Valuing the Invaluable: A Geoinformation Conundrum (2011)


This presentation was made at the INSPIRE conference in 2011. It makes several observations on the difficulties of valuing geospatial information:

  • Data has different values to different users at different times
  • Value is generated at multiple points in an often-complex value chain


It discusses why it may be necessary to value geodata:

  • To inform decision makers
  • To determine a price for selling such data


Part of the conundrum being whether it is the data itself or the service built using the data that adds value.  A navigation application is used to illustrate the problem. Two recent studies are used to illustrate approaches to valuation:

  • Danish Address Study
  • Local Government Economic Value study for England and Wales


The presentation concludes:

  • When trying to assign value to geodata or related services – talk to the funding body to see what is of most importance to them
  • The ‘frame of reference’ of a decision maker will have a direct impact on how they perceive the value of geodata or services
  • If trying to satisfy a mandatory requirement, use traditional CBA methodologies (of which there are many!) to investigate the least costly approach

Geographical scope

Not specific

Non-quantified impacts

None identified

Quantifiable impacts

The geodata value chain according to Phillips (2001) consist of: stage 1 – data acquisition [it transactions], stage 2 – initial transformation [it transactions], stage 3 – dissemination [it transactions], stage 4 – modelling tolls and presentation [it transactions], stage 5 – decisions [management activities], stage 6 – actions [management activities]

  • Identification of what has the least value is often the costliest part of the chain
  • Direct financial benefits from agreement for society 2005-2009 amount to around EUR 62 million. Until 2009 the total cost of the agreement has been around EUR 2 million (benefit: cost ration = 31:1)
  • 2010 estimated social benefits will be about EUR 14 million, while costs will total EUR 0.2 million (benefit: cost ratio = 70:1)
  • 30% of the benefits will be in the public sector and around 70% in the private sector



Study type

Review presentation

Economy sector