MSc thesis topics

MSc thesis project topics



Privacy and open data

In the European Union all Member States have implemented the data protection directive (95/46/EC). However, there exist significant differences in the implementation. It is expected that especially for geo-information countries the implementation and interpretation differs. This research aims to explore the differences between several European countries and to come with solutions to bridge the differences in implementation.

Contact: Bastiaan van Loenen


Anonymizing open data

This research aims at developing and performing a risk assessment test on open data in the context of data protection legislation in Europe. Today many geographic datasets are provided without any costs and without restrictions in the use, so called open data. Due to data protection legislation, data related to individuals cannot be provided as open data: these have to anonymised. Question is at what level of detail do these personal data be aggregated to not fall under the scope of the data protection directive. A second part of the research concerns the extent to which existing open data, presumably not being personal data, can be related to individuals by combining it with other open data readily available. Which data are conclusive in the identification of individuals which are less critical, can we provide a clear line between personal and non-personal data?

Contact: Bastiaan van Loenen


Assessing open data

Open data is expected to bring a significant amount of extra economic value to our information economies. It also aims at stimulating transparency in government decision making. For a wide variety of reasons open data has not yet provided the promised benefits. This research will develop an assessment framework for open data and test the framework in several countries. This should support decision makers to stimulate open data and to bring the open data dream into reality.

Contact: Bastiaan van Loenen


Methodology for Assessing National Geographical Open data (MANGO); the development of a new standard

There is a wide variety of spatial data infrastructure assessment frameworks available. Often, open access to geographical data is considered to be the most optimal situation for an SDI. With the uptake of open data, also open data assessment frameworks are developed without very limited focus on specific data themes or domains. The SDI frameworks are relatively detailed, but difficult to apply, while the open data frameworks stand out in simplicity, but are too generic to be useful for SDI developers. This research aims at developing a new SDI assessment framework that takes best of both worlds: a user friendly assessment framework that feeds policy-makers with constructive information about the next steps of NSDI development. The developed framework has to be applied to at least two countries to demonstrate practical application.

Contact: Bastiaan van Loenen


The open data user

The users in first and second generation SDIs are well known and their involvement in the SDI is straightforward. In the first generation SDI, users are typically members of the data providing organisation, well known and embedded in the organisation. In the second generation SDI, users are primarily in government with some known users in the private sector. Also these users are involved in the SDI development through the traditional networks of business associations and national SDI platforms. The third generation SDI builds on the involvement of new non traditional users, among others. However, THE third generation SDI user does not exist: there is a wide variety of user types with different needs, and often the use is unknown to the public data provider. Provided this diversity and uncertainty, one may argue that the user cannot be involved in the third generation decision making processes while on the other hand user involvement is critical for the SDI success. This research will investigate the user needs in the third generation SDI and propose ways to incorporate user involvement in the governance of the third generation SDI.

Contact: Bastiaan van Loenen


Role of government in SDI development: How to control the SDI development?!

The third generation SDI builds on both public, private and volunteered data. The inclusion of the latter in the NSDI is increasing. For example, the Dutch National Mapping Agency cooperates with OSM and incorporates OSM maps in the key register topography. Ultimately, we may move to a situation where government solely relies on the activities and data of volunteers. This may raise questions about the ownership of the data and the control over the content of the data. Through a comparative analysis with other co-creation initiatives, this research aims at answering the research question should and if so how may government maintain control over SDI framework data.

Contact: Bastiaan van Loenen


Alignment of geo-information policies

Geo-information is relevant to many policies of governments, and these policies and related policy instruments determine how public administrations are dealing with the collection, use, management and exchange of spatial data and information. Due to a lack of policy coherence, there often are contradictions, inconsistencies and gaps between different policies dealing with geographic information, which hinders the effective use of this information. The aim of this research is to develop a policy alignment approach that could support public administrations in realizing alignment between different policies dealing with geo-information.

Contact: Bastiaan van Loenen


Assessment of conditions for access and use of spatial data in Europe

One of the key criteria of a good data policy is that clear, complete and user-friendly information is provided to data users and potential users on how they can obtain access to data and services and under which conditions and charges they can do so. In many cases this information is included – or should be included – in the metadata of spatial data sets and services. Analyzing the metadata records of spatial data sets and services in the European geoportal, this research aims to explore to what extent the conditions for access and use of spatial data in Europe as defined by different data providers are complete, understandable and harmonized.

Contact: Bastiaan van Loenen


Global SDI Assessment Framework

While quite a lot of research is done and empirical information is available on the development of SDIs in European countries, studies in which the development of these European national spatial data infrastructures is compared with SDI developments in other parts of the world are relatively scarce. The aim of this research is to develop a framework that allows to analyse SDI developments in several parts of the world, and to apply this framework on several countries in different regions of the world. The research should contribute to a better understanding on how countries and public administrations in different regions are working on the development of spatial data infrastructures, the particular problems they have to deal with, and the way they are developing and implementing different SDI components.

Contact: Bastiaan van Loenen


Governance of open spatial data

Public administrations in Europe and worldwide are aware of the need to promote, facilitate and coordinate the sharing of spatial data and have been working on the development of open spatial data infrastructures for many years. Most countries and public administrations however approach and implement their – open – SDI in their own unique way. This especially applies to the governance instruments being utilized for managing the relationships and dependencies between all involved actors, units and organizations. Due to the lack of research on the governance of open spatial data infrastructures, it still remains difficult to understand the impact of implemented governance instruments and governance models on the performance of the infrastructure. As a result, practitioners and policy makers remain uninformed and uncertain about the success and appropriateness of their governance model, and of their open spatial data infrastructure in general. The central research questions this research aims to answer are: 1) which governance instruments are adopted for governing open spatial data infrastructures in Europe and 2) what is the impact of different governance instruments and models on the performance of open spatial data policies?

Contact: Bastiaan van Loenen


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