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Esri ArcGIS Open Data Site Open (Beta)

Thursday, April 24th 2014
By Adena Schutzberg

Esri announced today the site is in open beta.

--- original post April 7, 2014 ----

Back on March 10th I learned about, and wrote about, Esri's ArcGIS Open Data site

Today, about a month later, I returned to the site to check on its status.

Recall that initially visitors were to:

  • Collaborate
  • Discover New Data
  • Visualize and Analyze

Now visitors are invited to:

  • Share open data
  • Discover and explore
  • Access and download

The page is still under development. (Open data teams may also be "under development." Esri is looking for a a Product Manager – ArcGIS for Open Data.)  The documentation link in a top menu does not work. The support link goes to generic ArcGIS support. Of note, there's a new FAQ found at the bottom of the home page. Here are some interesting bits.

Esri offers its understanding of 'Open Data':

Open Data are both legally and technically open. This means that the data are free from license restriction for anyone to freely access, share and reuse. It also means that the data are available in common, standard and machine readable formats. ArcGIS Open Data makes it simple for organizations to make their data available under these open guidelines while also supporting web best practices.

The second sentence confuses me. Does it suggest the datasets do not have licenses? Or that the open data licenses that are attached to datasets have no restrictions or requirements? Or something else? You can see Esri's plans for licensing in its Open Data Initiative license in Ten Things You Need to Know About Esri’s Open Data Initiative. In it, the idea is that data providers can choose from a variety of open data license options. I'm also curious about the details of Esri's "open guidelines."

Further on comes a question about supported data types. The response:

Currently ArcGIS Open Data has a focused view on data services such as Feature Services and Map Services. We intend to grow support for additional formats and potential other open content.

That suggests to me that at lauch the site is geared toward services rather than downloadable data. That sounds a bit diff rent from the original version of the site I explored; it had 81,301 downloadable datasets.

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