Wednesday, February 25, 2015

ESRI's Open Data

ESRI recently announced its open data website (, which was in beta in mid-2014, so I decided it was a good time to take a look.  More and more open data is being published in a variety of places, by different organizations.

I thought it was only fair to make some comparisons. Because ESRI's user base and audiences are large, I decided the best comparison is  The only drawback is that has been in existence longer.

Of course, open data is important regardless of the platform.  Moreover, open data can be imported into any free and open source GIS.
"[Open data's] impacts include... cost savings, efficiency, fuel for business, improved civic services, informed policy, performance planning, research and scientific discoveries, transparency and accountability, and increased public participation in the democratic dialogue." -
One big difference between the sites is ESRI's contains lots of data from States vs. federal (state, and local) data found in  ESRI touts that it works with more than 380,000 organizations across the globe, so more open data is on its way!

A table comparing ESRI's Open Data vs.
One big advantage of ESRI's Open Data page is being able to view geographic data in your browser immediately and even see some attribute data.'s metrics pages are really neat including one on data sets published by agency by month: . Most data sets come from NOAA and USGS, which can be accessed in several different ways.   Obviously, a lot of the pages linked from either use ESRI formats or are driven by ESRI products.  For developers it is also important to note that has challenges/competitions. So be sure to check their website and social media! helps you get started with browsing categories.
Currently, has more data sets but it will be interesting to see how much ESRI can catch-up in the months to come.  It is a win-win situation for any data scientist or GIS analyst.  As open data sites get larger, they can become harder to search and navigate.  In sum, both sites will have to keep innovating to help bring out the best in open data and analysis.

1 comment:

  1. I would love to hear your feedback on the growth of ArcGIS Open Data and now ArcGIS Hub.