Free Our Data: the blog

A Guardian Technology campaign for free public access to data about the UK and its citizens

Ed Parsons collects a list of OS consultation responses – with Goldilocks and elephants galore (updated)

Ed Parsons, once upon a time the chief technology officer of Ordnance Survey but now at Google, has blogged about the OS consultation, which he describes as a fairy tale:

The consultation understandably and in my mind quite rightly has remained focused on the specifics of making OS data free, and in the great tradition of Civil Service options papers offers a Goldilocks Choice; one too cold, one too hot and one option just about acceptable.

Option 1 appears to maintain the status-quo and I don’t see anyone outside the Romsey Road distortion field supporting it.

Option 2 is perhaps something that may be achievable in the long term with continued technological change and changing market requirements, however at the moment this would put Ordnance Survey in a position where it’s current operational processes are financially unsustainable.

So Option 3 represents the obvious compromise, some small scale data for free while allowing the cash cow of MasterMap to continue to fund a reduced but largely similar OS to the one we have today.

He also points to the elephants in the room – the issue of derived data (which is mentioned only once in the whole consultation, but which impinges crucially on so much geospatial work), and the lack of a national address register:

This is an issue bigger than Ordnance Survey, although OS has had its part to play in the current mess. This really does need strategic leadership from the centre.

Helpfully, he’s also collected a list of so-far published responses to the consultation, which we’ll shamelessly republish here. One large search engine’s response seems to be missing though… must be an oversight.

Let us (and him) know if there are more public responses to the consultation. We’re expecting to hear something relevant on Monday, by the way. More closer to the time.

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