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29 August 2008, 14:58

Ordnance Survey defends use of lobbying company

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Questions over Ordnance Survey's hiring of a lobbying company have drawn a defensive response from the agency. Nicola Perry, head of public affairs for the Ordnance Survey says "It is because Ordnance Survey data is so vital that parliamentarians and other important stakeholders expect us to communicate with them about our work" in a reply to the Guardian's Free Our Data campaign.

The Free Our Data campaign says that it agrees with the proposition that it is important to educate policy makers. They still have questions though. After using the Freedom of Information act to obtain 361 pages of correspondence between OS and Mandate, the lobbying firm, the campaign is concerned that the publicity campaign appears to stray into broader areas such as Government policy over trading funds.

Trading funds are UK government departments which sell some product, which in Ordnance Survey's case is mapping information, to public and private concerns and then fund themselves through those sales. It has been suggested that the Ordnance Survey's existence as a Trading Fund is inhibiting the possibility that the OS mapping data could be made freely available. Projects such as OpenStreetMap have been creating a freely available map of the UK using GPS technology to get around the restrictions and costs that currently exist for people who want to use map data in the UK.


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