Newly released: Locational Information and the Public Interest

Are you concerned about the ethical use of geodata? That’s the focus of a new paper from The American Association of Geographers and its partners the Center for Spatial Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Esri.

October 5, 2022
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The American Association of Geographers, with its partners the Center for Spatial Studies at the University of California-Santa Barbara and Esri, has released a new white paper, “Locational Information and the Public Interest,” culminating an effort of more than a year by its Organizing Committee, and bringing together the insights of scholars and professionals in a breadth of disciplines throughout the humanities, social and computer sciences (such as Geography, Data Science, Digital Humanities, Computing, Political Science, Sociology, and Legal Scholarship) during a June 2022 summit in Santa Barbara, California.

This white paper, and a companion Quick Start guide for educators, are a response to growing concern within the research community about the ethical implications in the application of geospatial technologies. This is especially concerning as a largely unregulated mix of government, nonprofit, and corporate agencies have access to vast quantities of locational information for a significant proportion of the world’s population. Although many of the uses of this information are beneficial and benign, too often they are or become intrusive. Additionally, the demand for accredited geospatial professionals is outpacing the supply, when the geospatial industry is innovating at a high pace and will continue to generate enormous volumes of geospatial data at even higher velocity and greater variety than we are facing.

Knowing that the issues that arise from these realities need wider recognition by many stakeholders--including individual consumers, industry leaders, and scientists—we encourage you to read and share this paper with your colleagues, not only within but beyond your discipline. We believe this is an important meeting place for shared concerns about privacy, access to data, and ethical use of locational technologies.

Download the white paper and Quick Start guide.