Great news yesterday out of the GIS in the Rockies Conference. I was planning on going to the conference this year, but just got so busy I could tear myself away from work. Remember what Jack says about being successful at GIS:
“Now is the time to be the last one out of the parking lot”
The Colorado Geographic Information Portal is now available for users to get access to publicly available GIS data. My company does quite a bit of work in Colorado these days and getting data was always a PITA as many different organizations had to be contacted to get datasets. So I was very excited to see what Colorado put up for their portal, especially since it launches after big changes in the Geospatial world. Alas, I was very disappointed in what I saw as it is just another GIS portal powered ESRI’s GIS Portal Toolkit. The biggest problem is that the ArcIMS front end is so dated and slow. If this was built on the WebADF or even better ArcGIS Server, there would be so much more functionality. In the end this is the same, cluncky interface that we’ve been used to for years on the Geospatial On Stop.
Vladimir Lenin rails against holding geographic data hostage to proprietary formats
The second disappointment is that the data is still really only available as standard shapefiles and saved jpg format. There is no real OGC support let along KML/KMZ support that would enable more users access to this data. I’m fine with no WMS/WFS services as that is an strain on resources for most public entities, but all this data should be available in shp, gml, kml/kmz, tiff, jpg, pdf, and ecw. I’d take shapefiles over anything, believe me, but the lack of KML support is very surprising.
OK, lets not get too negative here. Metadata is great for finding datasets and the Colorado Geographic Information Portal is loaded up with great metadata. If you are looking for data from Colorado, you’ll be able to find it easily with the search. Actually this is the one area the ESRI GIS Portal Toolkit gets right. It took me no time to track down data that I will be needing for a project near Colorado Springs using the metadata search.
So what do we have here? A great new resource for folks looking for data from the “Centennial State”. It is as clunky as any GIS portal out there so I guess this is expected, but there needs to be more focus on data formats beyond shapefiles and an improved mapping front end that should be viable inside Google Earth (and probably powered by ESRI’s WebADF). It is a good start, but most of these GIS portals start well and end up getting stagnant over the months/years. Maybe Jon Gottsegen’s new powers as GIO will enable him to be more nimble and able to make improvements to the portal to make it the first “Where 2.0” data portal out there.