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Gov 2.0 Summit Preview: GIS-Powered Government Data

At the Gov 2.0 Summit in Washington on Sept. 7 and 8, GIS expert Jack Dangermond will discuss new ways to integrate government data with mapping applications.
"By using GIS, people can look at the map or map service and immediately have an understanding of the data -- the patterns and relationships that the information is portraying," Dangermond said

ESRI plans to launch a new Web-based tool called Community Analyst that takes data sets from federal, state and local government and integrates the data into a mapping application. Government agencies and others can use the data to do policy planning and community analysis, among other things, Dangermond said. The site is a companion to one ESRI already offers for business users called Business Analyst.

Community Analyst will show that GIS "can be very easy to use and accessible by anyone, even if they have absolutely no background in geography or GIS technology," he said.

Also along the lines of making GIS more user-friendly, Dangermond will introduce ArcGIS.com, a social-networking site that lets people share maps and data sets, and lets others discover them in a similar way to finding photos on Flickr. Users can download the data and maps or use them as Web services. When data is available as a map service, it becomes easier to understand and to combine data sets for analysis, Dangermond said.

When data is available as map-based Web services, users can become amateur scientists, he said. "Citizens could look at the relationship between cancer and a particular pollution in the environment," Dangermond said. "They could see these patterns and understand things in new ways."

GIS-enabled data can also be used by governments to work together, Dangermond added. "Map services provide a powerful framework for government-to-government collaboration," he said.