In response to a government consultation on ‘Policy options for geographic information from Ordnance Survey’ I wrote:
I am writing to respond to the current consultation on restructuring Ordnance Survey.
I think as much OS data as possible ought be made freely available. As public bodies are major customers of the OS the public already substantially funds the organisation. I believe the benefits to the economy and society of having OS data freely available will greatly outweigh any costs.
Making mapping data available without cost within government has the potential to improve government services.
Making images of maps available isn’t what’s important – that isn’t particularly valuable – what’s much more important is releasing the underlying data from which others can produce their own images, services, tools etc.
I think it is right for the government to run the OS and to spend public money on it, and to make its outputs available freely. I think this is a great way for the government to support commercial and social activities which are of value to the country. I think it is right for government to provide the national basic infrastructure on which so much relies.
Where the move to make mapping data free has the effect of giving a boost to commercial company profits eg. the utility companies there needs to be an arrangement to ensure the UK public see the benefits from that ie. use it as a bargaining chip when negotiating with those companies to keep bills low and investment in infrastructure high.
I think the OS ought focus on being an international centre of expertise and seek to make money by exporting its computer systems, tools, techniques etc. to other countries. Public support for it to do its core role in the UK in the best, most innovative and advanced manner can support that.
I think the OS ought focus on supplying the high quality underlying data, and with the exception of ensuring a national paper maps are available, including those aimed at tourists (supporting the tourism industry) ought not focus on offering services to consumers.
I support funding the OS through general taxation; and would oppose another tax on developers. This country has a problem with affordable housing and adding yet more to the price of new build houses and increasing the costs of buying and selling a house need to be avoided. Release of mapping data ought lubricate not restrict the housing market. With respect to utilities though I see no problem with requiring changes to be notified to the OS.
I think the National Address Register ought be maintained by government and shared freely.
I sent the above to : giconsultation at communities.gsi.gov.uk
Links to help others responding
- How free will Ordnance Survey’s maps be? Your last chance to decide – Guardian
- Ordnance Survey: the options for change – or not? – Simplified consultation document from Simply Understand.
- A [draft] consultation response from Simon Brooke – lots of insights there
- UK Geographic Data Consultation – suggestions and online form from ernestmarples.com
- Francis Irving’s consultation response – “electoral and administrative boundaries are a fundamental part of our democracy” – they’re not free either at the moment.