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The Guardian has an article on how the UK is threatening to kill INSPIRE, the European initiative to make government data more accessible across borders. The INfrastructure for SPatial Information in Europe’s principles include:
  • Data should be collected once and maintained at the level where this can be done most effectively
  • It should be possible to combine seamlessly spatial data from different sources and share it between many users and applications
  • Spatial data should be collected at one level of government and shared between all levels
  • Spatial data needed for good governance should be available on conditions that are not restricting its extensive use
  • It should be easy to discover which spatial data is available, to evaluate its fitness for purpose and to know which conditions apply for its use.
Writes The Guardian: “Nearly everyone supports the idea. But making geographical data freely available would destroy the business model of agencies such as Ordnance Survey, which funds activities by making a ‘profit’ on sales of maps and geographical data.” The UK government supports the OS’s right to charge for data, putting it in direct conflict with INSPIRE. “A spokesman for the UK in Brussels said the UK would support Inspire, but only if it agreed with the final text. ‘Our position is firmly that it is up to member states to decide the level of charging.’ The implication is that Britain would be prepared to see the directive fall rather than compromise OS’s commercial position.” A critic of the UK’s approach suggests that it is suffering from an “island mentality.”

Read the full story.

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