County Eliminates Charge for GIS Data

Cook County has eliminated charges for its Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data, making it free and more accessible to the public. Starting January 1, 2014, users will no longer have to pay for GIS data, which includes map and map-making information. Cook County Commissioners last week approved the GIS Open Data Ordinance, sponsored by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and proposed by Chief Information Officer Lydia Murray. The newly open data includes shape files, oblique imagery, and detailed aerial photography of Cook County. “Open data is the best form of transparency,” Murray said during her speech to the City Club on December 3rd. “If you release all of the data you can and have lots of eyes looking at the information, you are more likely to have someone find connections and issues that people in government alone wouldn’t have discovered.” To increase data transparency, the Bureau of Technology also has partnered with The Smart Chicago Collaborative, a civic organization devoted to improving lives through technology. In this endeavor, Smart Chicago will assist the County with increasing the availability of GIS data sets and ensuring information about revenue and procurement, along with statistics about crime and health, are available. Smart Chicago will help Cook County refresh its data on the website so it is up-to-date and easily accessible, even for those who are not tech savvy. County open data will be free to all noncommercial users looking to use it for charitable, educational, or research purposes. Commercial users are authorized to utilize the Open GIS Data to further their commercial enterprise if they are compiling it with other data. To read the full text of the ordinance via the board meeting agenda, click here. “The public has already paid for the data once with their tax dollars,” President Preckwinkle said. “Making it accessible for everyone to download and use creates positive value for the Cook County community.”


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