Assessing the socioeconomic impact and value of open geospatial information

Open-File Report 2016-1036
Prepared in cooperation with the Socioeconomic Benefits Community
By: , and 



The production and accessibility of geospatial information including Earth observation is changing greatly both technically and in terms of human participation. Advances in technology have changed the way that geospatial data are produced and accessed, resulting in more efficient processes and greater accessibility than ever before. Improved technology has also created opportunities for increased participation in the gathering and interpretation of data through crowdsourcing and citizen science efforts. Increased accessibility has resulted in greater participation in the use of data as prices for Government-produced data have fallen and barriers to access have been reduced.

The increase in participation in the production and in the use of data, defined as data democracy for this workshop, are having great impacts on economics and more generally on society.

There is also a strong drive by governments around the world, as shown by the G8 Declaration in June 2013, to make public sector information and scientific data more widely accessible. These are respectively termed “open data” and “open research data.”

This report summarizes discussion at the Workshop on Assessing the Impact and Value of Open Geospatial Information held at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. in October 2014. Workshop participants examined the consequences of expanding data democracy with a focus on its socioeconomic impacts. Evaluations were presented of state-of-the-art methods to assess these socioeconomic impacts, which included position papers and remarks by discussants. The workshop included discussions about the following topics: (1) increased and expanded information sources; (2) societal impacts, including approaches to economics assessments; (3) constraints to open access, including the demands for return on investment, specifications of intellectual property rights, and privacy issues; and (4) learning from the experiences of other data-rich domains, such as environmental management, internet businesses, health, and transportation.

The workshop was a working meeting with strong participant engagement, leading to recommendations for action. The meeting included five topic-driven sessions and keynote presentations. Precirculated position papers for each panel session facilitated preparation and remarks by discussants. After the position papers are updated following the discussants’ remarks, it is planned to submit them for publication.

The workshop included 68 participants coming from international organizations, the U.S. public and private sectors, nongovernmental organizations, and academia. Participants included policy makers and analysts, financial analysts, economists, information scientists, geospatial practitioners, and other discipline experts.

Suggested Citation

Pearlman, Francoise, Pearlman, Jay, Bernknopf, Richard, Coote, Andrew, Craglia, Massimo, Friedl, Lawrence, Gallo, Jason, Hertzfeld, Henry, Jolly, Claire, Macauley, Molly, Shapiro, Carl, and Smart, Alan, 2016, Assessing the socioeconomic impact and value of open geospatial information: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1036, 36 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Assessing the socioeconomic impact and value of open geospatial information
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2016-1036
DOI 10.3133/ofr20161036
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Eastern Energy Resources Science Center
Description vi, 36 p.
Other Geospatial Global
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details