NTLIS policies, standards and guidelines

Introduction

An essential component of any spatial data infrastructure is a clear framework of policy, standards and guidelines for the management and use of spatial information.

The framework established in the Northern Territory was endorsed by government in 1999 and includes policies and associated guidelines as follows:


Data custodianship guidelines

Data custodianship recognises that some organisations are experts in specific data sets. These organisations should be made responsible for the care and maintenance of these data sets on behalf of the community, so that everyone can share them. 

Custodians are generally those that have: 

  • the greatest need to guarantee the accuracy and integrity of the information 
  • a knowledge of the collection, currency and completeness of the information. 

Custodians advise users of the information's availability, quality and fitness for a specific purpose. 

In practice the concept of data custodianship is essential to achieve a corporate approach to management of information across agencies and governments and to the delivery of consistent data to users. 

It is one of the cornerstones of corporate LIS/GIS development and more generally land information management. 

Principles

The generally accepted principles of data custodianship in Australia are listed below.

Trusteeship 

Custodians do not 'own' data but hold it in trusteeship on behalf of the community.

Standards 

When determining what standards should apply to the data in their care custodians must seek input from other data users.

Maintenance 

Custodians must develop and maintain plans for collection, maintenance and conversion of the data in their care in conformity with the needs of users.

Authoritative source 

As the authoritative source the custodian also becomes the preferred supplier. This minimises confusion among users, especially where others may have contributed to the data set

Accountability 

The custodian is accountable for the integrity of the data in its care.

Information collection 

Custodians are not expected to collect information for which they have no requirement. 

It must be justified in terms of their own business needs. Users wanting more data than a custodian is prepared to collect are expected to contribute to costs.

Maintain access 

Even if custodians outsource their information management they are still responsible for ensuring the information is collected and made accessible according to the agreed standards.

Data custodian responsibilities

An agency that accepts custodianship for a data set will also accept the following responsibilities:

Consultation 

Custodians must consult widely with regard to the data in their care and take account of the needs of users other than themselves when defining collection and maintenance programs and data standards.

Collection 

Custodians must avoid duplication by ensuring that the data does not already exist elsewhere in the format required.

Provision of metadata 

Metadata must be maintained and made available by custodians to the NT Spatial Data Directory in a form consistent with the ANZLIC metadata guidelines.

Standards 

Custodians must develop and apply standards to the data that conform with relevant national, international or otherwise agreed standards.

Maintenance 

Custodians must maintain appropriate coverage, completeness, quality, currency, accuracy and accessibility of the data in their care.

Government interest 

Custodians must safeguard the Northern Territory Government’s interests in the data through the use of licensing agreements and appropriate security, archiving and other data protection procedures. 

They may also ensure a return on the Government’s investment in the data by exploiting it commercially.

Single point of contact

Custodians should establish a single point of contact for information about the data in their care.

Price and marketing

The conditions and price under which a data set will be marketed, value added or provided to third parties for commercial use are determined by custodians. 

This is subject to any relevant Northern Territory Government policies and directions regarding commercial use of data.

Data user responsibilities

Data users have the following responsibilities.

Errors and omissions 

When a user uncovers errors or omissions in a data set the custodian should be advised immediately so that these can be corrected.

Future requirements 

To enable custodians to effectively plan and implement capture and maintenance programs users should advise them of their developing requirements.

Licence agreements 

Data licence agreements between organisations may be either contracts or statements of trust. Users should ensure that all individuals accessing the data abide by the agreed conditions.

Commercial use 

Unless specifically agreed with custodians, users should never sell or commercially supply the data or products derived from it.

Source of information 

The source of the data and acknowledgement of the custodian should always be cited by the user.

Enhancement 

Subject to compliance with these responsibilities a user has the right to use the data internally as it wishes.  Where a user also upgrades, improves or otherwise enhances the data they have a responsibility to pass such enhancements back to the custodians and to make them available to other users.

Criteria and responsibility for selecting data custodians

The criteria for selecting an agency as a data custodian are listed below. These are not listed in order of priority.

The agency:

  • has sole statutory responsibility for the capture and maintenance of the data
  • has the greatest operational need for the data
  • is the first to record changes to the data
  • is the most competent to capture and/or maintain the data
  • is in the best economic position to justify collection of the data at source
  • requires the highest integrity of the data.

Responsibility for allocating data custodianship for corporate land information and data sets across the Northern Territory Government lies with the NT Land Information Management Coordination Group.

Before an agency accepts data custodianship

In accepting custodianship an agency needs to take into account:

  • the responsibilities that this entails
  • whether it can meet the requirements adequately. 

If a custodian agency determines that it can no longer meet these requirements it has the responsibility to find an alternative agency willing to take over custodianship for its data sets.

Custodianship and Australian Spatial Data Infrastructure

Responsibility for accepting sponsorship or custodianship responsibilities for Northern Territory components of the Australian Spatial Data Infrastructure (ASDI) lies with the chief executive officer of the relevant agency, following advice from the Land Information Management Coordination Group.

With regard to the development of Territory components of the ASDI, custodians are expected to work closely with the nominated national sponsors as defined by the Australia New Zealand Land Information Council (ANZLIC) or ministerial councils.

A National sponsor of a fundamental data set is a body having a special interest in ensuring that the data set both:

  • is widely available to the community as part of the Australian Spatial Data Infrastructure 
  • has the structure and resources to enable it carry out these activities.

Data transfers

Exchange of data between agencies and supply to external organisations is subject to the policies defined by the Land Information Management Coordination Group and other information management policies endorsed by the Northern Territory Government.

In addition, the Northern Territory Government has agreed in principle to the terms of the draft National Agreement on Data Transfer developed under the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment (IGAE). 

Data custodians should apply the terms of this agreement when dealing with environmental information.

Management of information products

Information products are value-added data sets derived from any of the following:

  • data integration
  • data enhancement
  • presentation enhancement
  • other forms of customisation. 

 Such products are usually commercially valuable and in demand from agencies and external organisations. They may be developed in-house, by the user agency or by third parties.

Custodians are responsible for establishing the marketing conditions for their data within the policy framework established by the Northern Territory Government. 

These will include the terms and conditions under which data may be used for value-added information products.

These conditions should be defined in formal agreements between agencies or in the form of commercial licensing contracts with external organisations according to the standards and guidelines established by the NT Land Information Management Coordination Group.


Custodianship of corporate land information

This page has information for government agencies about custodianship of corporate land information.

Policy

  1. All corporate land information collected and managed by Northern Territory Government agencies forms part of the Territory’s strategic information resource and those agencies will act as Custodians of it on behalf of the community.
  2. All corporate land information will be managed by agencies according to the principles of data custodianship.
  3. Where corporate land information sets are composed or derived from fundamental data sets the principles of data custodianship will also be applied to those fundamental data sets.

Definitions

Corporate land information consists of spatially referenced data sets that are essential to support the business operations of more than one agency and includes composite or derived data sets or products required for decision making

A fundamental data set is one that cannot be derived from another data set.

Responsibility

Chief executives will be accountable for the application of this policy to the land information and data sets for which they have accepted custodianship responsibility.

The NT Land Information Management Coordination Group will coordinate the allocation of land information and data sets to agencies that wish to become custodians.

All Northern Territory Government officers involved in the management and use of corporate land information are responsible for the application of this policy.

Implementation

Implementation of this policy will be through custodianship guidelines developed and maintained by the Location Intelligence Group.

These guidelines will clearly define:

  • the principles on which custodianship is based and how they should be applied
  • the responsibilities of custodians
  • the rights of custodians
  • the criteria for allocating custodianship
  • the responsibilities of information users
  • agreed management processes for information products.

Background

Many agencies involved in planning, land and resources management and land development need to share the same spatial information.  

In addition to users in custodian agencies, many other public and private sector users of such information wish to be assured that the information is accurate and reliable.

In such an environment it is essential that there is some means of accountability for the accuracy, completeness, currency, integrity and security of land information and data sets used by more than one agency. 

Data custodianship provides a means to achieve this by allocating clearly defined responsibilities and rights to an agency for data set that need to be shared with others.

An agency that accepts custodianship responsibility for a data set becomes the authoritative source for all information relating to that data set and of the data itself.

Principles

The principles on which this policy is based are generally accepted by the Australian and international land information industry and are fully described in the custodianship guidelines.


Access to corporate land information

This page has information for government agencies about access to corporate land information.

Policy

  1. All corporate land information collected and managed by Northern Territory Government agencies forms part of the Territory’s strategic information resource and those agencies will act as custodians of it on behalf of the community.
  2. All corporate land information will be managed by agencies according to the principles of data custodianship.
  3. Where corporate land information sets are composed or derived from fundamental data sets the principles of data custodianship will also be applied to those fundamental data sets.

Definitions

Corporate land information consists of spatially referenced data sets that are essential to support the business operations of more than one agency and includes composite or derived data sets or products required for decision making.

A fundamental data set is one that cannot be derived from another data set.

Responsibility

Chief executives will be accountable for the application of this policy to the land information and data sets for which they have accepted custodianship responsibility.

The NT Location Intelligence Group will coordinate the allocation of land information and data sets to agencies that wish to become custodians.

All Northern Territory Government officers involved in the management and use of corporate land information are responsible for the application of this policy.

Implementation

Implementation of this policy will be through custodianship guidelines developed and maintained by the Location Intelligence Group.

These guidelines clearly define:

  • the principles on which custodianship is based and how they should be applied
  • the responsibilities of custodians
  • the rights of custodians
  • the criteria for allocating custodianship
  • the responsibilities of information users
  • agreed management processes for information products.

Background

Many agencies involved in planning, land and resources management and land development need to share the same spatial information.  

In addition to users in custodian agencies, many other public and private sector users of such information wish to be assured that the information is accurate and reliable.

In such an environment it is essential that there is some means of accountability for the accuracy, completeness, currency, integrity and security of land information and data sets used by more than one agency. 

Data custodianship provides a means to achieve this by allocating clearly defined responsibilities and rights to an agency for data set that need to be shared with others.

An agency that accepts custodianship responsibility for a data set becomes the authoritative source for all information relating to that data set and of the data itself.

Principles

The principles on which this policy is based are generally accepted by the Australian and international land information industry and are fully described in the custodianship guidelines.


Information about data sets and metadata

This page has information for government agencies about data sets and metadata. 

Policy

  1. Agencies will collect metadata for all land information and data collected and managed by them and make this metadata available to the lead agency for inclusion in the NT Land Information Directory.
  2. Metadata collected will conform to the minimum standards defined by the Location Intelligence Group.
  3. Agencies will provide metadata to all customers at no cost with the transfer of all land information and data sets.

Definitions

Metadata is information about data sets, describing such things as the content, quality, currency and availability.

At the date of adoption of this policy the lead agency is the Department of Lands, Planning and the Environment.

Responsibility

Chief executives will be accountable for the application of this policy.

The Location Intelligence Group will define and maintain metadata standards which are consistent with and at a minimum meet the Metadata standards defined by the Australia New Zealand Land Information Council (ANZLIC).

The lead agency will maintain and make available to all users the NT Land Information Directory.

Implementation

ANZLIC has developed guidelines for the collection of metadata that will be used in the creation of the Australian Spatial Data Directory (ASDD). 

The Territory is committed to contributing Metadata to the Australian Spatial Data Infrastructure (ASDI).

A process has been defined to enable Northern Territory Government agencies to maintain a metadata facility which can then be used to provide the required Metadata to ANZLIC and other national directories. 

Additional metadata elements required for the NT Land Information Directory have also been defined.

The lead agency will develop the directory and coordinate its maintenance through the Location Intelligence Group.

All metadata standards adopted will be consistent with NT Government metadata standards.

Background

Without metadata it is almost impossible for potential data users to discover whether a data set is available, who has it, which areas it covers and how accurate or complete it is.

One of the major causes of duplication of data collection across government agencies, and the associated additional cost, is the fact that adequate directories of what data has been collected, in what form and where it is either do not exist, are inadequately maintained or are not easily accessible.

Metadata policy is required to ensure that all agencies adopt a consistent approach to metadata collection so that a single directory to Northern Territory Government land information can be created and maintained.

Through this mechanism the Territory will also be able to meet its national commitments and to obtain the benefits of free access to national directories maintained to the same standards by other jurisdictions, local government and potentially the private sector.

Principles

Community access to land information and data can only be maximised if comprehensive and consistent descriptions of the data sets are available, are maintained and are easily accessible.


Commercial supply of data

This page has information for government agencies about supplying corporate land information to external parties.

Policy

  1. The supply of corporate land information to external parties will be on a commercial basis under terms and conditions determined by the data custodian agency.
  2. The terms and conditions of supply will take into account:
    • Government’s objectives with regard to maximising the use of land information for sustainable economic development and developing a strong land information industry
    • costs to agencies incurred in making land information available
    • the purposes for which the information is required
    • intergovernmental and other bilateral agreements
    • national competition policy.
  3. Supply of corporate land information between government business divisions and other Northern Territory Government agencies will be on the same basis as between those agencies and other external commercial organisations.

Definitions

External party means any individual, company or organisation external to the Northern Territory Government, whether in the public, private or academic sectors of the community.

Cost of transfer means the costs incurred in extracting and delivering information to a client that would otherwise not have been incurred if the transaction had not taken place. 

It does not include costs normally incurred by an agency in managing data or the original costs of collection and maintenance.

Responsibility

Chief executives of custodian agencies shall have responsibility for implementation of this policy.

Implementation

This policy recognises that many agencies have in place agreements with external organisations to exchange land information at cost of transfer.

Where custodian agencies engage in commercial supply of data and/or products they should develop a marketing plan which defines:

  • the information and products to be supplied
  • the target client base and potential uses
  • the costs involved in collecting, managing and delivering the information and products
  • prices that should be applied to the information and products
  • charges that should be applied for commercial and non-commercial use
  • opportunities for involvement of the private sector in value-adding and marketing activities.

The Location Intelligence Group will:

  • review marketing plans to ensure consistency across government and equity in supply to the community
  • develop for use by custodian agencies and in consultation with NT Treasury, guidelines for pricing and charging data and associated products.

Background

Government has significant assets in the land information it has collected and manages as part of normal operations. 

This information resource has potential value to other levels of government, the private sector and academia for both commercial and non-commercial purposes. 

It is reasonable that a return should be obtained from such uses for the investment in and on- going maintenance of the information resource.

This commercial return to government should be balanced against other objectives of economic development, ensuring information is available for community decision making and sharing of information under bilateral agreements.  

At the same time it should be recognised that providing information at no cost ignores the fact that it has a real value that should be recognised by the users.

Though there is significant potential in the private sector to develop value-added information products and services there will be some cases where it is in the public interest for specific products and services to be retained within the Northern Territory Government. 

Custodian agencies must justify such cases.

Principles

A return on the investment in information collection and management is appropriate where the information is to be used for commercial purposes by the client.

The level of return should be reasonable and equitable and not be such that commercial use of the information is inhibited or prevented.

Where available information is supplied for non-commercial purposes the charges imposed should be confined to those costs incurred in extracting, processing and distributing the information and not include the costs of the information itself.

Custodian agencies should not use their monopoly advantage with regard to the base data to compete with or otherwise inhibit the role of the private sector in value-adding and marketing information products and services.


Data supply agreements

This page has information for Northern Territory Government agencies about supplying land information to external parties.

Policy

  1. Supply of Northern Territory Government land information to any external party will be under a data licensing agreement which defines the terms and conditions under which the data and information may be used.
  2. Terms and conditions of licence agreements will be consistent with approved policies and guidelines relating to data custodianship, data access, data protection, pricing and charging, copyright, liability and any intergovernmental arrangements entered into by the Northern Territory.

Definitions

Lead agency means the Department of Lands, Planning and the Environment.

External party means any individual, company or organisation external to the Northern Territory Government, whether in the public, private or academic sectors of the community.

Responsibility

Chief executives shall have responsibility for implementation of this policy.

Implementation

The lead agency will develop standard data licensing agreements for legal clearance by the Solicitor for the Northern Territory and consideration and endorsement by the Location Intelligence Group. 

Licence agreements should be developed to at least cover:

  • licensing of information for internal use only by the licensee
  • licensing of information for internal use and limited commercial use by the licensee
  • licensing of information for value adding and marketing by the licensee.

The standard agreements will address:

  • intended and allowable use
  • data protection, including copyright, privacy and national security interests
  • terms and conditions, including fees, accuracy and integrity, liability, cancellation of licence,

The penalties include:

  • where necessary, terms specific to the type of information supplied
  • where necessary, terms specific to the value adding of the information.

Background

Land-related information created and managed as a result of Northern Territory Government operations has a wide range of potential uses, most of which are in the best interests of the community.

Because some uses are unacceptable it is necessary for custodian agencies to maintain control of the use of data and information, irrespective of whether it is provided for commercial use or not. 

Such unacceptable uses can arise due to:

  • infringement of privacy or confidentiality
  • inappropriate applications that cannot be supported by the level of accuracy of the data
  • the data being highly dynamic and out of date copies being used to make decisions about immediate issues.

In addition to preventing general misuse, the government has specific interests with regard to liability and commercial exploitation of data and information.

The Copyright Act does not provide an adequate level of control over data and information in terms of how it may and may not be used.

Data supply or data licensing agreements are formal contracts between supplier and user, setting out exact terms and conditions under which data and information can be used. 

Such agreements can provide an adequate level of control.

Principles

In order to protect Government interests, ownership of government land information should not be transferred but only licensed for use under specific terms and conditions.

Licensees should not be permitted to on-supply data and information to third parties unless specifically authorised to do so under a licence.


Copyright and intellectual property

This page has information for Northern Territory Government agencies about land information copyright and intellectual property.

Policy

All Northern Territory Government agencies involved in land information management will implement copyright and intellectual property guidelines consistent with the following:

Crown copyright applies to all works of the Northern Territory Government.

Intellectual property in all works of the Northern Territory Government remains with the Northern Territory, subject to any exceptions as specified in the guidelines.

In respect of all works produced by its employees, committees, contractors and consultants in the course of their duties, agencies must ensure that intellectual property in such works remains with the Northern Territory, unless otherwise specified by contract.

Definitions

Works means all material stored by any means and produced by employees, committees, contractors and consultants in the provision of products or services. 

They include:

  • documents
  • drawings
  • specifications
  • sketches
  • plans
  • designs
  • estimates
  • calculations
  • reports
  • models
  • computer source code and software developed
  • articles
  • equipment
  • information files 
  • data of any direction or agreed record in writing.

Intellectual property means all copyright, patents and rights in relation to inventions, registered and unregistered trademarks, registered designs and software programs.

Responsibility

Chief executives will be responsible for the implementation of this policy.

All Northern Territory Government officers involved in the management and use of corporate land information are responsible for the application of this policy.

Implementation

Implementation of this policy will be through guidelines developed by the Location Intelligence Group.

All guidelines will be consistent with general Northern Territory Government policy on copyright and intellectual property and will:

  • require the use of mandatory Northern Territory Government copyright statements
  • address options for legal or other action where the Northern Territory’s copyright and intellectual property rights have been infringed.

Licensing of works to third parties is addressed through a separate policy on data supply agreements.

In essence, the Northern Territory Government should hold copyright and intellectual property on all works produced at the direction or under the control of the Northern Territory Government, unless otherwise agreed with a supplier in the contract for service.

Agencies should ensure that works produced are not affected by the status of the person who prepares the them, that is, whether the person is a permanent employee, casual employee or not a Government employee at all.  

In the case of external service providers a contract must be established which specifies who owns Copyright and Intellectual Property of the works produced.

Background

The Northern Territory Government on behalf of the public invests significant resources in the preparation and management of land information assets, including:

  • documentation
  • data
  • information products 
  • other works. 

This information resource has potential value to other levels of government, the private sector and academia and it is reasonable to control this asset through all lawful means.

The Copyright Act 1968 is Commonwealth legislation and is currently under review. 

Advice obtained by the Australia New Zealand Land Information Council (ANZLIC) and other organisations involved in land information management indicates that simple statements of copyright may be insufficient to protect the Government’s interest in its information assets and other works. 

This is particularly true when applied to digital data sets and information accessed dynamically through modern information technology such as the internet. 

Accordingly, a range of measures should be used to protect intellectual property, including copyright, contracts, patents, trademark registration and action for infringement of intellectual property rights.

These measures provide a means of allowing controlled, authorised use of the land information assets by other parties for valid purposes, whether in government, commercial or academic activities, with the full knowledge and cooperation of the custodians of the information.

The requirement for potential users of copyrighted or otherwise protected information assets to contact the custodian or author can ensure that the information asset is used appropriately and in context with the parameters surrounding the preparation of the material, including: 

  • quality
  • original purpose for which the information was collected
  • associated background material 
  • other factors.

Management of liability

This page has information for government agencies about how to manage liability when using land information to provide advice, products and services. 

Policy

Agencies involved in using land information to provide advice, products and services to the community or supplying land information to external parties will identify the Northern Territory Government’s potential exposure to any liability whatsoever as a result of these activities. 

In addition, it will introduce appropriate measures, in accordance with approved guidelines, to minimise such liability.

Definitions

Liability is a legal creation designed to support a range of social outcomes such as avoidance of injurious behaviour, fulfilment of contractual obligations and the distribution of losses to those responsible for them.

External Party means any individual, company or organisation external to the NT Government, whether in the public, private or academic sectors of the community.

Responsibility

Chief executives shall have responsibility for implementation of this policy.

All Northern Territory Government officers involved in the management and use of corporate land information are responsible for the application of this policy.

Implementation

Implementation of this policy shall be through guidelines developed and maintained by the Location Intelligence Group and distributed to all relevant agencies.

These guidelines will be consistent with general Northern Territory Government policy on liability, will require the use of any approved mandatory liability statements and will address:

  • how exposure to liability can arise
  • sources of risk
  • approaches to management of exposure
  • the preferred approach to be applied in the NT Government, including use of product specific liability statements and quality assurance processes.

Background

There is growing concern that governments may be liable for losses or damage resulting from the use of government land information resources by clients, or for advice provided by government employees based on interpretation of such land information.

Liability can arise from:

  • breach of contract
  • torts
  • privacy
  • infringement of copyright, trademarks
  • the trade practices act.

There has long been recognition of the potential risk of liability. 

However, the traditional responses have consisted of general disclaimers and statements of qualification attached to information, products and advice.

There is some doubt as to the legal validity of the general disclaimer approach given that a client should be able to expect a duty of care from the supplier in provision of a product, service or advice.  

Product specific disclaimers are likely to be more legally valid.

In addition, the relevance of such a negative approach should be questioned in a modern environment wherein:

  • the ability to easily access, integrate and use diverse digital data sets is growing rapidly
  • land information is being made available on-line to anyone who wants to access it
  • the community is increasingly resorting to litigation in response to perceived loss or damage
  • governments are actively supporting greater access to land information by industry and the community
  • over-cautious, negative approaches are likely to inhibit the growing land information industry.

The preferred alternative is to supplement the use of disclaimers with a pro-active and client-oriented approach to risk management of liability incorporating:

  • quality assurance processes
  • product information and certification
  • application of industry standards
  • introduction of a code of best practice
  • education of government staff providing products, services and advice
  • education of clients so that they can make informed choices.

Principles

Government should acknowledge its rights and responsibilities regarding liability and seek to manage the risk through positive and pro-active administrative measures designed to support industry and the community.


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