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)).
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?.
- Data Scientists Will Unlock Big Data’s Promise (blogs.wsj.com)
- What is Data Science? (architects.dzone.com)
- The Human Face of Big Data, a Book Review (sys-con.com)
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.
- See also the Atlantic Op-ed “How Big Data Can Solve America’s Gun Problem” (Marc Parish, December 27, 2012).
- Newspaper to Identify Even More Gun Owners (fox8.com)
- Blogger Turns Tables on Newspaper that Published Map of Gun Owners (economicpolicyjournal.com)
- Newspaper’s Advertisers Face Huge Backlash Over Gun Map (huffingtonpost.com)
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  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.
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?
- International Symposium on the Case for International Scientific Data Sharing: A Focus on Developing Countries (geodatapolicy.wordpress.com)
- Opening up scientific data (blogs.nature.com)
- The emergence of spatial cyberinfrastructure (geodatapolicy.wordpress.com)