We’ll need more than £40m* a year to get free maps — specifically politicians willing to share
Ed Parkes
784

The biggest O.S. customers are all government departments though, so why not say to these departments “Good news! OS data is now free! …Bad news: we’re cutting your funding by the same amount”? Going open is an exercise in de-monetisation. But then in addition there’s huge savings and efficiencies to be enjoyed in letting the data flow freely, removing the financial transaction, and removing all the bean counters and lawyers who oversee that on both sides.

One private sector revenue stream, which to me, in my “open data” mindset, leaps out as an example of silly friction: Planning applications. Developers have to pay a lot to use a tiny chunk of OS MasterMap. Make the data free! but also… put up the planning submission fees by the same amount.

This way the funding shortfall is less severe, but if map data flows freely to all the other non-gov customers who were previously paying, there’s still a shortfall. I wonder how big that is.

And how big is the increased tax revenues due to going open? All of the little micro-use cases for free map data, and reduced friction, all feeding (often quite tangentially) into money making activities, spread wide across all our industries. How much tax is that? I wouldn’t know how to guess… but I guess it’s a lot.