ESRI Sends Geography Network to Pasture

I know there are two groups of people out there right now. Those who can’t believe the Geography Network is still running and those who forgot it existed. Well now both sets of you can now know that it is going to be retired at the end of this year.

With lots of changes over time to online GIS and geographic information and the technologies used to serve them, the?Geography Network has been replaced by better alternatives to publish and find data (like ArcGIS Online). Much of the same exact content, and much more content that has been updated,?can now be found and used in easier and better ways. So ESRI is planning to retire the Geography Network in late December 2009.

Can you believe it has been almost 10 years?


Google Maps Pushes Dagger into Bing Maps and Pictometry

When people always asked me, what did I like about Bing Maps, it was always the Bird’s Eye View. It was something that Google didn’t have in their map API and it really was useful since a top down view doesn’t always tell the full story. Well today Google announced that they too are going to have what they call Aerial Imagery in their API. Yep, that is the same perspective view that Bing Maps has with their Bird’s Eye View.

Hard Rock Hotel - San Diego, CA

Now of course how could one really get that excited about Google adding oblique imagery. Well unlike Pictometry, you can zoom out much further on the data so you can see how one might get from the Hard Rock Hotel to the San Diego Convention Center (Bing Maps is of course out of date).

Gain better perspective on where things are

Isn’t that so much more valuable than the top down version I just can’t see how any current Bird’s Eye View user can continue to use Bing Maps over this (Shall we count the days until Zillow changes?). What I’m interested in seeing which company can build out their “new service” first. Google with their oblique aerial view, or Microsoft with their street level view. I think we all know who will be throwing more resources at getting this done, don’t we?

The one weird part is this appears to be in the v2 API only. I suppose this is because launch customers Orbitz, Redfin and Trulia are all using that version of the API on their websites. v3 can’t be far along.

Dave Brubeck Quartet flying over Google’s Oblique Aerial Imagery


Geo-Tee — GIS T-Shirts

Scott Gregory wanted me to share something he is working on. From the website:

Here at? we strive to serve up the funny. We dive deep to dig up the humor buried in the world of GIS. We supply apparel for the seasoned old-school GIS’r that was doing GIS with punch cards, to the newbie who just figured out the difference between a datum and a projection. We have a wide range of threads that will be sure to not disappoint. So whether you have been in the game for a while, or just now getting your map on, we have got the goods for you. Enjoy!

So if you’ve been looking for some geo-shirts and stickers you’ve got another resource.


Tempe Responds to GIS Data Request

I got a response back from the City of Tempe.

Hello Mr. Fee,

Here’s some information that I hope assists with your specific request and also clarifies the city’s policy and state law with regard to production of this information. Tempe’s policy is guided by state law (available at this link) which allows for the purpose of a commercial request to be asked.


You mentioned that your request is for a presentation to a Tempe elementary school, which sounds non-commercial. Please contact Wendy Springborn in our Engineering Division (480-350-8250) in order to discuss exactly what you’d like to request. The city does not charge for non-commercial requests, except for the production of CDs to deliver the records. Some records might be deliverable via an emailed PDF, but that depends on whether the requester wants to be able to manipulate the record. If they do, that cannot be delivered via PDF because of the limitations of that format. Wendy is ready to assist with your request if you’ll let her know what you need.


Tempe bases its commercial rates in part on a fair approximation of market value. As described in the state law above, municipalities and other entities are able to ask the purpose of commercial requests and to deny improper requests upon the approval of the governor. The statute also establishes the ability to seek damages if records obtained for a non-commercial purpose are then used for a commercial purpose. You noted a few cities’ elected representatives have chosen to make all of this information searchable online; that would be a policy decision rather than staff action. It seems that some of your concerns with the city’s GIS records policy are grounded in the state law requirements rather than independent city policies.

Tempe places a high priority on transparency and customer service. We make every effort to fulfill records requests of all types across the many city functions and departments. Please let me know if I can assist in answering any other questions.


Nikki Ripley City of Tempe Communication and Media Relations Director

So there you go, at least they are going to let you have it for personal use. Good, at a minimum that is good news. I’ll be making my request ASAP. The part that causes me to pause is this, “Tempe bases its commercial rates in part on a fair approximation of market value”. I couldn’t disagree more with this statement and it is nuts that they think that this data is worth $100,000. Nothing in the state law says Tempe should charge $100,000 for their data. Fair market value for public data shouldn’t be 6 figures. This is why people don’t go to the source to get data but third party providers who don’t have the accuracy of Tempe’s data. I’m disappointed in this response so it shows how much more work we have with local governments.

Update: I submitted a public records request, so we’ll see how this goes.