In 2007 I was in Hobart, Tasmania at the Spatial Sciences Institute Biennial International Conference, and I was fascinated to hear a presentation by Tim Barker and Neale Hooper of the Government of Queensland called Open Content Licensing of Government Information - Creating a Spatial Information Creative Commons (A legal platform to support inter-jurisdictional sharing of data), outlining a proposal for enabling sharing data within the Government of Queensland by releasing all data under a Creative Commons license. A year later at a GITA ANZ conference Jose Diacono and Danny Broadbent, who are associated with the Victorian Spatial Council, described a framework for sharing data based on licenses and metadata, not only within the Government of Victoria, but also among utilities, telecommunications firms, National Government, other government, quasi-government, and non-government organizations.
Many countries have followed the US lead in opening government data including geospatial to the public. In April 2010, the Ordnance Survey of the UK opened most its data to the public. Vancouver and other Canadian cities have opened their data to the public. The battle to open county data continues in California. In the EU as part of the INSPIRE initiative efforts have been made to quantify the economic benefits of open data. Australia and New Zealand have attempted to quantify not only the contribution of spatial technology to the GDP, but also the loss to the GDP arising from closed spatial data. When in March 2010 the Prime Minister of the UK announced his intention to open Ordnance Survey data to the public, he referred to "digital innovation and to support democratic accountability" as the motivations for the initiative. At the time the Free Our Data campaign had been arguing for some time that the gross benefit to the UK economy of free data exceeds the direct cost to the government.
Data.gov in the US now has 389,918 raw and geospatial datasets from 172 agencies and subagencies.
Recently the Offfice of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has released Principles on Open Public Sector Information, that is intended as a set of guidelines for assessing compliance with the Australian Freedom of Information Act of 1982. The premises on which the Principles are based are identical to what motivated the UK to open Ordnance Survey data to the public,
- public sector information is a national resource
- transparency and public access to government
information bolster democratic government
- a free flow of information between government, business and
the community stimulates innovation to the economic and social advantage of the nation.