On the train home last night, I caught up on this weeks podcast of the BBC Radio World Service programme, Digital Planet a regular on my iPhone powered commute these days. As has often been the case recently there was something of interest to Geo people in the form of a report on a LIDAR survey of the recent Italian Earthquake and a report from Kenya on Wherecamp Africa.
It was great to hear in both cases the positive impact that geospatial technology was having, in particular the report from Kenya highlighted once again the importance of making sure the rich infrastructure of geospatial technology we enjoy in the West is made universal.
I was however a bit miffed at the comments made by Bill Thompson, someone I usually have a lot of time for, who made the point that he though it would be better if geospatial infrastructure for Africa was developed in a more open fashion, using openstreetmap or the Mumbai free map as a model.
This is a debate well known to readers of this blog, and as always I ( and Google ) am fully supportive of the open geodata movement, however I will once again argue that making the data available without cost as map tiles in Google Maps and via the Google Maps API will have an impact on Kenyan society orders of magnitude greater than providing a raw data feed alone.
To be clear the point I am making is not that access to raw geodata is not important to some communities, and in Kenya Google is experimenting making the raw data available for non-commercial use, but its impact is small in comparison with the widespread availability of mapping data on the web, mobile phones , etc.
Bill happy to debate the point over a coffee next time I’m in Cambridge 🙂