Government 2.0 Club is an informal organization focused on convening the tribe of technologists and thinkers focused on applying social technologies to the governments worldwide.
Selling of Data to private companies
May 5, 2009 at 12:08 pm #71409
Took the following from a google group on Open Government and wondered what people here think about policy and other ramifications. Have also left it into a Swedish (where I am live and work) e-edministration group with members similar to those in govlopp to hear their reactions. Will cross inform the groups if interesting and useful comments are made .
Dear Milwaukeeans and others concerned with the public interest in the
digital, networked age:
If the following information grabs your interest and/or you already
know something about it, I would very much appreciate your help and
insight in understanding it better.
Specifically, what is the public interest, and what is at stake?
Here are what seem to be the basic facts the Milwaukee County
Automated Mapping and Land Information System (MCAMLIS):
There is NO GEODATA EXPORT for the public. You must get a secure login
account as a governmental unit or as an authorized employee of WE,
SEWRPC, AT&T, or MMSD.
You can, in some cases, export data in XLS format (Microsoft Excel)–
for example City data that is already publicly available and has just
been copied into this County system.
So perhaps not the data itself but all means of reasonable access to
it as GEODATA has been COPYRIGHTED by the private utility companies
who paid for the system to be developed:
My reading of the licensing contract is that you clearly can’t even
post a screendump image from MCAMLIS online without violating
Furthermore, it appears that MCAMLIS is funded partly by sale of
Register of Deeds data to 3rd party providers of these crappy fee-
based systems, which I have been forced to use in the past in the
process of slumlord research:
LAREDO ($500/mo) and TAPESTRY ($5.95 per search query and $0.50 per
There is also a fee-based 3rd party provider used if you want a copy
of your vital records:
This is pretty crazy to the point of unusable–but there is more data
now than there used to be:
The WI Register of Deeds Assoc. website, as bad as it is, remains a
more accessible window into the County than the County website:
Also of interest:
Press Release for TSA Signing Ceremony: Electronic Recording Council
The Electronic Recording Council of Wisconsin and representatives from
several companies who actively record or provide special computer
programs that record documents electronically will gather for a
special Ceremony on May 6, 2009, at
11:00 a.m. in the Governor’s Conference Room.
Invited signatories will sign the new Trusted Submitter Agreement
(TSA) designating a new era of electronic partnership with local and
state government. Craig Haskins from Knight-Barry Title, Kelly
Blanchard from the Bank of
Cambridge, and industry representatives from Ingeo, Applied Computer
Systems, Fidlar Software, US Recordings and Simplifile will be on hand
to sign the new three-page document.
E-filing may speed home titles: With state’s first deed processed
electronically, more are in store
By JOANNE CLEAVER
Posted: Jan. 26, 2008
An example of GOOD governmant data sharing is the DNR and the Great
Lakes Information Network (GLIN) — full public access to raw data in
open standard formats:
When GOOD data sharing ocurs, this is what happens:
…it gets used by public and private academic institutions:
http://sco.wisc.edu/wisclinc/ [WISCLINC is a clearinghouse effort in
Wisconsin maintained by the Wisconsin State Cartographer’s Office.
WISCLINC is part of a network of NSDI nodes which contribute to the
progress of federal initatives such as Geospatial One-Stop and The
National Map. WISCLINC pulls together records of geospatial data, land
records websites and statewide land information inventory survey.]
…it gets shared among the states and federal gov:
…and private entities try to sell it:
May 5, 2009 at 1:29 pm #71413
The providing and sharing of public data is one of my personal/professional issues with government. Part of my frustration has been that I have had to deal with governments who completely fail in this area. Then I have also had the pleasure of finding local governments who completely excel in this. Leaving me to wonder how can one government body completely fail while others meet or exceed expectations?
In my last job I had to regularly access property records at the county recorder’s office. This was frustrating due to a lack of commitment on the part of our county recorder to move records into a digital format that was readily accessible online. Last year, they finally made some records – only back to 1992 – available through Internet access. However, they also chose to use the Laredo/Tapestry 3rd party solution. And although we save transportation costs by accessing records over the Internet, I think the cost to access these records is significant.
My view on it as a citizen is that these are public records and as such they should be made readily available to the public for little to no cost. I cannot imagine that there wasn’t a better way to work with local groups or universities to get these records online in a cheaper and more readily accessible format.
From my own research for genealogy purposes, I have had the pleasure of accessing records from Ohio. The majority of local government agencies in Ohio should be held up as a great example of how public data can be made easily accessible for little to no cost. Although there might be some who would prefer to have even more of the data available in raw format, at least these governments are providing the information they have and for most, at no cost to the public at all.
For example, I can go to the Stark county recorder’s web site and download copies of deeds all the way back to 1809. To me that is incredible! And they have had this service available for several years. Compare this to my own county who I mentioned just got deeds online but only to 1992, and at a cost of about $20 per deed. What a contrast in service.
I also know that I can get copies of deeds from Cleveland, Ohio, at no cost. And most of the assessment information is also available online from Ohio governments while in our county in Illinois we had to pay an annual fee of about $300 to get assessment information that was not as comprehensive as that provided in Ohio for free.
The only way to get local government to meet the example set by Ohio would be for the new federal CIO to first identify the type of information that each agency should be required to provide to the public for free. Then set up standards by which this information must be provided and managed. After this is established, the legislators would have to enact a law to require local governments to comply. Our federal govt does this now for other issues like sign reflectivity, why can’t it be done for public information?
May 5, 2009 at 3:34 pm #71411
In Australia we’re struggling with the same issues. A number of government agencies have implemented proprietary GIS systems to make their data available online. While it is available free to the public, sometimes under Creative Commons licenses, it’s not easily machine-readable or reusable and the information from different agencies are in different formats.
Some of the issues that have led to this include a lack of common standards or high-level central leadership on how data should be presented online. Agency silos, reducing whole-of-government collaboration, limited understanding of the possible economic and social benefits of data sharing and desire to realise maximum benefit from existing proprietary agency systems also contribute to the issue to varying extents.
What’s the solution? It really requires high-level direction to start the change process, then as the benefits are realised it will spread organically.
All that is required is the political will (in the midst of many other current priorities) to start the process.
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