City of Calgary: Metadata & Taxonomy Strategy

September 2018 – November 2018

Business Case Background

As a follow-up to the work that I did for The City of Calgary with regard to content atomization, the City asked that I expand upon my deliverables and provide the foundation for a solid metadata and taxonomy practice within the City. As the City continues to move towards a new content management system, there is a growing awareness of the lack of consistency and quality of metadata and taxonomies in the current ecosystem and the ramifications that this will have in the next few years as this migration occurs. In particular, if the City chooses to adopt a headless CMS approach, relevant and appropriate metadata will be absolutely vital in determining the success of the new approach. However, even if the City does not pursue a headless CMS approach, the lack of relevant and appropriate metadata poses several unique challenges that must be addressed:

  1. Metadata can be used to facilitate content migration from one platform to another. Without relevant and appropriate metadata, a more labour-intensive approach is required.
  2. From a user perspective, metadata is used to help facilitate retrieval of content. Without relevant and appropriate metadata, the City is asking its citizens and business owners to work harder than they should have to in order to find information that satisfies their needs.

Problems to be Solved

Noting the lack of existing standards, policies and procedures surrounding the creation, application and maintenance of metadata and their associated taxonomies but not having the expertise in-house to produce these types of resources, the City requested a formal strategy document outlining the work that would be required to successfully resolve the challenges identified above.

Solutions and Recommendations

Through a period of extensive research and stakeholder engagement, I created a customized metadata & taxonomy strategy and recommendations document that will lays out a path forward for the City to adopt more robust metadata and taxonomy practices. The document began with a series of definitions to ensure clarity and mutually-shared understanding, followed by an exploration of three distinct foundation elements that would lay the groundwork for this practice (governance; standards, policies & processes; and change managements), followed by a deep-dive into the building blocks that need to be assembled in coordination with one another to ensure a robust metadata collection (content types; metadata schemas; and thesauri). Next, I made recommendations on enterprise metadata & thesauri management software that would suit the needs of the City. Finally, I presented a feasible plan for the City to move from their current state to their desired future state. Included as appendices to this document were several examples of Taxonomist job descriptions as well as the entire collection of content types and their associated metadata schemas and recommended taxonomies that was created as a key deliverable in my previous content atomization work.