Earth Observation Data Policies

I discovered a very nice 4 pager primer on access to satellite and radar data prepared by Athena Global. The paper explains that EO data (satellite and radar) policy is the set of public decisions and guidelines about:

• what data will be produced or purchased;
• how it will be managed and by whom;
• who will have access to it (availability, confidentiality);
• how the costs of data will be paid;
• the price charged to users;
• who makes these decisions and through what processes.

The paper also discusses how Canadian EO data is determined by the type of sensor, whether it is framework data or specialized data, by who is asking for or wanting to purchase those data and that data policy has an impact

on data usage, and consequently on the integration of EO information into applications, products and services. In this way data policy shapes the potential promise of space programs in EO.

This is the direct link to the innovation rhetoric we are constantly bombarded with and to the argument that the private sector will flourish in interesting ways if data are made available to it and most importantly the direction of an entire industry. The paper also includes the following which is an excellent way to think about data pricing and its effects:

  • A direct association exists between pricing and its effects on public access and commercialisation of government agency information. Current pricing problems are having a deleterious effect on the affordability of spatial data in Canada, France, and the United Kingdom;
  • A direct association exists between the application of intellectual property rights and the degree of public access and commercialisation of government agency information. The greater the restrictions on access, the less successful dissemination programs will be;
  • Reducing prices and relaxing intellectual property restrictions on government datasets are significant factors improving opportunities for access and commercialization for stakeholders in the geographic information community.

The organization also prepared a brief on ways to think about EO users, and it may be a nice way for to think about when framing debates around citizens and who and what their interests are.  EO users are viewed from the perspective of consumers, patrons and partners while recognizing there are different types of users:

scientific, commercial and operational (government, IOs NGOs, universities, research institutions, companies) that have different characteristics and technical skills, different data needs (long term – short term, information – data) and use data for different types of applications.

The paper explains the EO data use obstacles related to how the data are delivered, cost, lack of knowledge, and so on.  In essence the paper argues to match data supply with data needs.

Data Policy and Engaging EO Users by Athena Global.