Open Data & GIS

A Presentation To The Hampton Roads GIS Users Group

Jonah Adkins || @jonahadkins

What is Open Data?

data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone – subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike -


Who Supports Open GIS Data?


US Government

In January of 2009, the President released a memo on Transparency and Open Government which makes three strong points:

State Of Virginia

Commonwealth Data Point is run by the VA Auditor of Public Accounts and gives public access to Virgina demographic data and detailed state financial figures including 100% of all state spending, including all contract payments.

Other Virginia Cities/Counties

Cities Across The Country

  • Open Data Philly seeks to improve access to data about Philadelphia, increase government transparency and accountability, drive and encourage innovative uses of the data, and inform citizens about regional trends.

  • DC Data Catalog provides citizens with the access to 495 datasets from multiple agencies, ensuring agencies operate as more responsive, better performing organizations.


People who work with your data want it in easily ingestible formats, so that they may work with it in the tools of their choice.

Case Studies

National Park Service

NPS has integrated their traditional GIS implementation of ArcSDE with Open Street Map. Custom versions of the open source iD editor for OSM, allows park employees and the public to contribute to the authoritative parks database.

New York City

Through legislation, NYC released it's data to the public. Using a series of open source scripts, the GIS department can monitor changes made in and around their datasets.


Portland, Oregon's regional commuter transit provider, uses OSM as the basemap for real time navigation, route planning, and scheduling.

Things To Know

License - Data can be open and free and licensed! For instance, an ODC-BY requires users to credit you as the original source. Open Street Map uses an ODbl or a "share-alike" type license.

CSV - Comma Seperated Values is the preferred method of sharing tabular data. (Never PDF)

GeoJSON - Widely used standard for smaller geographic data sets. (Sometimes KML)

Shapefile - perhaps the most used / shared georgraphic data format and is (mostly) open!

GeoTIFF - open standard for sharing raster data.

Tools To Use

SIMPLE Links On A Web Page!

GitHub The de-facto collaborative environment for many organizations.

Open Street Map A great tool/workflow for making your data available in highly used map services around the world.

Esri2Open Part of Project Open Data is a free ArcGIS toolbox for exporting GIS data to sharable formats.

Esri is releasing ArcGIS For Open Data that will allow users with AGOL Organization accounts to publish there existing and new services as Open. This also includes a tool for creating an open data page for your organization.

Interested In Legislation?

Check out the Sunlight Foundation for resources on crafting policy.

How Does Hampton Roads Look?

City Data Available Cost
Chesapeake YES $50
Franklin NO N/A
Gloucester NO N/A
Isle Of Wight YES $15 Per Layer
Hampton NO N/A
James City County YES FREE!!!
Newport News NO N/A
Norfolk YES $100 Per Theme
Poquoson NO N/A
Portsmouth NO N/A
Smithfield NO N/A
Southampton County NO N/A
Suffolk YES $50 - $500
Surry County NO N/A
Virginia Beach YES Free To Order
York County YES $20-$300
Williamsburg YES FREE!!!

Most Important Part - Promote Your Open Data! Engage The Public, Especially Students!

Further Reading


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