Spring 2014

Unlocking Opportunity

ArcGIS Online makes open data accessible


This article as a PDF.

You can make datasets maintained by organizations in ArcGIS Online available in a matter of minutes at no additional cost. This collaborative and social web application lets you share your authoritative data quickly and reliably using the ArcGIS Online infrastructure.

Use Open Data for ArcGIS to create a branded open data portal in a matter of minutes.

Use Open Data for ArcGIS to create a branded open data portal in a matter of minutes.

Adding Open Data for ArcGIS to your ArcGIS Online organizational account will help leverage open data so it can enable more efficient government operations, help solve interesting problems, and let citizens contribute their unique insights on how government can work better.

Open data is much more than a "feel good thing;" it is a huge economic opportunity. McKinsey Global Institute, a global management consulting firm, says it has the potential to generate $3 trillion a year in areas such as utilities, transport, education, health, consumerism, and natural resources.

In as little as 10 minutes, organizations with an ArcGIS Online subscription can generate a branded open data website that leverages their existing data in ArcGIS Online and makes it searchable and downloadable. Open Data for ArcGIS is a part of ArcGIS Online organizational accounts and incurs no extra cost or credits. It creates a digital online public square where people can congregate online and do amazing things with data.

Organizations, such as government agencies, create and manage a vast amount of data. They desire or may be required to share specified data with the public. This is open data, and it must be freely available for use and redistribution. Like open source, open data aids in government transparency and fosters innovation as well as ensures data integrity.

Open data must be discoverable, explorable, and accessible. Open Data for ArcGIS makes it easy for people to discover data. It provides a web interface for searching data and lets data be discovered through a general web search or through recommendations or notifications.

Once found, data must be accessible so that it can be reused in other applications and integrated with other data. Data can be made available via APIs, web services, and common data formats.

Ideally, the data is made available via multiple mediums that conform to open industry standards. The Esri shapefile (SHP) is an open data format and industry standard. Open Data for ArcGIS automatically makes your data available as shapefiles and also in Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC), formats, including Keyhole Markup Language (KML), as well as comma-separated values (CSV) data format. In addition to combining data, you can filter, visualize, and analyze the data.

Because Open Data for ArcGIS is integrated into the ArcGIS platform, people can combine open data with other datasets in ArcGIS Online or bring the data into ArcGIS for Desktop for advanced geospatial analysis. Adherence to open standards means this data can also be used in spreadsheets, statistics packages, or other programs.

The value of open data is realized when the results of analysis and integration are shared back to the public and the source organization. Open Data for ArcGIS uses the capabilites built into ArcGIS Online for sharing and disseminating data through web and mobile applications.

This initiates a positive feedback loop that can lead to further exploration, analysis, and improvements. By making their data accessible and discoverable, organizations become part of the larger open data community on the web.

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