chapter  1
22 Pages

Chapter.1. Introduction

Introduction As the title suggests, this book is first and foremost about geographic information (GI) and how society assigns different values to GI and makes it available for exploitation; especially the for-free or for-a-fee debate surrounding GI produced in, by, or for the public sector — so-called public sector GI (PSGI). Various studies from developed nations around the world report that GI plays an important role in underpinning economies, delivering more efficient government, enhancing quality of life for citizens, improving business efficiency, and generating new business and employment opportunities. Such benefits would indicate that GI should be used as widely as possible (Baltimore County, 2001; Booz Allen Hamilton, 2005; CIE, 2000; Craglia and INSPIRE FDS Working Group, 2003; Halsing et al., 2004; Hardwick and Fox, 1999; Montgomery County Council, 1999; OXERA, 1999; PIRA, 2000; Price Waterhouse, 1995; Werschler and Rancourt, 2005). Much GI is collected by local and national government for specific purposes, either legally mandated or required to improve operational efficiency. How such public sector information (PSI) is made more widely available for other uses and to other users, at what price and with or without restrictions on reuse, has created heated debate and led to the adoption of diverse PSI charging regimes in different countries (Longhorn and Blakemore, 2004). The overall goal of this book is to address the apparent dogma inherent in the often bipolar viewpoints surrounding the PSGI pricing and charging debate, taking into consideration the differing values of GI, the role of GI and PSGI in society generally, and the impact of the debate on evolving spatial data infrastructures (SDIs) from the perspectives of economic reality and diverse public information policy cultures.