Sunday, August 14, 2005

Illinois Charges $750 for PLS Data!?@

Illinois Public Land Survey System

I can't believe this (wait I can) - the State of Illinois charges $750 for their Public Land Survey System polygons (statewide). This is a foundational element of all other GIS data for the state. The odd thing is that this appears to be the only dataset they charge for, (here are their paultry datasets and terrible website) [Note: the data in question is only SECTION level!]

Does anyone else agree that this is nonsense...or I am out on a limb here?

Why did I need the data? I was helping put together a plat book for a 4-H group (non profit org) in an Illinois county. So I went to grab the base data for the county...and banged my head against the sad state of public GIS data & policy. So if I have to pay for the's going to come out of the 4-H'ers pockets. bah humbug!@

Why can't all states be more like Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin?! Apparantly Illinois hasn't figured out that making this PUBLIC data easily and freely available enhances GIS efforts outside of their little empire and the return to the public is significantly greater than the few thousand dollars they might collect for the data.

This is the same type of thing that Europe does (and I hear that Canada is slowly starting to move away from). (If you ever wondered why Europeans do so much analysis of US data, it's the only data they can get their hands on without a significant grant and/or fight).

For specialized data, I can understand a fee - but PLSS polygons!?

We (the public/GIS users) need to create our own "open" dataset. Has anyone else had enough of these useless restrictions on access/use & hassles to acquire the most basic of GIS data. I will look into requesting the original Plat surveys for the Illinois county in question (and others). If it's not too outrageous I will just scan, rectify and digitize them myself. Once done, they should be posted online with an open license (perhaps with a caveat that any government agency would be required to pay a "reasonable fee" per user of the data ;)

This PLSS data would be a good example to demonstrate that within a short period of time of having it online and minimum cost, it will likely have been corrected by the users so that it is more accurate & up to date than the crap the state is hoarding.

Sorry if I pissed anyone off with this little rant. It is just extremely frustrating to deal with the unnecessary and irrational roadblocks that exist in the GIS field.


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