The economic impact of general aviation in Texas

My report for the Texas Comptroller on how airports serve the Texas economy.

“The geographic dimensions of Texas dictate that many companies maintain aircraft to transport personnel and shipments to areas not serviced by commercial airlines,” says David Fulton, director of the Texas Department of Transportation’s Aviation Division. Air ambulances, agricultural pest operations, law enforcement, fire fighting and offshore oil operations all require dependable aviation infrastructure.

On SOPA/PIPA

Jeff Jarvis writes on SOPA/PIPA:

The question of fact is difficult to answer as it is an attempt to prove a negative: How do we know how many copies of a work pirates would have bought if they hadn’t pirated? How do we know how many more people discovered and bought a work because it was pirated? How do we differentiate between shrinking industry sales caused by piracy or by a new abundance of competition?

The matter of principles is this: Where will the White House and government put their priorities: in protecting the interests of a shrinking industry or in protecting the interests of innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic expansion? Will they favor protecting the interests of a closed industry or the freedom of speech?

Bills like SOPA and PIPA don’t work because they are written by people who do not understand the Internet. SOPA was written by the entertainment industry as a catch-all maneuver to combat piracy.

The problem is that the bill is so vague that it allows for the take-down of legitimate websites and services and undermines existing provisions in the DMCA. It grants not only the government but also private organizations to block web addresses with little more than an accusation.

Without doubt, SOPA/PIPA will be be a devastating blow not only to the tech sector, but to jobs, security and innovation.

Learn more, then take action against SOPA/PIPA by contacting your member of Congress and signing this petition.

Also: End Piracy, Not Liberty

Using GIS to solve common problems in local government, city planning

Here’s a short piece I recently wrote about a group of Texas counties collaborating on GIS solutions. This will be of interest to anyone who attended my presentation at SXSW last year on the importance of open data and data visualization in government.

The consortium operates under the direction of the East Texas Council of Governments (ETCOG), an already chummy and productive network of counties and other governmental entities with a shared commitment toward smart government. GIS encompasses the technology and analysis of electronic maps and the data they represent. It’s like your GPS, but with a brain and a hard drive, allowing officials and workers to spot geographic trends with satellite images without so much time in the field. The East Texas GIS Consortium’s goal is to share otherwise costly GIS systems, similar to a co-op, creating savings that ultimately benefit East Texas taxpayers. The city of Rusk, for example, mapped its fire hydrants and analyzed the data to identify underserved areas. By spotting deficiencies in hydrant service, officials can preempt disasters and other emergencies.

Read the entire article.

Our SXSW 2011 Presentation on Visualizing Government Data is now online [Updated]

Our panel at SXSW 2011 was a great experience, thanks largely to an outpouring of engagement from government professionals and contractors. Our hashtag is still active on Twitter.

As promised, I’ll answer questions as they come in via the hashtag #visualgov. Or, just e-mail me if you’d like to discuss something in private.

Here’s the link to our slides.

Update: Audio of the talk is now available.

[podcast]http://michaelcastellon.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Why-Visualizing-Government-Data-Makes-Taxpayers-Happy.mp3[/podcast]

Direct audio download

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My SXSW 2011 Panel: Visualizing Government Data for Public Trust

I’ll be on a panel next Saturday at SXSW 2011 titled Why Visualizing Government Data Makes Taxpayers Happy.

I’m really hoping to see a lot of people from local, state and federal government at SXSW this year. This is a great year for public sector employees attending the conference.

Here are a few of the things I’m going to discuss with my co-panelist and friend @jeremiahakin:

  • Why open data is important to government transparency and earning the public’s trust
  • How the federal government has served as a model
  • How agencies can distribute data visualization across teams, often to non-technical workers.
  • What tools agencies and other organizations can use to adopt similar strategies
  • The value and risks associated with various file formats, including Fusion Table and Google Earth.
  • Upcoming data visualization trends

My Schedule is a work in progress. Talk to me on Twitter if you’re attending SXSW 2011.