[geo-discuss] lurching towards INSPIRE in Bucharest

J. Random Walsh metazool at gmail.com
Mon Dec 11 21:38:56 UTC 2006

dear all,

Today and tomorrow I'm at an INSPIRE/GMES awareness conference in
Bucharest organised by ROSA, the Romanian Space Agency.

This afternoon was a good talk by Hugo de Groof, a twenty-year veteran
of the Commission's DG Environment group. He talked a bit about the
origins of INSPIRE in risk management and in the frustrations of EU
agencies in getting data out of national agencies.

Re the Directive text, he said that a final draft was circulated by
the conciliation committee secretariat [sic] on Friday, and he expects
it will be publically released "within the next few days".

Metadata search, cf "discovery services", will be free to the public
as expected, and so will "view services" but with constraints (likely
to be on 'frequently updated data'? and which I regret not asking
about the details of. ... How will this work in national
interpretation? e.g. the road network data set taken as a whole is
frequently updated; but most of it never changes...)

What surprised me was this compromise, which I look forward to being
able to trace back over the drafts: INSPIRE will only apply to
geospatial data sets "when laws or regulations require their
collection or dissemination". The example he gave was of a local
authority collecting data to support waste management services; if
there is no obligation to share the data under existing or future law,
it will not be subject to the terms of INSPIRE. Census/cadastral data
collected by the same local authority would be subject to INSPIRE's
terms. Hugo freely admitted that this was "a weakness in INSPIRE".

On the other hand, "all data with reporting obligations in the
environment" *cannot* be subject to a charge for use between one
public authority and another. Otherwise, charging and licensing
restrictions between agencies are permissible as long as they do not
present a barrier to sharing data. (Um, but isn't a data license by
definition a barrier to sharing data...?)

So "the environment" is open, at least between public authorities; but
whose environment are we defining? The risk management history of the
Directive helps to make sense of why the lists of thematic types in
the annexes are so comprehensive. Of course, if you are accurately
predicting a flood and want to act on the information model: one needs
data about local utility networks; about school attendance to know how
many children will be displaced into temporary facilities; about road
and rail networks to help manage the impact on local transport
infrastructure; about industrial pollutants deposited in the
floodplain area; etc etc. In a literal sense, "the environment" is
everything that exists...

For the annexes:
Annex I is coordinate reference systems, grid references, geographic
names, addresses, 'cadastral parcel' information, transport, hydro,
and protected sites.

Annex II is elevation, land cover, "identifiers of properties", ortho
imagery and geology.

Annex III is everything else - agricultural, land use, industrial use,
health stats, environmental monitoring, meterological and
oceanographic data - all the real environmental impact, remote sensing
data that INSPIRE is designed to be able to carry.

Annex III will get 5 years, rather than 2, to conform to whatever
metadata standards come out of the INSPIRE implementing rules. Data
services and new data sets will have to conform to the
interoperability standards within 2 years, legacy data in 7.

Tomorrow I'm giving a talk about "An Open Source, Geospatial Web
approach to implementing INSPIRE" with an open geodata flip on the
end, and am likely to give the general impression that I'm visiting
from my regular residence on Mars. Wish me luck,


PS I'm not gmailing because I'm pretending not to be me, just because
I only have port 80 access here... :)

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