Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Data vs Reports

I'm sure I'll have to spend a lot more time trolling the DataBC site before I have discovered all the jewels therein amongst the dross, but one thing I noticed while searching for "birth" was a large number of entries like this entry from Vital Statistics: "Table 25 - Infant Mortality by Gestational Age and Birth Weight, British Columbia, 2005"

Is this data? Kinda. There's numbers. It's an Excel sheet. But let's get real here, this is a report. It's a summary. That's why Vital Statistics has hundreds and hundreds of "data set" entries like this in the catalogue instead of the number they should have: ONE.

There is one database of births and deaths in the province. Strip out the names and addresses, leave the causes, dates, ages, postal codes, and release THAT please, instead of the hundreds of year-by-year (not even longitudinal summaries! arg!) summaries.


ArcVancouver said...

Don't even get me started. All the SHPs are the standard stuff they've posted and made available before. Even worse, the metadata sucks ass, with no or little explanations for the 8 digit attribute ackronyms.

But hey, look, there's a "metadata.html" file in the download that gives you someone to contact in Victoria.

bgbruening said...

Anyone who has worked in a government or education or other institution long enough (23 years, in my case) learns that the wheels of progress turn v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. Not that many years ago, all the reports were in binders. When they were first required to publish reports online, someone probably ran the pages of the annual paper reports through a scanner and put the resulting images on the web. Now the online reports are spreadsheets (the step before they get printed on paper and stuck into binders). Five years from now, they might publish from yet another step back -- the data they use to generate the spreadsheets.

Spike said...

Holy crap that's bad! From your post I thought it was a list of a subset, but it ain't even that much, wow. Report it is.

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