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What is CKAN?

CKAN is an open source tool that allows you to manage and publish open data, delivering tangible benefits to citizens. It’s currently being used by big open data players such as, and

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),, (US),, 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.


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

Salsa's CKAN services

Salsa provides the following CKAN services:

  1. Strategy: Helping you define a clear plan on how your department can release the public data it creates and make it available for free to anyone who wishes to use it. The plan extends further to help identify how, where and when to share and manage your open datasets. The strategy also covers the roles and responsibilities of the data owner vs the steward vs the custodian.

  2. Data architecture and schema design: Designing your data (information) architecture and schemas — metadata definitions that describe and expose your open datasets.

  3. UX design: Designing the user interface and user experience (UX) to ensure ease-of-use and data discoverability.

  4. Data migration, consolidation and conversion: Consolidating, migrating and/or converting existing datasets from legacy sources/systems into CKAN.

  5. Implementation:

    1. CKAN configuration and implementation

    2. CKAN module extension development, customisation and/or enhancements

    3. CKAN frontend theming

  6. Training:

    1. For data contributors on how to describe and submit open datasets

    2. For data administrators/moderators on how to moderate (accept or reject) submissions and revisions

    3. Technical training on how to design, build, configure or theme your CKAN open data portal.

  7. Hosting: CKAN hosting platform and management including 24/7 monitoring, one-hour critical incident response SLA, patching and maintenance, etc.

  8. Support: Ad-hoc CKAN application support and enhancements, service help-desk, etc.

Salsa and CKAN

Salsa Digital helps clients open data and manage it using CKAN.

Salsa is currently hosting, managing and enhancing CKAN for on behalf of the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet and we also used CKAN in the Victorian Budget website.

We’re continually building our CKAN client base and expect to do a lot more with CKAN in the coming months and years.

Case Study

Open data migration to CKAN

Salsa Digital worked with a Victorian government department to migrate their open datasets from a legacy system to CKAN, and to create a new user interface.



CKAN...enabling open data

CKAN is a data management tool that allows you to manage and publish data. An open source tool, it’s currently being used by big open data players such as, and


Digital Transformation in Government Insight #31:
Australia’s National Map - Open Data In Action

The National Map plots a huge variety of data across a map of Australia from native vegetation and caves to bridges, road crashes and local Council boundaries.


Data61: delivering on the data revolution

Data61 is a CSIRO research unit established in July 2016 to capitalise on the data revolution and ensure Australia is at the forefront of open data. It’s an essential initiative and I’m watching it with great interest!


Giving BACK to govHACK

Salsa Digital was proud and excited to be both sponsors and participants in GovHack 2016.


Get in touch

We’ve been helping government agencies around Australia open and manage their data using CKAN. Use the form below or call us on 1300 727 952 to chat about your agency’s needs.

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