Government policy vs Spatial info markets

Government policy vs Spatial info markets

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Xavier Lopez
Xavier Lopez
Director
Oracle Spatial, Location and Network Technologies Oracle Corporation
[email protected]

The manner in which government disseminates its spatial information resources to the private sector, the academic community and non-profit organisations will have impacts on growth of a spatial information marketplace

Government plays an important role in facilitating the development of a national spatial information infrastructure. With the growing use of the Internet, the Web, and wireless computing, commercial and non-profit organisations are surpassing government as users of spatial data. The private sector is playing a dominant role in this transformation through the delivery and use of spatial data and content services. Activities such as GIS, LBS, logistics, navigation systems, and business intelligence — all require various forms of value-added spatial content. Moreover, as the use of commercial spatial information extends to more sectors of a nation’s economy, the emergence of a spatial information marketplace begun to emerge. These transformations raise important policy questions for government providers and their role in this evolving spatial information marketplace. The manner in which government disseminates its spatial information resources to the private sector, the academic community and non-profit organisations will have impacts on growth of a spatial information marketplace.

ALTERNATIVE SPATIAL DATA DISSEMINATION
Whether implicit or explicit, pre-existing national priorities have a large influence on national information policies. In particular, the influence of revenue generation mandates, privatisation goals, intellectual property rights, deficit reduction, and constitutional constraints are relevant factors to be considered. Increasingly, the role of government in promoting domestic commercial information industries has become another priority. These priorities are combined and embedded in a complex political and legal framework that can result in different spatial information dissemination policies.

The UK Ordnance Survey (OS) is an example of a mapping agency whose dissemination practices for spatial data are directly influenced by a mandated level of cost recovery. In the UK, the British Treasury office obliges the Ordnance Survey to collect 100 per cent of its revenues from data sales and services. The result is a near-monopoly provider of very high quality data that meets the needs of most government and commercial users. While the data costs are expensive for some users, the Ordnance Survey has worked hard to accommodate the price sensitivity requirements of its diverse user base. Some might argue the OS provides a one-stop shop for all the nation’s spatial data requirements. While this might be the case now, the growing demands for value-added data products and services will undoubtedly pose a challenge for any government agency. The OS’s strategy of partnering with third party value-added intermediaries is a good step in addressing the need for enhanced data products and services.