California Conservation Department Launches New Site


The California Department of Conserviation has launched a new public-facing website that will house it’s geospatial conservation data. Users to the new site will be able to see data about geology, seismic hazards, mineral resources, and mining; agriculture and land use; and oil, gas, and geothermal energy.

The portal is notable not only for its use of visualized data, which is more helpful to non-technical people but also because it brings together datasets that were previously spread out over four separate websites. As CivSource has reported before, California’s plethora of open data websites makes for a transparency ocean that is broad and deep but also a little challenging to navigate.

“Simplifying access to GIS geospatial data and web maps demonstrates the science-driven foundation of our work,” DOC Director David Bunn said.

Site users will be able to work with the data in a variety of ways – they can create, maintain, edit, query, analyze, and display data based on either locations on the ground or attributes within DOC’s databases. For example, the GIS platform allows a user to look at a map of active faults, and add data layers showing the location of nearby schools and hospitals.

DOC Maps provides access to more than 1000 GIS datasets, 15 interactive web maps, and 14 data services, all with supporting documentation. DOC is also encouraging public use of its data in building web applications or conducting independent GIS analyses.

While the new site is a boon for local Californians and civic hackers, it may also rise in importance nationally. The Trump administration has already taken several steps that make it seem likely that conservation and geospatial data at the federal level will be less available in the future. Those efforts have resulted in groups of data archivists rushing to save federal data and find new avenues to continue research. Quartz recently reported on a group of hackers that downloaded federal climate and conservation data during the inauguration and stored it in Europe in order to head off efforts to destroy or at least lock down critical scientific information.

California, for its part,has been aggressive in its efforts to both maintain and release new scientific data. The state has also retained former US Attorney General Eric Holder as outside council to defend the state and its programs from federal policies that may be adverse to the existing laws and policy goals of the state government.