Thoughts on “The Cost(s) of Geospatial Open Data”

This article framed the direct and indirect costs of geospatial open data provision, with the main focus on the four types of indirect costs. I found this article very thought-provoking because we often think of the benefits provided by open data whereas neglecting the pitfalls that it brings.

One point that particularly interests me was the data literacy issue. The article points out that there exist a number of barriers for users so that even though the data is open there is no guarantee of its use. Similarly, Janssen et al.’s (2012) article argues that these barriers pose the risk that open data is only publicized data in name but is still private in practice. Two points that I want to make here. First, while I understand the advocacy for better data quality and standardized data format, what I want to hear more about is that why does it matter for both researchers and the public to be able to use the data. One could argue that not many people would actually care and researchers are the group that those data meant for. Is public engagement in using and interpreting the open data instinctively good, or does it provide greater returns for the public? I think this could be better clarified here. Second, I’m curious about if VGI or crowdsourcing data belongs to the category of open data.  Dose the costs discussed in the article still apply to VGI and crowdsourcing data? It’s clear that some direct costs such as the cost of data collection could be avoided, but it seems to me that some other issues such as privacy and data quality could be intensified. I think this a question that worth to be discussed.

One Response to “Thoughts on “The Cost(s) of Geospatial Open Data””

  1. site admin says:

    Great insight. This exactly is a debate in the geospatial community (see my chapter in The State of Open Data). Is VGI part of open data? Open data is usually posited as authoritative data originating from government? Is Strava or Uber data made available to government a part of open data? To make things even more complicated, take a look at NYC’s Open311 platform. That data comes from residents via NYC’s public nuisance hotline. Is that data reported by non-expert residents but offered by a government agency, open data?