Saturday, 11 April 2009

We are amused

As it is the weekend, and it's raining, I've been working out how to add local government boundaries to OSM this morning, and ended up circling the whole of my local authority (Windsor and Maidenhead).

It's surprisingly tricky to do, because the out-of copyright map doesn't show the boundaries very clearly, and things have been chopped around with re-organisations of local government. Much of the northern boundary of the authority follows the Thames, and the area around the eastern boundary is mapped on OSM to a very detailed level, so there is a lot of other data that you don't want to mess with.

Anyway, I think I've got it reasonably accurately now. Others are doing a sterling job in the rest of the country, so an open map of England's administrative boundaries is beginning to come together. Progress is nicely tracked here.

I'm a bit conflicted about campaigns like this and this to release more public data into the public domain. On the face of it, it's a fine principle that taxpayers should have free access to data that they have already paid to collect. But then shouldn't those with a special interest or need for the data contribute more of the cost than everyone else? Somewhere there is a sensible line to be drawn, and I'm not sure where it is.

But when it comes to electoral boundaries, I can't help feeling that they should all be released into the public domain on principle, not on economic grounds. Anyway, I've amused myself for a few hours setting a little bit of data free. There are worse ways to waste a rainy Saturday morning.

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