Appalachian Ohio Geospatial Data Partnership
Appalachian Ohio Geospatial Data Partnership

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Spatial Data Discovery Portal

Ohio Department of Administrative Services - Ohio Geographically Referenced Information Program has a new open spatial data portal for the discovery of public GIS data.  This falls in line with OGRIP's stance on open public GIS data. ODAS issued a report in February of 2015 titled "Open Data: The Opportunities, Barriers and Costs for Ohio" where it references OGRIP's proven history with Open Data (Executive Summary Below).  This data portal serves to strengthen that track record.  Please view the portal here and provide comments and questions to OGRIP.

Standard nomenclature is always a challenge when posting and querying data.  Here is an OGRIP working document that identifies standard terms used to tag data in the portal.  The Ohio adopted standard is still in development so contact OGRIP with suggestions.

Executive Summary Open Data: The Opportunities, Barriers and Costs for Ohio 

State and local governments collect and maintain large amounts of data for a range of functions including education, the economy, transportation, public safety, public services, health, the environment and the operation of government itself. The majority of this data is publicly available but in a variety of separate formats and structures, making it difficult to discover, share and use.

A school of thought exists, often referred to as open data1, that if this publicly available data was in formats compatible with different technologies that anyone could use, government performance could be improved. Increased transparency could better demonstrate the costs and benefits of state and local government programs. In addition, this accessibility could be used by public, private sector and non-profit organizations to develop new services, stimulating innovation.

Open data makes pure public records and data available in technical formats so that data within records can be processed, analyzed and re-used electronically without human intervention. For example, when an agency publishes the data from a spreadsheet online by exporting it to a file format, such as .csv, the file can be read by a number of computers including various spreadsheet and database programs. An example of a public record not in an open data format is a spreadsheet containing an agency’s operational statistics that is converted to a basic print equivalent PDF and then published on the Internet.

The State of Ohio has a proven history of working with and providing access to open data. One strong example concerns spatial or digital mapping data sets. The Ohio Geographically Referenced Information Program (OGRIP) has been a focal point for sharing federal, state and local government spatial data sets for years. This open data has stimulated all sectors of government, the private sector, academic research and the citizenry.

Section 701.30 of Ohio’s 2014-2015 budget bill, Amended Substitute House Bill 59 (H.B. 59), requires the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) and the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA) to provide reports to the General Assembly and the Governor that propose recommendations on standards for state and local agencies to post open data online. This DAS report provides an overview of open data, state activities, considerations, recommendations and a roadmap.

Recommendations:

1: Develop an open data strategy.
2: Start small, follow a defined strategy and mature incrementally.
3: Define success measures to meet open data initiatives goals.
4: Prioritize data sets to publish as open data.
5: Adopt technical and data definitional standards.
6: Leverage national best practices and publish guidance on identifying, assessing and publishing open data.
7: Address open data barriers.
8: Continue work to improve the state’s uniform chart of accounts.
9: Include data sources and disclaimers on data outputs.
10: Monitoring the DATA Act’s requirements.

 

1 The federal government defines “open data” as “…publicly available data structured in a way that enables the data to be fully discoverable and usable by end users.” OMB. Memorandum, M-13-13, Open Data Policy – Managing Data as an Asset (May 9, 2013)

Kevin Buettner