Additional Participants

Senior Personnel

William Craig

Francis Harvey

Graduate Student

Amber Bethell

Project Period

September 2000-February 2003

Level of Access

Open-Access Report

Grant Number


Submission Date



The use of geographic information technologies is pervasive throughout business, government, industry and the scientific community in the United States. Conflicts are arising on a daily basis for those using geographic information systems and their affiliated databases, for those implementing such systems, and for those designing the next generations of spatial information technologies. Balancing among competing interests and resolving conflicts involved in the use of these technologies are growing problems for numerous parties within society. Among the problem domains of greatest concern are those involving personal information privacy, intellectual property rights in geographic information, liability in the use of geographic data sets, public access to government geographic data sets, public goods aspects of geographic information in libraries, and sales of geographic information by government agencies. This research involves a pilot study that will evidence the extent to which conflicts are perceived to exist by those using and creating geographic information systems and by those who are the subjects contained within such systems. Researchers will develop and pilot web-based questionnaires to determine whether and to what extent interest and value choices differ among sampled groups of system developers, users, and data subjects within each of the major problem domains. Where significant differences are evidenced as existing among affected parties, researchers will develop conflict scenarios patterned after experiences witnessed in practice. The full range of geographic information conflict issues within each of the major problem domains will be fully explored and documented. The scenarios and the problems drawn from practice will set the methodological and substantive stage for follow on research in which potential solutions may be sought. Eventually, preferences for resolving specific conflicts will be determined and guiding principles will be suggested. Gathered data and scenarios developed during the pilot, as well as suggested principles to be developed and explored in future research, will form the foundation for broad-ranging moral and ethical discussions within the geographic information science community.

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