Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Upcoming Conference on The Legal and Policy Framework for a Location-enabled Society

When the Centre for Spatial Law and Policy started a few years ago, I was frequently asked why a lawyer was attending geospatial conferences. As a result, it is with a great deal of pride to be preparing to leave for a conference the Centre is co-hosting with Harvard University's Center for Geographic Analysis (CGA), Berkman Center of Internet and Society and Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs on May 2-3. The conference, titled "Creating the Policy and Legal Framework for a Location-enabled Society" will be live-streamed (details will be posted here) and combines leaders from many of the diverse aspects of the geospatial community with internationally-recognized academics and researchers from Harvard and other top universities.

One of the goals of the conference is for the various segments of the geospatial community to recognize that they each face many of the same policy and legal challenges, such as: privacy, intellectual property rights, licensing and potential liability risks.  Hopefully, such an understanding will result in organizations working together to address these difficult and critical issues world-wide. This will not be easy - geospatial technology is well out ahead of the legal and policy communities, and they are struggling to catch up

Another goal of the conference is to raise awareness within the technology policy community of the many societal, governmental and economic benefits that can be directly attributed to the collection and use of geospatial information. Such an awareness is critical as many policy (and budgetary) issues involve balancing potential benefits versus perceived risks. Unfortunately, the geospatial community often does not receive its proper share and/or credit on these broader policy issues.

If you have some time on Thursday and Friday I urge you to watch/listen to some of the conference. Admittedly, the issues to be discussed part of a broader set of issues that impact the adoption and use of geospatial technology. However, if the policy and legal issues are not adequately considered and addressed, there is a very good chance that geospatial technology will find its vast potential curtailed.

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