Esri: Making governmental GIS Mapping Data available to the public

Satellite image of Haiyan destruction on the Philippines
The ASTER instrument on NASA's Terra satellite captures this image of the coast of the Philippines a week after Haiyan
Credits: NASA

Esri has set up technical features to enable any Government agency to make its GIS mapping data freely available to the public. Esri’s ArcGIS platform will allow the authorities to convert their data in accessible formats, which the end users can easily open. "Everyone starting to deploy ArcGIS can now deploy an open data site," Andrew Turner, chief technology officer of Esri's Research and Development Center in D.C., said in an interview, according to ReadWrite.

The feature has been in development for over six months. A first version will launched at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week, at an open data site in Chesapeake, Virginia, USA. The site will aggregate data across different entities, reflecting how the EPA gathers data to make regulatory decisions. EPA is one of the first US agencies that realizes the benefits from the usage and interpretation of information by the public and other outside organizations.

The more federal, state and local agencies decide to activate the feature, the bigger the effect in the public will be. At ESRI's geospatial conference in Washington D.C., on 11 Feb Februar the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) Director Letitia Long urged agencies to make data accessible to the public, other agencies and outside organizations. According to FCW online , she said: "Meta-tag your data, expose your data, make it accessible. If it is not out there for others to use, you're not realizing the full potential and value of data."