PPGIS: A literature review and framework

In this article, Sieber traces a history of PPGIS, engages with the existing literature to create a framework for PPGIS. I found lots of the discussion very interesting, but what I found most interesting was the discussion on the accessibility of data. As PPGIS involves those affected by decision-making in the process, accessibility to data is crucial. I have to admit I have not ever contemplated the definition of ‘access’, though the various definitions show the nuances in the understanding of ‘access’.

While reading the four competing ethics of data availability, I was struck by how each of these positions, and politics, could drastically alter the process of PPGIS. I am also struck with how fluid the boundaries between these ethics can be, and I think that most countries would employ a combination of these approaches to data availability.

An open government would facilitate PPGIS, while any of the other positions would hinder PPGIS to varying degrees. While I mainly agree with the open government position in terms of spatial data, I also understand why personal privacy is important, and can in fact be crucial to a healthy society. Likewise, in terms of national security, it could be important to protect the location of secure facilities. I do have fundamental issues with the fiscal responsibility position, and see this as the biggest hurdle to effective PPGIS (good old capitalism…). Putting a price on public data invariably grants access to resource rich organizations, solidifying a top-down framework of PPGIS. This touches on the notion of the inherent inequality in PPGIS, a subject that I think Sieber does a good job addressing throughout the article.

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