Sustainable Open Data Business Models for NMCAs

The concept of open data is gaining momentum as open data are often associated with realizing many government ambitions, such as increased economic value and solving societal problems. However, to implement an open data policy and maintain high quality data in a sustainable manner may pose a challenge to the traditional business models of National Mapping & Cadastral Agencies (NMCAs). Especially self-funding NMCAs have to find a balance between generating sufficient revenue to cover a substantial part of their operating costs and at the same time comply to open data principles. The traditional business models of NMCAs are based on generating revenue from licence fees for their datasets, which contain authoritative and authentic data used as register data. A shift from supplying licenced data to open data not only means a loss of revenue in the short term but also a loss of control over the reuse of the data and customer contact. A decrease in revenue may pose a risk to data quality or to the level of services.

On the other hand, open data may also offer direct benefits to NMCAs, for example, more feedback on data quality by citizens and companies, or more efficient use of resources. However, it is by no means a certainty that the much-lauded indirect benefits of open data will outweigh the direct costs the NMCAs incur to supply open data according to the open data principles. To be able to adapt their business model, will require NMCAs to think out of the box. EuroSDR, in cooperation with Eurogeographics, commenced a research to assess the effects of open data policies on the business model of NMCAs. This includes the way NMCAs are able to (re)finance their operational costs and to ensure long-term sustainability of their (open) data.


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