The Office of Innovation and Technology (OIT) has embraced a strategy of sharing the city’s geospatial data through the social coding site GitHub.
While OIT has used GitHub to share open source software and other assets for more than a year, over the last several months GitHub announced a bunch of new features to support geospatial data hosting. As these new features got rolled out, it became obvious to us that GitHub presented a powerful new platform that we could use to share our data with an even wider audience of users.
Our goal in sharing geospatial data through GitHub has always been to make our data available in as many geospatial data formats as possible – CSV, JSON, GeJSON, KML, etc. – to make it absolutely as easy as possible to use city data in a project or application. And while desirable, converting our data sets from their original format to multiple open formats presented a challenge – initially, the process was a manual one that took a non-trivial amount of time for one of our open data team members.
That was until Dave Walk, a Civic Technology Engineer on our open data team, began working on ArcOpen – a plugin for ArcGIS that allows anyone to easily transform data from Shapefile format to a number of open geospatial formats. This makes it quick and easy for anyone to share geospatial data on GitHub (or even through other channels).
Dave’s work has now itself been open sourced on GitHub – the repo can be cloned here.
At OIT, we’re focused on finding new ways that we can share our data, to make it easy and efficient for anyone to use city data in a new project or application.
Congratulations to Dave on his awesome work and keep on the look out for more of the City of Philadelphia’s geospatial data on GitHub.