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The Global Impact of Open Data by Stefaan Verhulst, Andrew Young

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Chapter 12. Great Britain’s Ordnance Survey

A Clash of Business Models

Summary: Ordnance Survey (OS), Britain’s mapping agency, is considered to be one of the best sources of geospatial data in Great Britain. Its data supports essentially any industry or activity that uses a map: urban planning, real estate development, environmental science, utilities, retail, and much more. Creating data that is not only profoundly useful but technically impressive results in high demand for OS data. However, despite the launch of its OS OpenData platform in 2010, and despite initiatives to spur innovation with the private sector, much of OS data is part of a fee-based licensing model. OS is required to be self-financing, a goal it has historically achieved by charging fees for its data. In recent years this model has come into conflict with the U.K. government’s commitment to open data, the broader open data community, and even elements of the private sector. Today, OS uses a mixed-cost model, with some data open and some data paid, but tensions between these two aspects (open and closed data) persist.

Dimension of Impact: Creating Opportunity—Economic Growth

Key Takeaways:

  • The impacts of a given open data set can span a vast array of sectors and users—in the case of OS’ data, everything from medicine to mapmaking.

  • The relationship between public data providers and private industry actors can create new value and opportunities from open ...

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