Sunday, August 30, 2009

Spatial Law and Policy Update (August 30, 2009)

A New York Times article on new steps being taken at Wikipedia to regulate input by its users. I found that it raised some interesting issues that would also apply to the crowd-sourcing of spatial data.

I encourage those who are interested in potential liability issues associated with navigation devices to read the following article from the Salt Lake Tribune. It concerns a man who was killed when he came over the crest of a hill and swerved to avoid cars that were sitting in traffic at a construction sight. According to the article, the family alleged that the Department of Transportation and a contractor failed to put up signs that there would be traffic delays due to the construction. The family's attorney stated that the man "knew about the construction", but didn't know where traffic would be backing up. The widow and her children who were awarded $4.4 million dollars by a jury.

The need for a rational and coherent legal and policy framework surrounding spatial data is most evident at the intersection of imagery and privacy. For example, once again Google is having to defend its policies with respect to Street View to a privacy regulator. This time, it is in Switzerland,

In a related matter, the BBC reported this week that an internal police report suggested that "only one crime was solved by each 1,000 CCTV cameras in London last year". The article points out that CCTV - and similar types of systems which are increasingly being used around the world - can be helpful in a number of other ways, not the least of which is as a deterrent. However, given the cost associated with the technology and its potential threat to privacy, it is incumbent upon authorities to maximize the technology's value for law enforcement.

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