I’m Speaking at NACIS Conference Pittsburgh, PA October 8-10, 2014

I’m speaking at the National Association of Cartographic Information Society’s (NACIS) annual conference next month.  I’m giving a presentation during the Geographic Data Collections Day session.  Stop by and listen and say hi!

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2014 Geo Open Source Conference Philadelphia

Meet-Up group GeoPhilly and LocationTech are holding a 2014 Geo Open Source Conference in Philadelphia on November 20, 2014. Philadelphia’s LocationTech event will be a conference-style speaker series featuring technical talks on the convergence of open source and geospatial. This will also be a GeoPhilly event hosted by Azavea. A social happy hour will follow.

To register please go to this link https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/2014-geo-open-source-conference-presented-by-geophilly-and-locationtech-tickets-12168445147

Where We Came From and Where We are Going.

The NY times recently released an article looking at how Census data gives us insight into migrations patterns in the US. For each state you see the following information: where people from that home state have moved to and where they have moved from (by decade starting with the 1990 census and ending with the 2012 American Community Survey).  Within each of these migration patterns the data highlights what specific parts of the country people are coming from/leaving to.  For example, Florida’s data illustrates that in 1900 65% of Floridians were born in the state compared to just 36% in 2012.  The majority of the new migrants came from NY and other Northeastern states.   The out migration data shows that the majority of Florida residents have moved to other parts of the state, with other states in the South being the second destination.

The NY times did a great job visualizing the data into colored streams that are easy to understand.  The newspaper typically does a great job taking complex data and reformatting it for easy digestion.

Here’s  a link to the article:

The Promise and Pitfalls of Government APIs

How the City of Boston does Open Data.

Civic Innovations

Fresh off a week in San Diego for the annual Accela Engage conference (where Tim O’Reilly gave a keynote presentation) and some stolen hours over the weekend for hacking together an entry in the Boston HubHacks Civic Hackathon, I’ve got government APIs front of mind.

Getting to hear the Godfather of “Government as a Platform” speak in person is always a treat, and Tim was kind enough to share the awesome slide deck he used for his talk. The chance to follow up on an event like Engage with some heads down time to bang out a quick prototype for the City of Boston was a great opportunity to frame some of the ideas discussed at the conference.

For me, this quick succession of events got me thinking about both the promise and the pitfalls of government APIs.

APIs: The Promise

The thing I love the most about…

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Another Introduction to GIS

Nice summary of what GIS is. There are many definitions out there.

Texas A&M Geoservices

There are several definitions used while explaining geographic information systems (GIS).  One of the most popular definitions for GIS is “a computer-based system to aid in the collection, maintenance, storage, analysis, output, and distribution of spatial data and information. (Bolstad)”  GIS helps us gather and use spatial data;  it is concerned with absolute and relative location of features (the where) and it’s concerned with properties and attributes of those features (the what).

GIS quantifies locations by recording their coordinate positions on Earth (latitude/longitude).  GIS tools are essential in business, government, education, and non-profit organizations (Bolstad).  It helps us identify and address environmental problems by providing information on where the problems occur and who are affected by them.  Using GIS we are able to identify the source, location, and extent of environmental impacts.

Advances in three key technologies have helped aid in the development of GIS; imaging, GNSS, and computing.  Cameras…

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Turning Governments into Data Stewards

Great article on why governments should operate as data stewards and focus their resources on making data open so that third parties can incorporate it into their apps.

Civic Innovations

The civic entrepreneurs behind Open Counter recently launched a new service called Zoning Check that lets prospective businesses quickly and easily check municipal zoning ordinances to determine where they can locate a new business.

This elegantly simple app demonstrates the true power of zoning information, and underscores the need for more work on developing standard data specifications between governments that generate similar kinds of data.

In a recent review of this new app, writer Alex Howard contrasts the simple, intuitive interface of Zoning Check with the web-based zoning maps produced by different municipal governments. Zoning Check is obviously much easier to use, especially for its intended audience of prospective business owners. And while this certainly is but one of many potential uses for zoning information, it’s hard to argue with the quality of the app or how much different it is than a standard government zoning map.

But to…

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Introducing ITA’s Trade Developer Portal

Open US Trade Data/APIs from the International Trade Administration.

Tradeology, the ITA Blog

Kimberly Becht is the Deputy Program Manager for Web Presence in the International Trade Administration.

ITA's Trade Developer Portal provides APIs for office locations, market research, trade events, trade leads and trade news. ITA’s Trade Developer Portal.

In support of President Obama’s Open Government Initiative and the Commerce Department’s strategic plan, the International Trade Administration (ITA) has taken a major step in making its data open and accessible to the public through its Trade Developer Portal.

Announced today by Secretary Pritzker, the portal is a collection of application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow software developers to create web and mobile applications using information produced by ITA and other trade promotion agencies.

Making its data public to software developers is one more way ITA is helping U.S. businesses export and enabling foreign investment in American companies through the use of cutting edge technologies.

The Trade Developer Portal helps fulfill the Department’s top priority of making federal data open and available to third party developers in order to foster…

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Open Data Cautionary Tale

I am a firm believer in the public being able to access data that it is paying for through taxes (with the exception of sensitive data). That being said, having access to civic data is imperative to the ability to check and balance our government(s). Technically Philly has an article about a civic hacker who requested a data set from Philadelphia Traffic Court because he wanted to analyze the data to look for cases where violations were pleaded down to lesser charges/fines. He was told that it would cost $11,000 for the consulting firm in charge of the server where the data was hosted to make a specialized data dump. Pennsylvania has a “Right To Know” law on the books but Philadelphia’s court system has their own public access policy which allows it to pass the cost of the unique data pull onto the requester. So in essence, the court system is making data difficult to access by imposing a fee.

Any thoughts on this topic?

Here’s the story.

Open Data Portals: Where To Find Data

Finding sources of open data can be a little cumbersome because there are so many ways to find data. There are a lot of websites that house data. For instance, let’s say that you are looking for data on the bike routes in Philadelphia. One place you can look at is Open Data Philly which is a portal that provides access Philadelphia based data sets, APIs, and applications.  You can search amongst the over 170 datasets or even submit or nominate a dataset to be included on the site.  A quick search on the site shows that there are 6 datasets related to biking ranging from bike rack locations to commuting routes.  Many large cities and counties are have websites where they store open data for their municipalities.

Here are some sites for local/federal government data:

Philadelphia: Open Data Philly

New York City: NYC Open Data

Boston: City of Boston

District of Columbia: Open Data Catalog

U.S. Government: Data.gov