[okfn-za] Geological Data

Greg Kempe greg at kempe.net
Fri Feb 14 07:17:28 UTC 2014

Hi Martin,

Adi makes some good points, he has more experience with PAIA than I do.

You could also try contacting the Council and describe what you’re trying to do and ask for their help (that might make me appear hopelessly naive, but one can try!). My experience has been that talking about uses or potential partnerships/products is often a more effective way of opening up closed data than arguing purely about the theoretical need for openness. 

Regarding their broken link for the 1:250 000 maps: notify them, there’s a good chance they have no idea.

Another idea would be to contact the geology or related depts at UCT or Wits and see if they can help you get access to the data that you need.

Keep us posted!


Greg Kempe
p +27 (0)78 246 1116
w  kempe.net
t  @longhotsummer

On 13 February 2014 at 5:27:25 PM, Adi Eyal (adi at code4sa.org) wrote:

Hi Martin  

PAIA certainly covers this data. Your request may be rejected on  
anyone of the frivolous grounds that are usually given for refusal,  
but it's worth a try. In general PAIA is a frustrating process -  
despite the fact that it is easy to submit a request, government  
departments often spend a lot of effort trying to reject them. In  
summary, if it is possible to get the data in any other way, I suggest  
you go that route. PAIA is really a last resort.  

The question of copyright is now relevant. What rights are granted to  
you when you get the data? I am not a lawyer but reading through the  
copyright act, it seems that there are many cases where copyright  
claims are indefensible (e.g. the elections data from the IEC).  
Personally, I would just use the data and wait for a take-down notice  
(but I'm a little bullish).  

Hope that's useful  

On 12 February 2014 16:59, <mtb at martinb.za.net> wrote:  
> Hi Greg,  
> Thanks for the suggestions. I have a couple of queries though:  
> Would the PAIA actually cover this though? I mean, essentially, I want  
> vector (shapefiles preferably, or at least something that can be turned into  
> such) of everything that they have (or can have) on their printed maps. The  
> data must already be available in this sort of format, since it gets used in  
> books and such (like _Geological Journeys_ which thanks the CGS for  
> preparing the maps) as well as their maps.  
> I put a rewritten version my initial e-mail here  
> http://blog.martinb.za.net/2014/open-south-african-geological-data/ which is  
> much clearer about what I am asking.  
> I can certainly file a PAIA, but does it cover the sort of information that  
> I want, and can I do anything with the information I get? So if I send them  
> a request for say, the shapefiles showing the extent of the formations  
> making up the Karoo Supergroup in KwaZulu-Natal and any mines in it, and  
> they give it to me, am I allowed to use that more freely than their license  
> agreement?  
> And yes, I have no problems paying for printed maps, or if I want something  
> unusual that is not already made or readily available that they need to run  
> a special query for, or something along those lines. But the data I am  
> thinking of trying to liberate all appears to exist digitally already.  
> Further, the CGS, as far as I can tell, is a state entity.  
> The other issue is that the printed maps are often old (lots of data is from  
> the 1980s), and geological knowledge changes and becomes refined. So if they  
> have more up-to-date information, that would be nice to have....  
> Thoughts?  
> mtb  
> On 12.02.2014 08:53, Greg Kempe wrote:  
>> Hi Martin,  
>> I can understand them charging fees for printed maps (since each item  
>> is not cheap to produce), but I agree that the actual data should be  
>> more freely available in digital form.  
>> My suggestion would be to file a PAIA request for a subset of the  
>> data you're looking for and see what happens.  
>> The Human Rights Commission has lots of information on the PAIA  
>> http://www.sahrc.org.za/home/index.php?ipkContentID=25&ipkMenuID=45 and  
>> the Council for Geoscience lists all their contact points  
>> at  
>> http://www.geoscience.org.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1578&Itemid=153.  
>> Cheers,  
>> Greg  
>> --  
>> Greg Kempe  
>> p +27 (0)78 246 1116  
>> w kempe.net  
>> t @longhotsummer  
>> On 06 February 2014 at 12:47:21 PM, mtb at martinb.za.net  
>> (mtb at martinb.za.net) wrote:  
>> Hi All,  
>> I have a vested interest in being able to use geological data freely,  
>> specifically, the boundaries between different rock units as found on  
>> geological maps.  
>> While data is available, much of it is at too high a scale to be very  
>> useful for looking at specific sites. (That and the link to the 1:250  
>> 000 scale maps is broken off this page:  
>> http://www.geoscience.org.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=203:data-sales&catid=46&Itemid=176  
>> )  
>> The people responsible for this in South Africa are the Council for  
>> Geoscience. Their licensing is incredibly restrictive:  
>> http://www.geoscience.org.za/content/SDMLicense.pdf  
>> How does this gel with the Freedom of Information act? I note that  
>> other spatial information seems to be freely available, so why is the  
>> geological data locked up to this extent?  
>> This looks like stuff that we should be able to freely access, since it  
>> contains information on mines and mineral claims and so on:  
>> http://www.geoscience.org.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=206:spatially-referenced-attribute-data&catid=46&Itemid=176  
>> I can not see how to get significant amounts of this without quite a  
>> heavy financial outlay.  
>> This is the sort of thing that should be possible, but why only a cd  
>> and not online:  
>> http://www.geoscience.org.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=453&Itemid=292  
>> Has anyone dealt with the CGS? I do not really see a way forward on  
>> this, but have no real background in the subject.  
>> Martin  
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Adi Eyal  
Code for South Africa  
Promoting informed decision-making  

phone: +27 78 014 2469  
skype: adieyalcas  
linkedin: http://za.linkedin.com/pub/dir/Adi/Eyal  
web: http://www.code4sa.org  
twitter: @soapsudtycoon  

For more information on how to participate in the open data community  
in South Africa, go to: http://www.code4sa.org/#community  
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