Official Criticism of Ordnance Survey Is Good News For UK Entrepreneurs

A successful and ground breaking complaint has been brought by Intelligent Addressing Limited, a leading addressing and data management specialist against Ordnance Survey, which should prove a crucial catalyst for innovation and enterprise and help ensure the wider use of public sector information in the UK.
The dispute between the two parties focused on obtaining fair and reasonable terms for a licence to distribute an element of Ordnance Survey data, which was used by Intelligent Addressing and local government in the National Land & Property Gazetteer (NLPG), the master dataset of local addresses with over 30 million records and part of a national initiative to improve the quality, and currency of addressing in England and Wales.
Intelligent Addressing??s complaint to the Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI), the official body responsible for investigating complaints under the Re-Use of Public Sector Information (PSI) Regulations and the Information Fair Trader Scheme (IFTS), followed over five years of unsuccessful negotiations between the two parties.
Amongst a number of allegations, Intelligent Addressing, on behalf of the public private partnership, cited the following:
That Ordnance Survey is effectively a gate-keeper to information which it would not be viable for a third party to reassemble and was acting anti-competitively.
That the licensing charges proposed by Ordnance Survey for the element of its data used in the NLPG are disproportionate to its value and are unreasonable. That the terms of the Ordnance Survey licence are onerous, unfair, lack adequate transparency and inhibit the exploitation and availability of date.
That Ordnance Survey deliberately set up a product to compete with the NLPG and gave preferential licensing terms to its own product, which it did not make available to the NLPG
That the Ordnance Survey business model was repressive to a fledgling information industry and unlikely to encourage the development and reuse of Public Sector information.
After a rigorous investigation, OPSI concluded that:
?¨… protracted negotiations do not meet requirements?ñ?Æ
?¨… the terms of the (Ordnance Survey) licence unnecessarily restrict the way in which (the original data) can be re-used and unnecessarily restrict competition…?Æ
?¨… the current policy of derived data or derived data licence does not encourage re-use…?Æ
?¨… the basis of pricing charged (for the original data) is not transparent…?Æ
?¨?ñthis amounts to the (Ordnance Survey) using its position as the official mapping and geospatial data producer to compete unfairly?ñ?Æ
Commenting on OPSI??s conclusions Michael Nicholson, Managing Director, Intelligent Addressing said ?¨The irony of this whole saga is that the NLPG is one of the most successful examples of e-government in this country and yet, it has almost been strangled at birth by the very governmental organisation which should be helping to maximise the reuse of public sector and geographic information”.
?¨OPSI??s conclusions help to clarify the position and remove unnecessary barriers to accessing non-confidential public sector information in order to develop innovative products and services. These findings should clear the air and benefit everyone including Ordnance Survey with whom we look forward to working in a constructive partnership in future. This is a great day for enterprise Britain.?Æ
The full OPSI report

(Credits SpatialNews) 

Author: EARSC

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