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January 6th, 2008
The Value of Data

The group was intrigued by a comment made ealrier in the day by Lam Joon Khoi, the chief of the Singapore Land Authority, who has been charged with the creation of a spatial data infrastructure.

Lam told a plenary session of the conference that much of the data held by SLA will be made available to the public, for free, over the web. Moreover, much of this data will be joined up with data from other existing portals where information on people and businesses are held.

Wong said such moves are indicative of a growing feeling among Singapore senior bureaucrats that much is to be gained through giving people access to such systems.

Stephenson said this is definitely not the view in most other countries in the region, where people charged with collecting data often at great price, cannot get their minds around the fact that it only gets value when it is given away.

There are other issues as well. Data custodians frequently would rather critical users did not test their data for accuracy and completeness. Indian civil servants in particular are legendary for insisting on rules and procedures that are gravely threatened by the internet in general and spatial technology in particular.

The general concensus seems to be that the situation is both better and worse than the situation in the West.

In Asia, it is difficult to get agreement. In most Western jurisdictions, its quite easy. However, in Asia, once a decision has been made that data can be shared, it will be.

But in the west, bureaucracies agree that data sharing would be a good thing, but only for other agencies, never their own.

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