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Opening data in Nova Scotia

When it comes to data, open doesn't mean part of the public relations campaign. Open must be put to work. And making open data work can take a lot of work, by a number of contributors across organizations.

Also, open data should be accesible by more than the privileged few in the right location at the right time, or with the right connections. The better way to connect is by digital data stewardship.

I will be speaking about the state of the onshore Nova Scotia petroleum database Nova Scotia Energy R&D Forum in Halifax on 16 & 17 May, and the direction this might head for the collective benefit of regulators, researchers, explorationists, and the general public. Here's the abstract for the talk:

Improving the accessibility of the province's onshore
subsurface database: a user-driven approach

Evan Bianco & Matt Hall

The federal Program for Energy Research and Development (PERD) is identifying areas in eastern Canada worthy of future research into source-rock plays. In late 2011, PERD provided the opportunity to take inventory of the province’s publicly available onshore geoscience data. The resulting data-mining exercise grew into the beginnings of an accessible, searchable, queryable, geospatial relational database. Such a resource would enable researchers and industry to explore the province’s resource opportunities more efficiently than they can today.

We have merged basic well header information for 133 petroleum wells with other digital and non-digital data. These other data include: well tops, geophysical log curves (as LAS files), core records, drilling reports, cuttings descriptions, production tests, core analysis, and Rock-Eval pyrolysis data. We have also started to integrate outcrop vitrinite reflectance data (from DNR Open File Report 91-012), cross-section illustrations, seismic line locations, gravity and aeromagnetic data, and surface geology maps.

The data are imperfect. A considerable amount of legacy data remains available only in paper format. There are also various unresolved data quality issues, even around fundamental data elements like well coordinates and elevations. There are also 69 mineral exploration wells with petroleum shows and substantial outcrop data that could potentially be included.

In order to be ‘open’, public data needs to be online, indexed, findable, understandable (human-readable), parsable (machine-readable), and multi-format. The regulatory and user communities need to collaborate to ensure our public data resources meet, and even surpass, these criteria.

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Reader Comments (2)

Great topic, I keep meaning to comment on this post. Making data readily available for others to access (especially publicly-funded data) is important. However, the realities are incredibly complex. One key issue besides data format is metadata: there needs to be sufficient information provided about a given log for it to be usable by someone else.

May 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCian

I agree that metadata is of limited use in and of itself, and I am interested in opening up the actual data, in a "click here to download the Log Ascii Standard file", sort of thing. If the data cannot be obtained online, then it's location should be available, and who to contact to get it (or pay for it). This problem is solvable, and highly valuable, and we are looking into it. Furthermore, you shouldn't have to be an ESRI customer to take advantage of this, because even that restriction is too much of a barrier to entry. This is particularly important for Nova Scotia as the small exploration companies who are poking around Nova Scotia, likely do not have dedicated geospatial personnel.

May 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterevan

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