Public Geodata

Maps in the 21st century

Maps in the 21st Century

Maps have come a long way in the 21st century, especially since the advent of the internet society. Using tools such as Google Street View, users can take a virtual tour of the roads, seeing the “map” as if walking around in the neighbourhood themselves. This has become a brilliant and widespread tool for navigation and education purposes.

Yet, there comes a problem with freely available information such as this when the service ends up educating the wrong sorts of people, for example in the case of the UK where it has been used by scrap metal thieves to find church roofs that still have lead in them. Therefore it is hardly surprising that there are several petitions against the project of getting the world connected with free geographical material and that people uphold placards that say: "vote for public maps – reject inspire”.

Should geographic data be public?

Public geo data, that is geographical data available for anyone to see, is currently being campaigned for by the INSPIRE initiative in Europe. The acronym stands for “Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe” (not sure where the R comes from).

This public geodata campaign aims to harmonise the databases across all governments in Europe, making mapping and publicgeodata available to all, possibly destroying the business plan of organisations such as Ordnance Survey who arguably make the best maps in the world. Due to these worries, and the potential consequences to national security there has been much controversy on the subject.

The site is home to absolute furore from those who reject INSPIRE, some of whom have been compelled to write an angry open letter or to sign the online petition to try and stop the directive from taking place.

The full petition against European INSPIRE initiative on public geodata can be found at:

Get the full low-down on the vote for public maps and 21st century mapping at:



Streetview Situations

  • Google Street View appears to have captured some hanky panky in a French snowboard shop. Er…Awkward… minutes ago
  • These guys are having way too much fun on Google Street View! | Google Street View World minutes ago