Data Consortium Newsletter     

July 15, 2014 

In this Issue
Progress Report on the DRCOG Data Portal
DRCOG Shares Regional Business and Residential Datasets
DRAPP Update and Related Projects
How Local Data Drives Regional Decision-Making: A Look at Data Processes
Regional Open Space Data Now Available in the Regional Data Catalog
Neighborhood Delineation Tool
Articles of Interest
Upcoming Events
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 is published quarterly.
Progress Report on the DRCOG Data Portal
Article provided by Jenny Todd, Senior GIS Specialist, DRCOG.  Jenny can be reached at 303-480-6754 or [email protected].

In the April, 2014, edition of the Data Consortium Newsletter, we introduced the Data Portal project.  The Portal is an online application for data exchange between DRCOG and its members. It will replace the former data collection process of using the ftp site or email communication. The Data Portal will allow for more efficient, secure, and consistent exchange of data.  Some of the advantages of using the Data Portal include: 

  • Secure site for data sharing
  • Reduced errors in data transmissions
  • Increased communication between DRCOG and its members
  • Storing of data license agreements
  • Transaction logging

Beta testing of the Data Portal is now underway!  This is an important step in the project as it gives the DRCOG team a chance to address user questions or concerns.      


Thank you to the following organizations who have volunteered to participate in beta testing of the Data Portal:

  • Aurora  
  • Boulder County  
  • Commerce City   
  • Federal Heights  
  • Firestone  
  • Colorado State Office of Information Technology
  • Thornton

If you would like to participate as a beta tester, it is not too late!  Please email [email protected] if you are interested.  If you want to learn more or have questions, consider attending the GoToMeeting conference call scheduled Tuesday, July 22 from 10 - 11 a.m. The details are listed below:


1.  Please join the meeting.
2.  Use your microphone and speakers (VoIP) - a headset is recommended.  Or, call in using your telephone.
Dial +1 (312) 757-3131
Access Code: 458-483-742
Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting
Meeting ID: 458-483-742

In the fall, DRCOG will schedule several workshops for its members.  These workshops will provide instructions on using the Data Portal, including setting up administrators and users on the site. 


DRCOG Shares Regional Business and Residential Datasets

In June of 2014, 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 datasets with DRCOG member governments and select partners.


The Infogroup business and residential data are valued at $28,000, but offered to DRCOG members and approved partners at no cost. 
Attributes include, but are not limited to:
Business: Company name, address, number of employees, work at home information, modeled square footage
Residential: address, demographics, own vs. rent info, sale date, sell price, year built, square footage
This data covers the entire DRCOG region, has been geocoded, and is accurate for 2014. A 2000 and 2005 historical business dataset is also available free of charge.

To obtain this data, your organization will need to sign a license agreement.

All data will be distributed through the new DRCOG Data Portal.
For access, please contact Ashley Summers at 303-480-6746 or [email protected].
To read more about InfoGroup, see its white paper.


DRAPP Update and Related Projects

The Denver Regional Aerial Photography Project has completed its 2014 flights. The summer acquisition was particularly challenging this year because of late, slow-melting snow events and overcast afternoons that shortened our daily flight windows. The flight crews prevailed and all the imagery is now undergoing processing. The flights that were completed in the spring are available to DRAPP partners in their interim form (i.e. not orthorectified or color-balanced) in a WMS hosted by MapMart Cloud. The project is still on schedule to deliver final imagery to partners in December 2014. For entities that did not participate in this project, the final tiles and WMS will be available for purchase from MapMart in January 2015.

In related news, the FEMA/USGS LIDAR project that was initiated in the fall of 2013 is progressing well and the data is already being used to orthorectify the 2014 DRAPP imagery. The data, which includes classified points clouds, a Digital Evaluation Model (DEM), and contours, has been delivered to USGS for QAQC. DRCOG partners are expecting to see the final deliverables in August/September. Shortly thereafter, the public can expect to find some or all of this data for download on Office of Information Technology (OIT's) new site, the Colorado GeoData Cache.

Also of interest is that the DRAPP consortium has recently starting considering a planimetrics project to follow the successful completion of DRAPP 2014. The scope is still evolving, but current discussions include the potential joint purchase of building footprints, edge of pavement, parking, sidewalks, driveways, and hydro features for much of the region. For more information on how to partner with DRCOG on this potential initiative, contact Ashley Summers at 303-480-6746 or [email protected]
How Does Local Data Drive Regional Decision Making?

On June 25, DRCOG GIS Manager Ashley Summers gave a presentation to the DRCOG Board explaining how local data becomes information that drives regional decision-making. The purpose of this informational talk was to bring awareness to the state of DRCOG's data at a regional and local level, to outline why we often struggle with collection and compilation, and to show how data affects the analysis, forecasting, and planning efforts that inform influential decisions.

Elected officials need answers to many questions when they collaborate and negotiate at the DRCOG table. Questions like, "How is the region doing on our Metro Vision goals?" or "How do jurisdictions contribute to those goals at a local level?" or "Where does the region need to focus energy to make improvements?" The answers lie in current, accurate, and consistent information - information synthesized from detailed local data and compiled into a big-picture regional look.

To better understand the process, let's look at two of the datasets DRCOG collects from jurisdictions:  land use and zoning. The data is quite different across the region, so DRCOG finds commonalities and standardizes them into a dataset that can be used to draw broader conclusions on a regional scale. Once it's been compiled, the data is fed into UrbanSim, DRCOG's land use model, which not only leads to Small Area Forecasts, but also produces an output that goes into the DRCOG's travel model and air quality conformity model.  Each model result is contingent on the one before it and directly tied to the quality of the source data, which begins at the local level.

Check Out More Data Processes Here:  

  • Land Use and Zoning
  • Bikes and Trails
  • Buildings
  • Open Space
  • Parcels and UGB/A


DRCOG reaches out to jurisdiction staff throughout the year for data. The DRCOG GIS Team initiated a data collection effort in January 2014 to acquire geospatial data from the region's local governments. Specifically, the 10 datasets requested were:

  • municipal and county boundaries,
  • parcels,
  • open space,
  • trails,
  • bike facilities,
  • buildings,
  • land use,
  • zoning, and
  • urban growth boundary/area (UGB/A).


DRCOG staff would like to see improvement in the submission of buildings, land use, bike and trails, and UGB/A. The goal is also to make requests routine so the response is closer to the deadline. Finally, a consistent way to mine the data of jurisdictions without GIS is needed.


The presentation included these statistics and made suggestions regarding how improve the responses to the data collection effort. 

DRCOG suggested that elected officials and other members of a jurisdiction's leadership team investigate options to set us up for success. For example, getting more staff, more technical resources, or allowing more time to be spent where needed. Local staff must be enabled and supported to get this job done.

The "takeaways" shared with the Board were simple and to the point: 

  • The best and most detailed data is at the local level. You are the experts;
  • DRCOG is here to help, committed to continuously improving the information it provides; and
  • A call to action: Let's make an investment in building a strong foundation together.


Regional Open Space Data Now Available in the Regional Data Catalog 

In 2012, DRCOG began creating a new open space layer with the Common Spaces Data Consortium subcommittee. From this subcommittee and its Data Dash in September 2012, parks and open space data was obtained from several cities and counties as well as Colorado State Parks and the South Suburban Parks and Recreation District. This data was combined with DRCOG's original open space layer, Greenprint and COMap data and clipped at the county level. The data was then compared with parcel data and aerial photography to resolve discrepancies between datasets to ensure recent land use changes had not changed the nature of areas identified.

Open space data was included as part of DRCOG's data request to local governments in early 2014. With this request, a large number of new and updated local open space datasets were incorporated into the open space layer. Some proprietary data obtained from COMap was removed. This made it possible to make the data available to DRCOG members and the general public.

DRCOG is creating the open space layer primarily to meet in-house business needs such as Metro Vision and model development. Because of these needs, not all data considered open space by local jurisdictions is incorporated into the layer. For example, trails are excluded from the open space layer because those features are maintained in a different dataset. Thin strips of planned green areas, such as medians and street right-of-ways, are also excluded from the layer. Lastly, drainage ditches and ponds are omitted unless they have recreational value beyond water retention. In general, an area of land needs to be developable to qualify for the layer.

Thank you for all of the data you have provided to assist in the creation of this data. Updates are ongoing, so if you find any parks or open areas that have been missed, please feel contact DRCOG to make the data as accurate as possible. Data collected will also be used as part of DRCOG's annual data request to make annual updates.

Download the data from the Regional Data Catalog
Download the map from Map Gallery 


 Neighborhood Delineation Tool

Article provided by Jennifer Newcomer, Director of Research, The Piton Foundation. Jennifer can be reached at 303-825-6246 or [email protected]. 

The Piton Foundation's Data Initiative has a deep understanding of issues facing lower-income communities. Established in 1991, the Data Initiative has been a leader in Colorado for analyzing and sharing data to improve community decision-making.  It is a go-to source for comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-access neighborhood-level data.


In response to changing demographics and economic conditions in metro Denver, the Data Initiative is shifting its focus from a historically Denver-centric one to a 7-county regional view. The first web-based application that will be created with this expanded geographic reach is an updated Community Facts tool, which will offer free, neighborhood-level data.


As part of the Community Facts update, the Data Initiative is developing a classification scheme that will delineate neighborhoods for the entire metro region.  The Data Initiative created a mapping tool that allows residents and community members to provide feedback on draft neighborhood boundaries that have been identified. Through this tool, you can create a neighborhood map that will help the Data Initiative refine its delineation results. The deadline for providing feedback is September 19, 2014.


If you have questions about the mapping tool, or would like to receive regular updates on the new Community Facts tool's development, please contact Piton's director of research, Jennifer Newcomer.    


Articles of Interest

Upcoming Events
  • Geospatial Conference in the Rockies (GeCo in the Rockies) is a joint conference between GIS in the Rockies and GeCo West, sponsored by GIS Colorado. GeCo in the Rockies 2014 - September 22-26 - Register now! 
  • DRCOG Idea Exchange - August 21 - Stay tuned for an invite to this event. Typically, the DRCOG planning team hosts these meetings to get feedback from planners on a variety of Metro Vision topics. For this meeting, we will be focusing on data. A preliminary agenda includes: an overview of how DRCOG uses local data for analysis, a Data Portal demo, a Regional Equity Atlas demo, an intro to The Piton Foundation's Community Facts Tool, and a look at neighborhood delineations throughout the region.

  • DRCOG Website Gets a Makeover. Check it out here!
  • Check out the region's progress on our Metro Vision Goals here!
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]
Disclaimer: The information provided in this newsletter is compiled from multiple sources and is intended for informational purposes only.  DRCOG assumes no responsibility or legal liability for the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any information in this newsletter.