Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why is it called a regional census?
  2. What places are assessed?
  3. Is there a census for Australia's local governments or nationally?
  4. What data is assessed?
  5. What questions are asked about the data?
  6. Who can submit an assessment?
  7. When do submissions close?
  8. Can I download the census data?
  9. Are there other open data quality initiatives?
  10. What improvements are planned?

1. Why is it called a Regional census?

The census is called a Regional census to be consistent with the name used in other Open Knowledge censuses.

2. What places are assessed?

All Australian states and territories can join the census.

3. Is there a census for Australia's local governments or nationally?

Yes. Visit Australia's Local Open Data Census and Australia's Global Open Data Index entry.

4. What data is assessed?

We assess the following datasets.

Dataset Details
Government Budget

The state/territory government budget at a high level (e.g. future planned spending by sector, by department, released annually).

Government Spending

Records of actual (past) state/territory government spending at a detailed transactional level; at the level of month to month government expenditure on specific items (this usually means individual records of spending amounts under $1m or even under $100k). (Data about contracts awarded is not considered sufficient to represent government spending.)

Procurement Contracts

Contract information on state/territory government procurement contracts including contract id, title, name and address of the supplier, description of the goods and services procured, contract status, start and end dates, total value, etc.


This data category requires all state/territory government laws and statutes to be available online. (It is not a requirement that information on legislative behaviour i.e. voting records is available.)

Election Results

Results by electorate for all major state/territory electoral contests including number of registered and invalid votes by polling station and electoral boundaries.

Government Facilities

Location information about state/territory government facilities such as schools, hospitals, police stations, etc. opening times and services available.

Transport Timetables

Timetables of state/territory government operated (or commissioned) public transport services (e.g. buses, rail, trams, ferries). Geographic location of stops and fare structures is desirable but not mandatory.

Realtime Transit

Real-time information about state/territory government operated (or commissioned) public transport services. I.e. The real-time location of actual services (individual buses, trains, trams and ferries) as they travel prescribed routes.

Crime Statistics

Data on crime, preferably at a reasonably disaggregated level (best would be exact date, location and crime type but crimes per day, per street or postcode would be acceptable).

Traffic Accidents

Statistics on road traffic accidents including time, location, accident classification.

Healthcare Performance

Statistics generated from administrative data that could be used to indicate performance of specific healthcare services, or the healthcare system as a whole (e.g. emergency care, patients treated, elective surgery, quality, safety, patient experience, dental care, mental health).

5. What questions are asked about the data?

Each dataset in each place is evaluated using nine questions. The following table describes the nine questions in further detail along with their weights. There are additional questions that help provide extra information about the data (e.g. its location, format, etc.)

Question Details Weighting
Is the data openly licensed/in public domain??

This question measures if anyone is legally allowed to use, modify and redistribute data for any purpose. Only then data is considered truly "open" (see Open Definition). Answer ”Yes” if the data are openly licensed. The Open Definition provides a list of conformant licences. Answer also “Yes” if there is no open licence, but a statement that the dataset is in “public domain”. To count as public domain the dataset must not be protected by copyright, patents or similar restrictions. If you are not sure whether an open licence or public domain disclaimer is compliant with the Open Definition 2.1, seek feedback on the Open Data Index discussion forum.

Are the data available online without the need to register or request access to the data??

Answer “Yes”, if the data are made available by the government on a public website. Answer “No” if the data are NOT available online or are available online only after registering, requesting the data from a civil servant via email, completing a contact form or another similar administrative process.

Is the data available free of charge?? 15
Is the dataset downloadable at once??

Answer “Yes”, if you can download all data at once from the URL at which you found them. In case that downloadable data files are very large, their downloads may also be organised by month or year or broken down into sub­files. Answer “No” if if you have to do many manual steps to download the data, or if you can only retrieve very few parts of a large dataset at a time (for instance through a search interface).

Data should be updated every {{ datasetContext.updateEvery }}: Is the data up-to-date??

Please base your answer on the date at which you answer this question. Answer “No” if you cannot determine a date, or if the data are outdated.

In which formats are the data??

Tell us the file formats of the data. We automatically compare them against a list of file formats that are considered machine-readable and open. A file format is called machine-readable if your computer can process, access, and modify single elements in a data file. The Index considers formats to be “open” if they can be fully processed with at least one free and open-source software tool. The source code of these format does not have to be open. Potentially these formats allow more people to use the data, because people do not need to buy specific software to open it.


6. Who can submit an assessment?

Anyone can submit an assessment. All contributions, after the first, are reviewed by our expert editorial team before they are displayed on the site.

As you answer questions in the submission, the form adjusts based on your answers. Most answers should be "Yes" or "No" but if information is provided but you're not sure how to interpret it, answer "Unsure".

7. When do submissions close?

Submissions close at the end of each year on 31 December. The census restarts on 1 January. You can compare progress across years by selecting the year on the home page.

Any pending submissions that have not been reviewed when the year changes do not carry forward, so it is important that editors review all outstanding submissions before the end of the year. The change log is restarted each year. Change logs for previous years can be viewed using a URL in the form Change 2015 to the year you're interested in viewing.

8. Can I download the census data?

Sure. You can access the data as CSV or JSON. Here's a graph we made with the CSV data. Tell us how you're planning to use it.

9. Are there other open data quality initiatives?

Yes. Here are a few we follow:

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10. What improvements are planned?

Known bugs

Bugs are reported as issues in GitHub. Follow our progress in fixing them or raise a new issue if you find one.

Improvement ideas

We'd love to hear your ideas. Here are some of ours:

  1. Link the Global, Regional and Local censuses together so you could click through each set of results.
  2. Add a map interface like the one used on the Global Open Data Index. That's why our email and twitter accounts use the word "index", rather than "census".
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