1. What is CKAN?
CKAN is an open-source DMS (data management system) for powering data hubs and data portals. CKAN makes it easy to publish, share and access data.
Here’s the definition from Wikipedia: The Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network (CKAN) is an open-source open data portal for the storage and distribution of open data. Being initially inspired by the package management capabilities of Debian Linux, CKAN has developed into a powerful data catalogue system that is mainly used by public institutions seeking to share their data with the general public.
It has become particularly popular for sharing open data on organisational, local, national and international levels. CKAN is trusted by main national data portals across the globe:
- U.S. - https://data.gov
- Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en.html
- Switzerland: https://opendata.swiss/en/
- Norway: https://data.norge.no/
- Australia: https://www.nsw.gov.au/
- Singapore: https://data.gov.sg/
CKAN is also used by commercial companies, within enterprises to catalogue and provide access point to data (through metadata).
CKAN logo illustrates a paper boat over a lake to provide a visual analogy, where the boat is the access point and the lake is the data stored in different formats.
2. What CKAN does?
CKAN provides access to data through metadata. Metadata is the description of data you have so you can label it and find it afterwards. Example: a book includes data, while a title page describes its title, subtitle, author, publisher, and edition. By glancing through the title page you can understand what this book is about without opening it. The same way CKAN provides an infrastructure to store and show metadata with ability to access actual data behind it.
CKAN can be used as a catalog to list all the datasets, books, papers, files you have.
CKAN has a powerful ecosystem of extensions (plugins) maintained by community members. By installing them the system functionality is extended and customised with a minimum amount of effort. There wide variety of extensions:
- D-CAT: to conform CKAN to EU data regulations.
- Scheming: for configuring and sharing metadata schemas using a YAML or JSON schema description.
- Harvesting: to gather data from external sources to add it to CKAN automatically.
- Geospatial: adding geospatial capabilities.
- Google Analytics: example of one of the integration with an external system
Thus CKAN is free to use open-source software for data publishing, cataloguing and access via metadata. It’s an expandable system through extensions that are developed and maintained by a global community of contributors.
3. Who develops CKAN?
CKAN is the open-source product maintained by individual contributors and core dev team members. On the governance level there are co-steward companies that dedicate their time and resources to develop CKAN further for everybody’s benefit. Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) remains the ‘purpose trustee’ to ensure the Stewards remain true to the purpose and ethos of the CKAN project.
Thus becoming a user of the CKAN platform, you immediately and for free get benefits of CKAN as a constantly evolving system.
Here’s a list of latest releases which reinforces the fact that CKAN constantly evolves: https://github.com/ckan/ckan/tags
4. Who uses CKAN?
CKAN is used by:
- Governments and public sector entities;
- Governmental organisations;
- NGOs and non-for-profits;
- Commercial entities;
- Scientific organisations;
- Small companies;
CKAN is also used to publish data for:
- Community projects;
- Crowdsourcing projects.
CKAN is trusted by main national data portals across the globe:
- U.S. - https://data.gov
- Canada: https://www.canada.ca
- Switzerland: https://opendata.swiss/en
- Norway: https://data.norge.no
- Australia: https://www.nsw.gov.au
- Singapore: https://data.gov.sg
In total there are more than 2000 of active CKAN instances. Each one represents an organisation that publishes data.
5. How much does CKAN cost?
CKAN is free to install and use.
CKAN is open and licensed under the GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL) v3.0. Its full text may be found at: http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/agpl-3.0.html
CKAN provides a rich ecosystem of extensions that are developed by community members, that are also free to install and use.
You can use CKAN out-of-the-box or with your own UI that can be customised to match your needs. In the CKAN community there are consultants and companies that provide a full-lifecycle of CKAN-related works.
Example of out-of-the-box UI: https://demo.datashades.com/
Examples of customised UI’s: https://opendata.swiss/en and https://data.norge.no
6. Is CKAN reliable for storing data?
CKAN stores meta-data by default, with links to actual datasets or files. Storing actual data can be done in several ways:
- Adding datastore extension to the CKAN.
- Using Amazon Web Services (AWS) extension that can be found on the marketplace.
- Hosting CKAN in the cloud along with data.
7. Who can help me if I have questions around CKAN?
As a community-based project, CKAN provides help through our developer discussions and channels:
- Chat with us on Gitter - https://gitter.im/ckan/chat
- Discussions on Github - https://github.com/ckan/ckan/discussions
- For security related issues please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The CKAN project also benefits from the commercial support of two independent co-stewards / vendors - Datopian and Link Digital. Rufus Pollock represents Datopian and Steven De Costa represents Link Digital.
More info at: https://ckan.org/community and https://ckan.org/commercial.
8. What is the timeframe to have a CKAN platform up and running? How much time it takes?
The time it takes to have a CKAN platform up and running can vary depending on the complexity of the platform, the amount of data that needs to be loaded, and the level of customization required. It can take from a few hours or a few days for a simple CKAN platform to several weeks or even months for a complex, customized platform.
9. Is CKAN safe to use?
CKAN is considered safe to use as long as certain security best practices are followed. It's important to evaluate the specific security needs of your organization and configure CKAN accordingly. CKAN has built-in permissions and access controls that can be used to ensure that only authorized users have access to data. It also has a number of security features, such as support for HTTPS, that can be used to secure the data and the communication between the CKAN server and the clients.
However, like any software, CKAN is not completely immune to security risks and vulnerabilities. Therefore, it is important to keep CKAN updated to the latest version and to be aware of any known vulnerabilities and to apply patches or updates as soon as they are available.
CKAN can also be configured to use external authentication and authorization services, like OAuth, LDAP, or OpenID Connect, which can be used to secure access to the data.
It's also important to follow best practices for data security, such as encrypting sensitive data, controlling access to data, and regularly backing up data.
10. Why build an open data portal with CKAN?
Open-source and customizable: CKAN is an open-source platform, which means that it is free to use and can be customised to meet the specific needs of an organization.
Comprehensive data management: CKAN provides a wide range of features for data management, including data cataloguing, data governance, data quality control, data workflows, and data backup and recovery.
Easy data discovery and access: CKAN makes it easy for users to discover and access data by providing search capabilities, tagging, and filtering options.
Integration with other tools: CKAN can be easily integrated with other tools, such as data visualisation or data analysis platforms, to support data workflows within an organization.
Scalability: CKAN can handle large amount of data and a large number of users, making it suitable for organizations that have a lot of data to share.
Compliance: CKAN has built-in permissions and access controls, making it easy to ensure compliance with data governance and data protection regulations.
Multi Language support: CKAN supports multiple languages, making it a suitable option for organization that need to share data with users in different languages.
Large community: CKAN has a large community of users and developers, which means that there is a lot of support and resources available for organizations that are using CKAN.
CKAN is a powerful, flexible and open-source data management system that makes it easy for organization to share, publish and discover data and can be customized to meet the specific needs of an organization.
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