To evaluate the data sources, Neptis researchers created an evaluation matrix using the following five criteria:
- Relevance: Are the data of primary, secondary, or tertiary importance in the development of an information system or tool to inform population allocation and land use under the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017? Of key interest are data sources that provide information on environmental capacity and constraints (aquifer capacity and assimilative capacity of water bodies) and infrastructure flow data, which can be linked to data on design capacity and allocated/unused infrastructure capacity.
- Data format: Are the data available in a standardized database format? Are identical data available on all water and wastewater systems in the Greater Golden Horseshoe to allow for measurement, comparisons, and mapping? Can the data be easily imported or downloaded? Some publicly available data are contained in PDFs published online that can only be added manually to a database.
- Accessibility: How shareable are the data? The best value is a data set that is publicly available and not just internal to provincial government ministries.
- Geography: Information on servicing is collected by municipalities, and information about water resources is collected at the level of watersheds by conservation authorities. For the purpose of growth management, the information must be available at the Greater Golden Horseshoe scale, the geography of the Growth Plan, even though the boundaries of watersheds seldom, if ever, align with municipal boundaries.
- Frequency: The frequency of collection (ideally, every quarter or year) is important, although there is a value to one-off data sets such as Source Water Protection Plans, which provide important context, even if the information is not current.
A ranking system of 1-3 was developed, with 1 indicating high relevancy for the project (to complete all three phases), most useful data format, best data accessibility, best coverage of the Greater Golden Horseshoe, and highest currency with frequent updating of the data. The results of the evaluation are shown in Figure 3.
The sorting is based on relevance first, followed by format and accessibility. The table indicates that there is rarely an ideal source that meets every criterion while providing information directly relevant to capacity, but that a combination of sources can be used to assemble the necessary information.
Figure 3: Matrix for evaluating data sources
(Note that sources include all those mentioned in the appendix,
not just those discussed in the text of the report, above.)