On 1 May 2012, the National Land Survey of Finland (NLS) opened all its topographic data to be used free of charge. In the beginning, the freely available data will particularly benefit application developers, map enthusiasts and organisations using geographic information.
Open topographic data is significant to society in general, since by making map data freely available the NLS paves the way for other government agencies in granting access to data", says Director Antti Kosonen at the NLS.
We hope that the datasets will give rise to new innovations, since commercial use of the datasets free of charge is also permitted, provided that the source of the data and the time of acquisition are mentioned. The open data is also expected to benefit consumers through new innovations.
Free download service opens in May
The NLS is going to open a download service (open data file download service), where the datasets free of charge are available for download. Downloading is free of charge only to those who download the data themselves; otherwise a handling fee will be charged for delivery. The online download service will be opened as soon as possible; on 9 May at the earliest and by the end of May at the latest.
"Unfortunately the new file download service was not ready for release at the beginning of May", explains Kosonen. "As long as the web service is offline, data will not be available completely free of charge. Data is selected manually from NLS servers and is delivered on, for example, DVD or external hard drive to the customer. A fee will be charged for manual work and data medium."
A licence fee or a right of use fee will no longer be charged from 1 May 2012. Such fees have, until now, been a large part of the total price. The download service is not meant for acquiring large amounts of data required by businesses. Such data will continue to be ordered and delivered separately.
Topographic datasets will be transferred to the service step-by-step to ensure its uninterrupted functioning.
"Data from the Topographic database, laser scanning data, the topographic map (raster) in scale 1:50 000 and the datasets that were made available during the pilot project will first be available via the download service", says Product Group Manager Kari-Pekka Karlsson at the NLS.
"If all goes according to plan, all datasets will be available via the file download service within 4-6 weeks", continues Karlsson.
NLS datasets used for various purposes
"Once application developers gain access to the datasets free of charge, they will be used for various purposes. I don't think that all combinations have been invented yet, especially now when our data can be freely combined with that of other providers", says Kosonen.
Topographic maps are suitable as base maps for land use planning, for recreational and outdoor activities in mobile applications as well as a base for environmental web services.
In addition to digital maps in raster form, the Topographic database, topographic map datasets in various scales, benchmarks, elevation models, laser scanning data as well as aerial images and orthophotos will be made available free of charge.
Data from the Topographic database in gml-format (for example coordinates of parking lot edge points shown on a map)
The datasets in the example show the area around Nastola. The source must be mentioned when publishing datasets: "The National Land Survey of Finland 5/2012".
Director Antti Kosonen, 040 522 5812, antti.kosonen[at]nls.fi
Product Group Manager Kari-Pekka Karlsson, 040 536 7080, kari-pekka.karlsson[at]nls.fi