The exponential expansion of geolocation technology throughout all levels of society is presenting a range of challenges for policy makers eager to take advantage of the benefits while protecting personal privacy. Unfortunately, much of the discussion surrounding the challenges is fragmented or lacking in authority.
The Centre for Spatial Law and Policy aims to change all that by representing legal considerations within the geospatial community. Kevin Pomfret, executive director of the center, served as a satellite imagery analyst for the government for six years before attending law school. During his studies, he remained interested in remote sensing and representing clients in that area. The field is fraught with potential because of the many issues surrounding geolocation especially. People increasingly are using the technology for a variety of applications, meaning legal and policy concerns will grow in number over concerns such as privacy, data ownership, data quality and national security. “I started to attend trade shows and saw there weren’t any lawyers there, which was unusual,” Pomfret explains.
When he realized the community was underserved from a legal standpoint, he set out to educate its members on concerns that do and will impact them legally. The center he established also aims to give stakeholders a seat at the table as laws and policies are developed as well as to educate policy makers.
Policy making often involves weighing risk against benefit. Unfortunately, many of the people in a position to make decisions lack the background to fully understand the value of spatial data. By connecting them to the experts in related industries, awareness of the important facets grow.