No less than three speakers in the morning session of the Senior Executive Seminar at the Esri User Conference spoke on the need for an open data policy for emergency response.
Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, the undersecretary for Oceans and Atmosphere of the Department of Commerce and a NOAA administrator said that data, freely shared, is a public good and is a cornerstone of U.S. policy as well as a fundamental way of doing business.
Dr. Robert Griffin, the acting deputy undersecretary for Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security said that there is a need to "operationalize data" and that shared data will help first responders do their job better. "What we need to do is synthesize the map into effective operational information," he said.
The Honarable Maurice Williamson, a member of New Zealand's Parliament mentioned that on the Open Data Barometer that his country attained the highest rating in terms of political impact. He made these remarks during a presentation that explained the process of redeveloping the City of Christchurch after the devastating earthquake of 2011 that destroyed a good portion of the city.
These remarks signal a recognition that investments by government agencies in geospatial information will not serve the average citizen if policies don't mandate open data. Hand in hand with an open data policy is the establishment a governance model so that responsible management of information is secured. Proper governance will assure information security, data reliability and management accountability.