Tag Archive | #opendata

Big Announcements in Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science at White House Event


Memo: Addressing Societal and Scientific Challenges Through Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/holdren_citizen_science_memo_092915_0.pdf

Blog post: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/09/30/accelerating-use-citizen-science-and-crowdsourcing-address-societal-and-scientific



White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, in partnership with the Federal Community of Practice on Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science

Blog post: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/12/02/designing-citizen-science-and-crowdsourcing-toolkit-federal-government



The NSF Director Dr. France Cordova announces that citizen science and crowdsourcing—“a visionary concept”– will be a core priority for NSF in the coming fiscal year. Her presentation begins about 32 min into the Citizen Science Forum video, and the announcement is at 40:49. The written announcement will come from OMB later this year. https://youtu.be/J17uBahTdDE?t=2449

NSF Press Release: Be a (citizen) scientist! (of note, NSF has made $5,613,201 in grants and related awards that support research in this area): http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=136445&org=NSF


The Citizen Science Association and partners, including the Federal Community of Practice on Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science, announced plans to organize a Citizen Science Day on April 16, 2015, which will kick off a series of events nationwide.




White House Citizen Science Forum, in partnership with the Federal Community of Practice on Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science

YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=4&v=J17uBahTdDE

Holdren Opening Remarks (waiting for them to be posted): https://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/library/docsreports

Blog Post: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/09/09/open-science-and-innovation-people-people-people


The Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Act of 2015 provides clarification to government agencies, removing ambiguity about whether an agency can use crowdsourcing techniques. Senator Coons (D-DE) and Senator Daines (R-MT) co-sponsored the bill.

Text of the Bill: http://coons.senate.gov/download/?id=063AEFE6-CB5C-42FD-8FD6-57F58BD1AC5B

Press release: http://www.coons.senate.gov/newsroom/releases/release/senator-coons-introduces-bill-to-promote-open-science-and-innovation-in-government

The Government Wants You to Help It Do Science Experiments, Senator Chris Coons, Wired Magazine


First in MT…Coons to Unveil Federal Crowdsourcing Bill


Senator Coons Introduces Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Act of 2015 by Gene Quinn, IPWatchdog


  Read More…


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)


Too Big to Succeed: The Need for Federal IT Reform

The following is part of a special series of policy briefs by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars running until inauguration day. This piece, written by Commons Lab Early Career Scholar Zachary Bastian, tackles the need for reform in federal information technology.

As the world has become more dependent on information technology (IT), so has the federal government and its constituencies. Leveraged effectively, technical tools can engage the public, create cost savings, and improve outcomes. These benefits are obscured by regular reminders that federal IT is fundamentally flawed. It is too big to succeed. For IT to become sustainable, the federal government must enable change in three categories: 1) embracing agile development, modular contracting, and open-source software, 2) prioritizing small business participation, and 3) shifting the federal IT culture towards education and experimentation. The adoption of these reforms is vital. The current state of federal IT undermines good work through inefficiency and waste.

Click here to read the remainder of this brief on Scribd.


Google’s Michael Jones on How Maps Became Personal

by James Fallows, The Atlantic, January 3, 2013

In the past few years, the map has transformed from a static, stylized portrait of the Earth to a dynamic, interactive conversation. (An extended version of an interview from the January/February 2013 issue.) The entire concept of a “map” seems radically different from even a decade ago. It used to be something in a book or on a wall; now it’s something you carry around on your smartphone. Which changes have mattered most? And what further changes should we be ready for? James Fallows interview’s Google’s Michael Jones on How Maps Became Personal.

For the full text of the article, visit Google’s Michael Jones on How Maps Became Personal – James Fallows – The Atlantic.


How To Make Crowdsourcing Disaster Relief Work Better

by Jennifer Chan, US News and World Report, Op-Eds, November 23, 2012

Dr. Jennifer Chan, a Public Voices fellow at the OpEd Project, is the director of Global Emergency Medicine in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and an associate faculty member of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.

In the wake of Sandy’s destruction, digital volunteers mobilized again. From their homes and offices, using iPads and laptops, hundreds of volunteers crowd-sourced information and took on microtasks to help FEMA and other agencies process large swaths of information and speed humanitarian response.

For instance, in the first 48 hours after the hurricane, 381 aerial photos collected by the Civil Air Patrol were viewed by hundreds of volunteers, with the goal of quickly giving an overview of the extent of storm and flood damage. This project was called the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap MapMill project. In response to a request from FEMA, project developer Schuyler Erle volunteered to launch and lead the project. By mid-afternoon November 2nd, more than 3,000 volunteers had assessed 5,131 images, viewing them more than 12,000 times. Just a week later, more than 24,000 images had been assessed. Each view from a digital volunteer—a mother, a researcher, a friend, a colleague—helped FEMA determine the degree of damage along the eastern seaboard, assessing the condition of buildings, roads, and houses, with the aim of helping the agency in its post-disaster recovery and planning. That’s an amazing effort.

But did it actually help?

For full text of the op-ed, visit How To Make Crowdsourcing Disaster Relief Work Better – US News and World Report.



International Open Government Data Conference 2012

Data.gov and the World Bank are joining forces to sponsor the second International Open Government Data Conference (IOGDC) to be held on July 10-12, 2012, in Washington D.C. at the World Bank Headquarters at 1818 H Street NW. The IOGDC will gather policymakers, developers, and others with a keen interest in open government data to share lessons learned, stimulate new ideas, and demonstrate the power of democratizing data.

The IOGDC will bring together the world’s foremost experts on open government data. From policy to technology, IOGDC promises to be filled with thoughtful, dynamic discussion around the historic opportunity presented by open government data to foster collaboration, transparency, and interactive public participation. There is no cost to attend, but preregistration is required.

The full agenda is at: http://www.data.gov/communities/conference and you can download a PDF version. The event will be web streamed live online at http://bit.ly/IOGDC-Live. You can follow and tweet about the event using the hashtag #IOGDC – there will also be daily recap featured on the World Bank Open Data Blog.

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