • (250) 952-6801
  • NRSApplications@gov.bc.ca
  • https://apps.nrs.gov.bc.ca/int/jira/servicedesk/customer/portals

The following is a list of DataBC groups with direction on their areas of expertise and who to contact when you need assistance and clarification.

Data Discovery Services

Data Publication Services

Location Services

Map Services

Data Requests

  • When you’re looking for data that is not found in the BC Data Catalogue or BC Geographic Warehouse, submit a DataBC - Data Request form.

DataBC

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DATA PUBLICATION LICENSING OPTIONS - OPEN DATA/ACCESS ONLY

What is Open Data and what is the difference between Open Data and “Access Only” public data?

The following sections will help explain the difference between Open Data and Access Only public data.

What does Open Data mean?

  • Open Data is the idea that some data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control” - Wikipedia

What does Access Only mean?

  • For the reproduction of materials found in the BC Data Catalogue, either a licence agreement (as specified in the BC Data Catalogue) will apply, or the materials are Access Only and reproduction is not permitted without written permission.
  • To request permission, please complete the Copyright Permission Request Form.
    • If a licence agreement applies, permission is subject to the terms of the specified licence.
  • Crown copyright is a form of copyright claim used by the governments of a number of Commonwealth realms. It provides special copyright rules for the Crown, i.e. government departments and (generally) state entities - Wikipedia.
  • You can find information about Crown Copyright on this BC Government website.

Why should I consider publishing data under an open data licence?

  • Licensing data as Open increases the likelihood that the public will benefit from the data, either directly or by using applications that can use the data.
  • As explained on this site, licensing data as Open increases transparency, improves public service and increases efficiency, and contributes to innovation and public service.

Can all data be licensed as Open?

How do I publish data as Open Data?

  • Datasets, under the Intellectual Property of the Province of B.C., may be eligible to be licensed under the Open Government Licence - British Columbia (OGL-BC).
  • To license a dataset as Open Data you will need to contact multiple people to authorize the dataset to be made available under the OGL-BC. The Assessment and Checklist document includes the following resources (plus others):
  • Data can be licensed under OGL-BC after:
    • The authorizations described above have been made, and the Assessment and Checklist has been signed off from your Deputy Minister or designated alternate.
    • The dataset is made available in an open format, e.g., CSV, Shape File (SHP), JSON.
      • Additional formats are noted in the OCIO’s Open Data Physical Dataset Format Standard.
      • Note that the DataBC Data Distribution facilities automatically make downloadable data available in open formats. Regardless of licence, people uploading data in proprietary formats (e.g., Excel) directly to the BC Data Catalogue are encouraged to provide datasets in an open data format (e.g., csv) as well.
    • A BC Data Catalogue (BCDC) metadata record for the dataset, linking to the appropriate Open Data Licence, has been created.
      • To obtain an account for the BCDC, approval from the dataset’s Data Custodian is required; the custodian may be a Director or Executive Director of the Branch responsible for maintaining the dataset.

Are there restrictions on how data licensed under OGL-BC can be used?

How do I publish data as Open Data if I am a Crown Corporation or BC Agency?

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METADATA RECORDS AND THE BC DATA CATALOGUE

How do I publish Metadata Records in the BC Data Catalogue as a Crown Corp or BC Agency?

  • As a member of the Broader Public Sector (BPS) you may manage your own holdings within the BC Data Catalogue.
  • To start this process, send an email to Data@gov.bc.ca with the subject line Dataset Publication as a Crown Corp or BC Agency Request and provide as much detail as possible.

How do I get authorization to publish records in the BC Data Catalogue?

  • To obtain an account to publish and manage data and metadata records for data, applications and services, approval from the Custodian is required. The custodian may be a Director or Executive Director of a Branch.
  • Please send the request and the custodian’s approval to: datacat@gov.bc.ca.

How do I change the contact name recorded for a dataset when that contact has moved to a different role or retired?

  • We do require that each Catalogue record have a way to contact the business area for further questions or access.
  • The custodian of the dataset can authorize one or more people to be editors of their records.
    • These editors can then change the contact information.
    • Requests to have editors set up for BC Data Catalogue access can be sent by the custodian to datacat@gov.bc.ca.

Can I do bulk changes to Catalogue records?

  • Bulk changes are when over 20 records need the same action, e.g.,
    • Change a contact from one person to another
    • Change a resource or more information link to a new URL
    • Change a record from one state to another, e.g., Pending Archive to Archive or push a Published record back to Draft.
  • Requests such as these can be sent to: datacat@gov.bc.ca.

How do I add/updated descriptions or short names of fields at the bottom of a metadata record for data in the BCGW?

  • These field descriptions and short names (for Shapefiles) all come from the BC Geographic Warehouse system metadata.
  • To update these, we require the object name, field name and the new definition for the Description or Short Name.
    • If there are multiple datasets or a large number of columns, we can prepare an export to use.
  • This request then be sent to: DataBC.DA@gov.bc.ca

Why would I just upload a tabular dataset to the BC Data Catalogue instead of publishing it to the BCGW?

  • As an alternative to publishing to the BCGW, tabular datasets (CSV, text files, and Excel spreadsheets) smaller than 150MB can be uploaded directly to the Data Catalogue.

  • The following table summarizes the benefits of each of the two options:

Feature BC Data Catalogue BC Geographic Warehouse
Has a metadata record in the BC Data Catalogue Yes Yes
Datasets can be downloaded in their entirety Yes Yes
Datasets can be downloaded by specified area No Yes
Datasets larger than 150 MB can be stored No Yes
Datasets can be uploaded/stored free of charge Yes Sometimes
Datasets can be secured for viewing or download by only named users No Yes
Datasets will be available in BC Map Hub No Yes
Datasets will be permanent layers in iMapBC and the Layer Library No Yes
Datasets will be available through WMS/WFS services No Yes
  • Use the Dashboard (speedometer icon on the top right of the menu bar) to:
    • view a feed of the last 15 actions you have taken
    • view datasets that you have created
    • view the Organization(s) and Sub-Organization(s) that you belong to
    • view the Unpublished datasets within your Sub-Organization(s)
  • Search for your name in the Catalogue search bar to view datasets that you have either created or where you are listed as a contact.

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IMAPBC AND LAYER LIBRARY LAYER PRESENTATIONS

How do I update a presentation (layer file) for my dataset?

  • A custodian business area representative can import the layer file from the Layer Library available via:
    • the TSAT toolbar available in ArcMap on the GTS ArcGIS Desktop, or
    • the Layer Library folder directly (must have read access) to load into ArcMap
      • If this is not available to you, the layer file can be sent to you.
    • Make the changes, as per the Layer Presentation Standards documentation
    • Submit, via email, the new layer file to DataBC.DA@gov.bc.ca with subject line Presentation Layer File Update and attach the layer file with supporting details.

How do I update an existing permanent presentation in iMapBC that is not my data?

  • Every presentation is authored by the custodial business area, therefore it is up to them to decide how they would like to proceed.
  • This can be done by contacting the business area listed on the contact of the datasets metadata record.
  • They will then follow the process shown in the above question.
  • A presentation can be changed during an iMapBC session.

How can I request a new alternate/subset presentation of data that is not mine?

How do I arrange for my data to become a permanent layer in iMapBC?

  • DataBC hosts iMapBC as a service for data residing in the BCGW.

How do I get my data into WMS/WFS?

  • DataBC hosts WMS/WFS as a service for data residing in the BCGW.

ARCGIS ONLINE (aka AGO, B.C.’s MAP HUB)

How do I get my data into B.C.’s Map Hub (the Province’s cloud instance of ArcGIS Online) ?

  • There are two ways:
    1. Public datasets published to the BC Geographic Warehouse are all made available in ArcGIS Online (BC Map Hub as part of the BC Geographic Warehouse - Publication Workflow.
      1. These datasets are stored in the BC Geographic Warehouse, published as web services and registered as items in B.C.’s Map Hub. These services can then be used in any ArcGIS Online web map (or used by other web mapping platforms that can consume ESRI rest services).
      2. In some cases we may replicate BCGW layers to ArcGIS Online; the data is hosted in ArcGIS Online and updated from data sources on a regular schedule to keep it current. These “hosted layers” can then be used in any ArcGIS Online web map (or used by other web mapping platforms that can consume ESRI rest services). This is a pattern typically chosen for layers that may see high traffic periods that need to leverage ArcGIS Online’s scalability to meet high traffic demand.
    2. You may also upload datasets yourself to ArcGIS Online.
      1. Prior to hosting data in AGO, consider if the data is already available via the public BCGW layers. If it is already available, do your best to avoid publishing a duplicate layer. Hosting data in AGO consumes AGO service credits. If you choose to host data in AGO, make a habit of understanding the size of the feature layer and potential draw on service credits. B.C.’s Map Hub has an annual allocation of service credits shared by all users of the service. If we exceed the annual allocation additional service credits must be purchased – the cost of purchased service credits will be passed on to the users of the credits. The size of a hosted feature layer is listed on its item details page. For information on what uses service credits in AGO see https://doc.arcgis.com/en/arcgis-online/administer/credits.htm#ESRI_SECTION1_709121D2C7694DCAB9B8592F36F7A5BA.
      2. Data can be published to AGO in a variety of ways including, but not limited to, ArcMap, ArcGIS Pro, as well as uploading zipped shapefiles or geodatabases directly to your account. For more information, see https://doc.arcgis.com/en/arcgis-online/manage-data/publish-features.htm

Why would I publish data to ArcGIS Online only and not to the BCGW?

  • Datasets can be uploaded directly to B.C.’s Map Hub. This is a common pattern when:
    • it is not desirable to make the data accessible via the multiple channels available for BCGW-hosted data (e.g., iMapBC, WMS/WFS, Data Distribution, Open Government Licence - BC licensing).
    • publishing directly is an interim solution while preparing to model/load data to BCGW.
  • The following table summarizes the benefits of each of the two options:
Feature ArcGIS Online BC Geographic Warehouse
Has a metadata record in the BC Data Catalogue Yes (if shared to public) Yes
Datasets can be downloaded in their entirety from the BC Data Catalogue No Yes
Datasets can be downloaded by specified area No Yes
Datasets can be uploaded/stored free of charge Yes (unless additional service credits are required) Sometimes
Datasets can be secured for viewing by only named users Not yet (planned in future) Yes
Datasets can be secured for download by only named users No Yes
Datasets will be permanent layers in iMapBC and the Layer Library No Yes
Datasets will be available through WMS/WFS services Yes (possible via AGO, may be limited) Yes
Datasets with personal information can be stored No Contact DataBC Data Architecture Services to discuss
Datasets with sensitive information (excluding personal information) can be stored Yes, if the data custodian agrees. Contact DataBC Data Architecture Services for more information Yes
Datasets can be made available in an open format Not at this time Yes

How do I publish a map to ArcGIS Online so it’s viewable to the public?

  • Sharing content to public via B.C.’s Map Hub is a privilege reserved for ArcGIS Online administrators.
  • Making ArcGIS Online content available to the public requires a checklist to be completed and approved by the director of the business area responsible for the content (i.e., the Data Custodian).
  • Metadata is required for ArcGIS Online hosted datasets when they are shared to public. BC Data Catalogue records and ArcGIS Online item details pages must be populated as per the procedures described at [BC Map Hub](https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content?id=DE0602BB42664AA28C9F059D45CC1CC2 iv. For more information on the workflow to share content to public from ArcGIS Online please see: https://www.yammer.com/gov.bc.ca/threads/1207288411

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THE BC GEOGRAPHIC WAREHOUSE (BCGW)

How do I publish data to the BCGW? Who do I contact at DataBC to publish my data to the BCGW?

How long does it take to publish to the BCGW?

The length of time it takes is dependent on many factors but can take anywhere from one week to many. The main reason for delay is lack of data readiness.

Before asking to publish data to the BCGW, consider:

  1. Data readiness
    1. Have all the fields been finalized?
    2. Is there permission to publish the data?
    3. Has all the line work been entered?
  2. Does the data flow fit with existing architectural patterns?
  3. Data access - do firewalls need to be opened up, or grants applied?
  4. Do you have time to answer questions and check for quality as the publication proceeds?
  5. Is there funding available? (Note that funding is not always a requirement.)

What data service formats can be made available for my BCGW data?

  1. Web Map Service (WMS)
  2. Web Feature Service (WFS)
  3. Esri Rest

What government channels can be used to access my BCGW data?

  1. iMapBC
  2. BC Map Hub (ArcGIS Online, aka AGO)
  3. Data Download from iMapBC and the BC Data Catalogue

What is the LRDW?

  • If you remember or frequently refer to the LRDW, then you’ve probably been around for a while. The LRDW or Land and Resource Data Warehouse, is the historic name for what is now the BCGW or the BC Geographic Warehouse.

Refreshing Data - the ETL Process

What is ETL?

  • ETL stands for Extract, Transform, Load.
  • Extracting data from a source system, possibly performing some operations on the data, and then loading the result into the BCGW.
  • Within DataBC, ETL is also referred to as replication.

How is a dataset replicated to the BCGW?

  • Data is replicated to the BCGW using different products that suit the specific architecture of the data.

Where can datasets be replicated from?

The DataBC File Staging Area
  • The Staging Area is a permanent location managed by DataBC to allow the transfer of file based data that is publication ready to be replicated to the BC Geographic Warehouse.
The BC Data Catalogue file store
  • The BC Data Catalogue can store CSV, XLSX, JSON, and zipped shapefiles as long as their size is less than 150 MB.
  • Such files can be used as sources for the replication process.
A RESTful Web Service
  • RESTful Web Services allow data to be transferred between systems using the HTTP protocol.
  • A RESTful API is an application program interface that, among other things, can allow a user to fetch data from a source system by navigating to a URL in a web browser.
  • The BC Data Catalogue is built using a Restful API called the CKAN API.
  • Some datasets in the BCGW are replicated from source systems using RESTful web services.
An Operational Database
  • A source database managed by a business area with a (BCGW-ready) table or view to be replicated to the BCGW.

How often is my dataset refreshed in the BCGW?

  • Refresh schedules are determined in consultation with the Data Custodian. The frequency may be anywhere from hourly to annually, depending on consumption requirements and how often the source data changes. “On request” replications are also supported.
  • For further information, email DataBC.DA@gov.bc.ca.

How do I request that my dataset be refreshed (outside the normal schedule)?

  • Email DataBC.DA@gov.bc.ca with the subject line Request: Dataset Refresh - Outside of Normal Schedule, providing the url of the dataset(s) affected.

How do I get the refresh scheduled frequency changed?

  • The refresh frequency of a dataset may change over its lifecycle. This can be altered as needed to meet the business requirements.
  • Email DataBC.DA@gov.bc.ca with the subject line Request: Dataset Refresh Frequency Change, providing the url of the dataset(s) affected.

How do I determine the source of a dataset in the BCGW?

  • A custodial business area or delegate may email DataBC.DA@gov.bc.ca with the subject line Request: Source of Dataset in BCGW, providing the url of the dataset(s) to determine a source.
  • As folks move around government or retire, at times the knowledge of the data flow may become unknown to a data provider.
  • The DataBC Architecture Services team can assist with understanding how the data gets from source to the BCGW.

How do I change where my dataset is being replicated from?

  • Sources of datasets that are published into the BCGW change during its lifecycle and as such automated replication platforms will need to be updated to meet the new data management configuration. It is recommended to engage with DataBC early on when changing a source format as we can move alongside during the development, testing and finalization process.

Access security

How do I change the security set on my dataset in the BCGW?

  • The security of a dataset may change over time with its lifecycle.
    • Contact DataBC.DA@gov.bc.ca to develop a plan and to alter a security profile.
    • Altering a security profile will potentially include changes to BCGW Oracle Grants, iMapBC/IMF2, Distribution and its metadata in the BC Data Catalogue.

Downloading data from the BC Geographic Warehouse

How do I make something downloadable from the BCGW?

  • A custodial business are may choose to make datasets in the BCGW under their authority downloadable. Data can be downloaded using either the BC Data Catalogue or iMapBC.
  • Contact DataBC.DA@gov.bc.ca to discuss the desired security profile. Security options are,
    1. Public download,
    2. Download when authenticated with a valid IDIR,
    3. Download when authenticated with a valid IDIR or Business BCeID,
    4. Download only be specific IDIRs,
    5. Download only be specific IDIRs or Business BCeIDs

I download data frequently, can I find my past orders?

  • This option is available for users who log in to iMapBC or the BC Data Catalogue when downloading datasets.

Feature Codes

How do I get a Feature Code (FCODE) created/updated?

  • Feature Codes or FCODEs are no longer mandatory in the BCGW.
  • here are however still cases where these are needed.
  • To obtain a new FCODE, contact DataBC.DA@gov.bc.ca.

Do I really need Feature Codes?

  • Feature Codes or FCODEs are not mandatory in the BCGW but they are still useful to delineate features in a dataset.
  • Datasets that only contain one type of information do not need an FCODE.
  • Datasets that already have FCODEs that are used to separate and symbolize different values, it is recommend to create an FCODE when a new value is then created.
  • Refer to How do I get an Feature Code (FCODE) created/updated?

Retiring datasets from the BC Geographic Warehouse

How do I retire a dataset from the BCGW?

  • Refer to: [BCGW Data Retirement Process] for details of the retirement process

–under construction–

What is the retirement process?

  • Data has a natural life cycle that includes data retirements for many reasons.
  • A custodian within the business area may determine that a dataset, or set of data, is no longer needed for their business, or the needs of others, and they will initiate the retirement process.
  • Contact DataBC.DA@gov.bc.ca, for further information.

Where is the list of past retirement notifications?

How do I retire data and/or a proxy that is in the BCGW and which is tied to my application?

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DOWNLOADING DATA

Why is there no data in my AOI (Area of Interest) when I download data?

  • You are likely attempting to download non-spatial data as a spatial file (i.e., fdgb or shapefile). Try downloading as a csv instead.
  • Contact DataBC.DA@gov.bc.ca if you continue to experience issues.

After I receive notification that my data has been assembled, there are no files in the directory.

  • There may be firewall limitations on your end tht prevent you from accessing the data. Try accessing the file(s) using a public wifi connection.
  • Large orders have a time delay built in to the process. You may have received notification that your order has been assembled, but it may still be working away at zipping up the data for you. Try again in 5 minutes.
  • Contact DataBC.DA@gov.bc.ca if you continue to experience issues.

GETTING ACCESS TO THE THINGS YOU NEED

How do I get access to the DataBC File Staging Area?

  • Send an email with subject line DataBC File Staging Area Access Request to DataBC.DA@gov.bc.ca, with the following information:
    • Name
    • IDIR
    • Title of data you intend to manage
    • Name(s) of those you with whom you will be working
      • This will provide DataBC with a better understanding of the relationship between you and the data

How do I get access to secure data?

  • Access to secure data must be authorized by the custodial business area.
    • Each custodial business area has its own processes they follow to grant access using different security configurations.
  • Some datasets have data use agreements that must be signed with the custodial business area.
  • Review the contacts shown on the metadata records to discuss access.

How do I get an account to BCGW?

  • Fill out the GTS / ArcGIS Desktops - Access Request
    • Recipient IDIR ID: your IDIR
    • Spatial Files 1 and 2 (optional): choose your business area from either of the two drop-down menus. If you are unsure, leave these blank and provide details as specified in the Additional Information section .
    • GTS Email Distribution List: choose the first option, unless you wish to receive more detailed communication or you are a contractor.
    • ESRI License Type: choose the license type that best descibes the work that you do.
    • Additional Information: Any additional information can be provided here. If you require access to the BCGW Delivery and/or Test environment(s) please add that request in this section noting which environment(s) access is required.

How do I change/reset my BCGW password?

  • Fill out the form in the NRM Business Service Desk Application as follows:

    • Summary: your IDIR
    • Application: BCGW - BC Geographic Warehouse
    • Account ID: MY ORACLE ID (normally the same as your IDIR)
    • Description: Please reset my Oracle password in the BCGW (choose the environment(s) that apply to you: production, test, and/or delivery) environment(s).

How do I unlock my BCGW account?

  • Fill out the form in the NRM Business Service Desk Application as follows:

    • Summary: your IDIR
    • Application: BCGW - BC Geographic Warehouse
    • Account ID: MY ORACLE ID (normally the same as your IDIR)
    • Description: Please unlock my Oracle account in the BCGW (choose the environment(s) that apply to you: production, test, and/or delivery) environment(s).

I’ve taken over responsibility for maintaining a dataset that has been published to DataBC. How do I get access to what I need?

  • Over time, business leads change and thus the people requiring on-boarding and access change.
  • To start this process, email DataBC.DA@gov.bc.ca with subject line Editor Change Request and provide the following information:
    • Name of current editor you are replacing;
    • Approval from Director or above for the dataset(s)’ business area;
    • At least one data set’s BC Data Catalogue’s url;
    • Name of Ministry and/or the branch/division responsible the dataset(s).
  • Access may involve accounts and security to:
    1. BC Geographic Warehouse and secure Oracle database roles, iMapBC roles, and Distribution roles
    2. BC Data Catalogue
    3. DataBC File Staging Area

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