California Aims to Connect the Dots with Geospatial Data Portal
City and state governments alike use open-data initiatives to enhance citizen services. Now, the most populous state is significantly boosting its own efforts on that front.
Last month, California launched an interactive online database of location-based government data called the California State Geoportal. The portal is a centralized geographic open-data hub, “which includes authoritative data and applications from a multitude of California state entities,” the state says. According to Smart Cities Dive, the portal includes data from more than 1,200 publicly available data sets from 25 state entities.
The portal has data from agencies that deal with water, health, energy, land use, the environment, geology, wildlife and more.
The portal “runs on the ESRI ArcGIS Online Hub platform, which provides many tools to access and view data and maps,” according to the state.
According to Smart Cities Dive, “the data is compatible with geolocation software and is designed to be shared, layered onto maps and analyzed.”
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California Wants to Use Open Data to Improve Services
The portal was developed by the California Department of Technology and the Government Operations Agency, which includes the Office of Digital Innovation, according to Smart Cities Dive.
The geoportal is a “powerful tool that can be utilized by government and the public to better understand issues that impact our lives; from homelessness and immigration to health patterns and land use,” California Chief Technology Innovation Officer Scott Gregory said in a statement, Smart Cities Dive reports.
The portal includes a bevy of data, including a map of damaged and nondamaged structures involved in the 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history; an inventory of currently mapped landslides in the state; invasive Aedes mosquito detections in California since 2011; detections of harmful man-made chemicals known as PFAS in state water systems from 2013-2015; and more.
According to Smart Cities Dive, the portal “will help prevent citizens and public officials from searching through multiple databases to find urgent information.” For example, it can be especially useful during California’s wildfire season to help state residents “access fire data to submit to insurance companies, and helping the state gather information needed for a quick response.”
California is not the only state to have recently launched an open-data portal for geospatial data. In October 2019, Washington Technology Solutions, the state’s tech services agency, rolled out the Washington Geospatial Open Data Portal.
Visitors to geo.wa.gov can find place information that is “both critical and useful,” Washington State said in a press release.
“A hunter can find the boundaries of hunting areas set by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. A real estate agent can look up property parcel information and land values,” the release notes. “A marine biologist can determine where Puget Sound kelp masses are located. Emergency managers can use the portal for disaster planning. The portal features a host of maps and imagery from numerous state and federal agencies.”