Primary Research Interests
Disputes and policy debates over the use of spatial data have become test cases for establishing legal policies in several critical areas of information law. Because of its great value, its potential for altering government's relationships with citizens, and its potential for intrusiveness, concerns over the handling of digital spatial data have become substantial factors in society's reconciliation of competing social, economic, and political interests in electronic data generally.
In response to these concerns, one of Professor Onsrud’s primary research objectives has been to observe the effects of law and information policy in action. Among the specific topics he has researched in spatial data environments include (1) access rights of citizens to publicly held information, (2) intellectual property rights in spatial data, (3) privacy rights and principles, (4) liability in the use, sharing, and distribution of geographic information system data and analysis results, and (5) ethics in the use and handling of geographic information. He has accomplished several comparative studies of differing legal arrangements in spatial database environments and has been actively involved in developing, evaluating, and testing the functional and social ramifications of alternative strategies that might be used in accommodating legal uncertainties in each area. His primary long term research objectives are to:
• Advance scientific understanding of the law and information policy within spatial database environments;
• Raise the quality and content of the debate about law and geographic information technologies by identifying issues in concrete terms with a high degree of specificity;
• Report observations of the law in action in order to explore the impact of spatial databases on public information policy and law and, conversely, report observations of the law's acceptance of GIS uses and practices;
• Identify emerging problems at the interface of law, information policy, and spatial databases in order to address those problems prospectively, with particular focus on legal and policy issues relevant to the National Spatial Data Infrastructure; and
• Divulge, test, and contribute knowledge useful in the improvement of public policy and formulation of law with respect to the use of spatial databases and related technologies.
Sample Ongoing Research Projects
Graduate Students Working With Professor Onsrud
Various publications report the results of this work and First Readings in GIS Law are also available..
Professor Onsrud also has significant research interests in the use of Cadastral and Land Information Systems in Developing Countries.
[Primary Research Interests] [Selected Publications] [Courses]
[GIS Law, Policy and Ethics] [GIS in Developing Countries] [GSDI Survey]
[Onsrud Index] [UMaine SIE Program] [UMaine]