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Finding Data on ArcGIS Hub Open Data Portal

December 10, 2018 Leave a comment

The ArcGIS Hub Open Data Portal  has in a short period of time become a very useful means by which geospatial data can be searched, found, and used.   I believe that there are two main reasons why:  The ArcGIS Hub (1) allows organizations to easily host their own data, and (2) provides an easy to use but powerful set of tools for users to find data.  At the time of this writing, nearly 111,000 data sets were linked to the ArcGIS Hub Open Data Portal from nearly 6,000 organizations worldwide.

In keeping with the theme of our book and this blog, pay close attention to each of the data sets listed here that you are interested in using, and make sure you understand the usage restrictions, if any.  Not all data sets listed are necessarily “open” for any conceivable use, so again, understand the licensing and usage for your desired data set.

One advantage to using the ArcGIS Hub Open Data Portal from the user’s perspective is its simple layout (Figure 1):  The user is presented with a search category box along with a location box; i.e. “near <location x>.”  This surprisingly straightforward interface reminds me of how simple I found Google search to be nearly 20 years ago after years of using WebCrawler, AltaVista, and other search engines.

My education outreach team recently used the ArcGIS Hub in an educational context, in our Esri MOOC entitled “Do It Yourself Geo-Apps”.  In the MOOC, we had participants leverage open data to build web apps using Washington D.C.’s Vision Zero Safety data to help people learn more about pedestrian and bicyclist safety within the community. Specifically, students in the course searched and found data on commuting in Washington DC, downloaded the data as a shapefile, and uploaded it to their ArcGIS Online account (Figure 2) and began analyzing it.

An alternative workflow becoming rapidly adopted, as we have documented in this blog, rather than download and upload, is to obtain the link for the data as a REST endpoint and add it directly into a working session in ArcGIS Online, from which analysis tools can be run.  To do this using the ArcGIS Hub, use the APIs link on the right side after you find your desired data set, with one modification:  The GeoService full dataset are often tagged with a query statement.  For example, the Michigan hydrography polygons are listed as:  https://gisago.mcgi.state.mi.us/arcgis/rest/services/OpenData/hydro/MapServer/17/query?outFields=*&where=1%3D1.  To view the data in ArcGIS Online, remove everything after MapServer/, as shown in Figure 3.

Another fascinating feature in that same right-hand zone on the metadata results page is “create story map”, which, as the name implies gets you started right away creating and displaying the data in a story map (Figure 4) – in my case, a map series story map.  From this point, you could add additional layers, audio, video, photographs, and narrative to this same story map.

It is understandable with any open portal such as this, with contributions from a wide variety of organizations, that some challenges will exist.  From the perspective of the data user, one of those current challenges is finding results to searches on medium sized polygon areas, such as “Colorado” or “Platte River drainage”.   However, in the above Washington DC example, even if you did not know the term “Vision Zero”, a search on bicycle safety near Washington DC would provide you the result you are seeking.  The data extent for the Washington DC Vision Zero covered the entire North Atlantic Ocean, but that’s no doubt the result of an improperly encoded data point.

There is much more to ArcGIS Hub than this open data portal.  ArcGIS Hub includes community engagement tools such as event management, comment management, engagement dashboards, and initiatives.  One of the most appealing things about the ArcGIS Hub is that if you have an ArcGIS Online subscription, you can share your own authoritative open data with ArcGIS Hub.  By using your existing ArcGIS Online groups to identify data to share, you can set up public-facing websites for people to easily find and download your data in a variety of open formats. Your open datasets are connected to the source and are automatically updated.   I highly recommend spending time with the ArcGIS Hub, beginning with the open data portal.

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Figure 1.  ArcGIS Hub Open Data interface, a very useful tool for finding geospatial data. 

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Figure 2.  Vision Zero safety data for Washington DC from the ArcGIS Hub streamed into ArcGIS Online. hub2

Figure 3.  Michigan hydrography data from the ArcGIS Hub streamed into ArcGIS Online.

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Figure 4.  Story map from Michigan hydrography polygons. 

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A review of the Oregon Geospatial Data Portal

November 12, 2018 2 comments

We as the authors of this blog have been honored to review many state, national, and international GIS data portals throughout the years.  The state portals have included Texas, Utah, Maryland, and Indiana, and ranking among these great portals is the one from Oregon.  Named “The Oregon Spatial Data Library, at the time of this writing, the library lists 908 data items–an impressive number, but even more impressive is its simple, modern interface with the ability to browse by collection, format, sources, topics, and keywords–all listed on the left side.   The data sources include downloadable zip files but also streaming data services which as we have pointed out here, are rapidly becoming the preferred option for many users and uses.

The library is also linked to another fabulous resource– The Oregon Explorer, with its own mapping interface and information about fascinating places to visit, but also information about natural hazards and other themes of concern to residents and visitors of the state.  Thus, it is a tool for the visitor and general public, but also a research tool.  Through the library, one can also access the Communities Reporter, a resource for community planners and researchers with access to extensive data and maps.

Interestingly, the Oregon Community Foundation is listed as a partner, an organization that creates charitable funds for worthy causes in the state.  To have a resource such as a geospatial data library be considered a worthy cause brings me great joy!

I highly recommend investigating the Oregon Spatial Data Library.  I congratulate and salute all those involved in setting it up and maintaining this excellent resource.

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The Oregon Spatial Data Library, with investigation to discover land use land cover data. 

–Joseph Kerski

 

The Coastal Atlas from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources

February 5, 2018 1 comment

The Maryland Coastal Atlas serves up ocean use and resource data, coastal hazard and shoreline data, and near-shore and estuarine data.  The purpose of the atlas is to make coastal related geospatial datasets available to agencies, researchers, and the general public for viewing and for performing basic overlays.  Tools are being added to make the atlas more versatile for users to do analysis and to help simplify or select data important for different users’ needs. The list of layers is extensive; at least 100 items are included.  But equally impressive is its ability to add dozens more layers from the MDiMapD database on such themes as agriculture, housing, demographics, hydrology, and much more.

The Atlas uses the Esri Web App Builder for its interactive map capabilities.  One of my favorite things about the atlas is the user’s ability to add data to the web interface from ArcGIS Online, a URL, or a file of the user’s own creation.  The site features unexpected helpful touches such as palette of drawing tools that makes the atlas a rich teaching tool, and transects that can be drawn in the map to analyze such things as erosion rates.

A few enhancements on the site could be done to make it more useful, such as an expansion of the fairly limited query tool and an explanation of how it can be used.  I was puzzled how to close the transect results once I had created one, but this and other user interface questions were small; overall, the interface was intuitive.  The Maryland Coastal Atlas provides an excellent addition to the other portals we have written about in this region, such as the Maryland iMap Data Catalog We wrote about the state of Maryland’s GIS portal in the past, and the selected other data portals for the Chesapeake Bay.

The atlas uses the map services available from the Maryland GIS Portal and the iMap Open Data Catalog that we reviewed above.  To obtain the data, go to the Maryland Data Catalog to download the data or get the API to use in an online mapping application.  All of the Maryland Coastal Hazard datasets on the atlas are available through the data catalog but not all are downloadable.  Here is an example of a dataset on the atlas shown in the iMap Data Catalog with the Download and API function available on the listing.  Every layer is a REST service hosted by Maryland iMap, managed by the Geographical Information Office (GIO) and the state IT group (DOIT).

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The Coastal Atlas from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

A review of the Los Angeles GeoHub

April 23, 2017 2 comments

The Los Angeles GeoHub represents, in many ways, the next generation GIS data portal. It is in my view what a data portal should be, and given the population and areal size of Los Angeles, that the portal is robust makes it even more impressive.  The data user can search the city’s open data site, and also do something that not all sites allow:  “Explore all data”.  At the time of this writing, “exploring all data” resulted in 554 results, which one can then add to “my favorites” for later investigation and download.  One can also explore the data by category, including business, boundaries, health, infrastructure, planning, recreation and parks, safety, schools, and transportation.  Most data sets can be downloaded as a spreadsheet, as a KML file, or a shapefile.  These layers include grasslands, fire stations, cell phone towers, road work projects, traffic, parcels, and dozens and dozens more–even bus stop benches and other treasures.  Each download is quick and painless.

A unique and very useful characteristic of the GeoHub is that each layer lists the number of attributes, which are easily displayed on the site.  Another wonderful feature is that each layer is displayed above its metadata listing as a web service inside ArcGIS Online, which can be opened immediately in ArcMap or ArcGIS Pro or streamed as a GeoJSON or GeoService as a full or filtered data set. Applications based on the data can also be accessed on the site, such as the CleanStat clean streets index and the social determinants of health app.  And yet there is even more–charts can be generated straight from the data, and a whole set of ArcGIS Online mapping applications that the city has generated are displayed in a gallery here.  Because of these applications, the site can be used effectively even by someone who is not familiar with how to run a GIS to understand Los Angeles better and to make smarter decisions.

If you are a data user, explore the data on the GeoHub today.  If you are a data administrator, consider using the GeoHub as a model for what you might develop and serve for your own data users in your own location.

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Los Angeles GeoHub results from examining cell phone towers.  Note the many data-user-friendly items and choices to stream and download.

Dusting off the spatial data hidden in museum collections

September 11, 2016 2 comments

This installment of Spatial Reserves is authored by:  Shelley James and Molly Phillips. iDigBio, Florida Museum of Natural History.   We thank these authors very much for their contribution!

If you’ve ever had a need to document where a plant or animal species occurs today, or 100 years ago, perhaps the 1 billion biological specimens housed in natural history collections across the USA, and 5 billion around the world can help!  Each of these specimens imparts knowledge about their existence in time at a specific location.  Fish, fossils, birds, skeletons, mushrooms, skins – all with a date and location of collection.  The data, found on the labels attached to the specimens, in field notebooks and catalogues, is being transcribed by museum professionals and citizen scientists alike, revealing information about the world’s living organisms dating back to the 1600’s, some with very accurate spatial data, others much less so depending on the geographic knowledge of the collector at the time.  iDigBio – Integrated Digitized Biocollections – a project supported by the US National Science Foundation – is collaborating with biological collections across the globe to help combine and mobilize voucher specimen data for research, education, and environmental management uses.

All of this biodiversity data is in a format known as Darwin Core, a standardized set of descriptors enabling biological data from different sources to be combined, indexed, and shared.  The iDigBio data Portal allows open access to this aggregated data, allowing filtering for types of organisms, a spatial region using latitude-longitude co-ordinates, polygons or place descriptions, and many other options.  The data is delivered dynamically, and can be downloaded for use.  Currently about 50% of the biological records in iDigBio (over 30 million records) have a geopoint and error, and georeferencing is something the collections community continues to work on in order to improve this valuable dataset.  Any tools or improvements to data the geospatial community can provide would be a great help as iDigBio expands beyond 65 million specimen records, and we invite you to join the conversation by participating in the iDigBio Georeferencing Working Group.

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Pigeons and doves from around the world.  The iDigBio Portal maps the distribution of species and provides specimen record details “on the fly” as filters are applied by the user.  The dataset can be downloaded, or data can be accessed through the iDigBio API.

 

 

Bhuvan Ganga (Ganges) Web Portal

July 21, 2015 Leave a comment

The Un-Spider Knowledge Portal (United Nations Platform for Space-based information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response) recently reported the launch of the Bhuvan Ganga web portal and the Bhuvan Ganga mobile application. This new monitoring initiative will use existing geospatial information and crowd-sourced reporting to monitor pollution levels in the River Ganga (Ganges). The data portal already provides access to a variety of geospatial information including as flood hazard zones and environmental data and visitors to the site will be able to contribute to the project by uploading shapefiles and WMS layers. The accompanying mobile app will also allow users to collect and report information on pollution sources affecting water quality in the River Ganga basin.

River Ganga Web Portal

River Ganga Web Portal

The host geospatial platform, Bhuvan, was one of the projects we discussed in The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data. Impressed by geospatial resources such as Google Earth but concerned about potential misuses of the information following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008, the Indian Government launched its own version, describing Bhuvan as a gateway to the geospatial world. The benefits of providing open access to national, regional and local geospatial information outweighed lingering concerns over potential future attacks. Over the last seven years the site has developed into a comprehensive resource of geospatial datasets and services.

 

 

Categories: Public Domain Data Tags: , , , ,

Review of the OpenGeoportal

July 12, 2015 1 comment

One of the most robust data portals is The Open Geoportal (OGP).  It is a collaboratively developed, open source, federated web application framework to rapidly discover, preview and retrieve geospatial data from multiple curated repositories. The Open Geoportal Federation is a community of geospatial professionals, developers, information architects, librarians, metadata specialists and enthusiasts working together to make geospatial data and maps available on the web and contribute to global spatial data infrastructure.  Patrick Florance at Tufts University and others have been diligently working to make this resource one that will be valued and useful for the GIS community for years to come. The project’s code repository is hosted on github.  Documentation can be found here. To search the repository, you can enter information using the “where” and/or “what” search fields or zoom in on a location using the map,

Like any large data depository, this one takes some getting used to–but I found it to be straightforward: You enter where you are interested in searching, and what you are interested in searching for.  Where and What:  It doesn’t get much more straightforward than that.  The only thing I could not get to work was the “Help” link on the page.  After selecting and viewing your data on the map, you add it to a Cart.  The Cart acts like something you would see on Amazon, and you can add to it and delete from it as you are searching, which I found to be quite convenient. Another nice touch is that you can adjust the symbology of the data that you are examining on the map before you download it.  Even better, you can stream web services directly to your desktop, web, or mobile applications from the Cart.  After you have made your selections, you access your Cart, whereupon you are presented with download options.  If a layer is restricting by licensing agreement, you can add them to the cart but you must log in to preview or download restricted layers.  Spending time with the OpenGeoportal will be well worth it given its ease of use, but moreso for the thousands of international data layers accessible here.

Additional tools that the OpenGeoPortal community is in the process of building include a Harvester–an open source web application that provides the automation of customized harvesting from partner metadata nodes and XML metadata files within a web or local directory.  Also in progress is a Metadata Toolkit–a publicly available website that provides tools to easily create guided, geospatial metadata, and a Dashboard to analyze and visualize massive spatial data collections.

The OpenGeoportal

The OpenGeoportal.

Categories: Public Domain Data Tags: ,