[geo-discuss] Re: [Free Map] Open Access to State-collected Geospatial Data

Jo Walsh jo at frot.org
Mon Aug 22 07:04:00 UTC 2005

Jitendra, thanks for your comments.

On Mon, Aug 22, 2005 at 09:01:09AM +0500, jitendras at vsnl.com wrote:
> don't you think the proposed unrestricted access to government collected data will be difficult to swallow for any govt agency which has security concerns and legal constraints from military laws etc.
> Will it not be easier to 
> 1> make data avaialable with less acuracy than so and so limit/scale

There's nothing in the Open Access manifesto that limits that. Access
to "generalised" data sets compiled from more accurate data - streets
to within 10m accuracy, addresses to within <100m accuracy - would be
adequate for a lot of web-facing, Open Source GIS projects. 

But - if we ask for, and receive, limited access, either in terms of what
rights a user has to redistribute data, or in which applications that
data can be used; where can we then stand subsequently if those rights
are granted, precluding the ability to freely redistribute or to support
free-to-access map services with some commercial activity? 

> 2>limit access to some areas which are sensitive

The military concern is much more difficult; concerned with *timely*, as
well as simply *accurate*, geodata. Even the NASA-published Landsat
data which is so useful to the appearance and utility of OpenStreetmap and
the Mumbai Free Map, is 5 years old in many regions; which in megacities
undergoing massive spatial change is not really useful at all.

It's an ongoing absurdity though, that ISRO has much-better-than-Landsat
calibre data which is unreleasable locally despite economic and social
benefit; that fights over intellectual property rights in geodata are
impeding civic planning, 'e-government', traffic monitoring, etc
applications from being developed - even 'in-house' by government agencies 
(c.f.: http://www.guardian.co.uk/online/story/0,3605,1550761,00.html )

The Open Access statement tries to emphasises the economic benefits of
open access; cost and admin overhead savings to local government and
government-funded bodies of all kinds, as well as reducing costs to 
commercial enterprises and enabling public domain research.
> 3> so and so data is already available to all from so and so source . hence it makes no sense to stop legally using tis when illegal users already enjoy the benfit of use
> 4>such and such data is already in commercial sales and hence it is not meaning ful to restrict data but may be put a price on it.

Forgive my misapprehensions, but as i understand it, in India there is
a more restricted attitude towards data distribution at a high level,
and a rather more relaxed one locally, than obtains in Europe,
particularly in the UK where IP rights are enforced paranoically.
Verifiably 'fake' streets and postal codes are introduced into
national mapping data in order to detect unlicensed data redistribution.
In this unsustainable model, the social and economic benefits of open
access to data at a intra-government level are simply ignored.

> Now tha indian cabinet has created a classification of data and a
> large part is being made open , these issues acquire urgency and
> require balanced advocacy.

I'd apprecate any online references you could provide to this new


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