, Director of Swimmable Water Programs
Posted: June 15, 2017 at 2:29 pm

Protecting health and water with an open standard for automated data exchange

Swim Drink Fish Canada and Swim Guide​ are extremely proud and grateful to be recipient of Canadian Immunology Research Association (CIRA)​ Community Investment Program Grant. The grant will allow us to develop an open data standard for recreational water quality.

“Taking a digital technology and making it more efficient is a key way that CIRA is building a better online Canada,” says Julie Lépine, manager, community relations at CIRA. “We are pleased to fund Swim Drink Fish Canada’s Swim Guide application through our Community Investment Program. With our support the valuable information this application collects will be more accessible and timely and this will have a positive impact on Canadians across the country.”

The Open Data Standard for Recreational Water Quality project website,, is the future home of the first ever open data standard for recreational water quality. Starting June 1, 2017 Swim Drink Fish Canada’s Swim Guide program will work to develop an open data standard for recreational water quality. Over the course of winter 2017-2018 this open data standard will be available on the website for comments. Updates about the project will also be made on our social media feeds and on

About the Open Data Standard for Recreational Water Quality Project

Hundreds of Canadian municipalities, park organizations and nonprofits test water for E. coli bacteria, algae, and/or other harmful pollutants on a daily or weekly basis. The data should be shared quickly (within 24 hours) and with as wide an audience as possible in order to help people avoid waterborne illnesses; yet, there is no technical standard for doing so. Due to poor public disclosure, nearly 50,000 Canadians get sick each year.

For five years, Swim Guide staff and affiliates have been manually compiling water quality information from websites (some using legacy technologies such as Flash), phone hotlines, spreadsheets and publishing it to Swim Guide. They do this 365-days a year, requiring more than one hundred contributors and thousands of person-hours.

It’s worth it: more than 1-million people have used Swim Guide. But an open data standard for automated data exchange would improve the quality and timeliness of the information, as well as reduce costs.

A handful of monitoring authorities have machine-readable data feeds, but they are unique, proprietary implementations. Making use of these feeds requires a customized implementation for each authority, creating an unnecessary barrier to using this data to protect health and the environment.


CIRA is the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, a member-based not-for- profit best known for its management and stewardship of the .CA domain on behalf of all Canadians.

CIRA is contributing to a safer, more secure and reliable Canadian Internet by maintaining a trusted .CA domain, by developing new products and services that directly strengthen the Canadian Internet and by giving back to the Internet community in Canada.

CIRA’s Community Investment Program supports initiatives that build a better online Canada. CIRA is actively building a stronger Internet in Canada by funding projects with charities, not-for- profits and the academic community that are making the Internet better for all Canadians.

Revenue from the sales and renewals of .CA domains support CIRA’s Community Investment Program.

Swim Guide
is supported by
* The RBC Foundation