A collection of various GIS related links, information and other GIS blogs.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
County fights ruling on access to map database Santa Clara County has appealed a Superior Court ruling in hopes of blocking easy distribution to the public of its digital mapping database, which includes detailed parcel information. The court ruled in May that the county should make the geographical database available to the public at a reasonable cost. The decision was an outgrowth of a lawsuit filed in October against the county by the watchdog group California First Amendment Coalition, which alleged the county overcharges for the mapping information, making it prohibitive to many groups and companies that seek it for a variety of uses. The cost to buy the entire database has been quoted by county officials at $150,000. In the past, the county has charged that amount to private entities, such as telecommunications companies or utilities contractors. In April, however, the county stopped making the database available to those companies, citing security concerns. County spokeswoman Joyce Wing said the county moved to reverse the ruling partly because allowing anyone access to the database could go against a policy by Homeland Security officials, who say there is a legitimate concern about security. County officials sought the counsel of Homeland Security after the lawsuit was filed. The court action "is to help us with the balancing act between the public's interest in knowing and public safety," Wing said. But Peter Scheer, executive director of the First Amendment group, said "It's hard to take the county's security concerns seriously when you consider that for years they've been selling this database to anyone willing to pay the county's absurdly high fees. "So far as we're aware, there's nothing sensitive in the database that isn't already available in other public information."