For the CA Supreme Court ruling (PDF), visit: CA Supreme Court Decision July 8, 2013
To the extent that the term ―computer mapping system is ambiguous, the constitutional canon requires us to interpret it in a way that maximizes the public‘s access to information unless the Legislature has expressly provided to the contrary. (Officeof Inspector General v. Superior Court, supra, 189 Cal.App.4th at p.709.) As explained above, we find nothing in the text, statutory context, or legislative history of the term―computer mapping system‖ that allows us to say the Legislature clearly sought to exclude GIS formatted parcel data from the definition of a public record when it can be disclosed without any accompanying software.Applying the interpretive rule set forth in article I, section 3, subdivision (b)(2), we must conclude that section 6254.9(b)‘s exclusion of―computer mapping systems from the definition of a public record does not encompass a parcel database in a GIS file format. Contrary to what the County contends, this reading of the statute does not ―repeal or nullify‖ a ―statutory exception to the right of access to public records‖ in contravention of article I, section 3, subdivision (b)(5). Our holding simply construes the terms of section 6254.9 in light of the constitutional mandate that a statute ―shall be narrowly construed if it limits the right of access.(Cal. Const., art. I, §3, subd. (b)(2).)We note that this interpretation is consistent with a 2005 opinion letter issued by the Attorney General in response to a request by a member of the Assembly to determine whether ― parcel boundary map data maintained in an electronic format by a county assessor [is] subject to public inspection and copying under provisions of the California Public Records Act (88 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 153, 153 (2005).) The opinion letter explained that ―the term ̳computer mapping systems‘ in section 6254.9 does not refer to or include basic maps and boundary information per se (i.e., the basic data compiled, updated, and maintained by county assessors), but rather denotes unique computer programs to process such data using mapping functions original programs that have been designed and produced by a public agency.‖ (88 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. at p. 159.) Accordingly, the Attorney General concluded, ―parcel map data maintained in an electronic format by a county assessor does not qualify as a ̳computer mapping system‘under the exemption provisions of section 6254.9 (88 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. at p. 159) and must be provided upon request as a public record at a fee limited to the direct cost of producing the copy (id.at pp.163–164). As noted above, the record here indicates that 47 counties in California maintain GIS-formatted parcel base maps and provide access to those GIS-formatted databases as public records. (Ante, at p. 3.) Of those 47 counties, 19 changed their fee policies following the Attorney General‘s opinion letter, according to Sierra Club‘s expert.Because section 6254.9(b) does not exclude GIS-formatted databases like the OC Landbase from the definition of a public record, such databases are subject to disclosure unless otherwise exempt from the PRA. Unlike the records at issue in County of Santa Clara v. Superior Court (2009) 170 Cal.App.4th 1301, the County here does not argue that the OC Landbase is subject to any other exemptions. The fact that the County offered to produce the information underlying the database in an alternative format suggests that no such exemption applies. Similarly, the County‘s general practice of producing the OC Landbase to the public, albeit pursuant to a licensing agreement, suggests that its contents do not implicate any of the confidentiality or other concerns underlying th e exemptions set forth in section 6254. Because the OC Landbase is not excluded from the definition of a public record under section 6254.9(b), and because the County does not argue that the database is otherwise exempt from disclosure, the County must produce the OC Landbase in response to Sierra Club‘s request―in any electronic format in which it holds the information‖ (§6253.9 (a)(1)) at a cost not to exceed the direct cost of duplication (§§ 6253.9 (a)(2),6253, subd. (b)).
Tuesday, March 05, 2013 The Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) urges national investment in a comprehensive, updated flood map inventory for every community in the US. This will drive down costs and suffering from flooding on our nation and its citizens, as well as providing the best tool for managing flood risk and building sustainable communities.
For full text and to download a copy of the report, visit The Association of State Floodplain Managers | ASFPM.
- More Resources on Floods – from ASFPM (recoverydiva.com)
By Christopher Rees and Kevin Madders, BBC News, 28 February 2013
Since the issues are transnational, we’ve proposed the development of an international Geo-information Convention.Its aim is to be technology-neutral, so that it is future-proof enough also to cover new systems like hyper spectral sensors reminiscent of Star Trek and drones with privacy implications reminiscent of 1984.Continue reading the main story “Start Quote What limits should we put on use of its power?”The essential questions are: how do we make geoinformation reliable enough for the particular applications for which it is to be used, and what limits should we put on use of its power?Work on these difficult questions has already begun through the International Bar Association.
For full text of this op-ed, visit BBC News – Viewpoint: We need ground rules for geo-information.
Thank you to Adena Schutzberg (@adenas) for passing this along.
- We need ground rules for geo-information (bbc.co.uk)
When the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced its call for 18 Presidential Innovation Fellows last summer, US Chief Technology Officer Todd Park also asked folks across the country to support these Fellows with great ideas and valuable feedback. Over the past few months, through video chats, conference calls, and in-person meetings, thousands of Americans have connected with us to learn and share ideas about our work—and this Administration’s commitment—to unleash data from the vaults of the government as fuel for innovation….
After hearing this feedback, we had an idea: create an online showcase, highlighting the very best Open Data resources and how they are already being used by private-sector entrepreneurs and innovators to create new products and services that benefit people in all kinds of ways—from empowering patients to find the best healthcare right when they need it; to helping consumers detect credit card fraud; to keeping kids safe by notifying parents when products in their home are recalled.
For full text of the article, visit Introducing Alpha.Data.gov | The White House.
- White House Changing Policies to Open Up More Data… (semanticweb.com)
Mapping Sciences Committee, National Research Council Preview Report Release, Jan 2013
Committee on the Future U.S. Workforce for Geospatial Intelligence; Board on Earth Sciences and Resources; Board on Higher Education and Workforce; Division on Earth and Life Studies; National Research Council
Abstract: We live in a changing world with multiple and evolving threats to national security, including terrorism, asymmetrical warfare (conflicts between agents with different military powers or tactics), and social unrest. Visually depicting and assessing these threats using imagery and other geographically-referenced information is the mission of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). As the nature of the threat evolves, so do the tools, knowledge, and skills needed to respond. The challenge for NGA is to maintain a workforce that can deal with evolving threats to national security, ongoing scientific and technological advances, and changing skills and expectations of workers.
Future U.S. Workforce for Geospatial Intelligence assesses the supply of expertise in 10 geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) fields, including 5 traditional areas (geodesy and geophysics, photogrammetry, remote sensing, cartographic science, and geographic information systems and geospatial analysis) and 5 emerging areas that could improve geospatial intelligence (GEOINT fusion, crowdsourcing, human geography, visual analytics, and forecasting). The report also identifies gaps in expertise relative to NGA’s needs and suggests ways to ensure an adequate supply of geospatial intelligence expertise over the next 20 years.
To download a PDF copy of the report, visit Future U.S. Workforce for Geospatial Intelligence.
- National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates – Geospatial Research and Mapping (GRAM) – Application Deadline March 1st 2013 (gisandscience.com)
- GAO Says OMB and Feds Need to Make Coordination a Priority (geodatapolicy.wordpress.com)
- Possibility and Probability in Geospatial Information Visualization (dhs.stanford.edu)
By Ashley Woods and Kate Abbey-Lambertz, HuffPost Detroit, January 28, 2013
Alsup and Paffendorf said there are many possible uses for their improved site. Detroiters could visualize the privately created Detroit Future City framework, which provides a road map for city development over the next four decades, using WDWOT’s data. Community organizations could build private maps to keep track of abandoned lots in their neighborhood. Organizations working on foreclosure prevention may find the data to be more proactive.
But not everyone sees the open access to information as a good thing. When WDWOT first made information from the massive county foreclosure auction readily available online, some wondered if the site would just help out-of-state speculators to buy up property on the cheap — with no intention of ever improving it.
- Mapping The Destruction Of Detroit (huffingtonpost.com)
- What can be done with Detroit’s thousands of empty properties? (mlive.com)
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD charted new territory in an effort to develop a national database of standardized parcel-level property data collected directly from the most authoritative sources: local counties. HUD contracted with Abt Associates Inc. and their subcontractors, Fairview Industries and Smart Data Strategies, to embark on an exploratory project for assembling local assessor data, including key attributes such as property address, assessed value, land use, sales price, and sales history, for 127 targeted counties. The primary tasks of the project included identifying the appropriate data sources in each community, assembling the data and metadata, and standardizing the data in a common format to be accessible for HUD research efforts and for possibly aggregating data to higher levels of geography for public dissemination.
To download a PDF copy of the report, visit The Feasibility of Developing a National Parcel Database: County Data Records Project Final Report | HUD USER.
by Tripti Lahiri, WSJ India, December 30, 2012
In the wake of the fire at a Bangladesh factory that killed at least 112 garment workers on Nov. 24, U.S. and European retailers who buy from the South Asian country have said they will drastically improve safety checks at the factories they use. … But few of the plans being considered by retailers seem likely to address issues that labor groups have raised with regard to the present safety audit system – that they don’t allow workers a way to alert retailers to issues that crop up when the brands’ representatives are not around. Another complaint is that information on fire safety is generally kept confidential and rarely shared in a comprehensive way with the workers most likely to be at risk. Indian-American entrepreneur Kohl Gill is hopeful that cellphones, which are now widespread in exporting countries like Bangladesh and China, could help.Through his two-year-old company LaborVoices, Mr. Gill has been developing a voice-activated system that workers can call to leave messages about workplace conditions. ….
For full text of this article, please visit Can Mobile Phones Improve Factory Fire Safety? – India Real Time – WSJ.
- In Bangladesh, the Garment Factories Keep Burning (businessweek.com)
- Walmart said no to paying for fire safety in Bangladesh factories (dailykos.com)
- Bangladesh Fire Kills More Than 100 and Injures Many (nytimes.com)