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ODI urges UK Government to help make more map data available

The ODI has published two papers looking at geospatial data at its summit

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More open map data would help those developing drone services
More open map data would help those developing drone services

The Open Data Institute (ODI) has called on the UK Government to work with Google, Apple and Uber to publish more map data to help support the UK’s emerging technologies like driverless vehicles and drones.

 

The ODI’s response to the Geospatial Commission’s call for evidence towards the UK’s Geospatial Strategy comes in one of two papers looking at geospatial data published at today’s ODI Summit 2018.

 

The second is a report: The UK’s geospatial data infrastructure: challenges and opportunities, produced for an innovation project exploring the challenges faced by the UK’s geospatial data users, and the opportunities to support the publishing and use of openly licensed geospatial data.

 

The value of data

 

The UK Government has estimated that maximising the value of such data could generate £6-11bn each year and has committed to making the geospatial data it holds more openly available – particularly that held by Ordnance Survey.

 

However, the ODI laments that it is still hard to get hold of geospatial data from both the public and the private sectors. Government agencies charge fees that make it hard for start-ups to get started; rights over UK address data were privatised with the Royal Mail, and Google Maps recently increased its pricing by over 1,000 per cent, according to the ODI in a blog post.

 

Making data from both the public and private sectors openly available and interoperable will mean more organisations can access data from different sources and combine it to build new services and technologies.

“Like other parts of our data infrastructure, we believe that geospatial data should be as open as possible while respecting privacy, national security and commercial confidentiality"

The report and response to the call for evidence both highlight how several technologies and sectors are heavily reliant on geospatial data from the public and private sectors and could stall without it. These include:

  • Autonomous and connected vehicles that use geospatial data in services such as in-car navigation and driver assistance systems like lane departure warnings, parking proximity, and cruise control
  • Drones which rely on geospatial data for geofencing, for example to stop them flying over airports
  • Transport services that use geospatial data to help people find their way to work, model traffic flows and manage highway resources.

The report shows how commercial organisations collect geospatial data “quickly and at scale”. This is made possible through technological advances in satellites and GPS-enabled devices. National mapping agencies and other public bodies need to respond to the increasingly large role played by commercial organisations as collectors, aggregators and stewards of geospatial data.

 

In its response, the ODI urges that, to avoid commercial organisations hoarding national geospatial data, the Geospatial Commission should:

  • Work with public sector organisations to explore different business models – in particular those that represent alternatives to paying to use and share data
  • Support broader debate around the respective roles of public, private and third sector organisations in maintaining and enhancing the UK’s geospatial data infrastructure
  • Consult on whether public sector organisations should have powers to mandate access, use and sharing of data – in defined ways – held by large firms.

“Like other parts of our data infrastructure, we believe that geospatial data should be as open as possible while respecting privacy, national security and commercial confidentiality. In many cases, geospatial data can be open data for anyone to access, use and share,” said Jeni Tennison, CEO at the ODI.

 

“The UK needs an effective geospatial strategy that looks beyond geospatial data holders in the public sector. Without it, the UK will fail to meet commitments to industries that rely on new technology, such as driverless cars and drone delivery.”

 

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