The Socio-Economic Impact of the Spatial Data Infrastructure of Catalonia

The Socio-Economic Impact of the Spatial Data Infrastructure of Catalonia

Pilar Garcia Almirall, Montse Moix Bergadà, Pau Queraltó Ros
Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya
Centre of Land Policy and Valuations

M. Craglia (Editor)
European Commission
Joint Research Centre
Institute for Environment and Sustainability

This study gathered information and data from:

a sample of 20 local authorities participating in the Catalan SDI (IDEC) together with 3 control local authorities not participating in the SDI, and 15 end-user organisations, of which 12 are private companies operating in the Geographic Information (GI) sector, and 3 are large institutional users of GI. The findings of the interviews were presented in two separate workshops to the participating local authorities and end-user organisations, to validate the findings and discuss the outcomes.

Here are some of the findings:

  • main benefits of the IDEC accrue at the level of local public administration through internal efficiency benefits (time saved in internal queries by technical staff, time saved in attending queries by the public, time saved in internal processes) and effectiveness benefits (time saved by the public and by companies in dealing with public administration).
  • Extrapolating the detailed findings from 20 local authorities to the 100 that participate in the IDEC, the study estimated that the internal efficiency benefits account for over 500 hours per month. Using an hourly rate of €30 for technical staff in local government, these savings exceed €2.6 million per year.
  • Effectiveness savings are just as large at another 500 hours per month. Even considering only the efficiency benefits for 2006 (i.e. ignoring those that may have accrued in 2004-05, as well as the effectiveness benefits), the study indicates that the total investment to set up the IDEC and develop it over a four year period (2002-05) is recovered in just over 6 months.
  • Wider socio-economic benefits have also been identified but not quantified. In particular, the study indicates that web-based spatial services allow smaller local authorities to narrow the digital divide with larger ones in the provision of services to citizens and companies.

The study is methodologically heavy toward quantification of cost savings with some information pertaining to access to information and civicness associated to an increase in access to data.  It is mild on the latter, primarily because this is hardest and most subjective of measures.  But then again so is justice, equality and the good life.  I appreciate the quantification of costs, it makes the bean counters happy, I would however like to see more civicness measures and philosophical reasons for more access. I think that would lead to the creation of civic access measures.

btw – I have been a big fan of the editor of this report for years.