Once again the Guardian Newspaper in the UK (which I read incidentally) has got caught up in the free geospatial data debate.
I quote..”Our taxes fund the collection of public data – yet we pay again to access it. Make the data freely available to stimulate innovation, argue Charles Arthur and Michael Cross ”
The OS is no more funded from taxpayers than many large software companies who work largely with government customers and have had the development of their core software funded over a number of years of development contracts, this is particularly the case with the large GIS software vendors!
The article is so full of factual errors I don’t now where to begin, but what comes across really clearly is the lack of the customer viewpoint!
Why not ask the customers of OS data what they would prefer – the status quo where they and they alone pay to license the high quality data they need, or the much admired situation in the United States where the provision of spatial data is funded by political mandate, which has over the last couple of administrations, resulted in data which is decades old and not maintained to any level of consistency.
The much admired data in Google Maps, MapPoint etc. comes from commercial vendors, which Google etc. have had to license, the base government supplied data does not meet their needs.. Remember the famous “Where is Apple” discussion last year, a result of government funded data used by Microsoft being so out of date it did not show the location of Apples’ offices in Cupertino !
There is no such thing as “free data”, in the end somebody has to pay for the expensive business of collecting and maintaining national geospatial databases, ask a politician what they would prefer to spend a limited tax funded budget on.. Hospitals and Schools or funding the collection of geospatial databases you know what they will answer !
Written and submitted from The Marriott Hotel, Huntsville, using the hotel in-room internet connection.