Open Data for NJ on GitHub & Gist

First off, let me say that the data posted on my GitHub and Gist repositories are my own instances and are NOT official State of New Jersey data releases.

Alright, now that being said…


W00t! Here are some open data formats to help with the use of New Jersey data outside of desktop GIS. It is a tough road to hoe when trying to change paradigms about data use perceptions. New Jersey has always been open about sharing GIS data, from the late 1990′s the NJ Office of GIS and NJ Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of GIS have been putting their data online for folks to download. But the focus has been desktop users, not addressing the shift towards web maps and people using it in “non-conventional” ways. But my belief is cost to build the data is returned when users actually start using it, so let’s look to ALL the users.

So there are the obvious issues that are wrestled with: internal and external data maintenance. But a more complicated conversation in regards to documenting the source when people are making decisions based upon a data set shared by a data steward organization. In talking with folks there is the rational position: It’s is the data user’s responsibility to understand what they are using. But often, rational thought goes out the window when people find something that promotes their position and defending it.

I would really like to hear how other folks are using open data formats as part of their Enterprise in particular to documentation and making decision makers comfortable in sharing the information in this format.

2 thoughts on “Open Data for NJ on GitHub & Gist

  1. Hello Sean,
    I’m writing from NW corner of country. I’m trying to sell this idea of open data that’s easy to use and easy to incorporate not just for desktop users. Would like to know how you went about selling to decision makers. I noticed FuzzyTolerence, Tobin at Meckenburg County from NC have integrated using github as open data portal.

    • I wish I could say that I had sold it to decision makers. I have caveats on the & in my post saying this is ‘Not Official’ data. I rolled this data on my own and put it out there because I thought it was a good thing to do.

      I am lucky, the State GIO for New Jersey is a really progressive person and understands the potential for the uses of ‘new’ data types. NJ OGIS & DEP have been openly sharing data online since the early 2000′s. That being said, it is a paradigm shift to add another data offering besides a shapefile, file geodatabase or personal geodatabase. THese new data types are for a different class of user, a web user and that leads to some new questions. A lot of energy went into thinking about the right way to document data, now what is the way that these new types have to be referenced.

      I may be poking myself in the eye, but I am not a person that let’s existing process get in the way of potential possibilities. It has been very reassuring to see people’s response to putting this data out there in these formats. I am hoping to get other datasets freely in my Git & Gist repositories over the next couple of weeks. In the mean time I am talking with folks @ the office hoping to get an ‘official’ NJOGIS repository on Github and Gist soon.