Tempe, AZ GIS Data – It will cost ya!

Boy, all I wanted to do is get some GIS data for GIS Day 2009. Little did I know my own hometown is one of the worst offenders of locking up GIS Data.

City of Tempe – Sale of Engineering & GIS Records

Take a look, “$568.70 for each quarter section or 1/4 mile area”. For your own information, Tempe is 40 sq miles in size so do the math. Simply nuts! Plus take a look at their “conditions”:

Conditions and Restrictions

  1. All commercial orders and digital data orders will be required to document purpose of use.
  2. Plotting orders in excess of $25.00 and all digital data orders will require full pre- payment before order is processed.
  3. Digital data will be provided on city-issued media only.
  4. All orders and payments must be done in-person only.

I mean really, not only do they “share” it in Microstation, but you have to document the purpose of public data, you have to get the data on “city-issued” media and orders must be made in person. My jaw is still on the floor a week after I looked that this. Time for a little geo-revolution in Arizona. Don’t you think? Prepare to get very tired of my “struggle” against the City of Tempe for their data.

Time to call in the troops, free public data!

Time to call in the troops, free public data!

Update: Andrew Turner provides a great link to put this in perspective as well as the issues with data licenses on local geodata.

Update 12/01/2009: I just received this from the city:

Hello Mr. Fee,

Thank you for bringing your concerns to the city’s attention. We will review this practice/policy with the City Attorney’s Office and I will get back to you with more information as soon as possible.

Regards,
Nikki

Nikki Ripley
City of Tempe
Communication and Media Relations Director

At least it is a response. Maybe other organizations who have more power in this valley might be able to get some results. I’m still hopeful though…

ArcGIS Online Moves to Standard Web Map Tiling Scheme – That’s the Way I Like It!

ESRI has been talking about this for months (and haphazardly blogged about on the ArcGIS Online blog last week), but they’ve now got a post up on their ArcGIS Server Blog outlining the changes coming to ESRI’s ArcGIS Online web services. (Side note, wouldn’t be nice if ESRI sort of planned their blog posts better for a common message?)

Since the release of ArcGIS Online three years ago, the 2D services have used the WGS 1984 geographic coordinate system and a 512 x 512 pixel tile size. Google and Bing, in contrast, use a modified Mercator projection and a 256 x 256 tile size. The scale sets used by both tiling schemes are similar, but not equivalent.

Make sure you read the whole ArcGIS Server blog post to understand what you have to do and when. From the ArcGIS Online blog:

The existing services in the?ArcGIS Online tiling scheme will remain available for at least six months and, depending on demand, may remain available longer. Although the services will remain available, the content in these services will no longer be updated.

The Map Bar Has to Go

Why oh why are we seeing this Map/Menu bar on all these new “Web 2.0” mapping applications? Take this beta example from the USGS National Map Viewer:

So you’ve been sitting back, watching all this great new Web 2.0 stuff and this is what you bring to the table? I know, lets see how much junk we can throw into a JavaScript API. The whiteboard on this one must have been intense… Just take every idea that someone comes up with and toss it into a ribbon interface. Sweet! But this isn’t a complex, specialized, niche application we are talking about. This is our (well if you like me are a tax paying citizen) national map. Yes the American Map! It should be something we are proud of, something we would run of a flag pole and salute!

They do expose some other ways to access the data, but don’t be fooled by the names. The Google Maps, Bing Maps and the rest are all just links to the ArcGIS REST API. That is how The National Map should be exposed. “Here are the services, use them and create your own maps”. Might be a better way to handle it because the future looks bloated.

Of course we can’t completely blame the USGS for this, ESRI’s JavaScript and Flex API sample viewers have a similar abomination. Clearly GIS Analysts shouldn’t be designing user interfaces. Are we really going to use this thing for every web map API?

I mean we all love to throw complex concepts under a widget icon of a box with gears on it. Me? I can never remember if I’m supposed to use the compass or the globe to zoom in or out.

The one saving grace is that one day Google will just enable all this in their web map viewer making everything else irrelevant.