July 2013
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California GIS Data is Open

parcel access across the USRight before the ESRI conference last week, the California State Supreme Court ruled in a lawsuit that GIS Data (specifically Parcel boundaries) are part of the Public Record, and should be made available to the public at the cost of duplication.

The County has done this for a while – you can see the price list here: http://assessor.lacounty.gov/extranet/outsidesales/price.aspx

Click here to read the Court’s Decision

I also went to see a presentation by Bruce Joffe, who was a leader in the lawsuit – he gave a good presentation about the history of these issues.

Click here to view Bruce Joffe’s presentation: Defending Public Access to our Governments GeoData

From my perspective, the fact that LA County makes its data available has dramatically improved collaboration, cooperation, and reduced a lot of internal inefficiencies that were caused by the goal of monetizing the valuable data.

On the flip side, there is always the battle for scarce budget dollars.  My approach is to recommend to our Board of Supervisors to increased County funding to the Assessor to maintain their mapping capabilities, since increased economic activity and improved efficiency from open data shows up in reduced funding requirements from other departments.

Basically, the Assessor’s office shouldn’t be punished for helping out other agencies and the public – their job is part of the County’s business and they should be funded to do that – and making the data available helps other departments reduce their needs and budget requirements.

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