@Red Bren/AC + @call me scruffy
"As the Free Our Data website states, the Ordinance Survey is a commercial entity that receives no direct tax funding."
And it goes on to say that, in fact, since it obtains 50% of it's revenue from Public sources it is in fact heavily tax subsidised, and all it's profits go straight back to the treasury. OS doesn't have shareholders. Its domain is .gov.uk
"So if they start giving away this data for free, who is going to plug the gap? Joe Taxpayer."
Well, that's the point exactly, yes. Giving access to data to UK businesses will drive the development of plenty of useful geoloc stuff, sales of which go to the treasury. There seems to be some cynicism amongst reg commentors on this point, but that's OK, since it doesn't matter, because :
In any case. since you've just done away with the crawling bureaucracy, you could still keep paying out the same amount of treasury cash and it would probably cover the costs in entirety. Bureaucracies are _really_ expensive.
So, pay the same money out, only without the friction, whole lot goes to OS et al. So far, no one notices the difference, except now, for the first time ever, UK GIS developers can get access to (e.g.) the highest quality UK mapping data that exists.
So tell me, who's not winning here ?
@call me scruffy
I agree to a certain extent w/r/t to the Land Registry, for instance, but there's no reason it can't be done with proper controls to limit the amount of inference that is possible, for instance the way things stand, if I wish to find all properties owned by a person, one of the following criteria must be met :
The applicant is either the owner or has the owner's written consent to search
The applicant holds a Power of Attorney in favour of the owner of the properties
The applicant is a trustee on behalf of the owner of the properties
The applicant has a Court Order authorising him to apply for the search
The applicant has obtained a Bankruptcy Order against the person owning the properties
There's no reason why such criteria can't still be enforced while removing the charge (£90).
Some other searches can be done by anyone, like finding the registered owner of a property, given the postal address, which costs £20 and "contains a description of the property, its tenure, the name and address of the owners, purchase price, details of mortgages and other charges, covenants etc."
That's a large chunk of personal data I agree, but £20 is not really even enough to stop someone who is merely very curious (although it will limit the amount of people who want to nose at all their neighbours).
I think there are probably some interesting issues around to what extent this data is available, and to whom, but the fact remains that it is, by law, a matter of _public_ record, and therefore the public ought to be able to see it.
Personally I think using cost as the limiting factor in access to public data is a bit dodgy, people with fat wallets can still lay my life bear, so why should people with a restricted budget be left out of the game ?
Lifting the financial barrier to access may even raise public awareness of just how much data is available*, and make them start wondering whether it should be so.
For a full list of such info that you can get your grubby mits on, see : http://www.landsearch.net/fees_eng.asp
* Please note that I do _NOT_ in any way think that the argument "there's already lots of data on people available, so they should STFU whining when we start trying to collect more" is a good one, unlike Phorm and their PR sock puppets. Quite the opposite.