Arguments for Free and Open Data from Local Governments
The Minneapolis St Paul regional GIS council (MetroGIS) conducted research that was in part based on a policy call to individual counties in their metropolitan area for free and open data. The results, reported here, along with related links and publications, provide excellent information about the current state of free and open data in the GIS council’s region. More importantly, beyond this particular metropolitan area, the documents include succinct and compelling arguments for the benefits to any local government in making its data open and freely available. These include transparency of operations, improved public service, ease of data access, savings in terms of staff time, meeting public demand, improved inter-agency work relationships, and faster decision making. It fits into the notion of data as an important component of public infrastructure, created to serve the public good, and fundamental to wise decision making.
This MetroGIS site is also of value because it provides a resolution for support for free and open public geospatial data, a sample letter of support, and links to related articles and publications. In short, the MetroGIS staff provides insight to the decisions that have brought their organization to this point. The results of their research is of great assistance to those grappling with whether and how to serve their own spatial data.
In the related resources provided, that may be of particular interest to the readers of the Spatial Reserves blog, includes NSGIC President Ivan Weichert’s essay This Isn’t Private Information, on locational privacy, arguing that if some privacy issues are enacted, it would destroy the government’s ability to conduct its business, and negatively affect government and commercial services that citizens expect and demand. Another item of interest is Brian Timoney’s The Flawed Economics of Closed Government Data, where, in his usual straightforward style, he argues against the “cost recovery” model for government agency provision of data.