Hennepin County GIS portal

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Kristen Murray

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Apr 28, 2014, 6:49:02 PM4/28/14
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Alan Palazzolo

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Apr 30, 2014, 10:48:19 AM4/30/14
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This is great in many ways. Also, the new Hennepin County website is
pretty great.

BUT!

All the data released is in ESRI Geodatabase (GDB) file format. This
is even more proprietary that the more common ESRI Shapefile format.
One cannot build in GDB support into open source applications because
they have licensed the libraries poorly.

So, I am embarking on what will probably be a 4 hour journey just to
get software to work that can read this file format and convert it to
something else more useful. And that 4 hours is actually kind of low
considering I have a pretty good idea of what I am doing.

In conclusion, this data is not really open (yet). And ESRI is not
open (even if they sell things that help others be open).

And if you are interested in what are some good guidelines for
actually releasing data, here are my thoughts on that:
https://github.com/zzolo/so-you-want-to-open-some-data

</rant>


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Alan Palazzolo
Code for America
2011 Fellow
al...@codeforamerica.org
+1 770 596 1951
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Kristen Murray

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Apr 30, 2014, 1:14:39 PM4/30/14
to Alan Palazzolo, Geoff Maas, twin-citi...@googlegroups.com
I was wondering about this, too.  Geoff, is there any plan to make the data available in other formats?

In the short term, CURA would be happy to be an intermediary to convert GDB files into other formats.

My colleague, Jeff Matson, just shared a portal that a partner organization of ours in Detroit is using to provide data under their Open Data provisions.  The site uses ArcGIS Online:  it is in beta right now but shows a promising mechanism of providing data in a variety of formats through a search and map interface.
http://d3.d3.opendata.arcgis.com/home

Your data-opening suggestions are great, Alan.  Thanks for sharing.

Kristen

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Kristen Murray
Program Developer, Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, University of Minnesota
kmu...@umn.edu | 612-625-7560 (o) | 651-271-0065 (c)

CURA:Tech - a civic technology incubator

Geoff Maas

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Apr 30, 2014, 3:37:45 PM4/30/14
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Kristen and Alan,

Great question.

In making the data  available without fee or license, a municipal government (city, county, etc.) is under no legal obligation to provide the data in formats other than that which is uses to produce and process the data. The most relevant info covering this in statute is the following:

Section 13.03, Subd. 3.(e) The responsible authority of a government entity that maintains public government data in a computer storage medium shall provide to any person making a request under this section a copy of any public data contained in that medium, in electronic form, if the government entity can reasonably make the copy or have a copy made. This does not require a government entity to provide the data in an electronic format or program that is different from the format or program in which the data are maintained by the government entity. The entity may require the requesting person to pay the actual cost of providing the copy.


Of note, cities and counties are still able to charge a fee and require a license agreement under existing state law (Section 13.03, Subd. 3.(c) and (d)). The fact that we have enticed them into offering the data free is not an open invitation to make demands on how they do it. However, if there is an easy and proven means of providing the data in an open source-friendly format, they may consider offering it this way, but again, they are under no obligation to do so. County staff have plenty on their plate and we need to be mindful of their time and resources; they have been overly generous working with MetroGIS to make the recent free + open developments happen.


What I would suggest:


> CURA (or another volunteer agency that  is similarly committed and suitably resourced) developing a method of conversion for the .gdb format into something that is more readily consumable and desired by the open source community; Alan, if the solution you are working on turns out, all the better, do share it far and wide.


> Making this converted data readily available through their (CURA, et. al.) website, or we can host it on our DataFinder.org so long as it is accompanied by metadata;


> After demonstrating the efficacy of this approach for a period of time, and collecting the support for the desired open source format, perhaps offering the method of conversion to the County as a means of providing enhanced public service and wider availability to their data. It is their option if they wish to offer the alternate format, but keep in mind they are under no obligation to do so.


I am not by any means a legal expert, just passing along what I hope is helpful info.


Best,

Geoff




Subject: Re: [open-twin-cities] Hennepin County GIS portal
From: kmu...@umn.edu
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2014 12:14:39 -0500
CC: geof...@hotmail.com; twin-citi...@googlegroups.com
To: al...@codeforamerica.org

Brad Neuhauser

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May 1, 2014, 12:39:47 PM5/1/14
to twin-citi...@googlegroups.com, Kristen Murray, Alan Palazzolo
One bit of good news: GDAL 1.11 was released in April [0], and it includes "out of the box" capability to read ESRI File Geodatabases (.gdb) via the ogr library.  If you use the OSGeo4W suite[1], it's already available for download/update that way, or you can download it directly [2]. A simple example using it in command line to convert from gdb to shp would be:

ogr2ogr outfile.shp infile.gdb infilelayername

More details on the ESRI FIle Geodatabase page [3]  I'm sure that functionality will get rolled into QGIS before too long.

Enjoy!  Brad

[0] http://trac.osgeo.org/gdal/wiki/Release/1.11.0-News
[1] https://trac.osgeo.org/osgeo4w/
[2] http://trac.osgeo.org/gdal/wiki/DownloadingGdalBinaries
[3] http://www.gdal.org/ogr/drv_filegdb.html

Bill Bushey

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May 1, 2014, 1:17:31 PM5/1/14
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FYI Everybody, I've updated opentwincities.org/data to include a link to this, and made a short post about this news.

Alan Palazzolo

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May 1, 2014, 2:04:22 PM5/1/14
to Brad Neuhauser, twin-citi...@googlegroups.com, Kristen Murray
To be clear my rant was definitely not suggesting that Hennepin County
has to do anything in particular. I mostly just wanted to rant about
the specifics of open data and that format does matter. This is great
first step that Hennepin County has taken, and my rant is just a bump
along the way.

I did figure out how to convert the file to a shape file and it did
take me 4+ hours to do it. Thanks for the links, Brad, but I don’t
think 1.11 has made it to most build systems, specifically, Homebrew
does not have it. I was able to use the OSGeo Homebrew tap to get
what I needed and will write down what I did soon. But most of my
time is spent understanding the issue and what steps I need to take
and figuring out how to install things, not just in actual conversion.
I am not a real power user on this stuff, but definitely more
knowledgable than most.

Best,


--
Alan Palazzolo
Code for America
2011 Fellow
al...@codeforamerica.org
+1 770 596 1951


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David William Bitner

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May 1, 2014, 3:32:34 PM5/1/14
to Alan Palazzolo, Brad Neuhauser, twin-citi...@googlegroups.com, Kristen Murray
OK, I've got a script running and fetching all the Hennepin data and stuffing it on a server of mine. I'm happy to host things on this server as long as I have enough space there.


The script that is running right now to fetch this all is fetch_hennepin.sh in that directory. I've thrown that script up on GitHub at https://github.com/dbSpatial/opentwincities . If anyone would like to add something for me to run to get data up, just make a pull request.
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************************************
David William Bitner
dbSpatial LLC

Alan Palazzolo

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May 1, 2014, 4:39:49 PM5/1/14
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This is pretty rad, David. Thanks for including the fetch script, too.
--
Alan Palazzolo
Code for America
2011 Fellow
al...@codeforamerica.org
+1 770 596 1951


David William Bitner

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May 1, 2014, 5:09:42 PM5/1/14
to Alan Palazzolo, Brad Neuhauser, twin-citi...@googlegroups.com, Kristen Murray
Incidently... I also maintain a copy of the US OpenStreetMap database. If there are any particular shp/geojson extracts anybody needs it's pretty simple for me throw some dumps on  a cron.

Ryan Txanson

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May 6, 2014, 3:25:43 PM5/6/14
to twin-citi...@googlegroups.com, Brad Neuhauser, Kristen Murray


On Thursday, May 1, 2014 1:04:22 PM UTC-5, Alan Palazzolo wrote:
To be clear my rant was definitely not suggesting that Hennepin County
has to do anything in particular.  I mostly just wanted to rant about
the specifics of open data and that format does matter.  This is great
first step that Hennepin County has taken, and my rant is just a bump
along the way.

I did figure out how to convert the file to a shape file and it did
take me 4+ hours to do it.

Actually, this sounds like a good place for more documentation. There are a lot of tools that exist for converting a multitude of formats of GIS data, and the major barrier is just knowing what to do with what, and what things you need to know about the data in order to do the conversion. I'd love to contribute to writing stuff up, however, because I come across problems like this frequently. Maybe there should be a section in opentwincities.org/ with clear step-by-step guides for handling a variety of data formats? 
 

Alan Palazzolo

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May 6, 2014, 3:42:29 PM5/6/14
to Ryan Txanson, twin-citi...@googlegroups.com, Brad Neuhauser, Kristen Murray
Ryan, that sounds like a good idea. The opentwincities.org site is a
Github site and accepts pull requests. Let me know if you have don’t
have any idea what I am talking about.
https://github.com/OpenTwinCities/opentwincities.github.com

As for how I solved my problems, you can read it on the README of our
project we made with this data:
https://github.com/MinnPost/minnpost-hennepin-county-parcels

And the finished map:
http://www.minnpost.com/data/2014/05/hennepin-county-property-values-where-wealth


--
Alan Palazzolo
Code for America
2011 Fellow
al...@codeforamerica.org
+1 770 596 1951


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