INSPIRE: Don’t panic…a first time guide

For about a year now, I have been involved in several projects concerning INSPIRE, and no matter how one looks at it, INSPIRE is a daunting proposition; and it becomes more so as one gets deeper into the legislation governing it, the myriad of rules describing and moulding it, and the even greater number of standards in which it is based. The experience truly resulted on some major headaches that could have been avoided if only I would have found a guide to put INSPIRE into perspective. So, I decided to do just that; write a very high-level guide on INSPIRE that would serve as an introduction for the uninitiated, and without further ado, I present to you…

INSPIRE = Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community.

What it is: A directive (2007/2/EC) of the European Parliament and Council to establish INSPIRE, a European-wide Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI), specifying that Member States must:

1)      make available in a consistent format all the spatial datasets which are specified in ANNEXES I, II, and III of the directive. Think of it as if every member state is building Lego blocks; they all have to fit together and have the same specified dimensions.

2)      create web services for accessing these datasets.

We need it: “… to support the European Community environmental policies, and policies or activities which may have an impact on the environment.”

Purpose: Be able to search, find, share and combine these datasets, by creating an SDI that will enable the sharing of environmental spatial information among public sector organisations and better facilitate public access to spatial information across Member States.

When (EU): Came into effect in on the 15th of May, 2007.

When (UK): Transposed into UK Law on the 31st of December, 2009.

What should it end up being: A network of interoperable (they can all talk and exchange information with each other) SDIs created and maintained by Member States through their agencies.

An INSPIRE compliant SDI should: Conform to the five sets of Implementing Rules (IR) established by the EU Commission to ensure that the SDIs of Member States are compatible and usable in a community context that goes beyond national boundaries:

  1. Metadata (data about data): To make sure it conforms with INSPIRE standards, quality and validity of data; that it includes the conditions for accessing and using information, including limitations on use and the reasons for the limitations, as well as listing the authority that establishes, manages, maintains and distributes the data.
  2. Data Specifications: To ensure it contains complete and current metadata and that it meets INSPIRE interoperability standards.
  3. Network Services: To ensure that it includes
    1. Discovery service, for searching and discovering metadata (a search service to find those metadata documents, which serve the same function as library cards; to search for a certain book you first search and “discover” its library card to find anything you need about the book before you even borrow or acquire it.)
    2. View service, for viewing data, overlaying layers, display legends and relevant metadata. So once one discovers things one would probably want to “see” them.
    3. Download service, for downloading all or part of a dataset, or provide direct access to the data. Once one “sees” what one needs, one would download it for use; either the whole thing or particular sections that one would specify in various ways.
    4. Transform service, for converting datasets and services to meet interoperability standards. So if the data is in a different geometry than one’s own data, one would be able to transform it so that it matches with said data.
    5. Invocation service, any additional service to run the above services. This service drives all of the above.
  4. Data and Service Sharing: To ensure the availability of a Community level geoportal (a website dedicated to searching, displaying, and downloading geographic data), and that datasets and services connect to the Community level geoportal; that the data is freely available to the public, with the exception were fees, security, privacy or copyright forbid it; that datasets and services are available to public authorities within and across Member States.
  5. Monitoring and Reporting: To make sure everything is working nicely and as it should, given the importance of the information that is being shared, and to make sure that the system keeps on evolving to be useful in the future, monitoring and reporting have to cover the four main aspects of the directive: metadata, spatial datasets and services, network services, and data sharing.
    1. Monitoring follows a quantitative (how much) approach done on a yearly basis.
    2. Reporting follows a more qualitative (how good) approach done every three years.


Member States

There are 27 of them:

Austria

Finland

Latvia 

Romania 

Belgium

France

Lithuania

Slovakia

Bulgaria

Germany

Luxembourg

Slovenia

Cyprus

Greece

Malta

Spain

Czech Republic

Hungary

Netherlands

Sweden

Denmark

Ireland

Portugal

United Kingdom

Estonia

Italy

Poland

 

 

Data Specifications

The spatial data sets specified by INSPIRE address 34 themes which are subdivided into three annexes:

Annex I

Annex II

Annex III

Coordinate reference systems

Elevation

Statistical Units

Geographical grid systems

Land Cover

Buildings

Geographical names

Orthoimagery

Soil

Administrative units

Geology

Land use

Addresses

 

Human health and safety

Cadastral parcels

 

Utility and governmental services

Transport networks

 

Environmental monitoring facilities

Hydrography

 

Production and industrial facilities

Protected sites

 

Agriculture and aquaculture facilities

 

 

Population distribution and demography

 

 

Area management/restriction/regulation zones & reporting units

 

 

Natural risk zones

 

 

Atmospheric conditions

 

 

Meteorological geographical features

 

 

Oceanographic geographical features

 

 

Sea regions

 

 

Habitats and biotopes

 

 

Bio-geographical regions

 

 

Species distribution

 

 

Energy resources

 

 

Mineral resources

 

 

Statistical Units

 

 

Buildings

 

INSPIRE Roadmap for Implementation

Milestone date

Description

15-May-2010

Implementation of provisions for monitoring and reporting

03-Dec-2010

Metadata available for spatial data sets and services corresponding to Annex I and II

09-May-2011

Member States shall provide the Discovery and View Services with initial operating capability

30-Jun-2011

The EC establishes and runs a geo-portal at Community level

19-Oct-2011

Implementation of Regulation as regards the access to spatial data sets and services of the Member States by Community institutions and bodies under harmonised conditions for new arrangements

09-Nov-2011

Discovery and view services operational

28-Jun-2012

Member States shall provide the Download Services with initial operating capability

28-Jun-2012

Member States shall provide the Transformation Services with initial operating capability

23-Nov-2012

Implementation of Commission Regulation (EU) No 1089/2010 of 23 November 2010 implementing Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards interoperability of spatial data sets and services for Newly collected and extensively restructured Annex I spatial data sets available

28-Dec-2012

Download services operational

28-Dec-2012

Transformation services operational

04-Feb-2013

Implementation of Commission Regulation (EU) No 102/2011 of 4 February 2011 amending Regulation (EU) No 1089/2010 implementing Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards interoperability of spatial data sets and services for newly collected and extensively restructured Annex I spatial data sets

19-Apr-2013

Implementation of Regulation as regards the access to spatial data sets and services of the Member States by Community institutions and bodies under harmonised conditions for existing arrangements

03-Dec-2013

Metadata available for spatial data corresponding to Annex III

October 20153

Newly collected and extensively restructured Annex II and III spatial data sets available

23-Nov-2017

Implementation of Commission Regulation (EU) No 1089/2010 of 23 November 2010 implementing Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards interoperability of spatial data sets and services for other Annex I spatial data sets still in use at the date of adoption

04-Feb-2018

Implementation of Commission Regulation (EU) No 102/2011 of 4 February 2011 amending Regulation (EU) No 1089/2010 implementing Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards interoperability of spatial data sets and services for other Annex I spatial data sets still in use at the date of adoption

October 20203

Other Annex II and III spatial data sets available in accordance with IRs for Annex II and III

 

For additional information on all things INSPIRE, please visit the INSPIRE website. But be ready to be flabbergasted by loads of official, techie, and complex terminology and jargon. This is European Policy after all, so it is in the nature of the beast.

In all fairness, there are plenty of material out there (web) created by individuals and organisations to help understand INSPIRE in a way that won’t create panic and chaos. Some links include:

The AGI: http://www.agi.org.uk/inspire-directive/

UK Location: http://location.defra.gov.uk/inspire/

B-Inspired: http://www.b-inspired.ie/3-requirements.asp

Esri Inc: http://www.esri.com/software/arcgis/arcgis-for-inspire/what-is-inspire.html

 

Happy INSPIREd reading.