When public agencies feel budget stress, they often consider charging fees for geographic data under their control. However, fees are an example of a barrier to the widest possible use of the data, something that limits the benefits that society as a whole accrues from the original investment.
A recent study by the Open Data Consortium (ODC) suggests some avenues for dealing with this problem. The study involved over 100 people in a series of interviews and discussions, then review of draft documents. Bruce Joffe, a GIS consultant in California who coordinated the study, said “The key to resolving the long-standing controversy of data sales by local government was our discovery of many superior ways to support GIS operations.”
There are two primary products from the study. First, there is a model data distribution policy. Second, there is a shorter piece titled “10 Ways to Support GIS Without Selling Data.” Those documents, along with background on the study, can be found at: