Geospatial Commission pumps £5m into unlocking value of location data

Commission wants to unlock the value of location data held by its partners through the use of emerging technologies

The government is planning to invest in emerging technologies that can help drive the value of geospatial data from a range of sources.

The Geospatial Commission is investing £5m to unlock the value of location data, which is becoming increasingly important as a tool for businesses and public sector organisations to make better decisions, whether about, for example, tackling crime hotspots or locating supply chains.

The commission plans to use data from its six partners – the British Geological Survey, the Coal Authority, HM Land Registry, Ordnance Survey, the UK Hydrographic Office and the Valuation Office Agency – to look at how emerging technologies can play a part in getting more value out of them.  

This week, the government is also launching the next round of its £20m GovTech catalyst programme, which was first announced by prime minister Theresa May in November 2017 as a way of encouraging better use of technology in the public sector and connecting tech suppliers to potential customers in government.  

The Geospatial Commission funding is the first investment from its £80m two-year budget. Cabinet Office minister David Lidlington said the funding will make it easier for UK companies to compete in the international marketplace.

“Our modern Industrial Strategy will secure Britain’s position as a world leader in digital innovation and this government is committed to providing more opportunities for tech businesses, including small firms, to thrive, as well as access public procurement opportunities,” he said.

“Through emerging technologies, our geospatial and GovTech funding will elevate British companies onto a global market and help to deliver new services to improve people’s lives.”

Earlier this year, the Geospatial Commission completed a project working with the government and Ordnance Survey to open up OS MasterMap data to UK-based small businesses, and others. 

The aim is for the OS MasterMap data to boost the UK economy by “at least” £130m each year, as startups and other companies use it.

According to the government, the £130m will come through a combination of “the OS data becoming freely available, the ability to release additional public datasets derived from the OS MasterMap data by other public sector organisations, and the indirect benefits to the wider economy”.

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