Hennepin County Launches GIS Open Data Portal
On April 28th, Hennepin County unvailed it’s new GIS Open Data Portal! This comes just 10 weeks after the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners voted to pass an Open GIS resolution, a vote put into motion thanks in large part the work and formal recommenation of MetroGIS.
Currently, the Hennepin County’s new GIS Open Data Portal hosts data about:
- taxable parcels,
- address points,
- the boundaries of the county,
- street centerlines,
- alternate names for streets,
- municipal boundaries,
- aerial imagery,
- commissioner districts, and
This new GIS Open Data Portal is a major step for open data in the Twin Cities, as well as Heppenin County’s Open GIS initiative. However, this portal, does raise the question of what data formats can be considered open. As allowed by state law and the Hennepin County Open GIS resolution, the data provided on this GIS Open Data Portal are provided in the format in which the County already stores these data - ESRI Geodatabase. The programming libraries available that can work with Geodatabase are poorly licensed, which limits the ability of civic technologists to use these datasets that are otherwise free of cost and license. As dictated by state law, an effort to have the Country provide these datasets in other formats would come at a cost that some requesting party would have to pay. Even if a party willing to pay for the conversion where to do so, it is also unclear if the requester could then ask that the converted data be added to the Open GIS Data Portal.
As evident by the above link, the Open Twin Cities community is already discussing options for converting these Geodatabase files into more open formats.
Update (May 2nd)
Through the efforts of Alan Palazzolo, Brad Neuhauser, and David Bitner, the data provided on Hennepin County’s GIS Open Data Portal have been converted into GeoJSON and Shapefiles. What’s more, David has offered to host these converted files for download through his company, dbSpatial. You can download the converted files at http://data.dbspatial.com/hennepin/.