Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Spatial Law and Policy Update


Data Quality

Law Enforcement/National Security

Intellectual Property

Spatial Data Infrastructure

Remote Sensing



LightSquared Looks to Lawyers (The Wall Street Journal)


Drones Set Sights on US Skies (CNBC/The New York Times)


Data Protection Standards 2.0 (The Standby Task Force)


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Will A "Geo-Divide" Arise Between Nations In The Future?

Recently I was asked to provide my perspective on emerging trends in geospatial information management. Specifically, I was asked to look out five and then 10 years and give my thoughts on how things might look. My thoughts are below.

The benefits that a ‘location-enabled’ society can provide for economic growth, technological innovation, improved government services and an engaged citizenry are becoming increasingly clear.  However it is important to recognize that a healthy geospatial ecosystem needs consistent and transparent laws and policies that support the collection, use, storage, transfer, analysis and display of spatially-enabled data from various public and private sources. Such a legal and policy framework must be broad-based, cutting across both legal domains as well as technology platforms.  In the absence of such a framework internationally, I believe we are likely to see a ‘geo-divide’ between nations over the next ten years.

Five Years

In five years, I fear there will be a great deal of uncertainty and confusion in many parts of the world with regards to the collection, use and distribution of geospatial data. This uncertainty will be the result of inconsistent and conflicting laws and policies, governing structures that don’t evolve to keep up with technological developments, as well as inadequate government funding. In five years, legal and policy communities in most countries will finally be coming to grips with the power of geospatial technology and some of the unique aspects of geospatial data. However, in most areas of the world a consistent and transparent legal and policy framework will not have developed with regards to such matters as privacy, national security, liability and intellectual property. As a result, many businesses and government agencies will be confused on such matters as to (i) what geospatial data they will be permitted to collect, (ii) whether they can aggregate various data sets, (iii) what privacy, data quality and information security procedures they should follow, (iv) what steps they will be required to take before transferring geospatial data to third parties, (iv) what are the risks associated with offering products or services with geospatial data that is incomplete, inaccurate or not suited for a particular use, and (iv) what is their potential liability with regards to these or other potential issues.

Such uncertainty and confusion will be a challenge for both government agencies and businesses. Government agencies will struggle to offer the improved services that their citizens will come to believe possible with the broad availability of geospatial technology. Companies will be unwilling to develop certain geospatial products and services due to concerns over being punished or sued. Some consumers will be unwilling to use important new location-enabled products or services due to media reports over privacy concerns. Moreover, services based upon the use of geolocation information will be less efficient due to restrictions on internet access or data transfers.

Ten Years

In ten years, I believe there will be a clear divide between ‘winning’ and ‘losing’ nations with respect to the adoption of geospatial technology. The winners will have developed legal and policy frameworks that will result in ‘location-enabled’ societies. These nations will have strong economies, fueled in part by jobs created from the many new products and services that can be offered due to the vast amounts of geospatial data available. For example, new companies will be built providing products and services for such location-enabled industries as the smart grid, intelligent transportation systems and precision agriculture. Citizens in these societies will live in safer smart cities, with cutting-edge infrastructure and open and transparent governments. These governments will use geospatial technology to deliver more efficient and timely services while still protecting their citizens from unwarranted government intrusion. Effective use of geospatial technology will provide increased public safety and allow such nations to better prepare for and respond to natural disasters. ‘Location-enabled’ societies will be the leaders globally on transnational issues, such as protecting natural resources, understanding climate change, addressing poverty and preventing the spread of infectious disease. The adoption of geospatial technologies will enhance the contour of the relationship between the government and their citizens.

The losers will be those nations in which there is a lack of geospatial data available due to overly burdensome collection, use and transfer laws and policies. Such restrictions may arise due to concerns over privacy, national security or in an effort to protect local industry. These nations will not have the many benefits associated with a ‘location-enabled’ society. In these countries government officials in one agency will be afraid to share data with other government agencies. Collection of many types of geospatial data by private businesses will be limited due to heavy regulation, data transfer restrictions or inadequate protection of intellectual property rights. In addition, companies will be unwilling to store or use geospatial data in these countries due to liability concerns. Some governments will use geospatial technology as a means to monitor or restrict the movements and personal interactions of their citizens. As a result, individuals will be unwilling to adopt new applications involving their location for fear that this information will be shared with authorities. Over time, businesses will pull operations from these companies due to increased costs, concerns over liability, and public pressure not to support repressive regimes.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Spatial Law and Policy Update (February 13, 2011)

Intellectual Property Rights

Start-Ups Seek to Help Users Put a Price on Their Personal Data (New York Times)

Harry Reid Wants a Bigger, Badder Version of SOPA/PIPA (Read Write Web)

Law Enforcement/National Security

Security concerns keep power lines off Japan's topo maps (Geospatial World)

FBI needs mapping app to monitor social networking sites (Geospatial World)

FBI cuts back on GPS surveillance after Supreme Court ruling (USA Today)

Getaway car license plate leads to San Diego bank robbery arrest (Los Angeles Times)

Panasonic disabling GPS in their cameras to please China (GPS Tracklog)

Federal court – warrantless search of protestor’s video cam violated Fourth Amendment (Pogo WasRight)

Spatial Data Infrastructures

Turning government data into private sector products is complicated business (Nextgov)

Remote Sensing

$80 Billion Puzzle: The Part Of The Pentagon's Budget You Won't See (Forbes)

PODCAST: Panel of Geospatial Experts Discuss Viability of Commercial Imagery and EnhancedView (Got Geoint)

Spying on Europe’s farms with satellites and drones (BBC)

A New Weapon Against Nukes: Social Media (WBUR)

Intelligent Transportation Systems

Remote control of Manatee and Sarasota traffic signals (Herald Tribune)


U.S. House and Senate Pass FAA Bill, Setting Requirements for UAS to Fly in the National Airspace (AUVSI)

Surveillance drone industry plans PR effort to counter negative image (The Guardian)


Congress approves shift to GPS air traffic control (GCN)

LightSquared asks FCC to set tough standards for GPS receivers (The Hill)

AA to launch sat-nav tech tracked insurance policy (BBC)


Crisis Mapping Needs an Ethical Compass (Global Brief)

Stranger than Fiction: A Few Words About An Ethical Compass for Crisis Mapping (irevolution)

Geocaching Steps into North Korea (Latitude 47)


Brazil Sues Twitter in Bid to Ban Speed Trap and Roadblock Warnings (ABA Journal)

Weather Deal Backfires for BMW's Mini (Wall Street Journal)

Geospatial Visualization (Deloitte)

How Big Data From Connected Machines Gets Used (Read Write Web)

The Age of Big Data (New York Times)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Centre for Spatial Law and Policy Facebook page

I am sometimes frustrated that more people do not understand the value of geospatial technology and the many ways it provides positive contribution to our economies, our societies and our personal lives. As a result, the Centre has recently set up a Facebook page that highlights the many ways individuals and organizations are using geospatial technology in a positive way. Those of you on Facebook are invited to 'like' the Centre's page and these highlights will show up on your wall. Feel free to tell your friends and family or anyone else who asks you what you work on.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Spatial Law and Policy Update (February 2, 2012)

Raising Awareness of Where Geospatial Technology Is Taking the Law


EU Data Rules Worse Than SOPA? (Information Week)

Personal use of GPS trackers growing fast Read more here (The News Tribune)

Why privacy policies don't work - and what might Read more (San Francisco Chronicle)

Legislating Privacy After US v Jones (Communia)

The Upside And Downside Of Privacy On The Web (New Tech Post)

What EU Data Privacy Proposal Means For Business (Information Week)

[DISCUSSION DRAFT] 112TH CONGRESS To require disclosures to consumers regarding the capability of software to monitor mobile telephone usage, to require the express consent of the consumer prior to monitoring, and for other purposes (Markey/U.S. House of Representatives)

Intellectual Property Rights

Copying Is Not Stealing (Slate)

Megaupload: A Lot Less Guilty Than You Think (Stanford Law School)

Insane English copyright ruling creates ownership in the idea of a photo's composition (boingboing)

New license for crowdsourced geospatial data adopted by OpenStreetMap (Between the Poles)

National Security/Law Enforcement

Philippines studying U.S. offer to deploy spy planes (Reuters)


FAA gearing up for GPS policing (Flightglobal)

LIghtSquared Update - FCC Requests Comments on LS Request for Decision - 1/30/12 (Directions Magazine)

Data Quality

Spatial Precision - What's it all about? (Mapcite)

Remote Sensing

Pentagon To Trim Commercial Imagery Spending (Space News)

Spatial Data Infrastructures

Is open data under threat? (Information Age)

Intelligent Transportation Systems

Cars communicating to avoid collisions? NHTSA said time is now (Detroit Free Press)

Ride Sharing on the Rise in Germany, New Tech to Fuel Growth (GPS Business News)


Drones for Human Rights (The New York Times)

NATO Will Buy Its First Spy Drones, Eventually (Wired)

U.S. Drones Patrolling Its Skies Provoke Outrage in Iraq (The New York Times)


Neelie Kroes Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda EU Data protection reform and Cloud Computing “Fuelling the European Economy” event, Microsoft Executive Briefing Centre Brussels, 30 January 2012 (Europa)

U.S. may rely on aging U-2 spy planes longer than expected (The Los Angeles Times)

Digital mapping and governance: the stories behind the maps (Wait...What?)

The Coming Tech-led Boom (The Wall Street Journal)

France Finds Google Maps Is Unfair Competition (Mashable)