U.K. advocacy group calling on Apple, Google, and Uber to openly share map data

A U.K. based advocacy group, The Open Data Institute (ODI), has published a report calling on the U.K. government “to work with Google, Apple and Uber to publish more map data and support the UK’s emerging technologies,” citing the importance of “geospatial data” — data that “describes places including the address of a building, the boundaries of cities and regions, and the extent of flood plains” — for the planning and decision making necessary to support public services and drive the modern economy. While the report notes that the U.K. government has committed to making its own data more readily available, it adds that getting a hold of this data from both the public and private sectors is difficult, with even government agencies charging high fees, the privatization of things like U.K. address data by Royal Mail, and Google Maps having increased its pricing significantly in recent years. The ODI report suggests that commercial entities having a “monopoly” on specific types of geospatial data assets is stifling innovation and failing to fully take advantage of the possible economic and social benefits.

While the ODI is a private research group, as The Verge notes, it was co-founded by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, and Nigel Shadbolt, a professor of artificial intelligence at the University of Oxford, and has a great deal of influence in the U.K., suggesting that the government is likely to take its recommendations seriously, and the report comes on the cusp of an upcoming review of the U.K. government’s strategy concerning geospatial data, which suggests that it will be taken into consideration for any new legislation that may be passed, although it remains unclear exactly what steps the U.K. could take to force data sharing between these companies.

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