Tech giants must make mapping data openly available to drive innovation: UK group

These data help people, communities and organisations make decisions in almost all aspects of life.

Tech giants Google, Apple and Uber must make mapping data openly available for all in order to drive innovation and economic growth, an influential Britain-based group has demanded.

A Google logo is displayed at the entrance to the internet based company's offices in Toronto, Ontario, Canada September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

A Google logo is displayed at the entrance to the internet based company's offices in Toronto, Ontario, Canada September 9, 2018. Reuters

Making data from both the public and private sectors openly available and interoperable will mean more organisations can access data from different sources and combine it to build new services and technologies, the Open Data Institute (ODI) said in a report.

"Like other parts of our data infrastructure, we believe that geospatial data should be as open as possible while respecting privacy, national security and commercial confidentiality. In many cases, geospatial data can be open data for anyone to access, use and share," said Jeni Tennison, CEO, ODI.

"Our report shows that open geospatial data is necessary to enable innovation and growth in key sectors.

"To deliver this, the Government must engage and work with private companies, who are creating and collecting geospatial data as part of their businesses, to explore how that data can benefit everyone," Tennison added.

Geospatial data describes places including the address of a building, the boundaries of cities and regions, and the extent of floodplains.

These data help people, communities and organisations make decisions in almost all aspects of life and across all sectors of our economy.

Geospatial data drives many of the services people use everyday, including helping food travel from farms to shops, helping parcels get to our houses, and apps that help us make journeys such as Apple Maps and Waze.

Analysing geospatial data can help us understand and increase access to health facilities, schools or public green spaces.

Commercial online giants now dominate control of Britain's geospatial data, said the report published ahead of the UK government's forthcoming review of national geospatial strategy.

The ODI is an influential group in the UK, co-founded by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, and Nigel Shadbolt, a professor of artificial intelligence at the University of Oxford, The Verge reported on Tuesday.

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