Comments > United States of America

From Tom Hollenhorst, of the Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota, in Duluth, Minnesota:

Doing watershed/ecological analysis we do here in the U.S. often stops at the Canadian border, not because of our willingness to work in Canada, but because of the cost of the data we need to get the work done.

From (Canadian) Stephen Cliffen, with Tetra Tech Inc., of Concord, California:

I have been working in California for the last year. The availability of "public domain" data in the US is very impressive and is exactly what is needed in Canada. Many project proposals have been won down here using this free data to display study sites and perform simple analyses.

From Geoff Ghitter, with the Kentucky GAP Analysis Project in Murray, Kentucky:

Although I live and work in the US I am a Canadian and my goals are to continue my career in Canada when I am finished the project I am working on. I work on a large scale mapping project here that is dependent on all kinds of government supplied data, DEMs, roads, hydrology, etc. Were it not for the fact that these data were supplied free of charge we could not readily conduct such a project. The quality and quantity of Canadian research into environmental issues would benefit greatly from free data. I sincerely hope something comes of this.

A comment from Katie Filbert while at Penn State University (updated 2002-June-25):

"Free access to spatial data benefits students...

At Penn State, the Pennsylvania Geospatial Data Clearinghouse (PASDA) is a collaboration between the university and the Pennsylvania Geospatial Information Council and is funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The data clearinghouse is a popular service that provides a variety of data for the state. Through GIS courses at Penn State, I became proficient with GIS technology through being able to work on projects and lab assignments, using high quality data such as DOQs, DEMS, Landsat data and much more, that is for local places of interest to me. I also had access to much more data for other states, through USGS, the US Census Bureau, and other spatial data clearinghouses. With the mass of data available, I could choose nearly any project topic that I wish, dealing with any place in Pennsylvania or elsewhere in the USA.

It is great for students to be able to do projects of places near home that they are familiar with. In Canada, that this is difficult/costly. In undergraduate GIS courses in Canada, students are often assigned projects and lab assignments, dealing with places like South Carolina, California, ... Students complain about that and it affects their interest in GIS and how well they learn important concepts. Those assignments would be much more interesting to students, if they more often dealt with local places in Canada."

From Tonia Wolf, of the Eastside Conservation Council, in Bend, Oregon:

Since the taxpayers in Canada already paid to generate the data, why should they pay for it twice?

We receive the data in the United States, for a minimal fee to copy and distribute the information. Especially non-profits and students.

From Norman I. Huber, Member of Boy Scouts of America and radio amateur, of Bloomington, IL:

I only found out about the high prices when I was looking for detailed GPS maps of the Canadian side of the boundry waters area for an upcoming Boy Scout canoe trip for my troop. I was told they were not available due to the high cost. This seems counter-productive as it is discouraging when you wish to plan trips for recreation and tourism. We may not bring much money in on Scout trips, but I believe we will when we return to fish, hunt or just have a chance to explore some relativly remote areas.

From Gregory Kehm, of The Nature Conservancy in Boston, Massachusetts:

The Nature Conservancy (US) is currently using GIS to conduct multistate ecoregional planning to locate and prioritize significant natural communities. The resulting datasets define ecological "zip/postal codes" for specific matrix communities. If data were available for state-bordering Canadian provinces, both countries could understand the shared extent of rare and endangered habitats and species. We could then develop common site priorities and land conservation strategies.

From Terry Birkenstock, of the International Joint Commission Red River Basin Task Force in Minnesota:

The current Canadian Government cost-recovery policy is causing serious problems for our Internatiuonal study in the Red River Basin where we are attempting to build a Virtual Database of spatial data in both the US and Canada. Free access to this data would provide a greater ability to conduct a variety of analyses for floodplain management and for operational flood fighting needs. Such free access would hopefully lead to reduced economic impacts from future floods in the basin due to better planning capabilities and reduced information sharing problems. Red River Basin Task Force.

From David Greenlee of the EROS Data Centre, a branch of the U.S. Geological Survey, in South Dakota:

I am working on an project that requires geospatial data over the Red River Basin in North Dakota and Manitoba. There are some technical challenges to getting the data joined, but none so difficult as getting the Canadian data distributed to the scientific team once it is ready! We are spoiled in the US, as our Federal policies mandate that data be distributed for the cost of duplication, and without any copy restrictions. This has allowed the value-added private industry to to sell these data, BUT ONLY IF THEY ADD VALUE!

Comments > United States of America