Seen in last week’s New Scientist:
A 3D software model of London containing over 3 million buildings in photorealistic detail is now unlikely to reach the public because of a dispute between a UK government agency and Google.
The full article requires subscription, but the long and short of it is that Google wanted to incorporate the Ordnance Survey-derived data from the Centre for Advanced Spatial Awareness (at UCL) into Google Earth, and were negotiating for a one-off license fee to cover the rights. However, the British agency Ordnance Survey refused to license their data on anything but a license that required payments based on the number of users. Some mapping and visualisation experts fear that this is more significant than a simple failure of two commercial entities to reach an agreement.
Timothy Foresman, director-general of the fifth International Symposium on Digital Earth in San Francisco in June, fears that OS’s decision could set a precedent: “The OS model is a dinosaur,” he says. “If the UK community doesn’t band together and make this a cause célèbre, then they will find the road is blocked as further uses [of the OS data] become known.”