Local Governments and Open Data

I wrote this on Facebook the other day, and my friend Sarah asked me to write it as a blog post so she could share it with others. I do agree that it’s something others need to read: local governments aren’t going to move toward shared/open data models until a) they’ve received funding to do so, or b) they’re convinced it’s mutually beneficial. The latter is likelier than the former. Let’s start some conversations.

From the Lane County Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan 2012 Update [PDF]:

Although there is regional agreement about the benefits of a centralized location for storing map related metadata, the county and most cities opt to maintain their own data. Achieving a single, regional location for accessing accurate GIS data is not a high priority for agencies facing shrinking budgets and decreasing staff resources. A regional repository would require dedicated staff to locate, update, create and maintain metadata on an ongoing basis. Lane Council of Governments has twice applied for grant funding for this project but funding was not awarded. This project is repeated each year in Lane Council of Governments' annual list of top five projects but remains unfunded.

This is a common argument. Too common. Hard work up front saves time in repetition and data creation later. Robust and open data is the only path to the future. The only one.