16 August 2007

The Idiots of OS (Ordnance Survey)

This really makes my blood boil.

After a year of negotiations, academic geographers have conceded defeat in their attempt to find a way to make a pioneering 3D representation of the capital, Virtual London, available to all comers via the Google Earth online map.

Followers of Technology Guardian's Free Our Data campaign will have guessed the reason: Virtual London is partly derived from proprietary data owned by the government through its state-owned mapping agency, Ordnance Survey (OS). What makes the situation bizarre is that Virtual London's development was funded by another arm of the government, the office of the mayor of London.

In other words, I helped pay for this information, twice - as taxpayer, and as London ratepayer - and yet I am not allowed to access it.

The Ordnance Survey's excuse is pathetic:

OS said granting Google special terms for Virtual London would be unfair on other licensees. "We provide an open, fair and transparent set of terms for providers seeking to operate in the same commercial space as each other. We cannot therefore license Google in a different way to other providers. We are completely supportive of anyone putting our data on the web as long as they have a licence to do so." Google would not comment.

Commercial space - and what about the public space, you know those tiresome little people that pay for your salary?

Thanks for nothing.

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