A clear understanding of benefit that can be realized through collaborative actions to address shared geospatial needs is critical to realizing the full vision of spatial data infrastructure (SDI) initiatives, such as MetroGIS. One element of this knowledge is to understand how public value is created when public producers of geospatial data openly share their data. Accordingly, the principal reason our team proposed this “Quantify Public Value (QPV)” study was to prototype a method to quantify public value that can be created when geospatial data are shared. And, to do so in a manner in which local government policy makers can easily compare and contrast the costs of supporting their operations with and without participating in a geospatial commons.
Although the project was not able to quantify public value created, it was able to demonstrate:
- There is real and substantive potential to create public value when organizations collaborate within and across sectors to address shared interests.
- There is broad support for the effort needed to realize a geospatial commons in which a wide variety of cross sector interests actively participate.
- “Accurate data” and “executive leadership” are the starting points for the chain of capabilities the study participants agreed are needed to accomplish shared interests.
- A variety of stakeholders value or would value access to parcel data produced the seven counties, which comprise the Minneapolis- St. Paul metropolitan area.
- A path forward for continued work toward developing the ability to measure public value creation. The shared values and interests that policy makers identified offer valuable insight and a basis for subsequent research, whether by MetroGIS or others, to develop actual measures to monitor public value creation (whether quantitatively or qualitatively) when organizations actively participate in a geospatial commons.
Of significance beyond the scope of this study is the community’s corroboration that “accurate data” and “executive leadership” are the starting points to collaboratively address shared values. This finding affirms the importance of MetroGIS’s mission as an organization and adds clarity to its efforts as it continues to pursue sustainable regional solutions to a host of shared information needs.