Friday, April 02, 2010

OS OpenData

Today, Ordnance Survey opened free access to some of its data. The 1:50,000 and better vector and raster data may be downloaded at your convenience via OS's OpenData portal. This is quite a departure from the OS's well known charge-for-everything approach to one that is more civilian-centered. Will the OS see a drop in revenue from this move? Yes. Will the UK gain invention and better services for society and a more varied and resilient economy when these data are put to use by more brains than the OS or the UK government can afford to pay for? I think, yes! (The way we all benefited when this Brit invented the World Wide Web).

What will the National Mapping Agencies (NMAs) in this Region think of this, I wonder. Many, in the Anglophone parts, follow in the 100-year old footsteps of a UK institution, and are very protective of their data. Will the heads of these agencies or their governments change their policies likewise now? When they do, one benefit will be better disaster-preparedness in that country. I.e. It will be easier to plan and deliver humanitarian assistance to citizens in the aftermath of natural disasters.