Harlan J. Onsrud


Harlan J. Onsrud is Professor of Spatial Information Science and Engineering at the University of Maine and a research scientist with the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA). He teaches courses in information systems law, cadastral and land information systems, environmental law and land development design. Dr. Onsrud’s research focuses on the analysis of legal, ethical, and institutional issues affecting the creation and use of digital spatial databases and the assessment of the social impacts of spatial technologies.

Dr. Onsrud serves on the Mapping Science Committee within the Commission on Geosciences, Environment and Resources of the National Research Council (NRC) and serves on the U.S. National Committee (USNC) on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA). USNC/CODATA, also a National Research Council Committee, serves as a bridge between the scientific and technical community in the United States and the international CODATA regarding scientific and technical data issues. CODATA is an interdisciplinary committee of the International Council of Scientific Unions, a nongovernmental organisation promoting international scientific activity in the different branches of science and their applications to humanity. As a member of the Mapping Science Committee, Onsrud helped co-author, Distributed Geolibraries. As a member of a special NRC study committee within the Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics and Applications he helped author A Question of Balance: Private Rights and the Public Interest in Technical and Scientific Databases.

Dr. Onsrud has co-led major research initiatives of NCGIA on the Use and Value of Geographic Information; Institutions Sharing Geographic Information; and Law, Information Policy, and Spatial Databases. He currently serves as a member of the science advisory panel for Geographies of the Information Society under NCGIA’s Varenius project. Dr. Onsrud’s research has been funded primarily by grants from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education. He has published in numerous engineering, GI science, and legal journals and is a licensed engineer, surveyor, and attorney.

Among the books he has edited include Diffusion and Use of Geographic Information Technologies (with I. Masser, 1993), Sharing Geographic Information (with G. Rushton, 1995), and Geographic Information Research: Trans-Atlantic Perspectives (with M. Craglia, 1999). Among the proceedings he has edited include the Proceedings of the Conference on Law and Information Policy for Spatial Databases (1996) and the Proceedings of the 1997 UCGIS Annual Assembly and Summer Retreat. He also organized a special issue of Jurimetrics–Journal of Law, Science and Technology (Summer 1995). He is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA Journal).