Data is a Long Lived Investment

Technology is not.

Double-plus super-terrific hands-on-the-ceiling support to Sean Gorman’s take on the various self-serving NSDI proposals circulating the internet.

Someone posted this link to the story of the rescue of the Canada Land Inventory recently, and I really enjoyed it. Note that, a decade after the program wound down, the technology value had declined to zero. Less than zero, actually, since it was now an impediment to accessing the data. Meanwhile, the data, some of it 25 years old, had retained its value.

Here in my neighborhood, British Columbia has no unified parcel inventory / ownership inventory. The ownership database is separate from the parcel information (which is incomplete and out of date). Bits and pieces, hither and yon. Modernization talk always tends to focus on the technology, but the real project is a big, expensive, labor intensive slog through the data, to apply consistency rules to the ownership database, and complete the parcel data. Make sure all the work is done here in BC, and it’s a 100% stimulus that, like building a bridge, will create an asset with a multi-generational life-span.

(Speaking of multi-generational, the Patullo Bridge in Vancouver recently caught fire and a section burned to the ground. It’s a four-lane free-way bridge, how did this happen? Turns out, it’s really old, older than most people think, and one section was built of wood! In 1936. In the Depression. Call your representatives, tell them you don’t want tax cuts, you want bridges, you want basic scientific knowledge, you want railways, you want power lines, you want dams, things that will still be around when your grandchildren have grandchildren.)