[geo-discuss] RE: [Openstreetmap] Coders needed for similar project
& UK FOI act request update.
evilc at evilc.com
Thu Nov 10 22:25:32 GMT 2005
It is my intention to attempt to get the data for everyone, not just
myself. I will be seeking to distribute it. I found a thing on the net
called geotorrent (http://www.geotorrent.org/) basically bittorrent for
geo data - that would be perfect methinks.
No archive of correspondence online, but it may happen in the future,
I find it kind of funny how a govt website says "Unfortunately UK
Geography is far from simple" (
http://www.statistics.gov.uk/geography/default.asp ) and yet the reason
is that the information they give out freely so everyone knows the
basics is woefully out of date (ie the county avon being listed in the
current dataset and it doesn't exist any more) or using unfamiliar
groupings (eg ONS's "Super Output Areas") so it is of no use to the
There should be a freely available data set with all the political
boundaries, with major towns (say the major one per county ?) all
arranged in a hierarchy (ie showing that westminster is in greater
London which is in England which is in the UK) so that everyone can work
from one master copy - be it for any purpose from mapping (ie this would
allow you to decide what political region a point is in from it's
coordinates) to building a menu for region select for a website
(commercial or altruistic)
In fact, I would go one step further. I say there should be one central
database on the internet that should try to compile this information
world-wide. To be able to say what district, region, state and country
any point in the world is in would be useful to the world community. Of
course in such matters there will always be arguments (eg places in the
world where more than one state claims ownership of the same bit of
land) - in fact, in these situations, a database such as I propose could
actually serve some purpose as anybody could at least see what each side
said was the border. Knowing what each side of an argument actually is
is a good first step to settling it...
Oh well, I am a pessimistic optimist I suppose - I dream of a better
world, am cynical it will ever happen, but I try...
From: Jo Walsh [mailto:jo at frot.org]
Sent: 10 November 2005 20:59
To: Clive Galway
Cc: openstreetmap at vr.ucl.ac.uk;
publicwhip-playing at lists.sourceforge.net; geo-discuss at lists.okfn.org
Subject: Re: [Openstreetmap] Coders needed for similar project & UK FOI
act request update.
hello clive, list,
On Wed, Nov 09, 2005 at 05:05:26PM +0000, Clive Galway wrote:
> On a side note, as a result of this project, I am currently trying to
push through a Freedom of Information Act request on the British
Government to get them to release UK political boundary data (eg
counties etc) into the public domain on the grounds that political
boundaries of our country are the property of the populace and not
Ordnance Survey as they are saying.
> The original request was denied, it is currently on appeal and I am in
talks with the ombudsman's office ( The governing body one appeals to if
they feel the request / appeal has been unlawfully denied ) who seem to
be quite outraged that this information is not free and they think I am
in with a half-decent chance.
This sounds greatly promising! Is there an archive of your
correspondance about BoundaryLine online? Are you pressing for rights
to redistribute as well as freely access the political boundary data,
what kind of arrangement for publishing the updates are you envisaging
once this data can be got into the public domain?
I hope you are not too discouraged by the pretty dire situation re.
our rights to freely access state-collected geodata, or the difficulty
in building our own alternatives from sources tainted by commercial
copyright. OSM's clean room approach as an ethical stance can be
complemented by other 'prongs' towards open access, especially FOI
law, creating more publically accessilbe, annotatable geodata without
risking a situation where we are brandable as 'data pirates'
by trespassing against commercial interests. :/
re. the relevance of FOIA and the Public Sector Information directive
of which it is an implementation, to open mapping projects, you might
find the talk Chris Corbin gave at Wsfii useful:
about 1/3 of the way through.
A lot of local authorities and other 'public sector' bodies like
health authorities, i think TfL came up here, are geodata holders.
TfL's public transport routing material is a goldmine and i would like
to know what grounds they would have for denying a FOIA request for
it. Heather Brooke's excellent book on FOIA and how to go about
getting data from different agencies has a lot of harsh words for
particularly TfL and the OS. also blog: http://yrtk.org/
(Your Right To Know)
and Heather and Chris Lightfoot's talks on this file:
good luck and let us know how you get on!
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