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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.

bouldercounty_data.png

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