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Screen shot of Palo Alto Land Use Designation Google Fusion Map

Palo Alto harnesses Google Fusion for Open GIS datasets

In an effort to keep up with its Silicon Valley constituents, the city of Palo Alto, Calif., has released a set of open geospatial datasets, available for making maps and apps ranging from planning to public safety.

The city's Open GIS datasets are the first of hundreds of data layers the city plans to make available, which entail millions of point and line features marking the city's spatial footprint as well as information on ownership, census tract and size.

The datasets are being made available via Google Fusion Tables, a cloud-based service that integrates datasets and visualizes them via pie and bar charts, scatterplots and timelines. Developers can also use Fusion application programming interfaces to extend the uses of the databases.

The city initially will make available datasets related to location, road centerlines, land use, tree data, public projects and trench plates and add more data in the coming weeks.
 
Palo Alto chief information officer Jonathan Reichental said the OpenGIS project represented a "stepping up to our responsibility as the heart of Silicon Valley" and being a model for innovative government.

"Experimenting with the power of Google Fusion Tables provides us with a free platform to try new ways to extend the data back to those it belongs: our community," he said.

The GIS data sets will be added to the city's existing repository of open datasets that are available for public use, including OpenBudget, an interactive database of its fiscal 2012-2013 municipal budget and comprehensive financial reports from 2009 onward.

Using the service, visitors can see financial budget timelines covering city salaries and benefits, contract services, facilities and equipment purchase and other municipal accounts.

Palo Alto's open data projects represent a movement by cities across the country to develop applications to mine public datasets as well as to combine and share datasets.

Data.gov, the federal open data repository, has created a shared data portal featuring datasets from the so-called G7, seven big cities that are collaborating on common IT and program challenges. The G7 cities are Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle.

Posted by Paul McCloskey on Apr 24, 2013 at 9:39 AM


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