Data InsightData Exploration Licence makes geospatial data more accessible

Data Exploration Licence makes geospatial data more accessible

Data Exploration Licence is part of a £5 million investment made to drive data foundation projects

A new single Data Exploration Licence has been launched by the Geospatial Commission and its partner bodies to simplify the initial access to and use of geospatial data.

The Data Exploration Licence provides free initial access to data held by the British Geological Survey, Coal Authority, HM Land Registry, Ordnance Survey and the UK Hydrographic Office.

Researchers will be able to access data held by the partner bodies via one licence, rather than many, and at no cost. They can be confident that they are using the data on consistent, harmonised terms, and that the various datasets can be used, combined and delivered in the same way, subject to the same conditions. If the user wishes to take these into public uses they will then talk to the relevant partner about what type of licensing would be appropriate.

The Geospatial Commission is an impartial, expert committee within the Cabinet Office, supported by £40 million of new funding in each of the next two years. In November, the Minister for Implementation, Oliver Dowden, announced a £1.5 million competition to help organisations find innovative ways to use crowdsourcing and location-based data. The Geospatial Competition was sponsored by the commission.

Developing new products and services

A spokesperson explained that the free access provided by the Data Exploration Licence applies to using the data in the evaluation stage of developing any new products and services.

Nigel Clifford, deputy chair of the Geospatial Commission, said: “This is strong and collaborative progress against the commission’s mission of maximising the value of geospatial data for the UK. This makes geospatial data accessible for researchers in one place for the first time using a simplified licence.”

Professor John Ludden, chief executive officer of the British Geological Survey (BGS), the lead organisation of the licensing project, added: “BGS is always looking for ways to get its data used in new and novel ways. This new licence gives innovators a safe space to see what’s possible with data without having to worry about financial commitments or complicated restrictions on how the data should be used.”

Joint programme of work

The need to decide on a licence for further use in the public sphere partly reflects the position of some of the partners as trading bodies with the need to raise revenue to cover their running costs.

The move is part the commission’s programme to simplify licensing, one of four aimed at improving the UK’s geospatial data infrastructure. The others cover data discoverability, linked identifiers and enhancement of the core data asset. This joint programme of work aims to develop consistent data standards, whilst improving the accessibility, interoperability and quality of these datasets.

The programme of work will continue through the next year, building on early successes and exploring new areas. The Geospatial Commission will say more about this programme of work in the annual plan it will publish this spring.

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