Posts Tagged ‘local government’

City and County of Denver ArcGIS Online hosted feature services now available from open data catalog

May 3, 2020 5 comments

The City and County of Denver have long been a leader in providing a wide variety of useful geospatial data.  When I was working as a geographer at the US Census Bureau, I remember they were one of the few local governments actively maintaining their GBF/DIME file, even before TIGER existed!  They continue to be innovative today, as evidenced in this recent announcement:  “All publicly available GIS layers from the Denver Open Data Catalog are now accessible as Hosted Feature Services in ArcGIS Online via REST Endpoints. These layers are classified as authoritative organization data. Dynamic layers are updated nightly and all others as needed.”

Each layer is provided in multiple formats, and there are multiple ways to access and find these layers, as follows:

  1. Start with the open data catalog and choose the format you desire–shapefile, geodatabase, dwg, csv, or REST endpoint.  The first formats will allow you to download the data to your device and add it to your GIS; the latter format will allow you to directly stream in the data to your GIS.   This blog essay will focus on the latter.
  2. Search for content directly in a web map inside ArcGIS Online:   Search ArcGIS online for “Denver” with any word after that, making sure to filter by what is authoritative and provided by “geospatialDenver” as the owner.


3.  In ArcGIS Online, search the Open Data Catalog group for content, as shown below:



4.  To your existing content in ArcGIS Online, use the Add Data tool, and use a REST Endpoint URL from the Open Data Catalog:




I salute the good folks at the City and County of Denver for making this happen and I encourage other local government agencies to consider doing something similar.

–Joseph Kerski

A review of the Oak Hill West Virginia Open Data Site

September 1, 2019 Leave a comment

Recently at the Esri User Conference, I met the amazing and innovative GIS coordinator for the city of Oak Hill West Virginia.  The open data portal that this coordinator created represents an excellent example of what we have been describing in this blog–the open data movement combining with tools that enable GIS administrators to create and maintain the resources that will serve their internal and external data users.

Oak Hill Open Data works alongside its main website to provide information and enhance transparency to constituents through the power of GIS. Oak Hill Open Data is the repository for data, maps, and apps being generated by the City of Oak Hill. It features the city’s zoning map viewer, “Oak Hill CPR” for submitting citizen complaints directly to the city, an Operations Dashboard for dilapidated structures, and Story Maps about Needleseye Park and the city’s monthly city council meetings.

The site is easy to use, and includes web applications, pages, and even social media feeds and videos.  A search in the top search box on zoning, structures, transportation, and other words and phrases immediately netted me exactly what I was looking for, as streaming data services or as downloadable files in a variety of formats.  I have already used it to create several GIS-based lessons, such as investigating traffic accidents, and intend to do so in the future.  I salute those involved with putting this resource together and I encourage other governmental, nonprofit, academic, and private organizations to make use of the tools such as ArcGIS Hub to do something similar.  Fortunately, many are doing just that!

oak_hill_open_dataA section of the open Data Portal for Oak Hill, West Virginia (  

–Joseph Kerski

New Exercise Using Open Data Portals from Local Governments

December 18, 2016 2 comments

Despite the growing volume of geospatial data available, and the ease of use of much of this data, finding and using data remains a challenge.  To assist data users in these ongoing challenges, I have written a new activity entitled “Key Strategies for Finding Content and Understanding What You’ve Found.”   The goal of this activity ” Key Strategies for Finding and Using Spatial Data” is to enable GIS data users to understand what spatial analysis is, effectively find spatial data, use spatial data, and become familiar with the ArcGIS platform in the process.  I tested the activity with a group of GIS educators and now would like to share it with the broader GIS community.

The document makes it clear that we are still in a hybrid world–still needing to download some data for our work in GIS, but increasingly able to stream data from online data services such as those in ArcGIS Online.  But these concepts don’t make as much sense unless one actually practices doing this–hence the activity.

In the activity, I ask the user to first practice search strategies in ArcGIS Online, using tags and keywords. Then, I guide the user through the process of downloading and using a CSV file with real-time data.   After a brief review of data types and resources, I guide the user of the activity through the process of downloading data from a local government agency to solve a problem about flood hazards.  The next step asks users to compare this process of downloading data with streaming the same data from the same local government’s site (in this case, using data from Boulder County, Colorado) into ArcGIS Online.  The activity concludes with resources to discover more about these methods of accessing data.

Jill Clark and I have created other hands-on activities on this theme of finding and understanding data as well, available here.  We look forward to hearing your comments and I hope this new activity is useful.


Accessing data from the Boulder County local government GIS portal through the lesson described above.