Monday, February 24, 2014

‘Misguided’ nations lock up valuable geospatial data

Jan Piotrowski in Many governments, particularly those in low-income countries, are “shooting themselves in the foot” by failing to give research and development communities open access to their caches of geospatial data, experts have warned.

The potential of such data that incudes geographic positioning information, including satellite imagery, to aid fields such as disaster response, agriculture, conservation and city planning far outweighs any potential value from selling the information, they say.

Some examples of the beneficial sharing and opening up geospatial data were highlighted at a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, this week (13-17 January) of the Group on Earth Observations, a voluntary partnership of governments and international organizations.

But the misguided belief that government data represent a lucrative revenue stream is still stifling countries’ development potential, says Paul Uhlir, the director of the board on research data and information at the US National Academy of Sciences.

“They see it as a valuable commodity that they can make some money from, but, quite frankly, open [data] policies are much more economically generative than closed ones,” he tells SciDev.Net. “By hoarding the data they’re minimising massively its value for other uses and shooting themselves in the foot.”...

An ornate locked gate of the Spital am Pyhrn in Austria, shot by Isiwal, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Austria license

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