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Author Topic: GIS database ruled not public records in Calif...  (Read 6494 times)


babj615

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Re: GIS database ruled not public records in Calif...
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2011, 10:51:35 PM »
Very interesting, thanks for the link and heads up!
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Seldom

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Re: GIS database ruled not public records in Calif...
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2011, 06:16:27 AM »
One of the problems with releasing raw electronic data is that it can be changed as well as queried.  Someone could move property lines or change ownership information, so the authority having jurisdiction has a legitimate reason to control use of raw data.  Paper or PDF is a lot less susceptible to manipulation.

jbensman

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Re: GIS database ruled not public records in Calif...
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2011, 08:33:30 AM »
Paper or pdf is much easier to manipulate than a shapefile.  Its simple to edit a pdf.  Save it as a jpg and photoshop it.  Paper: scan it, photoshop it, print it.  Because data can be changed is not a good reason not to release it.  Even if you changed the boundary in the shapefile or pdf, the real record would not be changed.

I think CA's FOIA is poorly written and there are problems with how the Court read the language.  Contray to the purposes of the Act, defining shapefiles as not a record means a city or agency could refuse to disclose it or charge such a high fee the public could not afford it.  It would make much more sense to include GIS data as records subject to FOIA but change the fee part to allow them to charge more than the actual cost of reproduction for GIS data and provide fee waviers for public interest requests.

San Fran has thier GIS trail data on the web (but the quality sucks).

Well at least the Federal FOIA requires agencies to release thier GIS data.  I remember many years ago some National Forests were trying to charge fees that included the cost of creating GIS data, but they were overruled by the national office and if I remember correctly a court ruled against the Forest Service on this.


Boyd

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Re: GIS database ruled not public records in Calif...
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2011, 09:08:50 AM »
Considering the financial plight of Washington and the states these days, I'm surprised (and delighted!) that we can still get free data. But I have a feeling that may come to an end one day, and maybe it would even be appropriate to charge for access instead of some of the other cutbacks we're seeing?

I don't see how a member of the public could "change" GIS data - it is read-only (or should be). Aside from that, I have downloaded property parcel data in my own area and the metadata includes huge disclaimers regarding the accuracy. It clearly states the data is only for planning purposes and is not survey grade. Experience on my land supports this - the property lines are not at all accurate.


Seldom

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Re: GIS database ruled not public records in Calif...
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2011, 09:15:45 AM »
jbensman,

FWIW, I've got no answer from CA BLM on getting their land status as a shape file.

Re. Photoshop vs Shapefile: Personally, I hate messing with bitmaps, GM makes shapefiles easy to manipulate if you need to.

Boyd,
I haven't come across any locked GIS data yet.  How do they make it read only in a way that I couldn't just modify the setting in the file properties box?

Indrid Cold

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Re: GIS database ruled not public records in Calif...
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2011, 09:39:40 AM »
Met news wrote:
Quote
The Sierra Club told the newspaper that the county asked $375,000 for a license to the  entire Landbase system
Well, that's one way to for the OC to help recoup some of the overhead costs.

Seldom

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Re: GIS database ruled not public records in Calif...
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2011, 10:45:28 AM »
Met news wrote:
Quote
The Sierra Club told the newspaper that the county asked $375,000 for a license to the  entire Landbase system
Well, that's one way to for the OC to help recoup some of the overhead costs.
That fee seems exorbitant and prohibitive.  Bet the Sierra Club appeals.

Indrid Cold

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Re: GIS database ruled not public records in Calif...
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2011, 10:51:16 AM »
That fee seems exorbitant and prohibitive.  Bet the Sierra Club appeals.
Sierra Club Loses on Appeal in Case for Access to Orange County, CA Parcel Database
Source

Boyd

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Re: GIS database ruled not public records in Calif...
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2011, 11:01:43 AM »
Boyd,
I haven't come across any locked GIS data yet.  How do they make it read only in a way that I couldn't just modify the setting in the file properties box?

Sure, you can modify the file AFTER you download it. But once you've downloaded, it's second-hand information, so caveat emptor. Anyone who wants the official, approved data should be downloading it from the source.

jbensman

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Re: GIS database ruled not public records in Calif...
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2011, 11:15:49 AM »
Met news wrote:
Quote
The Sierra Club told the newspaper that the county asked $375,000 for a license to the  entire Landbase system
Well, that's one way to for the OC to help recoup some of the overhead costs.

This seems like a relevant fact the Court did not address.  This demonstrates if the act is read like the Court says, the city can deny the public this information by charging outrageous fees.

It seems to me the Court's mistake was it examined the legislative history in today's context instead of the context of when the bill was passed.  The bill was passed several years before ArcView 1 came out.  So when they used a "computer mapping system" they were clearly talking about the combination of a computer program the city wrote and data that was useless without the city's software.  So in order to meet the definition of a computer mapping system, it had to include software and data.  Back then data without the software was completely useless.  This is perfectly consistent with every bit of legislative history they cite.  However today, ESRI makes the software the city would use - so the city cannot sell the ESRI software.  

The issue is if a shapefiles a "computer mapping system" not if a computer mapping system contains data.  So instead of deciding if a "computer mapping system" includes data, the Court should have been asking if a shapefiile alone a is "computer mapping system.  The law said computer mapping systems, not the components or parts of a computer mapping system:

"As used in this section, `computer software' includes computer mapping systems, computer programs, and computer graphics systems."

If the legislature meant what the Court says they meant, they would have said:

"As used in this section, `computer software' includes computer mapping databases, computer programs, and computer graphics systems."

Particularly when you consider ArcView 1 had not come out when the bill passed, it is clear the law only exempts the combination of software the city created and data for their system.  

Indrid Cold

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Re: GIS database ruled not public records in Calif...
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2011, 03:39:11 PM »
Off topic BLM side track moved to BLM thread :-\

 

anything