The city giveth – the city taketh

Posted by in bdnmb, OpenData

A few months ago, in my quest to find information that City of Brandon could easily be publishing, I came across a map, that included all of the inventory of trees that the city has, including gps coordinates, type, size, etc.

Seriously. Think of all the data mining you could do with that information? Show types of trees by area. Which types of trees typically do better in an area, etc. The possibility are (nearly) endless. I quickly did up a heat map of the trees.

Screenshot 2015-02-26 13.27.05    Screenshot 2015-02-26 13.28.02

Pretty sweet.

In my searching – I had noticed that these maps the city was providing – were editable! Oops. Probably not the end of the world since not many people would be this deep in the maps (I’m probably the only one!) I then had a dilemma – do I let the City of Brandon know about this security issue or just ignore it. My developer conscious took over and I let them know.

The result. They took the maps offline (insert sad face). 1 Step forward – 2 steps backwards.

The email I received back from an IT Manager:

Hi Matt

The maps that are now password protected are for internal operations. Hence why they were editable previously, so that city staff could edit them. Other map services are publicly available. If you have a suggestion for a certain type of map service, we can look into possibly making one available. 


Now on the same website – other maps are readonly and provide great information. Why couldn’t this map and data be set as read only? Is it that sensitive of data that there is some legal issue? It’s trees.

So what’s my goal in all this? As I said in my first original post about Open Data – it’s to show City of Brandon what people could do with easily accessible data.

I’m still going to try and do that.