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Openness via Data.gov - Access A Wealth of Geospatial Data and a Cool ESRI SHP file Viewing Tool PDF Print E-mail
Written by Glenn Letham (@gletham)   
23 September 2009

You may have heard about the recently launched data.gov web portal - a resource from the Feds designed to  increase public access to high value, machine readable Geospatial datasets and tools.

 Data.gov increases the ability of the public to easily find, download, and use datasets that are generated and typically held by the Federal Government. Data.gov provides descriptions of the Federal datasets (metadata), information about how to access the datasets, and tools that leverage government datasets.

The site has a noticeable web2.0 flavor with numerous tools designed to help users share and communicate with others, for example, you’ll notice the AddThis tool is used, providing a quick way for users to share details of data they find via many social networks and social bookmarking tools. Additionally, links to share via facebook, Twitter, and via email are also provided.

The Geo Tech user will be pleased to see that data can be searched/mined from several locations including a Raw data catalog (access to CSV, XML, KML, and SHP files) with instant access/download, a tool catalog with a wealth of documents, podcasts, widgets, and other useful documents (for example, access the USGS Global Visualization Viewer for Aerial and Satellite Data) ; and the GeoData Catalog with more than 100,000 data products currently held including Census data and products from FEMA, USGS, EPA, NOAA, BLM and many others - you can jump directly to the Data Catalog at http://www.data.gov/catalog/geodata

If you happen to be looking for State data resources there’s a handy State data link that will take you to http://www.data.gov/statedatasites - this area seems to be in development as many State links are not yet active. A reminder, is State data is on your plate you can also see the HUGE State Clearinghouse data catalog that we’ve compiled (http://www.gisuser.com/content/view/16966/)

Something you may not be aware of is this cool gem that ESRI has developed, enter the Data.gov SHP file viewer, an app that allows users to visualize and query ESRI Shapefile datasets referenced in the DATA.gov web site. Using a clever map UI ( a fast one too I may add) users can browse for data or click the Data.gov tab and search the portal directory and view data products. Using the standard Data.gov search mechanisms users can drag or copy and past a ZIP file name provided and get a preview of the data.

So, for example, if I’m interested in the dataset “Migratory Bird Flyways - Continental United States” I can simply drag the link or copy the file name (http://www.fws.gov/data/flyways_meta.zip) into the dialog box and hit the display Shapefile button. the data is then loaded into the webmap service for viewing.

Data.gov SHP File Viewer

Finally, if you have data or know of some data holdings you can Suggest a data resource for inclusion by simply clicking the “Suggest Other Dataset” link http://www.data.gov/suggestdataset


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