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GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION USERS DEBATE PUBLIC SECTOR INFORMATION

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The availability of and access to public sector information is already a major issue in the UK both for government ...
The availability of and access to public sector information is already a major issue in the UK both for government itself and for commercial organisations, the Association for Geographic Information's European special interest group heard at a recent seminar.

An enlarged Europe offers many opportunities for business and organisations but is fraught with problems not only the cultural, linguistic and institutional but also the nature of the EU itself - the only region in the world where nations are trying to work together

under treaty.

The seminar provided a chance for delegates to discuss the recent and long awaited EC Green Paper, Public Sector Information: A Key Resource in Europe. Open discussion and questionnaire filled out by

those attending including all the key speakers has led to the framing of the AGI's response to the green paper.

The AGI response defines the nature of public sector information, acknowledges cultural, technical and institutional barriers to the free flow of this information, and suggests methods of providing easier access through the provision of metadata (information about information). The AGI also highlights the need for enlightened pricing policies and copyright laws that address the burgeoning online world and respect the privacy of personal data.

For those attending this was an excellent opportunity to hear about those businesses already active in Europe, the opportunities offered by further enlargement and the key role the AGI is playing at the

centre of the debate about public sector information.

* The AGI is a not-for-profit organisation representing users and vendors of GI (Geographic Information) and GIS (Geographic Information Systems). Its members include government departments and agencies, local authorities, system and data suppliers and users from a wide range of commercial sectors including retail, finance, insurance and utilities.

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