Well here we are at the start of the new year and I am wondering what 2007 will hold for the OS?
The CUPI report seems to have given OS a bit of a slamming although some will say it was not critical enough and others will shrug and say it wasn’t really that bad. My view is that the trading fund model is probably incompatible with the principles behind Information Fair Trading – have you noticed any of the private sector information providers operating to a similar code of conduct? I think not! Most businesses aspire to have a unique position within their chosen market and then seek to exploit it for the benefit of their shareholders or stakeholders.
Inspire seems to have been a bit of a damp squib, the free everything lobby didn’t get their hoped for knock out blow but no doubt there will be months of haggling over exactly what the directive means and how it should be interpreted. If euro things go as usual the UK will have fought hard to argue its point aggravating several other countries and will then pretty meticulously implement the regulations while some of our “friends” who appeared to support the directive will now completey ignore it! Hopefully OS can inspire its masters in the treasury to take a sensible view with regard to the implementation of Inspire.
On the people front OS has lost some good people that made a big contribution both to the OS and to the wider GI community, Dave Lovell and Ed Parsons for example. I wish them well in 2007 and I hope that they continue to play an active role in our GI world.
So will the hordes knocking at the door of the OS/DCLG/The Treasury get their free OS data? Probably not – largely because the treasury aren’t going to want to take OS back into a government funded model and I would guess that a full privatisation of the OS will be a bridge to far for this government, the next lot however may see that as the best way out of the current mess (perhaps one of the FOD advocates will then choose to buy OS at which point the free bit will go very quiet).
As I have said several times previously OS provides a unique high quality resource in the UK which supports government, utilities, infrastructure and others in a remarkably joined up way that many practitioners in other countries envy (including the archetype of free enterprise and data – the US). Let’s hope that the team at OS continue to robustly defend their organisation within its current trading framework (of course us in the private sector would never do that would we?). Simpler licensing, better access for charities and semi overnmental orgs and reaching some kind of consensus on addressing (with Royal Mail and NLPG) would be good starting points in heading off some of their opponents in 2007.
Have a good year OS, see you in 2008 much the same but a bit fitter hopefully.