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 think this is a good step in the right direction. Open data will become a more and more important topic, especially when cities start to follow an evidence based approach, and the data on which they rely needs to be publicly accessible. Giving the authorities the possibility to publish their data with their day to day tools makes it more likely that they will publish the data.