The Future of National Mapping Agencies

by Schuyler Erle

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Jeff Thurston writes, "If Google and Yahoo and others can make most of their profit from advertising by simply opening the vaults to spatial data and letting regular folks build, share and use geospatial information, why can’t national mapping agencies?" Good question!


2005-06-30 09:08:17
The Mapping Agencies response
It seems to be that "consumer" focused mapping will increasing become a commodity - maybe free one day although I would not underestimate the costs services like goggle maps are covering in order to establish market share - just ask DigitalGlobe how expensive it is to put up a remote sensing satellite.

Mapping agencies however mainly focus on the needs of government and large corporate customers like utilities, which need very detailed, accurate and reliable data the cost of which to collect is much greater than consumer mapping and beyond any potential advertising funding.

2005-07-01 09:57:30
National Geopatial Capabilities
Much of the difference is cultural. National systems are built at huge expense, with lots of rigor with years of planning. just really came to life last week. Within many of these agencies are innovative and very talented people. We have been working with many of them introducing open standards, open source geospatial software. There has been some success introducing many of the latest advances into demonstrations, prototypes, and laboratories.

I'll bet right now there are marines and soldiers in Iraq that are pulling down Quickbird imagery over the areas that they are going to have to drive through and doing it through google maps. National imagery is often classified and hard to get out to the field.

Years ago there the government dominated investment in these areas. With open source, open standards, and internet, technology driven corporations - more R&D is occurring out in the open. We would all like to see governments adopt many of these technologies and flow their "accurate and approved" data through it.