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OFT Study Highlights £0.5bn opportunity to UK’s Fledgling ‘Knowledge Economy’ Sector

Posted: 01 December 2006

Today's publication by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) of its Market Study, Commercial Use of Public Information (CUPI) has been welcomed by Intelligent Addressing Limited, a leading addressing and data management specialist, which is in a public/private joint venture partnership with the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA), representing local authorities throughout England and Wales. The CUPI Study
Today's publication by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) of its Market Study, Commercial Use of Public Information (CUPI) has been welcomed by Intelligent Addressing Limited, a leading addressing and data management specialist, which is in a public/private joint venture partnership with the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA), representing local authorities throughout England and Wales.
The CUPI Study confirms that lack of competition in public sector information provision costs the UK economy half a billion pounds a year. It also highlights major discrepancies between how the various Public Sector Information Holders (PSIH) make their information available "...and potential benefits to consumers available from a wider range of competitively priced goods and services."
The examples of good practice include:
The British Geological Survey: " ...makes its core samples and field notebooks ...available to businesses"
The Met Office: "... charges the same price for weather observations to competing businesses as to its own weather forecasting operations."
Whilst Ordnance Survey (OS) came in for specific criticism:
"... licence terms do not encourage the reuse of its information
"...provides limited access to its unrefined information and concentrates on developing value-added or refined information products itself. "... it (is) difficult for OS to prove whether it is providing equal access and the same prices to business customers and its own internal use of information "... (its) specific use contracts allow it the right to terminate its contract with a re-user in a wide range of situations ... This may prevent some businesses from using OS's products or from raising disputes with OS, whether this is justified or not." "...has an explicit licensing exception policy that prevents businesses from competing with the current value-added products of the PSIH itself or with any it intends to market... treat its own refined information operations more favourably than competing business."
Ordnance Survey has been involved in a six-year licensing impasse with the Intelligent Addressing/ IDeA joint venture which has prevented the latter's initiative from being made available outside local government.
Commenting on the Report's conclusions Michael Nicholson, Managing Director, Intelligent Addressing said "The OFT has highlighted the profound schism between the government's ambition to turn Britain into a knowledge based economy and the sometimes painful reality of doing business with a knowledge gatekeeper which is acting as a brake on innovation and efforts to modernise government.
"The true value of this study is that the existing barriers to innovation in the geographic information sector should now be removed - resulting in efficiency savings for the public sector, the streamlining of some e-government initiatives, and better information becoming available to others from the emergency services to commercial and consumer drivers' sat navs."
In addition to the OFT Study, the issue is also the subject of an investigation by the:
Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI), the official body responsible for investigating complaints under the Re-Use of Public Sector Information (PSI) Regulations and the Information Fair Trader Scheme (IFTS)
Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information (APPSI), part of whose remit is to advise Ministers on how to encourage and create opportunities in the information industry for greater re-use of public sector information.
Intelligent Addressing believe that the OFT study will help them secure fair and reasonable licensing terms from Ordnance Survey.
1st December 2006

Notes to Editors
Intelligent Addressing Limited is one of the UK's leading address management specialists. It manages large datasets on behalf of clients for whom address information is business critical. The company was set up in 1999 by its current Managing Director Michael Nicholson.
NLPG: The National Land & Property Gazetteer is the definitive database for all land and property in England and Wales.
For further information, please contact:
Howard de Souza | 020 7383 36 23 | Mobile: 07734 956132 | Email: [email protected]
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