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Collaborative and public geodata

August 20, 2006 in Open Geodata

Chris Holmes’ words on “Why isn’t collaborative geodata a big deal already” got me thinking about how some properties of the world can be observed – like street shapes and names – others can’t, but have to be transmitted – like postal codes and administrative boundaries. A GPS unit and a lot of goodwill will get you some way, but there are a lot of missing pieces.

In the US people don’t appreciate the wealth of data they have; in Europe people don’t realise quite how much they can’t get done. Collaborative mapping is a middle way that has yet really to catch on – there’s either no pressure for it or not enough reference data to act as a framework for it. I hope the current interest in “data mash-ups” in the UK prefigures a movement towards that middle way.

At a European level the legislative discussion over the public right to explore and reuse state-collected geodata continues, with a final vote in Parliament expected “in the early autumn”. Public Geodata is sending another Open Letter, to Ministers in the Council about their viewpoint on the INSPIRE Directive establishing a framework for European spatial data infrastructure going into the conciliation process before Third Reading in Parliament.

Technically, a lot of the “data infrastructure” problem has been about uncertainty in discovery / search / exchange protocols – no shared understanding of base metadata models. I hope the recent work being done at OSGeo on Simple Catalog Interfaces can feed into this usefully somehow; also the tile distribution project further up the stack; in making these “SDI” interfaces and concepts genuinely more useful by citizen developers and potential contributors and ground-truthers.

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