Comments > OntarioOntario

From David Andrec of Fort Erie, Ont:

The Canadian government's inability to distribute data funded by taxpayers is resulting in a stunted industry as compared to the US. Individuals interested in starting a business in this field are limited by the prohibative costs of data generation and acquisition and are often forced to pay the costs set by the few data vendors distributing detailed Canadian data.

This comment From Garry McGonigal of Corporate Environmental Consultants in Tecumseh, Ontario:

The City of Toronto wanted to charge an outrageous fee to provide an electronic map of downtown Toronto (showing blocks, building outlines - 2D), for something that was available in hard copy, over the counter.

The fee was in the many thousands of dollars. This was circa 1995. It was to be used in a presentation to demonstrate certain facilities in proximity to a downtown high-rise office tower. My client was in the final running of attracting a major tenant from new York to Toronto. My client felt as I did, that this was a form of government robbery. The tenant considered this action by the City of Toronto as a rather negative approach. They selected elsewhere.

At URISA national, international and provincial meetings this subject has been discussed over and over again. Bottom line is that government goe-projects have been paid for through taxation, why should the public have to pay over and over again. Some cities in the US give away on CD their geo-data, for free. They know the pay back.

The current approach of charging for such data actually discourages analytical assessment and presentation, thus putting a variety of Canadian entities at a disadvantage when competing against those who receive the same for free.

Take a look at how you can get US census data, in geo-formats, the quality and detail, at minimal costs

From Ronald H Saper of Vantage Point International Inc in Ottawa, Ont:

Freer exchange of geographic information is inevitable, but delay will result in lost opportunities and loss of value of the data. Let's not hoard data until it is so obsolete as to be useless. Instead let's harness the skills and resources of users to improve and update the data using GPS.

Bill Harron of PFRA once said that geographic information in electronic form should be considered a fact, and a fact is not subject to copyright. Almost all geographic information can be recovered by other sources and therefore is neither a secret nor a creative work subject to copyright protection.

From Ji Chen, of the School of Computer Science, Carleton University, in Ottawa, Ontario:

I think spatial data should be totally free for academic use. For our case, I need spatial data to develop and test our GIS tools, we can not afford the big price for the spactial data.

From Simon Wareing of Prairie C, Resource Property Development in North Cobalt, Ontario:

I believe that if any data sets are created from the benefits of tax dollars it should be provided to anyone at no cost except shipping and media costs. Prospectors in Ontario had to give up Property Development Grants in order to have the government provide them with (Treasure Hunt) geophysical data sets of airborne magnetics and such, they now have to purchase. Data gathering programs such as these are reported to be for the benefit of the "little guy", to give him access to data so he can compete in a tough mineral development market but he is the one least able to afford it. Base maps and other technical data sets relevant to my own business add up to a few thousand dollars just to get started. Just to have the equipment and software to render the data represents a significant financial undertaking for many small operators. Since the "big boys" don't have these concerns who is all this data really being gathered for?

From Andrew Kalinoski, a private citizen in Burlington, Ontario:

Outragous prices of vector data give unfair advantage to large businesses and make it virtually impossible for small enterprises to compete.

From Barry Putt, of the Canadian Coast Guard in Sarnia, Ontario:

In the US, anything created by the public purse is available to the public free of charge. With Geospatial data, this has resulted in exponential growth of quality, free data. This is not so in Canada. Remember Beta/VHS?

From Steve Corrigan, of Magnet Communications, in Hamilton, Ontario:

I am a freelance technical illustrator working for many large Canadian publishers. I find myself at a disadvantage because of the lack of good geological data available to me as a Canadian writing and creating for Canadians.

From Dan Somers, a Geography teacher in Ajax, Ontario:

Educational institutions are funded by tax dollars. It seems inappropriate for schools to use tax dollars to pay for data products that were originally obtained using tax dollars. Private companies who generate profits using government data should at least pay the tax-payers of Canada for kindly doing their research and development for them.

From an anonymous student at Fleming College in Ontario:

It's really quite a shame that educational institutions, secondary school to colleges and universities, are often forced to learn about geography using foreign data sets. The geography of Canada is not being taught because of the costs associated with acquiring Canadian spatial data sets.

From David Andrec, a Cartographic Technician in Hamilton, Ontario:

Too expensive to purchase for small companies.

From Dave Schwartz, Amateur Radio Operator VA3DGS in Waterloo, Ontario:

In addition to the coments already raised, I would like to mention that Canadian amateur radio operators are also pitied by our American counterparts. The application I speak of is the Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) which is severely handicapped by the government's policies.

APRS is an application that can track and plot mobile and fixed assets by lat/lon (captured from GPS receivers and telemetered over radio) and support features such as severe weather tracking, search and rescue, direction finding, message passing, etc.

Available maps for Canada are pathetic compared to those in the U.S. For example, the area I live in has over 500,000 people but there are only about six crudely drawn roads on the map covering the area. We are amateurs and can't afford the exhorbitant prices of the Canadian data (50 cents per data point, $200 minimum last I checked). The only way to improve the maps is to digitize commercial maps (a probable violation of copyright, and an excruciatingly difficult process). Contrast this to our American counterparts who have written programs that can produce maps in seconds to nearly arbitrary precision from data freely downloadable over the internet.

My position is that the government only has the right to restrict access to data that is gathered with MY TAX MONEY in cases of security or under the Privacy Act. By no conceivable stretch can this be made to apply to geographic data. SET THE DATA FREE!

From Alan Clark, of Business Intelligence Mapping, Barrie, Ontario:

Some time ago I read in one of the trade journals that Japan had considered the Canadian model of geospatial data dissemination and compared it to the American model and concluded that Japan would make all data freely available. The Japanese government had apparently conducted a cost/benefit analysis and determined that the economic impact of that decision was significantly more compelling than following the Canadian model.

My business suffers a dramatic competitive disadvantage in acquiring geospatial data from resellers all charging back according to the cost recovery model. My clients are largely American-owned businesses that are familiar with the pricing schemes for similar products and services in the U.S.A. I must attempt to surmount this barrier to entry into a significant market segment by devaluing the service to offset the cost of data to level the playing field somewhat. This behaviour has led many of my colleagues to consider or pursue opportunities in the U.S. I would like Canadians to regain the competitive advantages we had when we created this technology and not continue to hamper societal progress based on inadequate copyright law and inefficient dissemination models.

Just my two cents worth. Frustrated in Barrie.

This anonymous opinion An anonymous opinion from Ontario:

Having worked in the US for a four-year period, I became completey fluent with the wealth of geospatial data freely available.

This allowed me to creatively enhance engineering project needs, and better support baseline work.

Comments > Ontario