Access to Spatial Data in Networked Environments
This topic was discussed by two separate groups ("Access to Spatial
Data in Networked Environments" and "Equity") but at the
following plenary session, it was concluded that these topics are so strongly
related that they should be considered a single theme. The Equity
discussion is appended here.
1. Access to Spatial Data in Networked Environments
Information is substantially reducing society's dependence on traditional
sources of labor, capital, and raw materials.
Information and the knowledge it brings can substitute for these other
materials and thus is a source of power.
Access to digital geographic information is a source of power.
Key Scientific question:
How might the future be constructed (i.e., organizations, economic approaches,
laws, infrastructure-networks, etc.) such that all segments of society
have equal opportunity or less disparate opportunity in accessing geographic
(exploring approaches for providing equal opportunity to access all
forms of information or equal opportunity to access all resources is outside
the expertise of this group)
Sample Researchable Questions:
1. Reflective research
What forms of virtual spatial data libraries would best meet the needs
of varied segments of society?
What forms would meet the specific needs of those in society currently
disenfranchised or marginalized?
Should such virtual libraries allow/promote two way discourse?
Allow those accessing to be both suppliers and users of spatial data
How can physical access to spatial data be enhanced with additional
tools for gaining or supplying knowledge?
How might an analog to the traditional "public goods" library
model be retained in our digital future whereby any person (child, scientist,
business person, etc.) may browse, study, and borrow spatial data resources
from the virtual library at no direct cost? .....etc.
2. Observation of the current impacts of following certain organizational,
institutional, and policy approaches in regard to digital geographic information.
Information from these studies is needed in order to arrive at conceptual
designs more likely to arrive at desirable virtual library outcomes.
To what extent do current virtual spatial data libraries exist and
meet or fail to meet the needs of the various segments of society?
To what extent are people and organizations voluntarily providing geographic
data freely on the net? What caused them to share their data? What are
the impediments to their sharing of even greater amounts of spatial data?
Does a shift away from the public sector supplying certain forms of
geographic data lead to loss of quality, misuse, and uneven access? The
Who is using GIS to collect or process personal information, to what
extent, and for what purposes? What are the short and long term impacts
of the different legal approaches to handling personal privacy issues in
different jurisdictions. .......etc.
Key External Participants:
Library information systems futurists
There are substantial analogies between the information society and
There will be successes and failures in transferring concepts from
economic geography into the information era. We wish to explore this. We
need a clear understanding of what is currently known about economic geography,
and we wish to explore the degree to which these concepts apply in a digital
geographic world, an information economy, a world in which information
is increasingly significant.
What are overt symptoms of information poverty?
What are the social pathologies of information poverty?
What are the geographic dimensions of the information economy?
What is the economic geography of the information economy?
What is the role of philanthropy?
What is the legal context?
More specifically: What does the future hold for the spatial organization
of the information economy for spatial equity?
What new institutions and public policies are needed to modify, regulate,
improve, and intervene in the information economy?
What about equity of access to information, which is embedded in FOI?
What are the international dimensions, e.g. WIPO?
Is it technically or legally possible or desirable, to regulate geographic
flows of information?
Can you build a system in which client requests for information are
reliably location stamped?
Must there be a geographic basis to information poverty?
What possibilities exist for social programs to address information
Can we devise metrics to measure information poverty on a global scale,
and use them to monitor trends?
What are the consequences of the distribution of information poverty
for representative democracy?
Can we define a form of information poverty related to the creation
of information (as well as its consumption)?
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