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Working on Spatial Data quality and pragmatic enterprise solutions.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Major Policy Breakthroughs Announced at Spatial@Gov 2012


The first day of this year’s Spatial@Gov conference saw two major government policy announcements: the establishment of a National Foundation Spatial Data Framework, and the imminent whole-of-government licence of PSMA’s Geocoded National Address File (G-NAF).

The National Foundation Spatial Data Framework defines the ten data themes that form the authoritative geographic data layers that underpin other data and decision making. The policy recognises these as so critical that government will focus its energy and resources on ensuring its authoritative, reliable supply.

The whole-of-government G-NAF licence means that individual departments no longer need to separately get a G-NAF licence, saving a lot of money and greatly extending its potential utilisation. It is my hope that this could extend beyond government as well.

I’m not sure people are realising how big the impact is of these two announcements. It marks the achievement of a massive policy shift. For decades Australian governments have been building point solutions, often in competition with the private sector, and sitting on their data. We now see a repositioning of government to its core role of data provider and enabler, leaving the solution development and innovation to the private sector.

To the careful observer, this should come as no surprise, as the responsible parliamentary secretary, Drew Clarke, already announced his strong views on this topic at this same conference two years ago, as reported by yours truly

I predict this will be a watershed moment in how spatial data is produced, shared and used in Australia. From today onwards, the community will have a growing expectation that fundamental, authoritative, spatial data is a piece of critical economic infrastructure that should be easily, affordably, and frictionlessly accessible to all. We will soon be given easy access to the first of ten fundamental data sets, the G-NAF, and once that genie is out of the bottle, the other nine can only follow over time.

Note: I have updated this item since the original post. The announced policies stress the ambition to make these datasets available as easily and affordable as possible. Whether G-NAF will be actually free of charge is yet to be determined.


3 comments:

  1. >We will soon be given free access to the first of ten fundamental data sets, the G-NAF, and once that genie is out of the bottle, the other nine can only follow over time.

    A freely licensed (perhaps CC0 or CC-BY) G-NAF. Bring it on!

    What are the other 9 data sets?

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  2. Interesting and while I agree fantastic, better access/open access doesn't always translate into free. (just saying) on another note I can't wait for the next ICSM meeting for aus and there just maybe some collab work being approved to get government better positioned to release data!

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  3. "From today onwards, the community will have a growing expectation that fundamental, authoritative, spatial data is a piece of critical economic infrastructure that should be easily, affordably, and frictionlessly accessible to all"

    Unfortunately, the community will be very disappointed to learn that the impending 'whole-of-government' license will still have restricted uses, is not free, and not available outside of government. It only serves to cement the monopoly PSMA have formed, and started a culture of 'restricted data at high prices' for Australian business.
    What has transpired is the Governments of Australia have put together a private sector company (PSMA) to take control of the data and are now negotiating with that company for a whole-of-government license - this is clearly the wrong approach, and a fresh set of eyes is needed on this issue.
    The Australian government, in partnership with the Australian States, should make (by legislation or otherwise) all public data directly, freely and openly available, with the only exception being data which is private or confidential. Victoria government seem to be progressing along these lines, and all others should follow.

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