“Why Geospatial Data is Stuck in the Year 1955”

James Killick on the problem of geodata standardisation:

The lack of common, broadly adopted geospatial data exchange standards is crippling the geospatial industry. It’s a bit like going to an EV charger with your shiny new electric vehicle and discovering you can’t charge it because your car has a different connector to the one used by the EV charger. The electricity is there and ready to be sucked up and used, but, sorry — your vehicle can’t consume it unless you miraculously come up with a magical adaptor that allows the energy to flow.

Standards exist for public-transport information but are missing for many other types of geodata. The commercial premise for these domains is different.

For public-transport organisations, their data is not the product. Trains and buses moving through a city are. Network and schedule data is a means to get more people to use public transport, so you want to get this information in front of as many people as possible—through displays on stations, a website or third-party applications. And you want to integrate with other transport authorities’ data to provide a seamless service. All this is best accomplished through shared interfaces and data models.

On the other hand, road-network and address data isn’t a vehicle to sell a product; it usually is the product. You license it because you offer a service (delivery, navigation) that requires this information. The companies providing that data often survey and maintain the data themselves. The idea that you could swap out or merge their data with someone else’s using the routines and data models you already build is a threat to that business model. They don’t want interoperability; they want lock-in, so you keep paying them, not somebody else.