California Releases Interactive Public Geoportal

California has adopted a massive, interactive online database of location-based government data that includes over 1200 publicly available data sets from 25 state entities.

The California State Geoportal collects geospatial data from government agencies including housing, water, transportation and health information. The data is compatible with geolocation software and is designed to be shared, layered onto maps and analyzed.

The portal was designed by ESRI.  Check it out!

calgeoportal

Mapping 2019-nCoV

On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was informed of an outbreak of “pneumonia of unknown cause” detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China – the seventh-largest city in China with 11 million residents. By January 23, there was over 800 cases of 2019-nCoV confirmed globally, including cases in at least 20 regions in China and nine countries/territories.  As of this writing, there are now 17,485 confirmed cases and 362 deaths!

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Geographic Masking

Geographic masking is a technique used to basically move your data around so not to give away the exact geographic coordinates of individual level data.  This is done when locations of individuals (like in health data, crime data, or endangered species data) need to be “anonymized” so they cannot be re-identified through reverse geocoding.

One tool that does this is MaskMy.XYZ.  MaskMy.XYZ helps users perform a time-tested geographic mask from the scientific literature, known as donut masking. Instead of being a toolbox for a specific (potentially expensive) GIS software suite, MaskMy.XYZ uses popular open source JavaScript libraries to mask data without ever requiring users to install or download any software. So whether you’re a GIS expert who can’t be bothered to script this method yourself, or a GIS newbie who knows you need to mask your data but aren’t quite sure how, MaskMy.XYZ makes your life easier and brings previously cumbersome methods into reach.

Everything runs client-side in your browser, meaning there’s nothing to install, data never leaves your computer, and as a result nobody except you ever sees your confidential files. It is a safe and secure way to anonymize spatial data.  Finally, you can map your secret fishing spots and share them with others without giving away the exact locations!  Check it out!

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You Are Being Tracked!

Here is a scary report from New York Times on how our personal locations are being tracked, and mostly from unregulated location data companies that cross reference your location with other databases to figure out who you are, where you live, and where you have been.

“In one case, we observed a change in the regular movements of a Microsoft engineer. He made a visit one Tuesday afternoon to the main Seattle campus of a Microsoft competitor, Amazon. The following month, he started a new job at Amazon. It took minutes to identify him as Ben Broili, a manager now for Amazon Prime Air, a drone delivery service.”

Click below to read the report, and parts 2 to 7!

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Report: California Needs GIS Officer

A government watchdog agency recommended that Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature create the position of state Geospatial Information Officer to coordinate and advance the use of GIS technology across all departments.

The Little Hoover Commission’s report on geographic information systems technology, called Mapping a Strategy for GIS, follows a study of whether the state government is using GIS to its full capacity and in a cost-efficient manner. The report concludes that overall, the state’s use of GIS is “inconsistent and lacks centralization and coordination.” The 18-page document recommends that the governor and Legislature take three specific steps:

  • Designate a full-time state Geospatial Information Officer
  • Create a GIS Advisory Council, whose members would come from the public sector, the IT industry and nonprofits
  • Use GIS technology to evaluate regional disparities in funding and the delivery of state services.

Click here to read the Techwire article.  Click here to read the report.