Harlan Onsrud is Professor of Spatial Informatics in the School of Computing and
Information Science at the University of Maine in the United States and a research
scientist with the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA). His
research focuses on the analysis of legal, ethical, and institutional issues affecting
the creation and use of digital databases and the assessment of the social and societal
impacts of spatial and tracking technologies. A unifying theme in much of his teaching
and research involves the concept of “ethics driven design.” He is past president and
current Executive Director of the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Association (GSDI),
past-president and fellow of the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science
(UCGIS), and past Chair of the U.S. National Committee (USNC) on Data for Science and
Technology (CODATA) of the National Research Council. He has participated in several U.S.
National Research Council studies related to spatial data and services resulting in being
named a lifetime National Associate of the U.S. National Academies of Sciences. He has
served and is listed by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board for graduate
teaching assignments as a Fulbright Specialist in Law. 



Towards Voluntary Interoperable Open Access Licenses for the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) (with James Campbell and Bastiaan van Loenen), International Journal of Spatial Data Infrastructure Research (2010)

Access to earth observation data has become critically important for the wellbeing of society. A...



Implementing Geographic Information Technologies Ethically, ArcNews (2008)

Spatial technologies are changing relations among citizens, between citizens and businesses, and between citizens and...



Big Opportunities in Access to “Small Science” Data (with James Campbell), Data Science Journal (2007)

A distributed infrastructure that would enable those who wish to do so to contribute their...




Research and Theory in Advancing Spatial Data Infrastructure Concepts (2007)

At a high level, the term “spatial data infrastructure” (SDI) is largely self-explanatory. Yet when...


Book Chapters


Legal Interoperability in Support of Spatially Enabling Society, Spatially Enabling Society: Research, Emerging Trends and Critical Assessment (2010)

Spatial data is critically important for the wellbeing of society. Yet appropriate spatial data is...



Liability for Spatial Data Quality, Spatial Data Quality: From Process to Decisions (2009)

Liability in data, products, and services related to geographic information systems, spatial data infrastructure, location...



Public Commons of Geographic Data: Research and Development Challenges (with Gilberto Camara, James Campbell, and Narindi Sharad Chakravarthy), Geographic Information Science (2004)

Across the globe individuals and organizations are creating geographic data work products with little ability...


Video Presentations


Building a Global Knowledge Network among Geospatial Specialists, Eye on Earth Summit (2011)

This presentation discusses the idea for, progress made and challenges confronted by the Global Spatial...



Pervasive Location Tracking: A Privacy Protection Perspective, Tewkesbury Lecture (2009)

A laudable goal of ubiquitous computing is to enhance our day-to-day living by invisibly embedding...



Creative Commons Licensing and Non-creative Geographic Data, Fulbright Lecture on Cyberlaw and Spatial Technologies (2009)

Why does the scientific community need a simple method for letting each of us know...