Sean Wohltman has an insightful post on the need to make the OpenStreetMap and Google MapMaker communities compatible for disasters. He makes some great points about the challenges of responders having to deal with two different data sets that are not conflated. The problem is apparent when you look at the differences in coverage between the two projects.Source: Sean Wohltman
I think this raises a bigger point that is a major snafu during disasters – licenses to data that restrict use. Whether it is vector data like roads or raster data like imagery there are almost always licenses that dictate how the data can be used. This often complicates or completely prevents the redistribution of data to those in need, or prevents the remixing and reuse of data. You can’t post data from a variety of sources to a common repository because users have to agree to a myriad of licenses governing each data set. This can be a nightmare to relief organizations just trying to get data to the right people in a rapid manner.
If we can all get our lawyers to take a back seat to the greater good I’d lobby all companies, NGO’s and governments contributing data during disasters to place that data under a creative commons zero license. CC0 states that:
Data contributors can always put a temporal limitation on the data, so the content is not abused after the disaster for other purposes. I’ve seen a lot of tweets admonishing the geo-companies of using the Haiti disaster as a marketing opportunity. Utilizing CC0 is an opportunity to put corporate interests to the side and put well being of the victims and responders up front.
CC0 enables scientists, educators, artists and other creators and owners of copyright-protected content to waive copyright interests in their works and thereby place them as completely as possible in the public domain, so that others may freely build upon, enhance and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright.
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