Data Policy OS Research Thoughts

Notes from down-under

As the Whitehall farce that is the OS derived data debacle continues, it’s interesting to contrast the flow of public sector information in the UK with that in Australia which I have just experienced first hand at the first Asia Pacific Spatial Innovation Conference.

Interestingly for a Geospatial conference there was in addition to the usual technology developments, a theme looking at innovation in business models, funding and licensing. It’s not often there are as many economists at a geospatial conference as ESRI gurus !

For me the biggest take away was the increasing recognition by government here that data needs to be set free both at all levels of government, and there are I’m sure many important lessons which could be picked up in Europe and in the UK specifically. 

Australia is more similar to the UK than the US, for example the value of information is recognised and information products are protected by copyright as is the case in the UK.

But in Australia, lead by the great example of Queensland, government data sets are starting to be released using Creative Commons licenses, and in a study presented by Tim Barker the Director of Queensland’s Spatial Information Office, 85% of the public sector data-sets they had examined could by licensed using one of the standard creative commons licenses without any problems.

Before you all fall about laughing saying this could never happen in the UK, the OS actually has released information under a creative commons license before, the research team published some ontologies used in semantic research using a non-commercial share alike licence, but of course perhaps that was a little under the radar screen.

Still we live in hope…

Written and submitted from the Qantas Lounge, Sydney AIrport, using its free 802.11 network.

GIS OS Research Thoughts

Research Labs project reported in New Scientist

As a A-Level Physics student, I used to love reading New Scientist in the School Library – I could at least understand it.. maybe reading too much of it, resulted in my spectacular failure at the subject ?
Map Snapper Still its good to see Ordnance Survey Research Labs joint research with Southampton University making this weeks New Scientist as well as Computer Weekly.

Map Snapper is a demonstration of technology that brings together the best characteristics of paper mapping and geospatial databases. Using a camera phone a photo of any feature on the map is sent to a server application which “recognises” the feature using pattern recognition and return up to date attribute information..

So take a picture of a hotel, and find out its telephone number, rates and this evenings reservation information, or take a picture of a train station to find out the time of the next train.

One way to think of this is a mash-up tool for paper maps !!

Map Snapper is a great example of collaborative research, the real challenge now is to find partners to commercialise the idea…