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Suggested Citation:"11. Assessing the Impact of Public Sector Geographic Information." National Research Council. 2009. The Socioeconomic Effects of Public Sector Information on Digital Networks: Toward a Better Understanding of Different Access and Reuse Policies: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12687.
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Suggested Citation:"11. Assessing the Impact of Public Sector Geographic Information." National Research Council. 2009. The Socioeconomic Effects of Public Sector Information on Digital Networks: Toward a Better Understanding of Different Access and Reuse Policies: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12687.
Page 46

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11. Assessing the Impact of Public Sector Geographic Information1 Max Craglia Institute for Environment and Sustainability, JRC, Italy The Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe (INSPIRE) is a directive of the European Parliament and the Council (EC/2007/2) that is based on the various infrastructures for spatial information set up and operated by the EU member states. The purpose of the INSPIRE directive is to support environmental policy making and, in particular, to support the formulation, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of environmental policies across the European Community and to overcome major barriers that affect the availability and accessibility of pertinent spatial data. The key components of the INSPIRE directive, as is true of any Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI), include: metadata (the documentation of what information resources exist, who has responsibility for them, and how they can be accessed); technical specifications for the interoperability of spatial datasets and spatial services; network services to allow the discovery, view, download, transformation, and linkage of datasets and services; policies for sharing data and services; and complementary measures for monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the directive. The INSPIRE directive covers 34 data themes necessary to support environmental policy and includes geographic, administrative, social, and environmental information.2 The directive came into force on May 15, 2007, and member states have until May 2009 to transpose the directive into national legislation, with implementation taking place over a 10-year period. There is a significant degree of synergy between the INSPIRE directive and the PSI directives, as the geographic and environmental information of the INSPIRE directive represents a significant portion of the total economic value of PSI, and the data themes of INSPIRE are primarily related to issues in the public sector. There are also various differences between the two. For example, the PSI directive defines the rules for exploiting PSI once it has been made available, but it allows the EU member states the freedom to define what information they make available as well as when and how. By contrast, the INSPIRE directive is more prescriptive, and it defines clearly what information must be made available within a certain timeframe, in what format it must appear, and how it should be documented and made accessible. The INSPIRE directive therefore addresses three of the main issues surrounding PSI: discovery, availability, and use. From this perspective, the implementation of the INSPIRE directive promises to improve significantly the availability of PSI. The INSPIRE and PSI directives share an interest in assessing the impacts of making information more widely available and used. In January 2006 the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission organized a workshop to review best practices in the assessment of SDIs, to compare methodologies and findings and to see what lessons could be learned from similar large-scale infrastructures. Among the key findings of that workshop was that when a case has to be made to obtain funding for an SDI, the 1 Based on a presentation found at 2 See 45

46 SOCIOECONOMIC EFFECTS OF PSI ON DIGITAL NETWORKS case is generally based on assumptions of costs and benefits that have little evidence supporting them. For this reason, the workshop concluded that there is an urgent need to undertake longitudinal studies of SDIs, paying particular attention to sub-national and regional SDIs and to application-driven approaches in which it is possible to identify stakeholders, user communities, and potential benefits (see Craglia and Nowak 20063). As a follow-up to that workshop, the JRC commissioned the Centre of Land Policy and Valuations of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalonia to perform a study of the socioeconomic impact of SDI in Catalonia. The one-year study, which was concluded in December 2007, found that if the cost of topographic data production is excluded, the initial investment of €1.5 million over the period 2002-2006 was recovered in less than one year. The main categories of cost relate to the creation of metadata; setting up Internet services for discovery, view, and download; and preparation of the data for publication. Almost 80 percent of the costs were for human resources. The main benefits took the form of increased internal efficiency for public administrations (time saved in internal queries by technical staff, time saved in attending queries made by the public, and time saved in internal processes), effectiveness benefits (time saved by the public and by companies in dealing with public administration), and wider social benefits. One such social benefit was a narrowing of the digital divide for populations living in small communities, as in many cases these populations began to receive the same level of service that they would have received if they were living in larger towns and cities. Examples of such improved service included being able to contact governmental bodies at any time of the day or night and obtaining building permits faster. The Catalonia study was important because for the first time it provided real evidence for both investment costs and measured benefits. It also allowed testing of the methodology proposed by the JRC, and it offered lessons learned for use in further studies. One such study is now in progress in the Regione Lombardia of Italy in collaboration with the JRC. It will be completed in 2009, paving the way for a wider deployment of the methodology across Europe. The full Catalonia study, which is also relevant for the wider assessment of PSI, is available at 3

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While governments throughout the world have different approaches to how they make their public sector information (PSI) available and the terms under which the information may be reused, there appears to be a broad recognition of the importance of digital networks and PSI to the economy and to society. However, despite the huge investments in PSI and the even larger estimated effects, surprisingly little is known about the costs and benefits of different information policies on the information society and the knowledge economy.

By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the current assessment methods and their underlying criteria, it should be possible to improve and apply such tools to help rationalize the policies and to clarify the role of the internet in disseminating PSI. This in turn can help promote the efficiency and effectiveness of PSI investments and management, and to improve their downstream economic and social results.

The workshop that is summarized in this volume was intended to review the state of the art in assessment methods and to improve the understanding of what is known and what needs to be known about the effects of PSI activities.

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