In April, 2021, it released the Draft National Geospatial Policy (the ‘Draft Policy’) to devise a comprehensive policy framework for the development of an open and competitive geospatial sector. The policy provisions state that geospatial data produced by using public funds will be shared in accordance with the National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy, 2012 (NDSAP).
The NDSAP on data sharing
The NDSAP requires the relevant government departments to classify geospatial data into: (1) ‘Open Access Data’ which is publicly accessible at all times, (2) ‘Registered Access Data’ which may be accessed after fulfilling certain compliances, and (3) ‘Restricted Access Data’ which is sensitive in nature and requires special authorisation by the relevant department for dissemination.
Under the Draft Policy, the relevant government departments are entrusted with fixing the prices of Geospatial Data, Products, Services and Solutions (GDPSS) produced by using public funds. ‘Open Access Data’ will be provided to state entities free of charge, and to private entities either free of charge or at a fair and transparent price which will be fixed by the department.
The Draft Policy requires the relevant government department to make the sharing of Open Access Data either free of charge or fair and transparent. However, it is silent on the pricing policy of Registered Access Data and Restricted Access Data.
It is important that geospatial data is made widely available and affordable to realise the true potential of the sector. Prohibitive pricing of data would defeat this objective. Consequently, it would be helpful if a system is established to review the prices fixed by the departments and ensure that they remain affordable. Differential pricing may also be considered depending on the purpose of using the geospatial data acquired. Data usage for humanitarian and research purposes could be shared free of cost or at cheaper rates to users.
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