Map License Guide:

A brief overview to help you license GIS map data

One of our goals at LeadDog is to make the map licensing process efficient and economical.  As the GIS data market has increasingly become competitive and splintered, we find it beneficial to be well-prepared before making a map licensing decision.

A map data specifications / requirements document is a great starting point.  You want to get all internal parties involved to understand which map data attributes and layers your application / analysis requires.  The more organized you can be upfront, the more likely it is you will pay exactly what you need and no more.  And your project will be setup for success.

Most map data vendors will lead with the following questions as map pricing / licensing is governed by the following factors:

  • A general description of how the mapping will be used internally, externally or both. Will the map data be used internally only, or will it be included as part of a package to be resold.
  • If it is an internal application / analysis, the number of endusers will generally govern the map license price. Endusers can be split into two categories:  Those users who need access to the GIS mapping for geocoding, editing, etc. and those that just need to view the mapping.   It’s important to know within a few users or so who needs what type of capability.  It’s easy to overpay if you are not specific.

Internal application map license fees are usually offered in two varieties:

  1. Annual fees- If your project is short term i.e., less than a year or two, consider the annual fee model
  2. Perpetual fees- If your project is longer, you might want to consider the perpetual license fee which is generally 3x the annual fee

Map updates are another important consideration.  It’s common that everyone says they need updates every quarter/semi-annual/annual but we often see this fall down the list of priorities as the project moves forward. Consider how important updates are to your project, get a quote for updates and then weigh the costs / benefits to the overall project.

*If your application is a solution that is resold to other clients or part of an ASP offering, expect to pay annual fees or some sort of percentage of sales generated. These map license conversations usually take a bit longer than an internal use case as the vendor will want to be well-informed of how their map data will be distributed.

Asset Tracking
There are a number of formulas most suppliers use to license maps for GPS asset tracking.  Some depend on whether the application requires optimization, routing and/or tracking only. Do you just need to see a dot on a map or do you need to provide that asset with some map intelligence going from point A to point B?

Expect to pay a monthly or annual fee if the maps are included within a desktop or ASP service where you are generating revenue from the service.

Pricing considerations are also based on the number of assets on the system and map coverage areas required.

If your project requires the following, you should ask if a geomarketing license is available from the vendor.  Use cases that qualify are marketing analysis, client prospecting, sales territory definition and site selection.

Satellite Imagery
Satellite imagery licensing is quite easy compared to GIS vector mapping. The key requirement and facilitator is having an area of interest defined as ideally a shape, KML/KMZ or tab. A jpg will work, too but less ideal as the imagery research tools require a vector AOI.

The AOI is key as all high resolution imagery is licensed per square kilometer.   Having an exact and accurate AOI will get you the imagery you require.  Again, don’t pay for more than you need (most suppliers have a 25 sq km minimum order for archive imagery) and don’t get less than what you require!

In sum, these are a few items to consider before reaching out to your map vendors and a general outline of how the map licensing conversations will proceed.  But don’t worry about being an expert – that is our job!   Let us help.  We promise to make it as painless as possible!

Let us know how we can help.