Estonian President Lennart Meri, a wonderfully quotable politician, once said that, “If geography is prose, maps are iconography.” He would be pleased at the flurry of cartographic interest that has popped up in recent days on Open Twin Cities, where open government hackers gather.
Maptime MSP is a new meetup, scheduled to hold an informal meeting on Saturday, December 13, 3:00-5:00 p.m. at the Washburn Library, 5244 Lyndale Avenue South. The group which has met just once invites newcomers and beginners to grab a laptop and join the fledging network.
This week’s meeting will follow up on discussion of OpenStreetMap (www.openstreetmap.org), an open data system in which volunteers share a wide range of resources. Contributors include “enthusiastic mappers, GIS professionals, engineers running the OSM servers, humanitarians mapping disaster-affected areas, and many more.”
Local cartographers will also explore an adjunct resource, Missingmaps (www.missingmaps.org). Missing Maps supports the OSM Humanitarian Team that deals with maps and data necessary to respond to crises in unmapped regions, with a commitment to building and leaving behind local capacity and access.
All of the work of both OpenStreetMap and MissingMaps is free and open. Updates on Twin Cities Brigade (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/twin-cities-brigade)
In recent days a couple of items posted on the Twin Cities Brigade list have caught my attention and related in the open government category of my mind. The seemingly disparate notes concern a great YouTube on the history of Open Gov Chicago and the forthcoming Minneapolis gathering of the Property Records Industry Association.
The YouTube post links to a presentation created by Derek Eder, formerly with the City of Chicago now an independent consultant. It’s an understandable big picture presentation on how and why the city of Chicago is creating a comprehensive approach to public access to public information – “from the outside in.” It describes succinctly how the system is envisioned, the role of hackers for the public good, how OpenGov Chicago will be sustained, and the role of leadership. In the presentation the concept of open government is tangible, well explained and applicable in any public setting.
On the same list I learned that the Property Records Industry Association will hold its annual conference in Minneapolis in August. These are the public officials and businesses that carry out the day-to-day routines of recording and making accessible public data – assessment data, GIS mapping, mortgage recordings, legal descriptions of land records, property ownership and related public records. The work of the property records managers is vitally important in terms of land ownership, mapping, property rights and legal decisions. As with every aspect of government, technology is a challenge facing those who maintain the record and assure its accessibility for today, preservation for tomorrow.
The Open Chicago video is the macro, user-based story – the national conference of the record keepers is the micro of what it takes to make open government happen.