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Big Data Policy

Improving access to information helps our economy to thrive, and may have a positive impact on all of our lives. The AGI welcomes the Geospatial Commission’s announcement today as a sign of long-term commitment to realising the potential of geospatial information in, and for, Great Britain.

In the Autumn 2017 Budget, the geospatial community welcomed the news that a Geospatial Commission would seek to maximise the value of geospatial information being collected and curated by government organisations. Today’s announcement from the Cabinet Office is a welcome update.

As a membership association on the cusp of a 30 year anniversary, the AGI understands that sustainable progress demands patience. This is a complex discipline, challenged and at the same time invigorated by advances in technology, and opportunities to use GI for the benefit of the citizen, commerce and good governance.

Against a backdrop of concerns about privacy and security, our industry is also dealing with an accelerating technology base; exponential demands for wider and more informed use of GI; and the diverse economic and social potential for the content we collect and curate.

There has never been a greater need for collaborative advances in the sharing and use of interoperable, high quality, current geospatial information. Location data is vital for improving the nation’s land and property sector directly; social mobility; national infrastructure; health and welfare; transport, the economy, and long-term national and local policy.

With this in mind, we welcome the news that a greater number of UK organisations will have more affordable access to elements of OS MasterMap™.

In the process of enabling wider access to elements of OS MasterMap™, work may begin on overcoming the barriers to deriving maximum value from our nation’s rich geospatial data resources. As the Geospatial Commission said, “The newly available data should be particularly useful to small firms and entrepreneurs to realise their ideas and compete with larger organisations, encouraging greater competition and innovation.

We look forward to hearing details of future developments in Ordnance Survey’s open data journey. We know that our community will welcome further exploration regarding the opening up the key identifiers, UPRNs and USRNs, together with their respective geometries – while maintaining their integrity and authority – for the whole of Great Britain under OGL terms.

We are also confident that our community will be eager to hear more details – and to contribute its thoughts and ideas – about ways in which it hopes the release of this information can add value to the UK economy. The Association for Geographic Information is a representative conduit for the broadest cross-section of the geospatial community, and we will be inviting and collating that insight over the coming weeks.

OS has long held the most comprehensive set of location data for Great Britain and is a champion of innovation in our discipline. However, whenever a business seeks to adapt a core proposition for the benefit of its consumer base, inevitably, change will happen.

Clearly, for a complex product that has evolved over many years, it will take time to surface the optimum methods for accessing OS MasterMap™ as described. In addition, therefore, we look forward to hearing details about a roadmap for delivering this accessibility while ensuring data quality, accuracy, and currency does not drop or degrade in any way.

We look forward to more news from the Geospatial Commission, particularly with regard to the next steps on our journey towards more open geospatial data infrastructure for the UK, and on our members’ behalves we will continue seeking out opportunities for engagement that benefit us all.


About the Association for Geographic Information

The AGI represent the interests of the UK's Geographic Information industry; a wide-ranging group of organisations, suppliers of geographic information / geospatial software, hardware, data and services, consultants, academics and interested individuals.

By way of its unique membership, the AGI brings together members of this community to share ideas on best practice, experience and innovation, and offers access to unparalleled networking opportunities with significant business benefits.

The AGI also facilitates exposure outside of this community, to challenges and opportunities which are being or need to be met, and which benefit from a collaborative focus. As such the AGI acts on behalf of the community as whole. Since its formal inception in 1989, the AGI has built up a significant membership and established itself as the respected voice in geospatial. The AGI is the membership body for everyone with an interest or involvement with geospatial, and GeoCom is ‘the members’ event that’s open to all’.

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