Value of Geospatial Information to Local Public Service Delivery in England and Wales (2010)


This study estimates that GDP was approximately GBP 320m higher in 2008-9 in England and Wales than would have been the case without adoption of geospatial information by local public services providers.

Under a ‘business as usual’ scenario, this would be expected to rise to an estimated GBP 560m in 2014-5, but with more rapid introduction of government policies to free up data access and copyright and with improved awareness of the value of geospatial information at senior management level, this could be improved to an estimated GBP 600m by 2014-5, with significant gains across various areas, but particularly in Primary Care Trusts (PCTs).

There are additional benefits to citizens from more effective interaction with local public service providers, including reduced travel costs. Furthermore, construction, transport and business services sectors are positively impacted, and greenhouse gas emission intensity are lower than they would otherwise be to achieve the improved level of output.

Geographical scope

England and Wales

Non-quantified impacts

The authors’ analysis suggests that significant productivity improvements are already being gained through the use of GI and that the pace of benefits realisation will increase further as more local service providers move towards enterprise-wide implementation.

The authors estimate that the applications analysed have led to an accumulated 0.233 per cent increase in productivity in 2008-9 for local public service providers.

They also estimate that the improved services led to a 0.06 per cent improvement in the productivity of the construction sector and smaller impacts on land transport and business services sectors. In addition, there was a general increase in labour productivity equivalent to an increase of approximately 1,500 full time equivalent staff across the economies of England and Wales. This is as a result of the accumulated effects of improved citizen and business contact with local service providers.

The report makes a number of strategic recommendations for improving the rate of adoption of geospatial information and the consequent benefits:

  1. Gaining Political Commitment: Local public service providers should work with industry bodies, such as the Association for Geographic Information (AGI), to create a concerted plan of action aimed at promoting better top management and political understanding of the case for the better use of GI.
  2. Public Data Accessibility: All geospatial information collected or created at any level of government should be made as readily accessible as possible for unrestricted public use unless there are overriding reasons of privacy or security not to do so. In making this recommendation, the authors do not imply that access to all government data should be at no charge.
  3. Copyright and Licensing: Restrictions on the use and redistribution of government geospatial information through licensing and copyright should adopt a “light touch” approach focusing on protecting data integrity and large-scale copyright infringement.
  4. Geospatial Awareness: Local public service providers leverage the drive for greater operational efficiency to organise a series of themed events presenting the savings and/or other benefits identified in each of the case study services.
  5. Business Case Training: Local public service providers consider establishing a training programme for those responsible for developing business cases for geospatial projects, to equip them with the necessary tools and techniques. Training should not only cover developing and presenting the business case but also techniques for proving that the predicted benefits are realised after implementation.

Quantifiable impacts

The authors’ research found that the average annualised cost to benefit cost ratio was approximately 1:2.5 considered over an average 5-year project life cycle i.e., for every GBP 1 invested a return of GBP 2.50 would be realised. The raw analysis suggests a figure closer to 1:3.75 but the authors reduced their assessment on the basis that their sample had a bias towards more innovative and better managed projects. A detailed analysis of the value of NLPG data sharing shows net benefits over a 5-year period in the range GBP 15 million – GBP 24million.

For the year 2009 it is estimated that the adoption of GI in local public service delivery meant that:

  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for England and Wales was GBP 323 million higher than it would otherwise have been (around 0.02 percent of GDP)
  • Government revenue from taxation was GBP 44 million higher than it would otherwise have been
  • The delivery of goods and services by local public service providers was GBP 232 million higher than it would otherwise have been



Study type

Case studies in key application areas and applying a conservative valuation methodology. These case studies form the input to a Computable General Equilibrium (GCE) model of the national economy of England and Wales to derive an estimate of the level of changes in macro-economic indicators such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), taxation and level of trade (imports and exports).

Economy sector

Infrastructure (Transport), Health, Design and Construction, Public Sector Local Government