Data Consortium Newsletter     

July 15, 2013 

In this Issue
Introducing DRCOG's cutting-edge land use model - UrbanSim
DRAPP 2014 planning is underway
U.S. Census launches Geographic Support System Initiative
DRCOG and the City and County of Denver collaborate to address local and regional planning needs
DRCOG distributing InfoGroup residential and business data
New additions to the Regional Data Catalog
Moving Open Data forward
Contact us
The Data Consortium consists of DRCOG members and regional partners  with an interest in geospatial data and collaboration. The Data Consortium Newsletter is designed to improve communication among local GIS professionals and features updates from all levels of government as they relate to data and geospatial initiatives in our region. This newsletter will be published quarterly.
Introducing DRCOG's cutting-edge land use model - UrbanSim 
For the past few years, DRCOG has been hard at work developing a new land use model.  Land use models start with information on the existing built environment, including current zoning rules, how land is being used, and what types of buildings, jobs and people exist where. Then, using data on development trends, population growth, and other socioeconomic factors, the model makes predictions about what our region could look like in the future.   These predictions inform planning and policy and are an essential component of the Metro Vision process.
The new model, UrbanSim, is a cutting-edge tool with substantially more analysis capability than previous models. This increased capability comes from the detailed data that powers the model. DRCOG spent years compiling, cleaning, analyzing and standardizing local building, parcel, and job data to feed into UrbanSim,which will allow it to do analysis at the parcel level.

Currently, UrbanSim is being calibrated with a target date for completion in fall of 2013. Watch for more information about UrbanSim's launch in upcoming issues.
DRAPP 2014 planning is underway
PlanePlanning for the next Denver Regional Aerial Photography Project (DRAPP) has already started. Previous partners had asked that additional deliverables, such as Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) and 3-inch resolution imagery, be considered as part of the 2014 project. To accommodate these potential additions, the planning process started in April 2013 with budget discussions. A LIDAR workgroup was also formed to provide guidance for this type of acquisition.  RFPs are being drafted for imagery, data acceptance testing, web-mapping services, and a LIDAR acquisition. These documents are being reviewed by groups of volunteers made up of interested and knowledgeable partners.
The preliminary DRAPP 2014 Timeline is:
June 2013 - Provided RFPs to review workgroups
July 2013 - Finalize the RFPs
August 2013 - Release RFPs for bids
October 2013 - Vendor selection
November 2013 - Vendor approval by DRCOG Board
December 2013 - Preparation of Scopes of Work
March/April 2014 - Spring imagery flights (could also include LIDAR)
June 2014 - Summer imagery flights (could also include LIDAR)
Fall 2014 - Potential LIDAR flights (if they haven't occurred already)
If you are interested in volunteering throughout the RFP process, have any questions about DRAPP, or would like to join (new participants may join the 2014 project until early next year), please contact Ashley Summers at 303-480-6746 or [email protected]

U.S. Census launches Geographic Support System Initiative

Article provided by Jim Castagneri with the US Census Bureau in Denver. Jim can be reached at 720-962-3882 or [email protected].

Census logo whiteThe Geographic Support System Initiative (GSS-I) is an integrated program of improved address coverage, continual spatial feature updates, and enhanced quality assessment and measurement.
The Census Bureau designed this voluntary program to make the 2020 Decennial Census more efficient by collecting address and map information from its partners throughout the decade. By working with partners at all levels of government, the Census Bureau intends to create an accurate and up-to-date address list for most jurisdictions without the need for conducting a full address canvassing operation just before the 2020 Census. This will save time and resources during census operations as well as improve data collection and quality for current surveys, including the American Community Survey. 
  1. Address improvement: explore methodologies to achieve complete coverage and a current address list, concentrating on rural areas, Puerto Rico, and group quarters, and improving geocoding of all addresses to their location
  2. Feature improvement: continual update of the street network and attributes to improve the matching of addresses to their correct geography
  3. Quality improvement: broaden quality assessments and provide quantitative measures
  4. Improved Partnerships: strengthen existing and develop new partnerships  
Visit to learn more.
DRCOG and the City and County of Denver collaborate to address local and regional planning needs
Article provided by Andrea Santoro with the City and County of Denver. Andrea can be reached at 720-865-2946 or [email protected].
Existing land use is a fundamental representation of the built environment in the field of urban and regional planning.  Evaluating the current distribution of uses can tell a lot about the character of a landscape, while projecting future demand is critical to establishing a long-term, sustainable, land-use plan. 
map v1  
Several years ago, the City of Denver's Community Planning and Development Department (CPD) recognized that the Assessor's parcel data was not sufficient for analyzing existing land use consistently across the city.  There are hundreds of tax classifications in the parcel layer, many of which do not represent true ground conditions.  This drove CPD to derive its own more simplified and accurate land use layer.  It was around this time that DRCOG was also developing a regional built environment layer for use in its predictive modeling software, driving another need for a generalized land use schema. 
While the ultimate uses of these land use layers would vary between CPD and DRCOG, it seemed that creating a schema that could accommodate both needs and minimize redundant data processing would be the best approach.  CPD and DRCOG drafted their initial land use classifications, and discussed those which overlapped or conflicted with each other.  For example, DRCOG's multi-family classifications have a focus on ownership (apartment vs. condominium), while CPD's focuses on density (low-, mid-, or high-rise).  To address this and other discrepancies, CPD incorporated two tiers of land use classes into their schema: Level I, which consists of 18 highly generalized classes, and Level II, which has a finer grained breakdown of uses.  The Level II values translate directly to DRCOG's schema, while Level I accommodates the needs of CPD.  Below is an example of how the schemas are related. 
CDP chart 
As CPD and DRCOG continue to update their land use layers in the future, the groundwork laid through collaboration will make it simplify consistent updates.
DRCOG distributing InfoGroup residential and business data

In September of 2012, DRCOG purchased business and residential data from InfoGroup (formerly InfoUSA) to supplement existing built environment data that feeds the UrbanSim Land Use Model. During the purchase, DRCOG negotiated a deal with InfoGroup that allows sharing these two datasets with DRCOG member governments and partners.

The Infogroup business and residential data are valued at $25,000, but were offered to DRCOG partners and members at no cost. 


Attributes include:
Business: Company name, address, work at home information, modeled square footage, lat/long etc.
Residential: address, demographics, own vs. rent info, sale date, sell price, year built, square footage etc.


This data covers the entire DRCOG region and is accurate for 2012.


For access to this data, please contact Ashley Summers at 303-480-6746 or [email protected].

New additions to the Regional Data Catalog
A large amount of data was recently added to DRCOG's Regional Data Catalog, including 2012-17 Transportation Improvement Project data, updated Urban Center data, and several census and boundary layers created through collaboration with Data Consortium subcommittees.


Also available are the Municipal Boundary and County boundary dataset for 2013. The Data Consortium Boundaries Subcommittee decided to use agreement points from the Colorado North Central Homeland Security Region (NCR) as a guide to resolve boundary discrepancies when creating the 2013 Regional County Dataset.  The NCR Agreement Points are agreed-upon locations between counties where a road enters or leaves their jurisdiction. Boundaries were not necessarily snapped to the NCR Agreement Points.  The Regional Municipal Boundary Dataset also used NCR agreement points where municipal boundaries followed county boundaries.   The Agreement Points shapefile is also available on the Regional Data Catalog.

The Data Consortium Census Subcommittee was tasked with making census tables easily linkable to existing census geographies and available for download. In the Regional Data Catalog a selection of tables are now available for download in .csv format.  As this is only a small selection of the census data available, future additions could depend on user demand and feedback.   From the 2010 Census, the following tables are available at the Block Group and Tract levels.  The Tract data covers the entire state, while the Block Group data covers the Denver-Aurora-Boulder CSA (DRCOG + Park, Elbert, & Weld Counties). 
  • Urban And Rural
  • Occupancy Status
  • Vacancy Status
  • Hispanic or Latino Origin by Race
  • Sex by Age

From the 2011 American Community (ACS) 5-Year Survey, the following tables are available at the Statewide Tract level.  

  • First Ancestry Reported
  • Poverty Status In The Past 12 Months by Sex by Age
  • Aggregate Travel Time To Work (In Minutes) Of Workers by Sex (Also by Place)
  • Means of Transportation To Work By Age  (Also by Place)
  • Family Income In The Past 12 Months (In 2010 Inflation-Adjusted Dollars)
  • Commuting Matrix (2010, County Level Only, No Metadata table needed)


Each of the Census and ACS tables mentioned above also have a corresponding downloadable metadata table with full field definitions.   The geographies these tables link to are already available for download in the Regional Data Catalog:  2010 Census Tracts, 2010 Census Block Groups, and 2010 Census Designated Places. 




Moving Open Data Forward

Article provided by Scott Primeau with OpenColorado. Scott can be reached at [email protected]

Open ColoradoWhen OpenColorado formed three years ago, one of the biggest questions about open data was "why?" Three years later, the question is "how?"


City, county, state, and federal governments across the U.S. and worldwide are seeing the value of publishing data for public consumption. You can see this in examples from Arvada, Denver,  San Francicso,  Cook County, IL, the U.S. federal government, and many others around the world.


Now we are working on how to make public data widely available. I use the term "public" because we are dealing with the public's data that governments hold. This data comes from citizens' and businesses' interactions with government.


Identifying, acquiring, and utilizing the knowledge, skills, and technology to publish large amounts of data is a challenge. Even for large governments that have the resources to set up a data catalog, open data competes with many other priorities, like education, health care, and public safety.


OpenColorado has been providing a solution to many of those challenges. By providing an easy-to-use, centralized data catalog OpenColorado is eliminating the infrastructure needed for governments and other organizations to publish data. Through, an organization can upload a data set or link to a data set on the organization's servers.


Sharing data through OpenColorado builds a single source for Colorado city and county data. This allows the public to use information to build websites, apps, and other products that support commerce, entertainment, and overall well-being. Real estate website Zillow is an example of how private citizens can develop government-held data into a useful product.


Thanks to government and private sector collaboration, entrepreneurs and innovators are developing many more tools from open data. Hack-a-thons have become a common event for governments and other organizations to promote open data and fuel business development.


Cities around Colorado have felt the hack-a-thon enthusiasm and have held several events in the past year. Starting with the Code for Communities hack-a-thon in July 2012, Colorado citizens have hacked in Longmont and at Hack4Colorado, the largest hack event on the National Day of Hacking. OpenColorado has been a proud supporter of those events and very excited to see open data coming to life.


Please visit our website, check out our data, and stay in touch

Contact us
For more information on any of the topics mentioned in this newsletter or if you have an idea for an article, please contact DRCOG GIS Manager Ashley Summers at 303-480-6746 or [email protected]