Well the folks (Matt Ball and Jeff Thurston) over at Spatial Sustain a Vector 1 Media blog have a great article exactly about that topic here. The article discusses free data as a platform for economic expansion, how free geospatial data weighed against cost represents a return on investment, industry creation based on government free data in the US.
Free federal data spurred free market competition. If the data were locked up to begin with, the market would never have taken off. There wouldnâ€™t be the level of investment in technology, and weâ€™d be much poorer in terms of both economic benefit and our knowledge of our world.
A few years back Gabe Sawhney and I co-prepared and Gabe gave the presentation entitled CivicAccess.ca: Democracy in an information age and the need for free and open civic data at Geotec organized by Matt and it is nice to see Matt doing some new stuff.