Geographia Polonica (2007) vol. 80, iss. 2

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Access to and Re-use of Public-sector Environmental Data and Information. Policy Developments with a Focus on the European Hydro-meteorological Scene

Ton W. Donker

Geographia Polonica (2007) vol. 80, iss. 2, pp. 25-34

Abstract

Thus far, the process of obtaining basic data and information from governmental agencieswith a view to its being used in the information industry has seemingly been a troublesomeand sometimes discouraging operation in most European countries. Re-users in both the publicand private sectors are faced with extensive barriers reflecting increasing commercialization inthe operations of government agencies, data protection, high license fees and a short-sightedappeal to profitability principles. However, a trend towards the provision of “free data” at deliverycost only now appears to be gaining currency both in society and with governments. It can beargued that “free data provision”, unlike short-term cost recovery policies, will generate optimalsocio-economic benefits. But “free data” in our digital era is one side of the picture. The otheris that national governments will be forced to re-think their role in the information society, andlast but not least in their relationship with the private information industry. Neither full publicdominance nor a private monopoly seem optimal solutions from the societal viewpoint.

Keywords: data re-use policy drivers, data protection, government commercialization, information society, digital era, creation of derived and new data sets, knowledge-based economies, socio- economic benefits, information industries, value-added information servic

Ton W. Donker, Stakeholder and Contract Management, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), P.O. Box 201, 3730 AE De Bilt, Netherlands