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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Green pressure on UK gov't for OA to PSI

Tom Chance, Government responds to Green question on Ordnance Survey charges, Tom Chance's website, April 3, 2008.

The Government has responded to the first of several questions I drafted for Tim Beaumont, the Green member of the House of Lords. We want to pile on the pressure so that the Labour Government takes the report they commissioned seriously, and to find out if they intend to act on any specific parts. One very general question - asking "whether they intend to make the Ordnance Survey's MasterMap available free of financial or legal restrictions" - got this response:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): As announced in the Budget, the Government will look closely at public sector information held by trading funds including Ordnance Survey, to distinguish more clearly what is required by government for public tasks and ensure that this information is made available as widely as possible for use in downstream markets. In the lead up to the next spending review, the Government will ensure that information collected for public purposes is priced so that the need for access is balanced with ensuring that customers pay a fair contribution to the cost of collecting this information in the long term. In the mean time Ordnance Survey will continue to generate the revenue it requires to cover its costs, to fund investments and to provide a return to government, from sales of paper mapping and from licensing use of the Crown copyright and Crown database rights in its data, including OS MasterMap.

So no surprises there, but the spending review is definitely a good campaign target. If the Government took their own research seriously, and approached Ordnance Survey's funding a little more creatively (e.g. with land registry surcharges), then communities like OpenStreetMap would be able to open up hugely beneficial opportunities. ...

See also the further questions by Beaumont on April 3, and the Government's response.