Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Data Sharing and the GeoPortal

The GeoPortal is getting closer to completion and soon anyone searching for GIS data relevant to Iowa will have a simpler tool to discover data. One simple search will access the records from any participating data publisher, currently the DNR, DOT , and ICIT. In addition to simplifying a search for already available data, what the Geoportal will hopefully accomplish is bring more creators of GIS data into the GIS community.

With groups like Department of Workforce Development and Legislative Services Agency who produce GIS data but lack a publicized outlet for distributing that data, the GeoPortal can act as a doorway for anyone wishing to publish data or metadata that they maintain. Many state agencies and counties have come to the conclusion that it is in their own interest to publish or publicize much of their geospatial data. A recent NSGIC (National States Geographic Information Council) publication stresses this importance of data sharing.

The article supports increased use of government produced GIS data with the argument that it ultimately benefits the data creators. When the availability of data results in quicker/more focused crisis response by Emergency Management or increased economic activity by private business, the community the action is taking place in receives the benefits. Only through participation, with either the GeoPortal or some other outlet, will communities see these extra benefits of the useful data they create and maintain.

The pooling of existing data records might impact more GIS users in the state, but access to currently unpublished GIS data records might have more punch.

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