Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Georant" on free geodata, Ordnance Survey and USGS

I'm a little behind on this - you may have already caught this video of me doing a "georant" at AGI GeoCommunity via Jonathan (who kindly said it was "rather funny") or GeoCommunityLive (who said that the audience were in hysterics, and "at the same time Peter had some serious points to make about the potential pitfalls of the 'free' model").

I basically discuss the fact that many people massively oversimplify the arguments for and against free government geodata. The georant format was a fun one, the idea being to have short entertaining talks accompanied (or fueled?!) by beer, with an Ignite style format (15 slides which automatically advance every 20 seconds, for a total of 5 minutes). I recommend it to other conference organizers!

And here are the slides - you get a glimpse of some in the video and not others, so feel free to follow along by advancing these. For the benefit of those not from the UK, slide 2 features Vanessa Lawrence, Director General and Chief Executive of the Ordnance Survey, and the appearance of that slide was what prompted the burst of laughter that you hear about 20 seconds in!
And finally perhaps I should also explain that the conference party had a "dress code" of "black and white", which was the reason for the cowboy outfit ... though given the amount of coverage my cowboy hat generated, I may have to use it again for future presentations :) !!


Steve said...

It's an interesting point to put over, but it is difficult to feel sympathy for Ordnance Survey when such things as their pricing model are so restrictive. I for one am happy to Pay OS for their data, the work they do, especially on OS Mastermap is currently unmatchable and I doubt any private company will ever match them for it as there is very little financial incentive to map sparse rural areas, but if I produce information from it, I hope to think that I could use it to help the public I serve without fearing a future charge from OS in relation to derived data.

I think that any clarity from the current situation can't come soon enough, but I don't know when this will happen, so I can envisage this argument to go on and on. (And wasting considerable time at GI conferences for the time being too!)

Peter Batty said...

I totally agree that there is lots that can be improved with the Ordnance Survey, of course - and the derived data situation is one where short term improvements could be made relatively easily, one would think. There have been various hints from Ordnance Survey that there may be some changes happening in this area soon, so we will see!

But my main point is that saying that it should all be free (i.e. that taxpayers should pay an extra 50 million pounds a year to Ordnance Survey) is overly simplistic, and that approach has a number of problems associated with it.