Tag Archive | Database

CA Supreme Court Issues Ruling on GIS Open Records Case

For the history of Sierra Club v. Orange County see GIS Cafe Blog (May 10, 2013): Sierra Club v. Orange County Has Its Day In Court

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)).
For the reasonsabove, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeal andremand to that court with directions to remand to the superior court to issue a writ consistent with this opinion.

Ohio Court: Geodata Intertwined with Proprietary Software Falls Outside Open Records Law

Supreme Court Rules County Engineer’s Response Met Requirements of Public Records Act

by Dennis Whalen, CNO, March 7, 2013

The Supreme Court of Ohio today denied a writ of mandamus sought by Portsmouth real estate appraiser Robert Gambill to compel the production of certain public records by Scioto County Engineer Craig Opperman.In a 6-1 per curiam opinion, the court held that Opperman met the requirements of the Ohio Public Records Act by offering to provide Gambill with a copy of the county’s electronic database containing deed information and aerial photos of all property in the county if Gambill paid the estimated $2,000 cost of separating that data from proprietary mapmaking software protected by U.S. patent laws that is “inextricably intertwined” with the data on the engineer’s computer.

For full text of the article, visit Supreme Court Rules County Engineer’s Response Met Requirements of Public Records Act.

Related Articles:

See also High Court Rules in Favor of County (Portsmouth Daily Times), Ohio Court: Geodata Intertwined with Copyright-protected Software Falls Outside Open Records Law (Directions Magazine).

Similar Cases:

Sierra Club loses on appeal in case for access to Orange County database (Directions Magazine 2011)

The WireData Case and Implications for Geospatial Data (WI State Cartographer’s Office 2008)

Data-driven science is a failure of imagination

by Petr Keil, R you cereal? blog, January 2, 2012

Data-driven scientists (data miners) such as Rosling believe that data can tell a story, that observation equals information, that the best way towards scientific progress is to collect data, visualize them and analyze them (data miners are not specific about what analyze means exactly). When you listen to Rosling carefully he sometimes makes data equivalent to statistics: a scientist collects statistics. He also claims that “if we can uncover the patterns in the data then we can understand.” I know this attitude: there are massive initiatives to mobilize data, integrate data, there are methods for data assimilation and data mining, and there is an enormous field of scientific data visualization. … And they are all excited about big data: the larger is the number of observations (N) the better. Rosling is right that data are important and that science uses statistics to deal with the data. But he completely ignores the second component of statistics: hypothesis (here equivalent to model or theory). …

To read this article as well as the interesting debate that followed in the comments, please visit Data-driven science is a failure of imagination | R you cereal?.


New York newspaper defends identifying and mapping gun owners

By Katie Glueck, Politico, December 26, 2012

A suburban New York newspaper on Wednesday defended a decision to publish online maps that reveal names and addresses of people with gun licenses in several counties near New York City. … Over the weekend, the White Plains-based Journal News offered interactive maps of Westchester and Rockland counties which gave names and locations of people with pistol permits that the paper had obtained through the state’s Freedom of Information Act. The piece sparked uproar on the right and among some readers this week.

For full text of the article, please visit: New York newspaper defends identifying gun owners – Katie Glueck – POLITICO.com. Click here to see the interactive Map of the gun permits in Westchester county, NY.

Related Articles:

Not a Seed of Doubt: Substantial Extraction of Database

Thanks to Kevin Pomfret for passing this one along.

By Darren Meale, Associate and Anthony Trenton, Partner, SNR Denton UK LLP, LexisNexis, August 31, 2011

In Beechwood House Publishing (t/a Binleys) v Guardian Products Ltd & Anor [2011] EWPCC 22 (20 June 2011), the Patents County Court considered the issue of what amounts to a substantial extraction of data, and therefore an infringement, under the Copyright and Rights in Databases Regulations 1997 (the “Regulations”).

For full text of the legal analysis visit Not a Seed of Doubt: Substantial Extraction of Database.

Presentations from National Academies’ Symposium on International Scientific Data Sharing

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From Paul Uhlir, Director, Board on Research Data and Information, National Academy of Sciences:
Presentations from Symposium on International Scientific Data Sharing The Board of Research Data and Information (BRDI) at the U.S. National Academies co-sponsored a free, two-day symposium on April 18-19th in Washington, DC on international scientific data sharing, with focus on developing countries. The presentations from the event are available online. The symposium sought to address the following questions:
1. Why is the international sharing of publicly funded scientific data important, especially for development? What are some examples of past successes and what are the types of global research and applications problems that can be addressed with more complete access to government data collections and government-funded data sources?
2. What is the status of public data access internationally, particularly in developing countries?
3. What are the principal barriers and limits to sharing public data across borders?
4. What are the rights and responsibilities of scientists and research organizations with regard to providing and getting access to publicly funded scientific data? How can international scientific organizations, government agencies, and scientists improve sharing of publicly funded data to address global challenges, particularly in less economically developed countries, more successfully?

Mining of Raw Data May Bring New Productivity, a Study Says

By Steve Lohr, NYT, May 13, 2011

…The quantity of business data doubles every 1.2 years, by one estimate. Mining and analyzing these big new data sets can open the door to a new wave of innovation, accelerating productivity and economic growth. …The next stage, they say, will exploit Internet-scale data sets to discover new businesses and predict consumer behavior and market shifts. …

For full text of the article, visit Mining of Raw Data May Bring New Productivity, a Study Says – NYTimes.com. The McKinsey Global Institute will release a report today titled “Big Data: The Next Frontier for Innovation, Competition and Productivity.”

Designers Make Data Much Easier to Digest

by Natasha Singer, NYT, April 2, 2011

In an uncharted world of boundless data, information designers are our new navigators. They are computer scientists, statisticians, graphic designers, producers and cartographers who map entire oceans of data and turn them into innovative visual displays, like rich graphs and charts, that help both companies and consumers cut through the clutter. These gurus of visual analytics are making interactive data synonymous with attractive data.

for full text of the article, visit Designers Make Data Much Easier to Digest – NYTimes.com.

Barriers to Interorganizational Information Sharing in e-Gov

Barriers to Interorganizational Information Sharing in e-Government: A Stakeholder Analysis

Authors: Jane Fedorowicz; Janis L. Gogan; Mary J. Culnan

DOI: 10.1080/01972243.2010.511556, Information Society: An International Journal, Pages 315 – 329

Abstract: Government agencies often face trade-offs in developing initiatives that address a public good given competing concerns of various constituent groups. Efforts to construct data warehouses that enable data mining of citizens’ personal information obtained from other organizations (including sister agencies) create a complex challenge, since privacy concerns may vary across constituent groups whose priorities diverge from agencies’ e-government goals. In addition to privacy concerns, participating government agencies‘ priorities related to the use of the information may also be in conflict. This article reports on a case study of the Integrated Non-Filer Compliance System used by the California Franchise Tax Board for which data are collected from federal, state, and municipal agencies and other organizations in a data mining application that aims to identify residents who under-report income or fail to file tax returns. This system pitted the public good (ensuring owed taxes are paid) against citizen concerns about privacy. Drawing on stakeholder theory, the authors propose a typology of four stakeholder groups (data controllers, data subjects, data providers, and secondary stakeholders) to address privacy concerns and argue that by ensuring procedural fairness for the data subjects, agencies can reduce some barriers that impede the successful adoption of e-government applications and policies. The article concludes that data controllers can reduce adoption and implementation barriers when e-government data mining applications rely on data shared across organizational boundaries: identify legitimate stakeholders and their concerns prior to implementation; enact procedures to ensure procedural fairness when data are captured, shared, and used; explain to each constituency how the data mining application helps to ensure distributive fairness; and continue to gauge stakeholders’ responses and ongoing concerns as long as the application is in use.

Keywords: data mining; data warehouse; e-government; interorganizational information sharing; privacy; stakeholder theory

Database creator appeals for counties’ land records


Author: Meghan Molloy, Kennebec Journal, November 11, 2009

Source: Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

A Cumberland-based business owner who intends to create a statewide database of land records has gone to court in an effort to compel 13 Maine counties to provide the records he needs.

John Simpson, owner and general manager of MacImage of Maine LLC, said he filed 13 appeals after being denied access or not getting timely responses to Freedom of Access Act requests for the records.  …

Devlin was a witness in a case involving MacImage and Hancock County after Simpson’s company alleged that the county violated the Freedom of Access Act by not allowing MacImage to obtain the records at a reasonable fee, which was determined to be the cost of printing electronic files.

A judge in Cumberland County Superior Court ruled in favor of MacImage on Sept. 1.

For full text of the article, visit: http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/story.php?id=295447&ac=PHnws


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