On Thursday July 9th the Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi) with support from DECNR and DPER, held an information session on a proposal to introduce a public sector National Mapping Agreement (NMA) for Ireland.

The National Mapping Agreement (NMA) is a proposal from Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi) of a cost-neutral, centrally funded agreement between Government and OSi providing free access to our national data at the point of use for all Public Sector Bodies (PSB) including Government Departments, Local Authorities, Non-Commercial Semi-State Bodies, HSE, Emergency Services and Third Level Institutions.

The NMA entails a departure from the current distributed funding model, whereby users of the State’s national mapping products and services have to hold an individual licence agreement with OSi. The NMA is specifically actioned in the Public Service Reform Plan 2014-16 and is highly compatible with the aims of the other Government objectives including the eGovernment Strategy 2012-2015 and the Public Sector ICT Strategy. Overall, the aim of the NMA is to create a framework for greater collaboration and data sharing and thus enabling the greater use of location data in more efficient decision making processes.

So what are the benefits?

According to OSi, DCENR and PER the NMA will result in improved efficiencies and cost savings, improved service quality and effectiveness, increased engagement with the public and better collaboration with colleagues

  • Cost Saving
  1. Reduced relationship management for PSB’s and OSi (e.g. VAT handling)
  2. Removal of need for contract paperwork when data sharing
  • Easier / More Data Sharing
  1. Supporting Government’s business by helping to create a common currency for referencing, using and sharing location based data in projects with fellow PSB’s, contractors and with the public, etc.
  • Better Decisions
  1. Common spatial reference framework for better decisions
  • Enhanced Relationships
  1. Allows OSi to focus resources on increasing best practice use of data
  2. Partnership forum to be established to give PSB’s input into future direction of OSi as a state resource
  • Longer term value for money
  1. Decreasing unit cost as more users are taken on

All in all this sounds great and means that there will be much easier access to OSI authoritative datasets to everyone across the public sector. This proposal is still however in an early phase and as yet there are no details on how the NMA will actually affect the underlying budget lines of PSBs. While the NMA will result in a new centralised funding model for OSi it is still unclear as to how this funding will be recouped through PSBs.

 More details on this are expected in the coming months.