The trouble with Geoportals: Why open data should be open, free, and accessible

Source: Chris Herwig, Mapbox    


In our conversations surrounding open government data, both domestically and internationally, we should be discussing best practices for making open data more open and accessible. Concretely, open data projects should include bulk data access and retrieval options that are as free and open as the open data itself.

As the research and acquisition lead behind MapBox Satellite - an aerial imagery basemap of the world created entirely from public domain open data - I spent the past four months acquiring dozens of terabytes of high-resolution imagery for the continental United States from each state's GIS agency, the USDA Farm Service Agency, and the U.S. Geological Survey. In my post on the MapBox blog, I go over a few of the key takeaways from my recent work, highlighting some successes and failures in providing geodata at the state and local levels in the United States.

I identify three types of open government data users, each with different technical abilities and ultimate end uses for data: casual users, programmatic users, and bulk data users. Data accessibility means something different for each type of user, and open data is not truly "open" if it is inaccessible. In short, the takeaway is that we should be talking about open data accessibility in the open government space. Open data is not truly "open" if it is inaccessible.   View the full article "The Trouble with Geoportals: Why open data should be free, open, and accessible" on the Mapbox blog.

Authors: Chris Herwig
Topics: Open Data