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Geospatial data inform decision makers. An economic model that involves application of spatial and temporal scientific, technical, and economic data in decision making is described. The value of information (VOI) contained in geospatial data is the difference between the net benefits (in present value terms) of a decision with and without the information. A range of technologies is used to collect and distribute geospatial data. These technical activities are linked to examples that show how the data can be applied in decision making, which is a cultural activity. The economic model for assessing the VOI in geospatial data for decision making is applied to three examples: (1) a retrospective model about environmental regulation of agrochemicals; (2) a prospective model about the impact and mitigation of earthquakes in urban areas; and (3) a prospective model about developing private–public geospatial information for an ecosystem services market. Each example demonstrates the potential value of geospatial information in a decision with uncertain information.
The approach outlined demonstrates the benefits of supplying geospatial data that enhances productivity and promotes economic growth. The three examples described offer specific cases that can provide significant benefits for environmental regulation, natural hazard mitigation and support for ecosystems services cap and trade markets. Advances in technology, such as high-resolution earth observation that can be considered “specific” information, have added new potential inputs to decision making. Although the benefits for specific use cases of geospatial information would be substantial, implementation is not obvious or simple. Barriers to use exist because applications will require investment in integrated models. Open access to the data does not necessarily provide open access to the application or interpretation of the data.