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.
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.
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