Back in 2011, a demo map was released that mapped public land and property. Councils "could save billions" was the headline.
We don't know if it would save billions, but we know this map is very important for two key reasons.
- Scrutiny of public land use. Can it be used in a better way?
- It allows us to use our community and citizen rights
But what happened to the map? Why has nothing been done since?
At Land Technologies, we've been on the trail of why nothing has been done and what problems are involved. There are 4 key problems:
- Getting the data
- Making the map
- Keeping the map up-to-date
- Funding the build and maintenance of the map
Getting the data
The Land Registry sit on the most of this data. Some land isn't registered with them, but most of it is. They won't release it because they don't have any reason to. They make money from people looking up ownership information, so it's not in their interest to release it all.
The other source of data is contacting all public bodies. It's an enormous task.
Making the map
Having a list is one thing, putting a pin on a map is another. The Ordnance Survey hold intellectual property on where public land is. They won't give that information away for free, since they are a trading fund and want to be paid to keep their business sustainable.
Keeping it up to date
So if we get the data from all public bodies, how will they keep their own data up to date? There are over 400 councils in the UK, how would you get all of them to update their information when an asset is bought or sold?
We assume that the previous map of public land must have been very costly. Important projects like this don't get axed unless spending / resources were too high.
The way forward
What is the way forward? We'd like to make it easy for public sector organisations to upload their own information. Many are already publishing their list of assets because of the new transparency code for councils. If the Land Registry will not supply this information (we tried), then we would like to work with them to make the process of verifying contributed data easier.
An open data map would have huge impact for many organisations and individuals.
We have a question for you. If this map was launched tomorrow, how would you use it?
Join in the discussion on Twitter or post below. #ukpublicland