There is no doubt that digital data has become one of the most efficient resources for data-driven decision making for projects such as transportation management, neighborhood statistics, and even emergency preparedness research. Taking data collected over years, the Baltimore Metropolitan Council has decided to relocate it to a centralized portal. The Regional Geographical Information System Data Center contains information maintained by BMC for Baltimore City, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard, and Queen Anne’s County.

The Data Center is a hub for GIS data, open for public knowledge and enrichment. It is here where users will be able to find information by category or general search, to use however they wish. The Baltimore Metropolitan Council intends to provide the latest information regarding the greater Baltimore area through the portal.  The Data Center has records of boundaries, demographics, traffic count locations, and building permit data to name a few. Although open to a larger audience, the Data Center will be valuable resource for public works, local governments, and researchers to improve the quality of life within our region.

Mara Kaminowitz, a representative for the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, was able to expand on the significance of the new Regional Data Center.

Why was this Portal developed for BMC?
As a regional transportation planning agency, BMC is a unique geographic unit that works on a specific set of issues.  This portal will allow us to serve both municipal planners and the broader community by making data available for those interested in a regional approach to transportation, planning, demographics, and economic development.

Using BMC’s Open Data Portal, what are some things that user can do that they weren’t able to do before?
The data that will be placed on the Open Data site will be more comprehensive than our previous data download page.  The new page contains three times more data layers than the old one and this is just the starting point for the project.  Users can now download BMC data in several formats and users will be able to visualize data before downloading, pull layers into web applications, and view detailed metadata for each layer.  This format will also make it easy for BMC staff to update the data.  Some of the layers already update automatically.

What are some future GIS applications you hope to implement to the Open Data Portal?
We will continue to add new data to the Open Data site.  Planned additions include congestion data, infrastructure performance measures, and an archive of highway projects.  We also want to incorporate a gallery of interactive mapping applications along with PDF maps.  In the more distant future we hope to expand this website so it will be a go-to stop for regional data of all kinds.

To learn more about the Baltimore Metropolitan Council’s initiatives and projects visit their website here. The BMC Regional Data Center is located here