Date:
22 April 2019
Author:
Salsa Digital

About CKAN

CKAN’s first release was in 2006 and since then it’s grown with the open data movement. The CKAN open source community continues to grow, creating extensions that are then re-used by others in the community.

CKAN is built using Python (backend) and Javascript (frontend). CKAN is a powerful tool for data custodians, allowing you to not only manage data, but to display it as maps, tables or graphs. CKAN also includes a faceted search and data preview capabilities...all available for free as part of the open source movement.

CKAN is run by the CKAN Association, with two main driving forces: the Steering Group and the Technical Team. The Association also takes members, who support the CKAN initiative.

Salsa provides a number of CKAN application enhancement and support services.

Who’s using it

There are hundreds of CKAN portals live, with hundreds of thousands of datasets being used. For example, there are over 800,000 datasets on the European data portal alone.

Some of the bigger CKAN users include the Humanitarian Data Exchange (managed by the United Nations), data.gov.au, data.gov (US), data.gov.uk, Open Government of Canada, and the European Data Portal.

Here in Australia, CKAN is used by the Australian Government (CKAN is the foundation for the whole open data platform across Australia), NSW Government and CSIRO’s Data61. The National Map also uses CKAN to source data from open data portals and to build its catalogue.

You can see more examples on the CKAN website if you want to get a better idea of how CKAN is transforming open data for a range of organisations.

Benefits

As a tool, CKAN ties in with the open data revolution. CKAN helps organisations actually use data in a meaningful way, and to display it in a user-friendly manner.

Some specific advantages of CKAN include:

  • Open source (i.e. free with no vendor lock-in)

  • Widely used around the world with a growing base

  • Extensive use in key governments across the world

  • Built for data custodians, e.g. government (as well as machines and end users)

  • Integrates well with websites and apps

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