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Geospatial Commission earmarks first investments


Parliamentary Correspondent

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The Geospatial Commission has announced its first investments with plans to pump £5 million into unlocking data held by the British Geological Survey, Coal Authority, HM Land Registry, Ordnance Survey, UK Hydrographic Office and the Valuation Office Agency.

The recently created organisation indicated it will provide £80 million over the next two years to support the development of new products that can propel “British companies onto a global market”. 

The six to receive the first round of investments are the partner bodies of the commission, set up by the chancellor a year ago to exploit location information, or geospatial data.

Using this publicly held data more productively could be worth up to £11 billion to the economy every year, the Government believes.

The data has been produced from delivering public services and enforcing laws – such as navigating public transport or tracking supply chains – but will now be analysed by private firms for new services.

David Lidington, the Cabinet Office minister, said: “This Government is committed to providing more opportunities for tech businesses - including small firms - to thrive, as well as access public procurement opportunities.

“Through emerging technologies, our geospatial and govtech funding will elevate British companies onto a global market and help to deliver new services to improve people’s lives.”

They could range from tackling crime hotspots, or finding the quickest routes for emergency services, to deciding where best to locate supply firms, the Cabinet Office suggested.

Reducing fragmentation

The setting up of the Geospatial Commission, after last November’s Budget, reflected concern that the fragmentation of the bodies holding location data was hindering efforts to release its huge value.

In June, it was announced – as the commission’s first project – that key parts of the Ordnance Survey MasterMap data would be made freely available to businesses and the public.

The move is expected to make it easier to find land for house-building and provide the infrastructure services needed alongside those homes.

The commission is aiming to publish its full strategy and its annual plan in the spring of next year. It issued a call for evidence in August.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0


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