The bill sponsored by Rep. Solorio, would close public access to public GIS basemap data.
The bill is currently set for a hearing in the Governmental Organization committee on April 16th, and in the Local Government Committee on April 30th. The best time to stop a bad bill is when it is in committee. So the time to act is now.
If you live in California, now is the time to contact your rep, and the members of the committee.
Find your assembly person
Committee on Governmental Organization
Committee on Local Government
Tell them your name, and that you oppose AB1978 — it’s important to mention the bill number. And give a few reasons you oppose the bill. Please be polite and concise — staffers talk to many constituents about many different issues.
Here are some facts you can use to explain why public GIS data is good, and the bill is bad.
In the age of the internet, having public access to government data is important for democracy, and provides new opportunities for citizen engagement. Citizens are using public map data for a wide variety of beneficial purposes. Just a handful of examples out of many:
- The Oakland police department makes its crime data available so that citizens can see what’s happening in their neighborhoods and help solve crimes
- A group in New Orleans is using public data to publish information about planned demolitions to provide residents the opportunity to speak up regarding the fate of their homes.
- San Francisco publishes excavation information. An online service mashes this up with public mapping to show where and why streets are being torn up
What’s the motivation behind this bad bill? Solorio filed the bill on behalf of Orange County which tries to make money selling GIS data.
However, according to a USGS-funded study of GIS professionals, representing city, county, metropolitan, and regional governments, “most government agencies that sell public data have not realized significant revenues; in many cases, they have actually lost revenues.” A study by KPMG Consulting, Inc in March, 2001, reported that “US agencies reporting
data income had revenues equal to 2% of their expenses.” The study describes a 10 different economic models that can be more effective than selling data.
In summary: making the data available to the public is good public policy, and closing the data to the public does not provide meaningful financial benefit to the government.
If you speak up, we can help kill this bad bill.