Monday, January 10, 2005

A GIS Data Issue

Recently I decided to get into the world of .RSS newsfeeds and configured it to my Thunderbird Mail Client. I'm glad I did that, it's allowed me to catch major issues of concern to me.

I subscribe to a few >rss feeds, one of which is Slashdot which covers all kinds of topics from computer related issues, to gaming to politics to world events. I recently ran across a GIS Data Issue. What it says is that the Supreme Court in Connecticut is allowing the Greenwich Department of Information Technology to withhold data that was financed by the taxpayers and should by all rights be public domain.

The creation of data can be an expensive process, and a lot of GIS data is still in it's creation phase. To prevent redundant acts, we first look to see if a dataset has been previously created by someone else. If it has it's usually shared or made available at a low cost by private industry to try and recover some of the production costs.

One of the first places that you instinctively look is to see what kind of data has been created by some form of government. They can't charge for the data because it has been financed with public taxpayer money and must be made public domain.

I have no idea what information that they feel they have to hide from the public that in one form or another is not already out there. If it is funded by the taxpayers, it needs to be and remain public domain.

I've seen what the science can do, and I know what we are capable of. I do have to say that sometimes I have to step back and question if some datasets should be public domain, but this goes back to how they were funded. I'm all for private industry creating the datasets for the ability to sell for profit, but not if it was financed by the taxpayers.

It's an issue that I'm going to have to stay on top of if I want to continue to remain in the industry.

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