Going public with government data
Recent events in Colorado have once again highlighted just how important it is to have access to current and accurate spatial data when faced with extreme events such as wildfires.
As Aliya Sterstein describes in a post for the Nextgov newsletter, once a federal disaster has been declared, the US government can make certain datasets available that wouldn’t otherwise be in the public domain. When analysed with up-to-date mapping, live weather reports and other bulletins, this powerful combination of public and private data has proven invaluable in helping to predict the likely spread of the fires and ensuring resources are available as soon as possible. It also means less risk for emergency workers on site.
Information like this, such as the location of water pumps and power plants, is generally only available in exceptional circumstances, on a need-to-know basis. Aside from federal disasters, are there any other situations when such data are made available? Should this information be readily accessible unless there is a compelling need-to-not-know?