Where small is beautiful..

Today I made the keynote presentation to the Jersey GIS User Conference, organised by Digimap (an Ordnance Survey partner) and the States of Jersey Government, who together are really driving forward the use of Geographic Information.


Much like OS Mastermap, Jersey now has a complete intelligent feature based geospatial database, with high levels of currency and consistency. Again like Great Britain, there is an active GPS framework network providing centimetre accuracy positioning.

In contrast to the rest of the UK, Jersey with a single layer of government, has just got on a built a single land and property address database which is widely adopted and has become the standard for government use.

Half of the possible 8000 government employees access the sole corporate geospatial Intranet and on the sister Island of Guernsey the utilities companies are beginning to publish their assets to single password protected website.

None of these things are technically difficult to do, but the contrast with the UK is interesting – this really is the case of the relatively small size of the channel islands and simpler organisational structures making the exploitation of Geographic Information much quicker to deliver benefits.

Written and submitted from the Hotel L’Horizon, Jersey, using the hotels wifi broadband internet connection.

10 Replies to “Where small is beautiful..”

  1. Ed:

    First off, nice E.F. Schumacher reference–it’s nice to know someone still remembers early 1970’s economic utopianism.

    Spot on with the organizational analysis: I consider my job as much anthropology as technology in trying to figure out with a new client a) who are the enablers b) who are the naysayers and c) how to best express how enhancing internal information flow within an organization has huge value in and of itself.


  2. Hi Charles,

    As I understand it, and I’m sure I will be corrected if I am wrong.. users inside the States government use the data at no additional cost – it is their data ? Everybody else using the data for commercial activities must license it from digimap the States commercial partner.

    Interesting model don’t you think ?

  3. Interesting, though intellectually a bit half-baked. Where’s the sense in saying that the data belong to the government alone? It’s like they magically appeared without the intervention of taxpayers paying for their collection. (Especially if local government is involved in a NLPG.)

    Or is it a trading fund, with the intellectual gymnastics and justifications that attracts when it comes to the treatment of data ‘ownership’?

    Like the idea that the data are the whole of government’s. Dunno about you, but that sounds like a bit of joined-up thinking, at least.

  4. More joined-up than the UK I completely agree.

    I quite like the idea of data funded by taxpayers for use within government then used freely within government, while commerical exploitation of the data brings in revenue which can be used either to reduce taxpayers funding of the data capture activity or to deliver different government services.

  5. Certainly it’s a step in the right direction; the idea of government departments charging each other for use of each others’ data seems to me lunatic, because it imposes friction on the use of that data – someone has to monitor it, and label it, and so on. It adds inefficiency to the government process, which should be outward-looking, surely.

    Jersey though doesn’t impose corporation tax on companies owned offshore. Which in that case makes it logical to charge commercial entities for the data. We’re not saying one campaign fits all 🙂

  6. Thanks for the interesting comments. The model use in Jersey is similar to the models that now dominate in Australia. The heavy cost recovery models of the 1990s are now giving way to more sensible and effective understanding on pricing and access to spatial data. In most Australian states web portals provide citizens with free access to basic spatial information (either at state of local government level). The cross charging across government and to the public is declining as it was shown that it cause dysfunctional behaviour and held back the potential of SI. Commercial users are required to pay licence fees but at reasonable pricing levels which will still stimulates economic growth. You are right wrt the organisational issues are still the biggest barriers in implementing new models. Cheers

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