Little doubt that with the kids home from school and Christmas just a few days away, there will be some package "guessing" taking place under the Christmas tree when Mom and Dad aren't in immediate vicinity. That's why prudent parents and Santa all know it's a good idea to keep the best stuff tucked away until the last minute. Today's post is sort of like that. Back on October 23, 2013, the MetroGIS Data Producers Work Group formally released MetroGIS: Free & Open Access to Data Research and Reference Documents. Based on consideration of that 75-page paper, on November 20, 2013, the MetroGIS Policy Board, which works to coordinate use of geospatial data across the Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN MSA, sent letters to all county Administrators and Board Chairs encouraging them to eliminate geospatial data fees and licenses. Links below tell more about this important development:
(MinnPost, December 11, 2013)
(NSGIC Blog, December 12, 2013)
Comment: If you are from the Emergency Services Sector, you might be thinking: "What's the BIG Deal"? The answer to that question can be found on page 27 of the Twin Cities GECCo After Action/Improvement Plan issued in May, 2012:
Observation 2.1: Area for Improvement. There is currently no agreed legal or technical protocols for the region that facilitate the exchange and use of geospatial data in support of the Emergency Services Sector...
...Without agreement on the technical and legal parameters by which geospatial data will be shared between entities in the Twin Cities Region, situational awareness interoperability is not possible. Hurdles include proprietary issues, data protection concerns, disparate technical capacity, and administrative and financial restrictions on data accessibility. These are not issues practitioners can solve. Therefore, engagement from the decision/policy making community is required before there can be any real chance of developing the interchange of geospatial data needed to provide near real-time situational awareness for the region’s ESS...
Getting all counties in the Twin Cities Metro to make their geospatial data free and open, will go miles toward providing accurate, current and comprehensive situational awareness products for the region's ESS, whether it is in Mobile Data Terminals (MDT), Common Operating Picture (COP) applications, or basic maps. Consequently, to my way of thinking, that makes this effort by regional policy makers - the best present of the year!