Monetizing Open Data versus Informational Transparency

The process of collecting information for Open Data sites can be a study in strenuous employee collaboration and invested time on behalf on an organizations. Setting up the myriad maps and their respective categories, alongside archiving them into a compiled system easily searchable by simple queries can make the endeavor of hosting a site more trouble than it’s worth. In some cases, these sites may receive view visits from researchers, and even fewer from the general public.

Institutions and their respective GIS departments may feel as though setting up a form of monetization – either through a paywall to access files or simple advertisements – would be a reasonable expectation when time and money is invested on their behalf to supply it. Having these forms of revenue, potentially creating a partnership between site administrators and ArcGIS, could create a greater variety of files being placed onto Open Data sites. In turn, this incentive could increase geographic informational transparency of privatized businesses.

However, while monetizing sites could cause this result for business, it has the potential to be counter intuitive when applied to organizations involved in medical or governmental institutions. Should GIS data availability be an expectation when applied to these sectors? At what point does geographic data transparency cross from public knowledge to being on a need-to-know basis, and should these groups have an obligation to provide this information – regardless if it’s deemed inconsequential?

Monetizing Open Data sites could stand as a front-runner in encouraging greater GIS availability. However, it could serve as a hindrance to public knowledge.

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