…Open GIS Mapping Data To The Public

Esri Allows Federal Agencies To Open GIS Mapping Data To The Public by Alexander Howard.

From the post:

A debate in the technology world that’s been simmering for years, about whether mapping vendor Esri will allow public geographic information systems (GIS) to access government customers’ data, finally has an answer: The mapping software giant will take an unprecedented step, enabling thousands of government customers around the U.S. to make their data on the ArcGIS platform open to the public with a click of a mouse.

“Everyone starting to deploy ArcGIS can now deploy an open data site,” Andrew Turner, chief technology officer of Esri’s Research and Development Center in D.C., said in an interview. “We’re in a unique position here. Users can just turn it on the day it becomes public.”

Government agencies can use the new feature to turn geospatial information systems data in Esri’s format into migratable, discoverable, and accessible open formats, including CSVs, KML and GeoJSON. Esri will demonstrate the ArcGIS feature in ArcGIS at the Federal Users Conference in Washington, D.C. According to Turner, the new feature will go live in March 2014.

I’m not convinced that GIS data alone is going to make government more transparent but it is a giant step in the right direction.

To have even partial transparency in government, not only would you need GIS data but to have that correlated with property sales and purchases going back decades, along with tracing the legal ownership of property past shell corporations and holding companies, to say nothing of the social, political and professional relationships of those who benefited from various decisions. For a start.

Still, the public may be a better starting place to demand transparency with this type of data.

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