In this article
- Getting started with Data.wa.gov.au
- The role of developers in the data lifecycle
- The responsibilities of developers
Welcome to DataWA
Welcome to the DataWA Toolkit - your resource for working with and understanding data published by the Western Australian government at data.wa.gov.au. The Toolkit provides a wealth of guidance, how to guides, and examples for both publishers and users of data and is supported by the WA Government Open Data Policy.
Developers and entrepreneurs are a key part in the process of turning raw data into innovative new services and solutions for the wider community, industry, and government. As a developer you will be responsible for two critical parts of the data lifecycle - the technical implementation and integration of data services and APIs in your own applications; and developing a strong understanding of the nature, limitations, and origins of the data that your organisation is leveraging. As an entrepreneur you will be part of the discovery process of finding the right data to support your new venture, will be responsible for understanding the licensing terms applied to data, and ensure that any use, commercial or otherwise, is in line with the attribution and use requirements of the data custodians.
First time here?
Your key links for getting started with Data.wa.gov.au.
- A brief introduction to discovering government data
- When do I need to register to access data?
- How to preview and visualise data in 5 minutes - no prior experience necessary
- Understanding Geographic Boundaries in Western Australia
APIs, data services, and technical guides
The data infrastructure that powers Data.wa.gov.au provides a range of powerful APIs and data services for developers. You can either directly leverage our infrastructure to visualise and query data within your web, mobile, desktop, or server-side processes, or automate the process of retrieving and updating data snapshots to feed into your own data stores or create your own APIs. While integrating with an API is our recommended approach, the choice between the two isn’t always a simple one, and we recommend you start with reading our guide on the pros and cons of the two approaches.
We host a wide range of types of data - from complex geospatial datasets through to large tabular datasets. Geospatial data can be tricky to work with if you’re not familiar with the fundamental concepts of the field (Did you know the Earth is not round? - Ed), the data formats, and the technical terms. Before you start using any geospatial data that you find on Data.wa.gov.au we recommend reading through our introductory resources below.
Lastly, our technical team is a strong believer in dogfooding our own APIs and services. We’ve put together a range of step-by-step How To guides that demonstrate using our APIs to query data, and automatically extract and filter datasets using a range of popular programming languages and pieces of software. Developers working in the web and mobile space should also refer to our code samples for examples of how easy it is to integrate our APIs into your own applications.
Key links: APIs, data services, and technical guides
- Should I use APIs or should I download data directly?
- How does data.wa.gov.au’s authentication system work?
- Working with geospatial data:
- Our How To Guides:
The responsibilities of a developer fall into four broad categories -
1. Understanding and using data responsibly
You should develop a strong understanding of the nature, limitations, and origins of the data that you’re using by reading and understanding the contextual metadata provided (the information about how the data was made). The creators of government data will publish this through metadata on Data.wa.gov.au, and will often include a range of additional collateral and supporting material for their data, including:
- data dictionaries
- methodology statements describing how the data was constructed
- and more.
You should take all of this supporting information into account to ensure that you’re using the data appropriately and responsibly. If you find the material is lacking, or that you have further questions that aren’t answered in the material, you should contact the authors and maintainers listed for the dataset on Data.wa.gov.au.
2. Respect licensing and usage terms
As the person responsible for working directly with, and likely sourcing data for your organisation, you’ll be responsible for understanding the licensing terms applied to data. You should make sure that any data your organisation is using, commercial or otherwise, is in line with the attribution and any usage constraints specified by the data custodians. In many cases a data custodian will opt to use one of the licenses from the Creative Commons suite, but you may also encounter data that has multiple licenses applied (commercial vs non-commercial), or has yet to have a licensed specified. If you find yourself uncertain about how a dataset is licensed, you should contact the dataset maintainer listed to explain your use case and ask them to clarify the licensing stance.
3. Keeping data up-to-date
Where you are designing systems that extract and take copies of data from Data.wa.gov.au it’s important to put processes (both technical and human) in place to ensure your copies of the data are kept up-to-date and don’t become stale. How often you need to refresh the data will depend on your particular use case:
- how often the data you’re using is updated
- how much of an impact using a stale copy of the data would have on your use of it
- whether there are any risks to your organisation in using stale data.
As the person working directly with the data, and the one responsible for putting update processes in place, you should make sure your organisation carefully considers all of these issues. Information about the intended and actual frequency of updates to data is published with all of the data on Data.wa.gov.au. As always, if you need further clarification we encourage you to reach out to the dataset maintainers.
4. Showcasing your use data
The data lifecycle doesn’t stop with your application and use of data. There’s a final key step in the lifecycle - contributing your data stories back to the community of data publishers and users. One of the most effective drivers for government to release more data openly is demonstrating the value of open data. This can be done through showcasing the innovative applications and solutions built using government data as well as showing to data publishers in government how their data is used. Data.wa.gov.au enables you to contribute your data story simply by submitting a showcase that will be published and linked back to the dataset you’re using. Where there’s an interest from the data community, we’ll also occasionally pick showcases for a more in-depth study and publish that through our blog and mailing list.
Key links: Your responsibilities
- Understanding licensing of government data (Coming soon.)
- Keeping data up-to-date and dealing with changes to data (Coming soon.)
- Showcasing your use of data