[geo-discuss] Affect of geodata costs on GIS software development

Rufus Pollock rufus.pollock at okfn.org
Mon Sep 19 12:10:21 UTC 2005

Received this interesting snippet of info from Roger Longhorn that I 
thought would be of interest:

I'm not sure if you saw it, but there was also a statement from Roger 
Tomlinson (who many still consider to be the father of GIS) in an 
interview in Geoconnexion International April 2005 (p. 55-57) with Jeff 
Thurston (editor), which goes (quote):


Thurston: What are the issues for the British Ordnance Survey then?


The problem relates to the past. OS was the centre for mapping but 
initially they were appalling at digital mapping. When Margaret Thatcher 
became Prime Minister, she initiated cost recovery policies that 
affected the OS. This led to higher data costs at a time when GIS was 
just beginning to take off. This put a dead hand on software development 
in the UK. The U.S. on the other hand supported development and 
inexpensive reproduction of geographic information.

Canada regrettably took cues from the U.K. and this led to things like 
paying €11,000 for a digital 1:50000 map. Now there is great pressure to 
reduce charges in Canada. There are however very few companies 
developing GIS software in Canada currently.


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