State agencies in Nebraska are beginning to upload their mappable data to a single website where it can be accessed by anyone.
The site, NebraskaMAP.gov, has been live for years. But until recently, it only listed what maps were available from different agencies and contact information for how to obtain them.
Now the site features interactive maps and downloadable data ranging from public fishing areas to statewide broadband internet coverage.
Only a handful of maps has been uploaded so far, but a team of government workers is vetting many more.
The hope is to share well over 250 layers of data within the next year, said Nathan Watermeier, Nebraska's geographic information systems (GIS) coordinator.
"We have to be transparent," Watermeier said. "That data's there; let's make it available."
Many of the maps were already accessible on other state government pages. NebraskaMAP.gov will act as a clearinghouse for those maps, along with others that previously could only be obtained through a public records request.
People are also reading…
Bolstering the maps page is part of a yearslong process of updating and centralizing state government's vast array of digitized data.
Agencies have identified ways to pool resources among themselves and with local and regional governments, an effort mostly aimed at saving taxpayer dollars.
"Every single state in the nation is doing the same thing," Watermeier said.
Soon, his office hopes to begin collecting high-quality aerial footage of the entire state, similar to Google Earth but at a usable standard for government projects.
That's an expensive proposition, likely costing in the millions of dollars, but Watermeier says the investment return would be significant. The imagery could be purchased by public power districts and local governments, which would use it to review site infrastructure or help assess property.
Having its own aerial footage would also prevent the state from having to spend money on third-party images as needed, Watermeier said.
A contractor would capture the first batch of statewide aerial footage over several months, then take new images: every four years for rural areas and every two years in urban areas.
That imagery would be included on the mapping site as well.
"The NebraskaMAP brings it all together," Watermeier said.