Day 2 progress MN County Parcel Project

Wow.  This project is going to be quite the adventure.  Yesterday I called at 10 counties in Southern Minnesota (Rock, Nobles, Jackson, Martin, Fairbault, Freeborn, Mower, Fillmore, and Houston).  I think most of these people think I am crazy calling and asking them to review their decade old data policies.  Nobles County plans on rolling out open parcel data in the near future, but no set date (**Thanks Katie Purdham).  Otherwise counties charge $500 or $.05 per parcel (because that is what other counties do (on average they said).  Besides Rock County being $350 for all their parcels.

The best conversation was with Mr. Dan Whitman ( – The first thing he told me was he is not a fan of my project.  He voiced concern about people making a living off of his hard work, and if anyone wants their counties data, they have to pay for it.  He then told me he did not have time to talk to me anymore and abruptly let me go.  I sent him a follow-up e-mail thanking him for his time, and asked how I could go about having the county review their policy.  I have a feeling he will not respond, so I will follow-up first thing Monday morning 😉

Day two:

I stepped back and am looking at this from a different angle; what counties have open data.  After talking with Codie See ( ) (**Huge Thanks Codie), I am planning building a gis parcel dataset of all existing counties that have a open data policy.  I will site source, copyright, projection, etc.  I plan to call each of these counties to verify this is okay, and get their take on open data.

87 counties… lets do this!!  The more rural and smaller the county, I imagine the more reluctant they will be to open data.  However yesterday when I did speak with Katie from Nobles County, I was beyond excited (yes, about gis data…).  So I do have tremendous amount of hope that such a concept and project of a state-wide parcel dataset/ counties opening their data to the public is possible.

I have found some data on – but the metadata is lacking.  I have been in Contact with Andrew Turner (ESRI) to try and help their open data site be easier for advanced and new users, but scheduling a call has been difficult (Initial e-mail and conversation about how to fix/ collaborate was October 16th, 2015).  And I am still waiting to get through!!??  I am hopeful their site will be a bit easier to use, with better metadata, and easier ways to locate data, but only time will tell.


I also reached out to Pro-West & Associates ( ) who have worked with several counties in Minnesota to get their data on esri’s open data site.  The person who I spoke with said she would not allow me to speak with someone on billable hours about a project that they will not benefit from.

**call on 3/18 from Pro-West – ‘We would have to charge you to tell you what counties we have worked with’ … I almost asked the lady if she was going to bill me for the phone call time!!!


Many counties partner with Beacon ( so I may reach out to them, but have a feeling it will not help the cause.


Final Update for the day: Itasca County is literally opening their data tomorrow ((**Thanks Dave Bily, GIS Coordinator))!!

Maps coming tomorrow (and sources)