Putting a Value on Geospatial Data
One of the themes running through our book The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data is the great value inherent in geospatial data. These data increasingly help us make everyday decisions more efficiently in just about every walk of life from health care to city planning to climate studies. The belief that better data will lead to better decisions, and the increasing value that people throughout society are placing on GIS is fueling initiatives to make geospatial data more available, accessible, and open.
But, how can this value be assessed quantitatively? According to a recent article in Earthzine, Putting a Value on Geospatial Data, geospatial data can help governments cut expenditures and increase efficiency. However, since the benefits are spread across multiple departments inside and outside an organization, it is very difficult to measure the benefit. Measuring the number of downloads of a data set hardly begins to explain the story of these benefits.
Nevertheless, the article does cite some interesting statistics from around the world. For example, in England and Wales, between 2008 and 2009 the GDP was an estimated £320 million (about $500 million) more than what it would have been if local governments had not made use of geospatial information for service delivery, according to a 2010 report co-produced by British firm ConsultingWhere and ACIL Tasmin. In Australia, according to a 2008 report, the financial gains from using spatial information account for between 0.6 and 1.2 percent of that country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The report focused on sectors including agricultural, fisheries, property, mining, and government.
The article therefore provides some relevant information to back up the arguments we make in the book, and some fascinating reflections to consider as you teach and learn about geospatial data.