Thursday 22 October 2009

Data tennis match

There is a frantic discussion over the UK Government Data Developers mailing list, over freeing UK postcodes, after the recent freeze of their provision to UK aid agencies. As a business user (not a developer) I use free area code data (kilometer precision), and paid my £50 for 1000 points from (meter precision). This doesn't negate the need to call for freeing up data sources, but as business I must be practical and timely.

Why do I say this? As a geomatician in Canada, the US and now UK for 20+ yrs., I witnessed the tennis match between the US tax-paid/free-for-use and the UK cost-recovery/pay-as-you-go, with Canada the historic net in between catching the foul balls... And Google recently disrupted the match (image from BBC Sports News), as it's poised to overtake US public data via crowd-sourcing! Will OpenSreetMap not outflank UK agencies and create that free data source, as intended by his British originator?

Private businesses' half-life differs, however, from source agencies', an intended metaphor, as the value of data decays over time when:
- it becomes stale-dated if not properly maintained (the case for UK fee recovery)
- its value diminishes along supply-demand curves (the case for US free access)

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