Geographical Information Again

Charles Arthur has posted a very interesting article about potential restrictions on the use of local authority data if it is deemed to be ‘derived’ from Ordnance Survey geographical data.

The net effect of this would be to prevent people from combining some local authority data with Google Maps to produce the kind of new information services we have been promoting through the ShowUsABetterWay competition.

The comments on Charles’ post add a lot of detail about the issues involved in the different licensing models of Ordnance Survey and Google Maps that is fascinating reading. The comment from James Rutter describing his local authority’s frustrations and how they have turned to Open Street Map as an alternative is especially instructive.

Not many people will have time for all the ins and outs of the legal and commercial issues here.

But I believe that most people will find it ridiculous and unacceptable that there seem to be these barriers to producing simple tools to help people locate and use public facilities based on industry-standard solutions.

This is especially the case when a lot of the data collection is being done by taxpayer-funded officials in local government. It is in the public interest that this data is as widely available as possible so there is a pressing need to resolve this issue of third party license ‘pollution’.

Well done to the Free Our Data team for continuing to highlight it.

Richard Allan, Task Force Chair

1 Comment

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One response to “Geographical Information Again

  1. I agreed this is a real setback for the open data movement. In particular I wrote here http://blog.youth-online.org.uk/index.php/2008/11/14/ordnance-survey-locks-down-government-spatial-data/ about the possible effect on ESRI’s recently released libraries for accessing government GIS data on google maps, which was a great step forward in opening up access.

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