Thursday, April 30, 2015

Esri: GIS, Civic Hacking & Open Data Initiative

Esri (aka Environmental Systems Research Institute) is an international supplier of Geographic Information System (GIS) software, web GIS and geodatabase management applications, per Wikipedia. Many cities and other government bodies use Esri software, including Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

Esri has been an integral part of many civic hacks and civic hackathons. Yesterday's post on this blog featured a four-part guide for GIS use in civic hacking that was written by the the head of the Honolulu office for Esri. The company has been a major sponsor for civic hackathons such as Hack For LA, Hack 4 Colorado, Austin Open Data Hackathon, and the New Orleans Techarrette. Like it says on,
"When designers, developers, and entrepreneurs sign up to hack towards making the civic experience better, we want to be there. Esri's built an awesome platform with cool tools to create, share, display and build location-based apps. We believe uniting cloud, web, and mobile technologies with location information and analytics leads to great apps that help solve problems that people encounter every day. We want our tools in the hands of the community so they can build what would be most beneficial and useful to them."
Esri has also supported the Code for America civic hacking efforts, per the CfA blog:
"CfA Fellows’ projects have used ArcGIS and Esri APIs in too many ways to count. We’ve created public interfaces and maps based on Esri-driven city backends – like OpenCounter, which looks up zoning in Santa Cruz using the city’s Esri ArcGIS server. Top Esri employees have helped us develop our process for new civic data standards, helping CfA identify patterns in city datasets. Last year a group of Fellows even made the trip down to Esri’s headquarters in Redlands, Calif. for a week-long collaborative hackathon with the City of Honolulu GIS team, and Fellows have attended and spoken at Esri conferences over the past two years."
In 2014, Esri launched its Open Data Initiative explaining the open GIS web portal in its Feb 2014 blog post. Directions Magazine article "Ten Things You Need to Know About Esri’s Open Data Initiative" also covered the launch of the Open Data Initiative:
"At the Federal GIS Conference...Esri introduced its Open Data Initiative, an effort to encourage and enable the creation, publishing, easy access and use of open geospatial data...Local, state and federal agencies as well as a variety of private and non-profit organizations worldwide already share open data. They do it in simple ways, such as providing downloadable shapefiles from a static webpage. They do it in more complex ways by publishing Web services. They do it using Esri and other GIS tools. The new capabilities that Esri is planning will simplify these sometimes cumbersome manual processes and perhaps offer better solutions to both open data publishers and open data users."
In addition to its Open Data site linked above, Esri has information and resources relevant to open government GIS data on its Gov 2.0 webpage. There are useful GIS videos and resource links, as well as sections for government GIS professionals and for developers working with GIS.

The City of Appleton uses Esri GIS tools, and even if civic hackers use non-Esri mapping tools on June 6th at the civic hackathon, familiarity with Esri tools and formats will be important. The Appleton GIS open data sets, found in the Data Download section of the Appleton GIS webpage, use the Esri Shapefile format to provide maximum compatibility.

One last note is that Esri is supporting the USGS Open Water Data Initiative. A December 2014 US White House Fact Sheet explains that,
"Esri is collaborating with the Open Water Data Initiative (OWDI) to jointly stand up a showcase Water Open Data portal that will extend accessibility of key water data as interactive services and tools through which selected data can be viewed, accessed, subscribed to and downloaded in various formats through an intuitive user interface...In partnership with the nongovernmental organization GLEON, Esri will stand up a citizen-science crowdsourcing application to facilitate information sharing in regions across the globe." 
I hope to connect with civic hackers interested in the Open Water Data Initiative and will be writing a post on that topic for this blog.

If interested, check out Esri's website, or use Google to search for specific Esri topics.


1 comment:

  1. Nice post,it's very informative.i found the best information.I updated my knowledge with this can help me to crack GIS jobs in Hyderabad.