Sunday, September 6, 2009

Spatial Law and Policy (September 6, 2009)

A San Diego-area television station reports that residents of Poway, California are being asked to clear brush away from their homes in order to cut down the risk of damage from wild fire. According to the report, city officials identified at-risk homes through the use of aerial photography. One of the reasons I found this innovative use of aerial imagery so interesting is that according to Google Maps, Poway is less than 20 miles away from El Cajun, California. El Cajun is in the district of California Assemblyman Joel Anderson, who earlier in the year introduced legislation to blur certain images on Google Earth - and other on-line services - because he believes that terrorists are the only one who benefit from the wide availability of high-quality imagery.

State and local governments are increasingly using GPS-enabled devices to track and monitor their employees. According to a recent report, New York City is using this technology to monitor its building inspectors to make sure that they actually have visited the buildings that they claim to have inspected. The policy was implemented after after an inspector was charged last year with faking a report that he had inspected a crane days before it collapsed, killing seven people. The report notes that the city will also store the daily routes of its inspectors in a database. It would be interesting to know what policies have been put into place with respect to who has access to that database and how it may be used.

I wonder how satellite navigation devices will handle this situation?

This could be interesting!! From the article it looks like there are at least three different data sets in question - federal, state and the data acquired by the company.

Although this "Legislative Primer" does not directly relate to spatial data, I recommend those who are following issues of spatial data and privacy to check it out. Although it purports to apply to "Online Behavioral Tracking and Targeting", it could very easily be applied to the collection, analysis and distribution of spatial data. In fact, if some of these suggestions are adopted, I believe that some would see them as the baseline for spatially-related legislation.

According to this report, Google Japan has agreed to help Japanese citizens whose images originally were posted on Google Street View and are now being used on secondary sites to bully and discriminate. Such assistance apparently includes asking the secondary sites to remove the offending images, and if such request are not honored, removing such sites from the Google search engine and possibly taking legal action.

A good article that touches on data quality issues associated with satellite navigation devices. The article explains how crowd-sourced data can be used as a potential solution to the lag in getting accurate data to the market. However, it does not address the issues associated with the use of such data, particularly in a commercial environment.