Friday, June 24, 2005

CT Town to honor courts GIS ruling...

Greenwich Time - Town to honor courts ruling on geographic database:

WARNING - after reading all the backstory on this story...this entry seemed to get me a little hot under the collar....

"Greenwich will not challenge a landmark state Supreme Court ruling over public access to a sophisticated database of aerial photos of the entire town, census data and utility maps.

"...Whitaker [plaintiff] continued to question the town's sincerity, however.

"I'll believe it when I see it," he said. "I can't guess what kind of tricks they're going to pull. I've never seen them genuinely forthcoming."

"Whitaker requested a digital copy of the $3 million taxpayer-funded database in 2001, which officials denied, citing public safety and privacy concerns.

"Town officials fought the request in the courts, unsuccessfully arguing that terrorists or kidnappers could use GIS technology such as aerial photos of homes, businesses, schools and public safety facilities for criminal plots."

My comments...
Well, the data he requested certainly doesn't sound very complicated or special...aerial photos, census data, and utility maps? Census who is going to fight over that? Depending on the resolution the aerial photos might be worth something. Perhaps the utility maps have commerical value...but this isn't some extraordinary dataset.

After reading the legal complaints and opinions, this sounds like a classic case of government employees who know nothing pulling an excuse out of the collectivly dumb asses in order to hoard public data.

Why is it that people who know nothing about technology are generally in the positions that influence government technology decisions? For my own sake, I will censor my own answer to that...

Additionally, am I off base here or does it seem outrageous for a city to pay $3 million for a friggin database? How could a single CITY's database possibly cost so much? Unless that database plows the streets, cleans the sidewalks and removes the dogshit from the ain't worth $3 million...However, I wouldn't be suprised that they paid that much for it.

Aerial photos should be restricted because terrorists might use them? Whaaa? First of all, why is a terrorist going to give a shit about Greenwich Connecticut (delusions of grandure?). Secondly, any planning level materials would be helpful to a terrorist, including road maps. So should all planning materials be considered classified and only for government use? It sure would make government officials' lives easier now wouldn't it. Look - when it comes to information - if it is helpful to the general public, it is probably just as helpful to a wannabe terrorist.

Data hoarders and idiots need a spanking...then a pink slip.


At 27/6/05 09:06, Anonymous Doug Bartels said...


Interesting comments. You are always commenting on how stupid government workers are in the data distribution arena (other areas too, I'm sure) so I wonder why you get so uptight when they say they're not interested in your services, like when you offer to do their parcels. Could it be that most people would rather be hung upside down by their toenails than to partner with someone who thinks they're a blithering idiot.

When you come at the issue with such a hard line, good sense and reasonability are left behind and that makes it difficult to enter into any dialogue about what the best solution might be. Some people just like to stir up the pot rather than contribute in a positive way I guess. Of course, these comments are nothing but the ramblings of an idiot and will likely be taken as a handful of peers which have apparently arrived at a collective state of perfect consciousness and are one with all knowledge--at least relating to data practices.

I'm not interested in a verbal fist fight here. I just want to make you aware that when you put people down in a very public way, you are less likely to ever have a chance to work with such people. Perhaps you can afford that luxury but even if you can, ask yourself the question, is it right?

I’m always open to discussing the ills of data practices with a view to applied solutions, but please refrain from name calling.

Thanks, so on to the discussion.

P1: You start out sensibly enough...let's uncover exactly what is going on here and go from there. Are there any legitimate reasons for holding back the data or not.

P2: Either those government EE's know nothing, or they know more than you think. Your logic doesn't stack up here. If you have a bunch of dumb @$$e$ why would they know the need to hoard data and secondly why would they need to make up an excuse to do it.

P: What do you actually know about every government employee that qualifies you to respond with such an answer? Do you know something about the HR practices in all local, state, and federal governments operations? I would be interested to hear your comments about some of the State GIS coordinators in the region, many of the states with which you might enjoy doing business and have even approached, prospecting the possibility of such work, to see if you think they are "people who know nothing about technology" and how you rate them with regards to "influencing government technology decisions."

P3: If they offered you 3 million, or even a fraction of it, let's not kid ourselves, you'd be first in line--we all would given that chance. Perhaps they got sold a bill of goods, but perhaps the price tag is legit--do you really know and if not what grounds do you have for warranting these comments.

P4: Point Taken

P5: Unprofessional!

At 27/6/05 17:55, Blogger Mike Juvrud said...

Thanks for the lashing - I deserved it.

However, unless it is posted on the web, it is extremely frustrating trying to get public data in digital formats and reading this case just brought it to a boil.

Sorry, if I got too personal in my post.


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