You need GIS software to use it, but Hennepin County has placed online a trove of property records that were once locked up behind proprietary databases and hard-to-use terminals at the Government Center in downtown Minneapolis. This is a big deal for data types, and comes in response to the movement for open data that's being led by public policy-minded hackers. The first nine datasets include:

  • taxable parcels
  • address points
  • the county boundary
  • street centerlines
  • street aliases
  • aerial imagery
  • municipal boundaries
  • commissioner district boundaries
  • topographic contours

In an era when courts and government officials are sealing off once-public records, it's really encouraging to see government acknowledging how public data can help it do its job. County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin is quoted in the county's news release saying the access shows the county's "commitment to transparency." "I look forward to seeing how the community leverages this data to build apps and find creative solutions.”

So do I.

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