17 February 2009

Lack of Open Access to Geodata Costing Lives?

Here's another great example of why we need open access to public data:

The refusal of the government in Victoria, Australia, to provide data for Google's bushfire map mashup limited its scope and highlighted glaring problems with Crown copyright provisions, the search giant's top Australian engineer said yesterday.


The search giant's search for data to plot fires on public lands--which are managed by the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment--produced an entirely different result. With no public feed of the fires' location and an explicit denial of permission to access its own internal data, the engineers were ultimately unable to plot that data on the map as well.

It's not hard to imagine that such mashups, provided in a timely fashion, could have saved lives, either directly or indirectly. It's a perfect examaple of why governments have a duty to share such basic data as widely as possible.

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