On 1 May 2012, the National Land Survey of Finland (NLS) will open its topographic datasets to the public and to companies to be used freely and free of charge. Thus, the NLS implements the objectives set in the Programme of Prime Minister Katainen's Government for making public databanks available to all interested parties.
This also allows attaining one of the most substantial strategic objectives of the NLS, to use topographic data as widely as possible. Hundreds of millions of euros have been invested during the last decades in the digital databank. We believe that making the data available provides the society with the most considerable total economic benefits of these investments.
We think that information on roads, addresses, buildings, arable land and waterways will be of interest to citizens and companies. We also expect that digital basic and topographic maps as well as aerial images and orthophotos will be in great demand.
The quality of map services
Free map services on the Internet have exponentially emerged to the awareness and use of the general public, which as such is very good. Mostly these services are used by those, who are not skilled in the art of maps. They may not always notice that the quality of the maps leaves room for improvement, particularly in respect of positioning accuracy, up-to-date information and contents.
What always has to be considered is the risk to link other information to datasets that are easily available and to use such data as a basis for various spatial data systems, which then continuous to be in use with other inadequate systems.
Most accurate information in the Topographic database
The NLS hopes that the Topographic database will be used as basic data after 1 May 2012 in all spatial data systems and ecosystems derived from them. The Topographic database is the most extensive, up-to-date and accurate database of Finland, and also extremely well documented.
The use of a coherent basis could facilitate the combination of data as well as the joint use of the data and entire systems, which might also reduce costs and improve productivity.
Making data available to the public will according to the NLS create new businesses based on innovative ideas particularly among small and medium-sized companies. In addition, the data will benefit education and academic research.