Prying Data Open

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, I was trying to get information from my local electric cooperative about outages. There were many (including my neighborhood) and I wanted to see the scale of the problem. It turns out, they have a page with a map that shows current outages by zip code.

Old school outage map

It’s pretty old-school as far as web maps go but it gets the job done. Their day job is making electricity, not web maps, so I won’t critique it too much. One thing I did notice is that the map seems to be dynamically generated (as do the tables on the page) from some inaccessible data source. I search and tried to find some kind of feed, to no avail.

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AGIO Puts the Data First

I read Learon Dalby’s latest GISuser.com expert column (disclosure: I am a contributor there also) with great interest since it addresses an issue with which I have worked closely over the years: availability of GIS data in a time of crisis. Over the years, the proliferation of “operating pictures” (you’re not in style unless you have your own UDOP) and other systems has obscured the fact that the data is really what matters. Certain segments of the community, especially those more focused on man-made disasters rather than the natural variety, have gotten very good at putting multiple layers of technology, services, security, policy, etc. between GIS data and the people who need it. Continue reading “AGIO Puts the Data First”