25-29 May 2015 lisbon congress center, portugal
Bio & Abstract

Dr. Derek Clarke
Chief Director: Surveys & Mapping and NGI
Department of Rural Development and Land Reform
South Africa

Open Access to Geo-spatial Information

Effective decision making requires the access to and utilization of all relevant information. In a democratic society all decision makers, from the politician, civil servant to the citizen, need equal access to the relevant information. This will only happen if there are clear policies to manage the access to and utilization of information – open data. As most decisions are related to place and/or space, that is, location, it goes to say that most of the required information is geo-spatial information. There are two views to open data, namely pro-restricted and charged for data, and pro-open and free data. Both these views have pros and cons, but which is the most appropriate – possible a hybrid. Some key challenges experienced in Africa highlight the fact that the lack of open data by government is primarily related to lack of appreciation of the value of geo-spatial information, national security concerns or dictatorships, lack of funding geo-spatial information management programmes and lack of information management infrastructure, among others. Appropriate policies are required to ensure an environment for open access to geo-spatial information. This results in significant value to the country, its government and communities as a whole. This is evidenced through significant increase in geo-spatial information usage with an open data policy and multiplier effects in the economy. Although a lot must still be done in advocacy for the utilization of geo-spatial information and appreciation for the value of geo-spatial information.