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INSPIRE is a digital infrastructure, but it is also a community. This community meets on-line, and also face to face at events such as the annual INSPIRE conference. Events really do bring people together to share challenges, ideas and solutions.

As part of the INSPIRE community, we wanted to establish a new opportunity to do exactly that. Thus, we organized the first INSPIRE and Beyond (IAB) conference. It took place from 23rd – 24th May, 2018 in Darmstadt, Germany, at one of the world’s leading applied research organisations, Fraunhofer IGD. With about 35 registrants – all of whom came to the event – it was still an intimate group.

In terms of the format, we decided to combine a presentations track with a workshop track based on feedback from early registrants. The IAB 2018 included keynote sessions and talks on topics related to the INSPIRE Directive, its implementation, challenges and outlook. In the workshop track, it offered training focused on tools and technologies that can help geodata providers to efficiently implement the directive.

INSPIRE is a digital infrastructure, but it is also a community. This community meets on-line, and also face to face at events such as the annual INSPIRE conference. Events really do bring people together to share challenges, ideas and solutions.

As part of the INSPIRE community, we wanted to establish a new opportunity to do exactly that. Thus, we organized the first INSPIRE and Beyond (IAB) conference. It took place from 23rd – 24th May, 2018 in Darmstadt, Germany, at one of the world’s leading applied research organisations, Fraunhofer IGD. With about 35 registrants – all of whom came to the event – it was still an intimate group.

In terms of the format, we decided to combine a presentations track with a workshop track based on feedback from early registrants. The IAB 2018 included keynote sessions and talks on topics related to the INSPIRE Directive, its implementation, challenges and outlook. In the workshop track, it offered training focused on tools and technologies that can help geodata providers to efficiently implement the directive.

Participants at INSPIRE and Beyond 2018

For starters

In the opening keynotes, we wanted the attendees to get a clear understanding of where we currently stand in terms of INSPIRE implementation, and what the main open challenges are. For this purpose, we invited two keynote speakers.

The first keynote presentation “INSPIRE – current status and what can we expect” was delivered by Prof. Dr. Robert Seuss from the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences. Prof. Seuss pointed out crucial challenges in the INSPIRE implementation, and gave an outlook for future expectations. One of interesting takeaways is the expectation that INSPIRE will be fueled by mega trends like Digitalization and Open Data which help a lot in understanding the possible outcomes and the added value of a successfully implemented directive.

Nicolas Hagemann from the German SDI Coordination Office addressed the question of the current INSPIRE and SDI status in Germany in the second key note presentation “INSPIRE at the finish line?”. He showed the latest statistics for INSPIRE progress from respective EU reports. His key takeaways were that INSPIRE implementation is approaching the finish line in Germany, but that there is also a lot of work ahead to complete the provision of interoperable data sets in Annex II and Annex III, as well as to align INSPIRE to national projects in Germany and to other European initiatives.

Innovation is crucial

In the innovation session, we started off with a presentation on the next generation of “Cloud-based INSPIRE services”. Michel Krämer (Fraunhofer IGD) focused on how to implement future spatial data services based on the WFS 3.0 specification in a native cloud architecture. The presentation gave insights into how GeoRocket, an Open Source framework developed by the Fraunhofer IGD GEO Group, can address challenges such as large data volumes, a wide variety of use cases and low operating costs. Wetransform currently works with Fraunhofer on this topic and thus wants to contribute to innovations that make INSPIRE data really useful.

The Opening Keynotes Session

Being practical and technical

At IAB, we offered four workshops, which addressed a wide range of topics from data models in INSPIRE, data transformation, data publishing, as well as an advanced workshop on Groovy scripting in hale studio.

In the Data Modelling workshop, Thorsten first started with the “why” of data models, and then introduced processes to manage them and tools to design them. The focus was clearly on the methodology of designing a data model, but he also showed innovative tools for data-driven modelling and for profiling of data models.

In the Data Transformation workshop, Simon focused on advanced topics in data transformation in hale studio, such as the new capabilities for merging alignments.

The Data Publishing workshop addressed questions of creating INSPIRE compliant View and Download services, including metadata. This workshop also provided clarification on some common questions related to compliance.

The Groovy Scripting workshop presented the hale studio option to define custom functions using Groovy Scripting. In this workshop, Johanna Ott and Simon Templer shared how to develop these, along with a lot of recipes for solving common issues in transformation.

And what is beyond INSPIRE?

INSPIRE is not supposed to be self-serving only. One of the key questions driving the community nuts right now is what business processes and values chains will build on the infrastructure, and currently, such processes are still rare. For this reason, we included two sessions on Business and Applications.

“Smart Cities” are another hyped concept where actual applications are often not that clear. However, both smart cities and INSPIRE build on data. INSPIRE mostly contributes more static, reference data, whereas smart cities provide a dynamic were a central point of the Application session with presentations showing use cases and examples on how geodata can improve smart cities management, or how geodata can drive better citizens participation in their cities.

While Veneta Ivanova, from the Fraunhofer OGD Institute focused on citizen’s participation in her presentation, Szymon Ciupa, from the Smart Cities Initiative, explained current challenges and practices in smart cities management.

Kate Lyndegaard then switched gears and showed how INSPIRE and another EU legislation, the famed GDPR, intersect. She explained the scope of both legislations, and explained how to tackle GDPR in terms of INSPIRE using examples of personal data stored in the metadata. INSPIRE and GDPR: Are they interoperable? was probably the hottest presentation in terms of the discussion it generated, not only in the session, but also during the breaks. This is no wonder considering that the GDPR was to come into force in just two days after the event, and that there is massive uncertainty in how it will play out for all involved.

Anida Jusufovic concluded the business session with an in-depth presentation about optimizing procurement processes. In Getting what you need: Optimizing Procurement for INSPIRE solutions she walked the event attendees through the tendering and procurement jungle and showed some steps that can increase the efficiency in INSPIRE procurement projects. Based on a structured decision tree, institutions can see and decide which procurement model works best for them and in that way increase the outcome quality and reduce risks. The decision tree can be separately downloaded and viewed here.

A Strong Network of Partners

The morning of the second IAB day was dedicated to wetransform partners and their integrated solutions and services.

In “Can you stand your success?” Ikka Rinne from Spatineo presented tools for testing service availability, performance and capacity that can effectively be used in INSPIRE projects. In his engaging presentation you can find out more about the Spatineo Monitor, a plug-in for INSPIRE GIS, or about other innovative tools coming from Spatineo.

Stefania Morrone, from Epsilon Italia, engaged the audience with interesting use cases in her session “INSPIRE as an effective tool for e-reporting: the EEA ‘EU Registry on industrial emissions’” Stefania presented the long term goals of an efficient INSPIRE implementation by clearly showing that the Directive is serving a self-purpose, but can offer more when planned accordingly.

Let us conclude

After two very engaging days, Thorsten Reitz concluded the first IAB event. His Closing Plenary started off by asking “Is INSPIRE leading the next platform revolution?” By using analogies of AirBnB, Uber, LinkedIn and other platform providers, the closing session offered the opportunity to think about INSPIRE as an open Geospatial Data Platform that would allow authoritative geospatial data to be utilized to its full potential.

Thorsten also explained some of the mid-term and long-term product strategies of wetransform, giving a sneak preview into the new touch-first Web Transformation tools that will become part of haleconnect.com in Q3 2018, and in explaining the road to different levels of autonomous data transformation.

The Closing Plenary and Open Feedback Round

Feedback – for IAB and for the INSPIRE community at large

The feedback round was the final highlight of the event: all attendees had a chance to provide direct feedback. We asked four questions:

  1. What would you like to see more of?
  2. What would you like to see less of?
  3. Which topics should this event address next year?
  4. Which topics should the INSPIRE community urgently address?

The attendees didn’t have any ideas what to skip, but there was plenty of feedback what to add to the event and which topics we could address:

  1. More presentations on INSPIRE use cases in production
  2. More presentations on how to use INSPIRE extensions to work with INSPIRE in practice
  3. More hands-on workshops
  4. More detailed presentations by users, e.g. on how they used hale studio to create transformation projects
  5. More presentations by wetransform that summarize the challenges and solutions observed across all customers
  6. More opportunities to “Bring your own Project / Data”

One somewhat critical point was the dual-language format of the conference (parts in German, parts in English). We will critically review our approach there and consider changes for 2019.

These were the main points with respect to the community at large:

  1. Clarify the role of extensions in INSPIRE
  2. Clearly explain which feature type is used for which use cases
  3. Move forward on maintenance of the current technical guidance, ideally with an annual release cycle
  4. Incorporate alternative or additional encodings such as GeoJSON and interfaces such as WFS 3.0 quickly so that current Annex II / III work can benefit from these developments
  5. Clarify what the alternatives to INSPIRE implementation would be, and how INSPIRE relates to these alternatives
  6. Specifically motivate sectors such as Utility companies why they should implement INSPIRE
  7. Better position INSPIRE outside the community and create significant connections to other policy areas, ranging from CAP to GDPR

We would like to thank everyone who attended the first INSPIRE and Beyond event and contributed to its success. This story will continue: We plan to organize another INSPIRE and Beyond next year and provide some more use cases and present interesting INSPIRE implementation projects.

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We have now changed our release cycles so that hale studio and hale connect releases happen in quick succession - first hale studio, then hale connect. In this way we ensure that all capabilities you can use in hale studio also work in hale connect. This latest version of hale connect has been rolled out to all public cloud and private cloud instances and includes the following updates:

  • Support for external datasets metadata sources such as Catalogue Services or Portals
  • Support for dataset attachments (such as PDFs, Textures and GeoTIFFs or other Raster data sets)
  • A New GetFeatureInfo client in the WMS map preview
  • A New Feature Explorer Tool specifically designed for object-oriented and linked data

To try out the new features, head over to www.haleconnect.com and either log in with your existing account or create a new (30-day trial) account.

We have now changed our release cycles so that hale studio and hale connect releases happen in quick succession - first hale studio, then hale connect. In this way we ensure that all capabilities you can use in hale studio also work in hale connect. This latest version of hale connect has been rolled out to all public cloud and private cloud instances and includes the following updates:

  • Support for external datasets metadata sources such as Catalogue Services or Portals
  • Support for dataset attachments (such as PDFs, Textures and GeoTIFFs or other Raster data sets)
  • A New GetFeatureInfo client in the WMS map preview
  • A New Feature Explorer Tool specifically designed for object-oriented and linked data

To try out the new features, head over to www.haleconnect.com and either log in with your existing account or create a new (30-day trial) account.

Support for external metadata sources

hale connect now supports the direct re-use of your existing metadata files. For theme managers, these options are configurable in the metadata section of your theme:

  • Select ‘Republish existing metadata’ to upload your XML or XSD during data set creation
  • Select ‘Link to existing metadata’ to provide a URL pointing to dataset metadata

This option you have selected appears in the metadata step of dataset creation. More information on metadata workflows is available from a recent tutorial.

Addign a link to an existing dataset metadata resource

Support for dataset attachments

hale connect 1.9.0 makes it possible to reference file attachments from uploaded or transformed data sets.

To upload attachments, navigate to the Files section of your data set and click the ‘Upload attachments’ button.

To reference the uploaded attachments, your GML source data needs to include the following expression as the value for the attribute which references the attachment: attachment:///<filename>. The filename of the attachment must be identical to the filename in the GML. When the dataset is published, the expression is transformed into a publicly available link to the uploaded attachment file.

Adding attachments to a dataset

Much Linked Data, as well as Open Standards Data, uses rich object-oriented models, with many explicit and implicit references between objects (or as the GIS community calls them, features). Such references are hard to navigate and use in a classical, layers-based GIS. We have thus developed a specific client to explore such data sets.

The Feature Explorer can be accessed via the GetFeatureInfo client on the WMS map preview for your published view services. The Feature Explorer can be used to explore GML that contains complex features and links to related features. INSPIRE compliant GML often contains links to related features, or codelists, which provide additional information about the feature.

To access the Feature Explorer, click on the ‘show Details’ button in the HTML view of GetFeatureInfo client. The Feature Explorer opens in a new tab which displays the attributes associated with the selected feature. Click on any link to further explore the attributes or related features. A ‘+’ button appears to the right of attributes which contain additional levels of nesting.

The FeatureExplorer component with link to codelists, attachments, and related resources and objects

GetFeatureInfo added to WMS Map Preview

GetFeatureInfo is an optional operation which allows users of your view services to query your WMS layers. The GetFeatureInfo client is only available for WMS layers which have been configured to support the GetFeatureInfo operation.

As a theme manager, you can activate GetFeatureInfo for your WMS in the View Services sections of the associated theme. To access the GetFeatureInfo client, click the Map view link in the View Services section of your dataset. Click on any feature in the map preview to view attributes for the selected feature. The GetFeatureInfo client allows you to select the feature layer you are viewing and the display format (HTML, plain text or XML).

Improved GetFeatureInfo and Tool in the Map Preview

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Spring is here and so is the latest release of hale studio. The new release 3.4.0 includes the addition of several, new, third-party plug-ins, new features, as well as numerous bug fixes:

  • Support for isolated workspaces in Geoserver App-Schema plugin
  • XtraServer configuration plugin
  • The alignment merger tool
  • View tasks and messages associated with alignment cells
  • Split GML output by feature type
  • Import Groovy snippets for use in transformation scripts
  • Preset for AAA/NAS XML schema
  • CLI option to output statistics and define custom success conditions

The whole list is available in the changelog.

Download the latest version and send us your feedback:


Spring is here and so is the latest release of hale studio. The new release 3.4.0 includes the addition of several, new, third-party plug-ins, new features, as well as numerous bug fixes:

  • Support for isolated workspaces in Geoserver App-Schema plugin
  • XtraServer configuration plugin
  • The alignment merger tool
  • View tasks and messages associated with alignment cells
  • Split GML output by feature type
  • Import Groovy snippets for use in transformation scripts
  • Preset for AAA/NAS XML schema
  • CLI option to output statistics and define custom success conditions

The whole list is available in the changelog.

Download the latest version and send us your feedback:


Support for isolated workspaces in Geoserver app-schema plugin

The app-schema plugin developed at GeoSolutions now comes with support for GeoServer’s isolated workspaces feature. Isolated workspaces allow service providers to restrict access to OWS layers through virtual services. A virtual service exists for each GeoServer workspace and publishes only those layers available on the associated workspace. Once a workspace is set to isolated, the contained layers are no longer visible or queryable by global services. The contents of an isolated workspace are accessible only via the associated virtual service. This functionality is useful for service providers who want to share specific services with different clients.

Thanks to the GeoSolutions team, specifically to Stefano Costa and Nuno Oliveira, for this contribution!


XtraServer configuration plug-in

XtraServer is a product of interactive instruments GmbH. It is a suite of implementations of various OGC service specifications, e.g. Web Feature Service (WFS) and Web Map Service (WMS). XtraServer services can be based on any application schema according to the Geography Markup Language (GML). For this, a mapping from the GML application schema to the table structure of the underlying database is to be provided in the configuration of the service. The mapping language of XtraServer is very flexible and can virtually map all GML application schemas to heavily deviating database schemas. For this reason, mappings can be quite complex.

The purpose of this plugin is to transform the XtraServer mappings to hale alignments (via Import) and generate a new XtraServer mapping file easily (via Export).

Thanks to interactive instruments, Jon Herrmann, and Andreas Zahnen for this contribution!


The Alignment Merger

Declarative Mappings, which we call Alignments, lend themselves to be re-used. One potential area of re-use is if you have one alignment that maps from A to B and another one that maps from B to C is that you could combine them into a single alignment from A to C. This is exactly what the Alignment Merger command-line component does - it allows you to merge two alignments that have a shared schema into one. As an example, say you have a mapping from a database to a national standard, and one from that national standard to INSPIRE. Now you can directly create a mapping from your database to INSPIRE, without much extra work!

The Alignment Merger will perform as many steps as possible automatically, but will sometimes require manual input from you. For this purpose, the Alignment Merger generates Tasks (see next new feature).

Thanks to the Implementierungspartnerschaft AAA-Dienste for funding this work.

Viewing tasks and messages associated with alignment cells

With the release of 3.4.0, users are able to view and manage tasks that are created by the alignment merger process. This functionality allows users to either dismiss tasks or edit cells directly before transformation.


Allow to split GML output by feature type

hale studio now supports the option to split GML by feature type during the export of a GML feature collection. This new option is helpful for users who want to reduce their file size or who need to work with GML files containing a single feature type.


Groovy snippets as re-useable resoruces

Now you can import Groovy scripts to your transformation project. Using Groovy snippets allows you to keep extensive logic in external files and to easily reuse them across different transformation scripts. You can reference a specific Groovy snippet by its identifier that you set when importing the snippet.


Preset for AAA XML schema

The list of presets for source and target schemas has been extended: The newest addition is the AAA (NAS) XML Schema 6.0.1.


CLI option to output statistics and define custom success conditions

Users performing transformation of source data using the command line interface in hale studio are now able to set customized success conditions through use of a Groovy script which is evaluated against the transformation summary. Success criteria included in an evaluation script might include: an XML schema validation with no errors, or that a certain number of objects were created.

Thanks to the Landesamt für Vermessung und Geobasisinformation Rheinland-Pfalz for funding this work.

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This document explains how you can structure your Tender/Request for Proposals (RFP) so that you achieve an INSPIRE implementation that aligns well with your organization’s short-term and long-term objectives.

If you answer at least one of these three questions with a “Yes”, then the information in this guide will be helpful:

  • Do you plan to work on your INSPIRE implementation in the next 12-18 months?
  • Are you already testing and evaluating any software tools, platforms and solutions that relate to the INSPIRE implementation, data harmonization or spatial data infrastructure development?
  • Are you considering a tendering procedure as the main option/one of the options to purchase the required tools and solutions?

Building a Spatial Data Infrastructure such as INSPIRE is a substantial investment, whether you have the resources to do it internally or whether you plan to work with partners and suppliers. You have probably heard of challenges that others have run into while building up their components and are wondering how you can minimize risks, costs and optimize quality of your own implementation.

You will also want to make sure that you find the right partners for your project. These should be well-aligned with your own objectives and you should be able to trust them. Then, you have to define the purchasing procedure itself. Especially for public sector organizations, there are many cases where a public procurement procedure such as an RFP is the only way to make and justify a purchase.

To purchase and implement a solution that will be a long-term success, you need a comprehensive understanding of your organization´s needs, cross-functional support, and a process to help you achieve your goals.

This document explains how you can structure your Tender/Request for Proposals (RFP) so that you achieve an INSPIRE implementation that aligns well with your organization’s short-term and long-term objectives.

If you answer at least one of these three questions with a “Yes”, then the information in this guide will be helpful:

  • Do you plan to work on your INSPIRE implementation in the next 12-18 months?
  • Are you already testing and evaluating any software tools, platforms and solutions that relate to the INSPIRE implementation, data harmonization or spatial data infrastructure development?
  • Are you considering a tendering procedure as the main option/one of the options to purchase the required tools and solutions?

Building a Spatial Data Infrastructure such as INSPIRE is a substantial investment, whether you have the resources to do it internally or whether you plan to work with partners and suppliers. You have probably heard of challenges that others have run into while building up their components and are wondering how you can minimize risks, costs and optimize quality of your own implementation.

You will also want to make sure that you find the right partners for your project. These should be well-aligned with your own objectives and you should be able to trust them. Then, you have to define the purchasing procedure itself. Especially for public sector organizations, there are many cases where a public procurement procedure such as an RFP is the only way to make and justify a purchase.

To purchase and implement a solution that will be a long-term success, you need a comprehensive understanding of your organization´s needs, cross-functional support, and a process to help you achieve your goals.

This guide will help you three-fold:

  1. Achieve internal alignment on objectives and key results,
  2. Identify components of your successful Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) and INSPIRE Implementation
  3. Find a long-term, result-oriented partner who understands your challenges and has a solution that is mapped to your needs and to the INSPIRE requirements.

Start with Why

To pick the right path to your implementation, you first need to understand why you will implement INSPIRE. At the bare minimum, you will want to comply with the EU directive as well as with how it has been transposed into national or regional law. By complying with this law, you enable your region, your country and the European Community to make better decisions. You also enable monitoring the implementation of other directives, such as Air Quality, Noise Pollution and the Water Framework Directive. This helps us all have a better standard of living and be healthier.

Implementing INSPIRE is also about embracing opportunity – for better collaboration with other implementers on a wide range of topics such as Governmental and Utility Service allocation, as well as to streamline your current processes for reporting and data provision, and for alignment with new laws which can build on INSPIRE.

The biggest opportunities lie with adoption of your data and services by users you don’t even know yet. When we work to make data more open, standardized and easy to use, it will be used – by citizens, enterprises and NGOs.

Build INSPIRE for Long-Term Success

Before you draft your tender, take a comprehensive look at your SDI and INSPIRE implementation goals and your capacity to achieve them. Do you have the tools and know how to generate metadata, publish services, develop your transformation and harmonization processes and ultimately make your data truly interoperable along with a mechanism to monitor the impact of your efforts? Take a long-term, holistic view of your needs.

INSPIRE implementation will create a harmonized spatial data infrastructure. As with other infrastructure, the investment into it will be significant, and many of the gains and benefits will only be realized in the long-term.

To build this infrastructure, each organization in the EU which deals with geo-spatial data has an obligation to provide harmonized data via standardized network services.

The data needs to be in a common format that ensures that it can be exchanged, viewed, processed and edited by many organisations and systems. The problem that exists currently is that most organizations and governments have different needs, and therefore have different requirements from their spatial data infrastructures.

What Do You Actually Need?

Now that you know why you want to implement INSPIRE and how you are going to benefit from it, it is time to find out what you already have and what you still need.

First, determine which INSPIRE obligations you honestly fulfill already – does your Metadata Catalogue Service (CSW) from 2012 still work, and is the metadata up to date?

The INSPIRE implementation components and timeline

This schema shows the INSPIRE Directive’s components: What data needs to be available when and in what form? First, look at your existing data sets that are not in an INSPIRE model yet:

  1. Have you already identified the data sets relevant for the 34 INSPIRE themes?
  2. Do you already have INSPIRE compliant metadata for your origin data sets covering Annexes I-III?
  3. Do you already have INSPIRE compliant network services for your origin data, covering Annexes I-III?

If those metadata, data and services are ready, validated and up to date, you can start planning the next phase – data interoperability:

  1. Are your data sets covering Annex I already interoperable, transformed and harmonized with the INSPIRE data model?
  2. What about your Annex II and III data, including the code lists?
  3. Do you already have interoperable network services?

To determine your current status and make a clear plan for your next steps, you can request the RFP Template tool via email from us. The RFP Template Tool will help you to determine your specific needs and craft your tender/RFP specification, so it matches your actual needs.

Do I need a custom solution or is there something ready-made for me?

Many INSPIRE and SDI implementers build custom/one-off solutions. These are sometimes based on commercial or Open Source building blocks. Such custom solutions seem appealing, since you get exactly what you ask for – ideally. However, with a ready-made solution you might get much more, and you will likely have much lower maintenance costs. Continued solution development cost is not burdened just on you, but rather shared by all users of the ready-made solution. Ready-made, well-known solutions tend to have good customer support and community forums to help customers with an issues or questions they might have.

If you tend towards either building a custom solution yourself or procuring one, make sure that you check whether critical requirements can only be met by going this route – otherwise it will be a very costly decision in the long term.

More details about the specific challenges in the INSPIRE implementation and important aspects of a successful SDI development can be found in the Your Guide to the INSPIRE Implementation document.

Procurement Processes

At some point, you will have to decide how you will make the actual procurement. Will you whip out your platinum company credit card and just buy a cloud solution(/products/haleconnect/)? Probably, it won’t be that easy.

Depending on the circumstances such as the expected contract volume and the type of services or products you need to procure, you might have different options:

  • Open procedure: This allows an unlimited number of interested parties to tender against defined parameters. This procedure is straightforward and transparent but can attract an unwieldy number of potential bidders. You will typically need to go through this procedure if you expect the total value of the contract to be comparatively high. In this procedure, you will work with your tender experts – or those in a central procurement office – over the course of several months to define a set of tender documents, which will then be published nationally and internationally. After that, you will receive multiple proposals, and from these you have to select one (or more) suppliers. Additional steps such as specific contracts, bidder presentations and more can be added. The total duration of such a procurement process is typically 12 to 18 months.
  • Restricted procedure: This is a two-stage procedure, in which a public expression of interest allows potential suppliers to register for the actual request for offers. The first stage allows the contracting authority to set the minimum criteria relating to technical, economic and financial capabilities that the suppliers have to satisfy. Following evaluation and shortlisting, a minimum of five suppliers (unless fewer qualify) are invited to tender in the second stage. This request will only be open to suppliers invited and qualified in the first phase. The duration of such a tendering procedure is typically 6 to 12 months.
  • Negotiated procedure: This is a single-stage process where the buyer directly invites several potential suppliers and asks them to submit an offer. You then choose from the submitted offers based on a set of criteria included with the tender. Such a process typically takes 3 to 6 months.
  • Competitive dialogue: This procedure is appropriate for complex contracts where contracting authorities are not objectively able to define the technical means capable of satisfying their needs or objectives, and/or are not objectively able to specify the legal and/or financial make-up of a project. A pre-qualification questionnaire should be completed to select the candidates to participate in the dialogue. The contracting authority enters into a dialogue with bidders to identify and define the means best suited to satisfying their needs. The dialogue may be conducted in successive stages with the remaining bidders being invited to tender. Some public-sector authorities have developed guidance on conducting this procedure, so it is vital that specific departmental guidance is adhered to where applicable.
  • A single tender action with justification You directly award the contract to a supplier of your choice but must justify the use of this accelerated procedure. This procedure typically takes 6 to 12 weeks, as the justification must be cross-checked by the legal or purchasing departments. There are around 10 justifications for using this procedure. They include commodity market purchases; cases where you already spent money with that supplier and this new contract is a small add-on to the original; where only one supplier can execute the contract due to Intellectual Property access; where issues of compatibility with existing goods mean competition is inappropriate; and where there is only one supplier in the market and urgency.
  • A single tender action: You directly award a prospective partner the contract, without specific justifications. This is typically only possible for small amounts. This procedure can take as little as a few days or weeks.

More information about tendering rules and procedures in the EU can be found here.

Within each of these procedures, there is a wide range of variants. One particularly important one is which criteria you use to evaluate all offers/proposals you will receive. This is your main control to ensure the implementation you will receive meets your objectives. Your options on these criteria are manifold:

  • Lowest Price: For any supplier that principally qualifies, you pick the one with the lowest price. This is the most common approach for commodity goods and services, but very risky when quality and timing are important.
  • Best Value: You pick the supplier that offers the best price-performance ratio, with the performance typically determined based on quantitative and qualitative criteria. This is the most common method used when the buyer is open to multiple approaches and solutions.
  • Best Performance: You pick the supplier that offers the best solution overall to the criteria listed in the tender. This is a relatively rare approach. When it is used, the criteria are typically designed in such a way that there is only one supplier who fully qualifies.

An Example Tender Process, End-to-End

Let’s assume you have selected an open or restricted procedure to procure your INSPIRE solution. What will this process typically look like? Let us take a closer look at the general steps below:

  1. Your department proposes the requirement to implement the INSPIRE Directive to the management
    1. Optionally, you perform a market study and invite suppliers to submit indicative proposals to understand the solution space and required budgets
  2. Your management decides whether to assign the required budget or not
  3. You define the tender documentation with specifications and requirements together with the office for tenders. In this step you define what tender type you will use and what the evaluation criteria are.
  4. The Tender is published!
  5. Solution providers submit proposals and clarification questions
  6. You evaluate the proposals
  7. Optionally, evaluate shortlisted proposals
  8. Optionally, negotiate technical & commercial aspects
  9. Final decision and contract award

Let us look at some of these steps in greater detail.

In Step 1, your department posts a requirement to your management. If the management in the next steps decides not to go forward, the whole process is stopped. It is therefore important to define the requirements and the business case for your organisation well. At this moment, you also need to be aware of risks, consequences and alternatives.

A critical phase is Step 3. You have to ensure that the solutions offered at the tender match your actual needs. If the tender documentation – often created by third parties – doesn’t properly specify these, your organization will invest a lot of time, money and other resources to purchase a solution that will not bring you forward. Some questions that can help here are:

  • What exactly am I going to purchase – services, products, or time?
  • Do I know a solution that matches our objectives and requirements?
  • Do I have a preferred partner who aligns well with our objectives?
  • Am I choosing the right tendering option, or can I go with a simpler and straight-forward process in my purchase?
  • Have I defined evaluation criteria for my purchase that can really differentiate proposals?

A Decision Tree

This decision tree supports you to determine the best purchase procedure:

A decision tree for picking the right procurement procedure

Conclusion

SDI development and INSPIRE implementation is very specific and has many variables. You can fine-tune these to get an optimal solution at good value. It’s important to remember that purchasing a solution through a tendering procedure often results in getting solutions that do not actually match your needs in terms of specific requirements.

To make it easier for you to evaluate your development and implementation needs, we’ve put together a free RFP Analysis Tool. To get access to the tool, send a quick request to info@wetransform.to.

For a detailed analysis of your specific requirements, you can get in touch with our INSPIRE implementation experts and get a proposal that is tailored to your specific needs. Reach out to us at info@wetransform.to.

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Metadata is an important component of most Spatial Data Infrastructures. We use it to find resources such as data sets and services and to assess their usefulness for our objectives. As an example, metadata can contain license information. Metadata also clearly shows who is responsible for a resource and how we can contact them.

At the same time, metadata is usually something invisible. Large parts of the internet use metadata, e.g. in the headers of every HTML page, that most users never see and are barely aware of. In INSPIRE and in other SDIs, metadata has become something explicit and visible. INSPIRE required that as a first implementation step, metadata for all data sets needed to be delivered by 2010 (for Annex I and II ) to 2013 (for Annex III). This resulted in the availability of more than 150.000 metadata sets that describe different types of resources – quite a treasure?

This short tutorial explains what the typical processes are for working with metadata in our integrated Data Infrastructure platform, hale connect.

Concepts used in the workflows

  • Dataset Metadata: This metadata resource describes the dataset itself.
  • Service Metadata: This metadata resource describes one service through which the dataset can be accessed. If you provide a download and a view service, you will have two service metadata resources, both of which are generated from a single configuration (see below).
  • Linking (dataset-service coupling): In INSPIRE metadata, links point from service descriptions to the data set description. There can be multiple services that publish the same data set.

Workflow 1: Generating Metadata

The default metadata workflow in hale connect is to automatically generate both data set and service metadata. This has several advantages: By using so-called autofill rules, the metadata can be kept up to date with changes to the data or the organisation. Just set your central contact point, and all metadata is updated. Furthermore, the dataset-service coupling will always be up to date, as it is refreshed with each service update.

To use this workflow, follow these steps:

  1. Go to «Themes»
  2. Pick the theme you’d like to edit the metadata configuration for
  3. Go to «Metadata»
  4. In the «Dataset metadata» tab, select «Use metadata editor» in the dropdown menu.

To define how hale connect should generate the metadata, the system provides a special-purpose text editor. The default metadata configuration displays INSPIRE compliant metadata elements.

hale connect metadata workflow 1 - generating metadata

Workflow 2: Linking Metadata

Many of you have an established, well-working infrastructure for metadata in place, including a CSW endpoint and a portal. There is no need to change that. In this second workflow, you can simply provide the URL pointing to your dataset metadata to hale connect, and that link will be used to connect the service to the dataset metadata.

To use this workflow, follow these steps:

  1. Go to «Themes»
  2. Pick the theme you’d like to edit the metadata configuration for
  3. Go to «Metadata»
  4. Select «Link to existing metadata» in the dropdown menu.

Note: When you use this workflow, you cannot use the metadata editor to change any fields of the dataset metadata.

More variants and combinations are possible. Reach out to us if you have any questions on how to set up your optimal metadata generation and publishing workflows!

Metadata is an important component of most Spatial Data Infrastructures. We use it to find resources such as data sets and services and to assess their usefulness for our objectives. As an example, metadata can contain license information. Metadata also clearly shows who is responsible for a resource and how we can contact them.

At the same time, metadata is usually something invisible. Large parts of the internet use metadata, e.g. in the headers of every HTML page, that most users never see and are barely aware of. In INSPIRE and in other SDIs, metadata has become something explicit and visible. INSPIRE required that as a first implementation step, metadata for all data sets needed to be delivered by 2010 (for Annex I and II ) to 2013 (for Annex III). This resulted in the availability of more than 150.000 metadata sets that describe different types of resources – quite a treasure?

This short tutorial explains what the typical processes are for working with metadata in our integrated Data Infrastructure platform, hale connect.

Concepts used in the workflows

  • Dataset Metadata: This metadata resource describes the dataset itself.
  • Service Metadata: This metadata resource describes one service through which the dataset can be accessed. If you provide a download and a view service, you will have two service metadata resources, both of which are generated from a single configuration (see below).
  • Linking (dataset-service coupling): In INSPIRE metadata, links point from service descriptions to the data set description. There can be multiple services that publish the same data set.

Workflow 1: Generating Metadata

The default metadata workflow in hale connect is to automatically generate both data set and service metadata. This has several advantages: By using so-called autofill rules, the metadata can be kept up to date with changes to the data or the organisation. Just set your central contact point, and all metadata is updated. Furthermore, the dataset-service coupling will always be up to date, as it is refreshed with each service update.

To use this workflow, follow these steps:

  1. Go to «Themes»
  2. Pick the theme you’d like to edit the metadata configuration for
  3. Go to «Metadata»
  4. In the «Dataset metadata» tab, select «Use metadata editor» in the dropdown menu.

To define how hale connect should generate the metadata, the system provides a special-purpose text editor. The default metadata configuration displays INSPIRE compliant metadata elements.

hale connect metadata workflow 1 - generating metadata

Workflow 2: Linking Metadata

Many of you have an established, well-working infrastructure for metadata in place, including a CSW endpoint and a portal. There is no need to change that. In this second workflow, you can simply provide the URL pointing to your dataset metadata to hale connect, and that link will be used to connect the service to the dataset metadata.

To use this workflow, follow these steps:

  1. Go to «Themes»
  2. Pick the theme you’d like to edit the metadata configuration for
  3. Go to «Metadata»
  4. Select «Link to existing metadata» in the dropdown menu.

Note: When you use this workflow, you cannot use the metadata editor to change any fields of the dataset metadata.

More variants and combinations are possible. Reach out to us if you have any questions on how to set up your optimal metadata generation and publishing workflows!

(more)