The aim is to spur both domestic growth through the government’s investment in these local services as well as the encouraging the growth of the sector’s capacity so that Chinese geomatics firms can compete internationally. By improving the performance of companies in this sector, it will spur added investment.
China has documented impressive growth within the country’s geomatics industry, with more than 25 percent growth since 2008. The estimated size of the industry in China is 260 billion yuan ($42.5 billion USD). A recent study prepared for Google by Oxera Consulting Ltd in the UK estimated global revenues from geospatial products and services to be $150 to 270 billion USD per year.
The move to encourage this industry, and provide data for free, comes shortly after the announcement of a national survey of geographic conditions. The country will invest $1.1 billion yuan ($175 milion USD) to collect topographic and geomorphic data, as well as transportation data. This data collection effort is expected to take three years, with the information also feeding a growing number of digital city systems for improved urban administration.
China’s move to open data will certainly benefit the geospatial industry within the country as there have been documented benefits in other countries. A study by a team at Cambridge University commissioned by the Treasury found that if all Ordnance Survey geospatial data was offered for free, it would cost the government £12M, but bring a net gain of £156M. Australia and New Zealand both commissioned their own studies about the contribution of spatial data to the national economy. They each found that with modest investment of GDP, on the order of 1%, they could double that investment through taxes on the services.