Recommendations (draft)


Recommendation 9

The Ordnance Survey is fundamental to delivering the power of information for the economy and society.  The Taskforce has contributed to the Government’s Trading Funds Assessment.  This Assessment should be radical and fundamental. In particular:

  • Basic geographic data such as electoral and administrative boundaries, the location of public buildings, etc should be available free of charge to all.
  • There should be simple, free access to general mapping and address data for volumes of data up to moderately substantial levels.
  • Voluntary and community organisations pursuing public policy objects should benefit from straightforward standard provisions for ensuring access to geospatial data without constraints.
  • Licensing conditions should be simplified and standardised across the board and, for all but the heaviest levels of use, should be on standard terms and conditions and should not depend on the intended use or the intended business model of the user.
  • The Ordnance Survey’s substantial market power and strong government backing should be balanced by transparent public consultation on key business decisions
  • The OpenSpace API, similar to but currently a constrained version of Google Maps should become the primary delivery point for the Ordnance Survey’s services.

HMT and the Shareholder Executive in BERR should consider and address these issues in its Trading Funds Assessment due in Budget 2009

RSS feed of comments 10 Responses to “Recommendation 9”

  1. [...] Recommendation 9 and recommendation 13 are the ones to watch for this one. [...]

  2. Please could we mention the restrictions of the “derived data” rules here? It seems daft to most people that a line traced from OS mapping to describe a route becomes the property of OS. We seem to be unable to use popular UK mapping software such as TrackLogs and MemoryMap to define routes that can be shared without paying licence fees to OS (although many people probably do so in ignorance of the “derived data” rules).

  3. [...] pour le «  Transformational Government » du Royaume-Uni. LE RAPPORT Recommandation numéro 9 : Extrait en anglais : The Ordnance Survey is fundamental to delivering the power of information [...]

  4. Stuart Ward says:

    The rise of a truly open source mapping data is now bypassing ordnance survey. Perhaps it should be closed down and all the data donated to openstreetmap that would be a better use of resources.

  5. Trading Funds such as Ordnance Survey are unself-critical and find change risky. For example, following the Select Committee report in 2002 and again after the OFT report in 2005, simplified licenses were promised by OS. Substantive change is still awaited. Public information that is commercially exploited seems to cease to belong to the public (Gordon Brown) and instead is felt by the exploiters to be theirs. Treasury demands, although not particularly onerous, militate against licensing flexibility and attractive pricing, both of which could threaten turnover and dominance. Your recommendations are therefore very welcome but the mountain to move is large.

    However, your report makes a distinction between modest and heavy levels of PSI use. I would suggest this needs further thought. Where is the line drawn? If the aim is to encourage Internet access to PSI, will any level of charging encourage its use? Does a differential charging mechanism suit the Internet model? How would negotiations be conducted? etc

    The report mentions addressing being made freely available by OS. I agree in principle, but would suggest it is not as simple as this. The addresses licensed by OS are, in the main, derived from Royal Mail which collects them through their postmen and local authorities’ Street naming & Numbering Officers. In other words there are at least three separate areas of IPR to be dealt with. Denmark did so and bought out the interests of all concerned with immediate benefits for all. Royal Mail needs the money: doubtless, so does local government!

  6. Mark Cartwright says:

    Surprising to see no mention of the European “Infrastructure for Spatial Information” (INSPIRE) Directive here…this will impose major obligations on UK, and OS in particular, that are germane to this recommendation.

    INSPIRE came into force in 2007 and will need to be transposed into UK law by May 2009.

  7. [...] attention to the Black Country, unless of course the Ordnance Survey open up it’s data as recommended in the Power of Information Taskforce report.  (Come on OS – save these folk some pixel [...]

  8. Bearing in mind the comment that the Taskforce ‘contributed’ (like many others) to the Trading Funds Assessment being conducted by the Shareholder Executive. Then it is the Trading Funds Assessment/HMT that is presumably doing the indepth work on analysing and evaluating the Ordnance Survey business model and any scenarios for change. Therefore the points made in the draft PoI report – if subject to the assessor’s analysis – may or may not be found wholly or in part to be achievable/desirable.

    Plausibly too, if the announcements for Trading Funds are to be made in the 2009 budget then important decisions on this matter may have already been made by Government and predate this reports publication. We therefore do not know to what degree these recommendations reflect or possibly contrast with the position of Government and how the report’s handover at this point contributes to, or perhaps complicates the process.

  9. I second Anthony here, where on earth is the mention of derived data?

    It is essential you recommend that any data derived from OS data remains the property of the creator, not the Ordnance Survey.

    Does “free access to general mapping” mean I get access to the raw data or to OS web mapping via the OpenSpace API? This doesn’t appear to have been thought through at all. Access to the OpenSpace API is worthless to anyone creating more than the most basic web mapping application. Access to the underlying raw data is necessary.

  10. APPSI welcomes the opportunity to respond to this consultation report. Our response reflects a majority view (but is not unanimous).

    APPSI supports this recommendation. However, APPSI recommends that the points in Recommendation 9 and the associated text in the report could be strengthened by:

    • adding the cost benefits, including the indirect ones, of implementation of the Recommendation
    • taking into consideration the period of licences to ensure that extended licence agreements do not incur unnecessary additional costs and bureaucratic processes which might deter information re-use. For instance, even if the original Ordnance Survey data is directly used for only a year, the resulting product may be in use for much longer
    • highlighting the position of derived data, both for Ordnance Survey and other public bodies. Having complex rules inhibits innovation and increases costs. It would be worthwhile for the Government to consider the possibility of making the copyright in derived data the responsibility of the organisation that produces a product and therefore such an organisation should be able to exploit such products without constraint.

    For Recommendation 9, APPSI urges the Government to consider the benefits that might be derived from the assemblage of a composite address file for the 2011 Census in England & Wales (from data supplied by Royal Mail, Ordnance Survey, and local government) and how such a file might strengthen public services and help to advance commercial productivity.