Frequently asked questions

What is data?

Data is a value or set of values representing a specific concept or concepts. Data become "information" when analyzed and possibly combined with other data in order to extract meaning provide context. The meaning of data can vary according to its context. Source: Federal Enterprise Architecture Data Reference Model.

What is metadata?

Metadata is "data about data." Metadata includes data associated with either an information system or an information object for purposes of description, administration, legal requirements, technical functionality, use and usage, and preservation. Source: Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI).

How do I use the Minnesota Open Data website?

The Minnesota Open Data website includes searchable keywords that provide access to "raw" datasets and various links. In the "raw" data, you will be able to access data in XML, Text/CSV, KML/KMZ, Feeds, XLS, or ESRI Shapefile formats. In some cases, your search may take you to a link that may have multiple datasets. Search results will also provide you with an option to view metadata on that specific dataset. If there are additional datasets that you would like to see included on this site, please suggest more datasets here.

Will my comments be read?

Yes. Comments sent through the contact page will be forwarded to the relevant agency for review.

What if I am having difficulty downloading a dataset?

Some web browser configurations, particularly those that are designed for high security computing environments, can interfere with access to certain datasets. This is most commonly related to government websites that use security certificates and end user browsers that are not configured to recognize those certificates as being authoritative. If you are having difficulty downloading one or more datasets from Minnesota Open Data, please contact your local IT support staff to determine whether browser configuration issues can be addressed for your workstation. We are working to have a direct support contact for agency datasets.

How were the datasets for Minnesota Open Data selected?

Minnesota Open Data is being launched with a limited number of local datasets and links to other state websites that offer datasets. Once these initial entries were selected based on topics and ease of initial implementation, Minnesota state agencies submitted recommendations of additional datasets and links that are currently scattered throughout various state websites.

Are Minnesota State agency links and datasets the only links used in Minnesota Open Data?

While the website's primary purpose is to connect state websites with data and datasets, there are some instances where data is collected and published by a third party. When that occurs, you may see a 'warning' message letting you know when you are leaving an official state website. When in doubt, check your address bar. Official state websites will have "" or "" in the URL.

Does Minnesota Open Data plan to link to federal government datasets?

The initial launch of the website will not have federal data as a category. However, within some state agencies' datasets, there may be data provided to or from the federal government. Minnesota Open Data will have a link to the federal government'’s data transparency website and future releases on Minnesota Open Data will have a section with federal data links. If you have any suggestions on what federal data links or datasets you would like to see, please contact us.

Does Minnesota Open Data plan to link to other states' datasets?

Not at this time. However, multiple states are collaborating on how to best implement this aspect consistently. States may simply provide links to other participating states' equivalent data transparency website.

What is the plan for expanding the number of datasets made available through Minnesota Open Data?

Additional datasets and tools will be added regularly as a result of agency submissions and in response to specific requests made by users of the site. The content, structure, and scope of the site will evolve over time and the catalogs will continue to grow as datasets are added.

What standards were used to develop the metadata displayed on Minnesota Open Data?

Minnesota Open Data uses an adaptation of the Dublin Core metadata standard.

Who developed Minnesota Open Data?

Minnesota Open Data is an initiative of Minnesota's State CIO to present a tool to support open government. The Office of Enterprise Technology developed the website in cooperation with data owners across multiple state agencies and organizations. The website is also hosted and supported by the Office of Enterprise Technology.

How does Minnesota Open Data adhere to accessibility standards?

Our commitment and adherence to Section 508 and accessibility standards are reflected in our efforts to ensure that all users have access to all content and required functionality on Minnesota Open Data.

  • This website has been tested for compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act using a technical standards check-list, in-depth testing with screen readers, policy experts, and person with disabilities. For more information on Section 508 technical standards please visit

  • Minnesota Open Data is also routinely reviewed for alignment with the latest Web Accessibility Initiative Guidelines set forth by the W3C. The Web Accessibility Initiative Guidelines define how browsers, media players, and other "user agents" support people with disabilities and work assistive technologies.

  • Where necessary, inline images in our content contain alt tags when information is being conveye. These alt tags aid users that rely on screen readers to read back to them the contents of a website. In addition, "skip to" links have been provided for these users, giving them a method for bypassing the header and main menu, and going directly to the main content each time a page is accessed. Where applicable, text transcripts accompany audio clips, and closed-captioning is available on videos.

  • With respect to the accessibility of Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF), users can get information from the Adobe Reader accessibility website.

  • In addition to adhering to the standards laid out in the Section 508 guidelines and the WCAG 2.0 guidelines, the Minnesota Open Data website was built from the ground up with the best possible experience in mind for all users. If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader, eye tracking device, voice recognition software, etc.) and have difficulty accessing information on Minnesota Open Data, please contact us and provide the URL (web address) of the material you tried to access, the problem you experienced, and your contact information. A Minnesota Open Data team member will contact you and attempt to provide the information you're seeking and find a solution for the problem. Please note that we are not responsible for the websites we link to, their content, and the degree of compliance to Section 508 and/or WCAG guidelines.