I’ve been following examples of shared measurement with great interest. This term refers to the practice of building a better foundation of data on community outcomes that can serve the needs multiple organizations. I've mainly heard about projects led by foundations and by grass root initiatives in education, public health and community economic development. I’ve recently realized though that there are also some great examples of shared data initiatives based at Canadian universities, including CIEEDAC (www.cieedac.sfu.ca), which has been doing great work improving the quality of energy and emissions data in industry.
CIEEDAC is a mouthful of an acronym that stands for the Canadian Industrial Energy End-Use and Data Analysis Centre, a non-profit organization which is housed within the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. While it may sound like a pretty dry place, CIEEDAC is actually a pretty amazing model for shared measurement that has served business, academic research, utilities, government, non-profit organizations and the public for over 20 years. I cut my teeth in data at CIEEDAC as a grad student in 1995!
CIEEDAC has been led by the dedicated and talented Dr. John Nyboer since its inception. The centre is engaged in:
- Publishing sector specific reports that pull out trends and insights in the energy and emissions data
- Vetting and improving the quality of available data
- Reconciling differences in data collected by different groups.
- Collecting new data that responds to identified gaps and needs of CIEEDAC stakeholders (e.g. cogeneration use, renewable energy use, end-use technologies)
- Creating and maintaining user-friendly databases
- Engaging in specific research for stakeholders
The Centre receives funding primarily from Environment Canada, supplemented by various industry associations and other agencies. It also operates under contracts from Natural Resources Canada for data analysis and report writing. I believe that a critical factor in its longevity is that it includes many different stakeholders who are united by common interests in good data, even if their use of that data may vary. The centre is also linked the Energy and Materials Research Group whose research includes understanding the complexities of green technology adoption across multiple sectors to better inform the design of environmental policy. This isn't the only university research group to dabble n data. Here are a few others:
- Dalhousie University - CREEDAC CIEEDAC's residential buildings equivalent.
- University of Alberta - CBEEDAC CIEEDAC's commercial buildings equivalent
- University of Manitoba - Population Health Research Data Repository - comprehensive collection of administrative, registry, survey, and other data primarily relating to residents of Manitoba.
- University of Toronto - CHASS Data Centre, maintains a collection of social sciences and general interest databases (e.g., Canadian Census, CANSIM, IMF, World Bank Tables, etc.).
- Various campuses - Canadian Research Data Centre Network - Statistics Canada shares confidential microdata files In 26 secure computer laboratories on university campuses across Canada, so that approved researchers are able to analyse a vast array of social, economic and health data.
- Simon Fraser Universtiy - Regional Vancouver Urban Observatory -Monitors progress on sustainability issues in Vancouver as part of global network organized by UN-Habitats.