Supreme Court Clarifies Distinction Between GIS Data And Software Under The Public Records Act

Most of you have probably been following the case against Orange County and their GIS data.  If not, the California Supreme Court ruled last week that data in a geographic
information system (“GIS”) file format is a public record subject to disclosure
under the California Public Records Act.  A great explanation of this ruling can be found here.

2013 ESRI Conference – Some Surprises

As the 2013 ESRI Conference wraps up this week, I wanted to mention a few pleasant surprises this year that might mean some big things for government GIS.


This year ESRI’s focus was on web GIS. Their products are definitely maturing and integrated with the web. I remember hearing “ArcGIS is now a web GIS”.

One of the surprises was Portal for ArcGIS. If you have an advanced license of ArcGIS Server, Portal is now included for the 10.2 release as an extension. If you have a standard license, you will need to purchase the extension. If you don’t know what Portal is, just think of it as ArcGIS Online that you can install on your own server (Web GIS on Premises). For us government GIS types, this opens up some fantastic options for internal use on our own networks. One big thing that I liked was the ability to use single sign on with Portal. You can import your active directory logins into Portal so you don’t have to create a bunch of logins manually like in ArcGIS Online.  When users go to your Portal site, they will not have to login since they already logged into their computer.  Nice!

Another interesting surprise was the new ArcGIS Professional product. It has a clean ribbon interface with tabs (think Microsoft Office look and feel), is fast, and integrates 2D and 3D together. It was pretty slick. ESRI said if you can use ArcMap, you can use ArcGIS Professional.  Here are some other properties:

  • 64 bit
  • Fast 2D/3D graphics engine
  • Multiple maps and multiple layouts
  • Multi-threaded application
  • Integrated with ArcGIS Online/Portal
  • ArcMap/ArcCatalog/ArcGlobe fused together into one application
  • Project centric workflows
  • Simple search and query
  • Integrated with ESRI Solutions (Local Gov, Address Mgt, Water Util, etc)
  • Task Assistant to help you with editing (put tools together for a task and many tasks as a workflow)
  • Updates will not require uninstall/reinstall
  • Extensible with addins, python scripting, .NET API

My impression of ArcGIS Professional is that it was a replacement for ArcMap, though ESRI said it was not. Both will function together on the same computer. I attended the Desktop Road Ahead workshop, thinking that I would see where ArcMap and the Desktop product was going, but instead it turned out to be a big demo of ArcGIS Professional. Hmm.  During one of the demos, the presenter slipped up and called it ArcGIS 11 then quickly corrected and called it ArcGIS Professional! Hmm again … time will tell.

As for ArcGIS Professional licensing, ESRI said it was too early to announce, but they were considering a simplified subscription based model. ArcGIS Professional is slated for a Q4 2013 release, probably in November.

One last surprise was ESRI publishing videos of the Plenary session the next day. That was fast! You can view them here:  I wonder how fast the workshops will be published?

Oh, and walking back to my hotel I discovered a wall of Etch-a-Sketch’s that you could draw maps or whatever on! Pretty neat.


Looks like someone took one home!

That’s all for now.  Time for the Thursday night party!  Please reply to this post and share your conference observations too!  -mike

USGS now looking for limited crowd-sourced data in CA and NV

Hello everyone:

USGS is now collecting limited crowd-sourced information that can be provided as both GIS data and included in future topographic maps.  USGS began collecting VGI – volunteered geographic information – for structures for a number of states several months ago.  The agency recently expanded this pilot effort to cover another 16 states, including California and Nevada.

The USGS news release can be seen here:

USGS is interested in your input on locations for certain public buildings, as mentioned in the news release.  This would be a good exercise to look at from a county or local perspective.  There might also be situations in CA where organizing a multi-county effort (e.g. through a Council of Governments or a GIS collaborative) would be beneficial.

We would be very interested in hearing what you think about this and any plans you may have to contribute data.  We can help with any questions you may have and can set up a conference call or discussion anytime on the subject.

Carol Ostergren
Drew Decker

GIS Group – Women In GIS

Hello Fellow GIS Colleagues,

We are in the process of developing a new GIS group, Women In GIS.  Both men and women are welcome to join.  We will be meeting at ESRIUC on Wednesday, July 10th from 12:00 to 1:00 in Room 30A (please bring your own lunch).  We hope you can join us in a discussion of where we are going and what is next on the horizon.   Please include any friends interested in coming, all are welcome to join!

If you are interested in joining our listserve, see the instructions below. Looking forward to a productive ESRIUC! See you soon!

Subscribe instructions for Women in GIS listserve:

Send an email to:
In the body of the email type: Subscribe wigis-g

To unsubscribe:

Send an email to:
In the body of the email type: Unsubscribe wigis-g

That’s it. It doesn’t matter what is in the subject line.  Send me an email if you have any trouble:

Right now the listserve is open to everyone, inquiries and responses will go to everyone. If traffic gets heavy I can adjust the settings for summary responses only.  Finally, we will also be forwarding to you a new website for our group, keep your eye out for this information soon!


Christina, Danielle, Lori, Patricia, Regan, Ruthanne, Shawna, and the rest of the Women doing GIS!!
Dr. Shawna Dark
Chair, Department of Geography
Director, Center for Geographical Studies (
California State University, Northridge

Changes to ArcGIS Online

Looks like ESRI has made ArcGIS Online a little more interesting.  Here are some of the changes in the July release:

  • Unlimited bandwidth usage (outbound data transfer) is now included with your ArcGIS Online subscription.
  • Uploading tile packages from ArcGIS for Desktop is now also included with your subscription.
  • Geocoding costs have been reduced by 50%.
  • Routing and GeoEnrichment costs have been reduced by nearly 65%.
  • Infographic costs have been reduced by more than 80%.

More information can be found on ESRI’s blog site.