GIS Data Policy

  • You Have Four GIS Data Policy Options:
    • Ignore It?
    • Sell It?
    • Give It Away? or
    • Hoard It?

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A manifesto on the topic of publicly held GIS data policy by Christopher W. Dunn, Esq.

Disclaimer: I am not your attorney, viewing this web page, and using the information here does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. This information is my opinion and my opinion is subject to change as I learn more. This information should not be considered legal advice, and is not offered as such.

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Table of Contents


I created this page because some of you heathens still need to hear and understand the good word of open GIS data policies.


Copyright GeoVelo 2023


Perform a Self-Assessment Before Deciding on a GIS Data Policy

Review These Considerations

Traditions and History: “We have always done it this way” vs. “The Innovators”

  • Politics: How does your government view its role in society?
  • Your Political Skills: Stay off the radar!  vs. Leading boldly
  • Legal: Do you have legal support or funds?
  • Local Factors: Only you know the hidden landmines.
  • State Law: Does the state have a GIS data statue?
  • No Sales Law: Does the state restrict the use of public records?
  • Other Governments: DON’T JUST COPY THEIRS: They may be full of crap.
  • Case Law: Has this or a similar issue gone through the state courts?
  • Preconceptions: Examine your biases.

Hic Sunt Dracones

How to Mess Up Your Public GIS Data Policy Review Initiative:

  • Rush the process.
  • Cut and Paste your organization’s name in someone else’s policy.
  • Fail to understand your state’s laws on open records and GIS.
  • Fail to understand
  • Don’t contact or invite any stakeholders outside of your organization to contribute to the policy.
  • Make sure no one outside of your little bubble has a chance to review it before you bring it to the decision makers.
  • Adopt the mindset that you know what is best for the little people.
  • Be extra cocky.

Instead you might ask yourself, “What are the best policy options that will produce the most good for the citizens we serve? And how can we involve them in this process?”

Copyright GeoVelo 2023