Putting your data in the cloud

In his keynote to the ESRI EMEA UC Jack Dangermond slipped in an announcement about ArcGIS Online Sevices (I gathered that this was not a completely new announcement but it seemed to be news to the European delegates). ESRI will host your data (cadastre, imagery or other corporate data) for free on the basis that you allow your data to be used for free by others within the community. Now it is not a completely open ended offer – firstly ESRI have to determine that the content is appropriate to be hosted within AGOL and it would also appear that the services can only be consumed in ArcGIS but even so it is an interesting proposition.

The other evening BBC News had a feaure on cloud computing and the massive data centres that Amazon, Google and Microsoft have built to support their cloud computing initiatives. The feature finished with the slightly scary proposition that at some time in the not too distant future all of our content may reside in the cloud rather than on the hard drive of our PCs. A recent study on cloud computing by Pew Internet Project found:

  • 90% of cloud application users say they would be very concerned if the company at which their data were stored sold it to another party.
  • 80% say they would be very concerned if companies used their photos or other data in marketing campaigns.
  • 68% of users of at least one of the six cloud applications say they would be very concerned if companies who provided these services analyzed their information and then displayed ads to them based on their actions.

Hardly surprising but it does prompt the question – who would you trust with your organisations GI data? You might want to ask what are they going to do with my data and why are they offering to host it for free?