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Making Interoperable Data Count
10.03.2022 by Akshat Bajaj, John Boudewijn, Thorsten Reitz

Making Interoperable Data Count

Have you ever wondered how much money the government wastes due to lack of interoperability?

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) new report answers exactly that question. The answer is in the ballpark of 500 billion EUR.

The recently released report shows that even a minor gain will have significant impact on the bottom line for data providers, citizens, and businesses. Here’s how.

Please note that this is only a summary of some of the key findings in the report. To understand the methodology of data collection and data analysis in-depth, please access the report here.

The Data Providers’ Return on Investment

The actual benefits of the time and effort involved in improving data interoperability can seem ambiguous. These benefits are made clearer by framing them in the context of their impact on the E-Government Development Index (EGDI).

The EGDI measures 3 dimensions:

  • Provision of online services
  • Telecommunications
  • Human capacity

Interoperability streamlines the exchange of information between different parties, and the efficiencies gained positively impact each of these three dimensions. For example, more interoperable systems can boost the information exchange between different devices (this is especially critical given the rise of 5G and IoT). Or, from the online service perspective, increase citizen participation in decision-making processes such as where to set up schools by providing more efficient platforms for exchanging information.

According to the report, a mere 1% increase in the EGDI leads to an impact on the following metrics:

Gross Domestic Product (GDP): A measurement that seeks to capture a country’s economic output. The report suggested an improvement of 0.4% in GDP.

Government revenues: Refers to the total amount of revenues collected in a year. The report predicted an improvement equal to 0.07% of the GDP.

Policy performance: Refers to the development of social, economic and environment conditions for the wellbeing of citizens. The report predicted an improvement equal to 0.3% of the GDP.

Government production costs: Costs including employee compensation, government usage of goods and services, depreciation, etc. The report predicted an improvement equal to 0.3% of the GDP.

General government spending: Measured in terms of a percentage of GDP, this refers to the expenditure on delivering public goods and services such as social protection. The report predicted an improvement equal to 0.6% of the GDP.

Government effectiveness: Refers to the inputs required for the government to be able to produce and implement policies and deliver goods. The report predicted an improvement equal to 0.2% of the GDP.

For those who love statistics, here’s a table of the regression analysis:

The Citizens’ Benefits

Intuitively, saying that more efficient government processes benefit a country’s citizens makes sense. Now, the JRC’s research has quantified that benefit.

Interoperability improves public online services and reduces the bureaucratic load, which not only makes the processes more efficient for citizens who already use public services, but also motivates those who currently don’t currently use them.

According to the JRC, this can lead to 21-24 million hours saved per year across the EU27. Assuming average hourly wages as a basis, this is equivalent to approx. 473m to 543m EUR per year.

The impact per country can be seen below.

The Businesses’ Benefits

While the costs of setting up a business can vary greatly across the EU, doing so more efficiently will always make life easier.

A large range of online services is already available to business providers, from registering property to declaring taxes.

As with the citizens, the JRC assumes both a reduction in time spent by those who already use these processes (Scenario 1) and an uptick in the overall use of digital processes as they become more efficient (Scenario 2).

Currently, businesses across the EU27 spend 172 billion hours per year on setting up businesses. That’s around 250,000 lifetimes!

Increased data interoperability would save approximately 27.6 billion hours and 30 billion hours for scenario 1 and 2, respectively. That equates to 521bn EUR for scenario 1 and 561bn EUR for scenario 2. In each case, that’s more than the nominal GDP of Austria in 2021.

The impact per country can be seen below.

How do we get there?

The study clearly demonstrates the potential benefits of even a minor improvement in terms of data interoperability. The question that remains is how we can achieve that.

The EU has taken a long-term view on reaping the benefits of interoperability and making data more useful.

Interoperability and accessibility initiatives (such as INSPIRE) have allowed us to take crucial steps towards greater data interoperability. Tools such as hale»connect and hale»studio have streamlined the implementation of these standards into a partially automated process. We’ve seen hundreds of thousands of INSPIRE compliant datasets published with our tools - as a matter of fact, hale»connect and hale»studio have even set a world record for number of datasets published, as shown below (Komm.One is a hale»connect based data provider):

However, the impact of open data standards is merely the tip of the iceberg.

Going beyond data standards, the EU data strategy continues to emphasise the importance of more accessible and more useful data. It sets clear rules on the access and reuse of data and invests in the next generation of tools that store and process data.

Data spaces are the most important part of this new generation of data initiatives. By providing granular control over what is and is not shared between certain parties, data spaces comply with the governance rules dictated by the EU data strategy. This means that previously inaccessible data (for example, exact locations of endangered species or medical data) can be utilised to a greater extent without sacrificing data sovereignity, resulting in a much larger pool of data to draw from.

wetransform is determined to ensure that this larger data pool is not only available, but is also fully interoperable. Our product lines are being extended to support the creation and maintenance of data spaces. Drawing from our expertise in the implementation of open data standards, we are now deeply involved in the creation of the Environmental Data Space. You can learn more about the environmental data space community and get involved here.

Conclusion

Improved efficiency makes government processes take less time, which comes with very real benefits to data providers, businesses, and citizens.

While some of the study’s numbers are hypothetical, the scenarios presented accurately resemble real world conditions and a 1% improvement of the EGDI is attainable.

The potential impact on the bottom lines for data providers and businesses, as well as the benefit in terms of time spent for a nation’s citizens and government officials are also realistic predictions.

A fairly straightforward way to improve the efficiency of government processes is by improving the interoperability of data, which streamlines the flow of information between parties.

The best way to make data sets interoperable is by using ETL and publication tools, such as hale»studio and hale»connect. To learn more about how these tools aid in increasing the interoperability of data, check out our hale»studio and hale»connect pages!

A big thanks to Peter Ulrich, Nestor Duch Brown, Alexander Kotsev, Marco Minghini, Lorena Hernandez Quiros, Raymond Bogulawski, and Francesco Pignatelli for pulling this report together.

Making Interoperable Data Count

Have you ever wondered how much money the government wastes due to lack of interoperability?

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) new report answers exactly that question. The answer is in the ballpark of 500 billion EUR.

The recently released report shows that even a minor gain will have significant impact on the bottom line for data providers, citizens, and businesses. Here’s how.

Please note that this is only a summary of some of the key findings in the report. To understand the methodology of data collection and data analysis in-depth, please access the report here.

The Data Providers’ Return on Investment

The actual benefits of the time and effort involved in improving data interoperability can seem ambiguous. These benefits are made clearer by framing them in the context of their impact on the E-Government Development Index (EGDI).

The EGDI measures 3 dimensions:

  • Provision of online services
  • Telecommunications
  • Human capacity

Interoperability streamlines the exchange of information between different parties, and the efficiencies gained positively impact each of these three dimensions. For example, more interoperable systems can boost the information exchange between different devices (this is especially critical given the rise of 5G and IoT). Or, from the online service perspective, increase citizen participation in decision-making processes such as where to set up schools by providing more efficient platforms for exchanging information.

According to the report, a mere 1% increase in the EGDI leads to an impact on the following metrics:

Gross Domestic Product (GDP): A measurement that seeks to capture a country’s economic output. The report suggested an improvement of 0.4% in GDP.

Government revenues: Refers to the total amount of revenues collected in a year. The report predicted an improvement equal to 0.07% of the GDP.

Policy performance: Refers to the development of social, economic and environment conditions for the wellbeing of citizens. The report predicted an improvement equal to 0.3% of the GDP.

Government production costs: Costs including employee compensation, government usage of goods and services, depreciation, etc. The report predicted an improvement equal to 0.3% of the GDP.

General government spending: Measured in terms of a percentage of GDP, this refers to the expenditure on delivering public goods and services such as social protection. The report predicted an improvement equal to 0.6% of the GDP.

Government effectiveness: Refers to the inputs required for the government to be able to produce and implement policies and deliver goods. The report predicted an improvement equal to 0.2% of the GDP.

For those who love statistics, here’s a table of the regression analysis:

The Citizens’ Benefits

Intuitively, saying that more efficient government processes benefit a country’s citizens makes sense. Now, the JRC’s research has quantified that benefit.

Interoperability improves public online services and reduces the bureaucratic load, which not only makes the processes more efficient for citizens who already use public services, but also motivates those who currently don’t currently use them.

According to the JRC, this can lead to 21-24 million hours saved per year across the EU27. Assuming average hourly wages as a basis, this is equivalent to approx. 473m to 543m EUR per year.

The impact per country can be seen below.

The Businesses’ Benefits

While the costs of setting up a business can vary greatly across the EU, doing so more efficiently will always make life easier.

A large range of online services is already available to business providers, from registering property to declaring taxes.

As with the citizens, the JRC assumes both a reduction in time spent by those who already use these processes (Scenario 1) and an uptick in the overall use of digital processes as they become more efficient (Scenario 2).

Currently, businesses across the EU27 spend 172 billion hours per year on setting up businesses. That’s around 250,000 lifetimes!

Increased data interoperability would save approximately 27.6 billion hours and 30 billion hours for scenario 1 and 2, respectively. That equates to 521bn EUR for scenario 1 and 561bn EUR for scenario 2. In each case, that’s more than the nominal GDP of Austria in 2021.

The impact per country can be seen below.

How do we get there?

The study clearly demonstrates the potential benefits of even a minor improvement in terms of data interoperability. The question that remains is how we can achieve that.

The EU has taken a long-term view on reaping the benefits of interoperability and making data more useful.

Interoperability and accessibility initiatives (such as INSPIRE) have allowed us to take crucial steps towards greater data interoperability. Tools such as hale»connect and hale»studio have streamlined the implementation of these standards into a partially automated process. We’ve seen hundreds of thousands of INSPIRE compliant datasets published with our tools - as a matter of fact, hale»connect and hale»studio have even set a world record for number of datasets published, as shown below (Komm.One is a hale»connect based data provider):

However, the impact of open data standards is merely the tip of the iceberg.

Going beyond data standards, the EU data strategy continues to emphasise the importance of more accessible and more useful data. It sets clear rules on the access and reuse of data and invests in the next generation of tools that store and process data.

Data spaces are the most important part of this new generation of data initiatives. By providing granular control over what is and is not shared between certain parties, data spaces comply with the governance rules dictated by the EU data strategy. This means that previously inaccessible data (for example, exact locations of endangered species or medical data) can be utilised to a greater extent without sacrificing data sovereignity, resulting in a much larger pool of data to draw from.

wetransform is determined to ensure that this larger data pool is not only available, but is also fully interoperable. Our product lines are being extended to support the creation and maintenance of data spaces. Drawing from our expertise in the implementation of open data standards, we are now deeply involved in the creation of the Environmental Data Space. You can learn more about the environmental data space community and get involved here.

Conclusion

Improved efficiency makes government processes take less time, which comes with very real benefits to data providers, businesses, and citizens.

While some of the study’s numbers are hypothetical, the scenarios presented accurately resemble real world conditions and a 1% improvement of the EGDI is attainable.

The potential impact on the bottom lines for data providers and businesses, as well as the benefit in terms of time spent for a nation’s citizens and government officials are also realistic predictions.

A fairly straightforward way to improve the efficiency of government processes is by improving the interoperability of data, which streamlines the flow of information between parties.

The best way to make data sets interoperable is by using ETL and publication tools, such as hale»studio and hale»connect. To learn more about how these tools aid in increasing the interoperability of data, check out our hale»studio and hale»connect pages!

A big thanks to Peter Ulrich, Nestor Duch Brown, Alexander Kotsev, Marco Minghini, Lorena Hernandez Quiros, Raymond Bogulawski, and Francesco Pignatelli for pulling this report together.

(more)

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Looking back at our Offsite Workshop
28.02.2022 by Akshat Bajaj, John Boudewijn

Picture the scene: Late January, snow drifts down in a picturesque village nestled deep within the German Black Forest.

wetransform in the black forest discussing INSPIRE and XPlanung

The wetransform team, now fifteen people strong, has gathered for some much-needed face time and strategy work.

This was my third team offsite at wetransform (should’ve been the fourth, thanks Covid), and it was particularly exciting because it represented a period of change.

The schedule was slammed with discussions around scaling operations, incorporating new team members, and - of course - discussing the company’s future in an ever-changing world where the interoperability of data is more important than ever before.

Moreover, and probably more than we initially realised, it was also great to see most of the team in one place after a pandemic-induced hiatus.

As usual, everyone from the team was invited to the workshop and no one was left behind. Everyone was given an opportunity to present their perspective on different items, even if the discussion was on a topic that was not related to the domain expertise of the team member. Even Franziska, our Senior Project Manager, who could not join because of her maternal leave, attended the sessions virtually and – as one of our colleagues aptly put it – “was the laptop” as everyone continually worked to make sure she did not miss out on anything.

wetransform in the black forest discussing INSPIRE and XPlanung

Here are some of the key takeaways from the few days.

New people, new visions

Six of the fifteen attendees were new to the company. With that influx came a colourful range of backgrounds - ranging from GIS to theatre - and five nationalities, all united by the desire to bring positive change through reliable, interoperable data. They brought in a variety of fresh experiences which, when intertwined with the experience of wetransform veterans, led to some pretty cool ideas. We dedicated time to our current and future onboarding process, as well as the challenges and opportunities of scaling and organising work in a growing company.

Scaling the start-up wall

When I started at wetransform, we were a team of ten. This allowed us to make the kind of swift, flexible decisions that allow you to deal with the joyfully chaotic nature of an early-stage start-up. Since then, we have grown to a team of fifteen.

While we still remain agile and flexible (in part thanks to Claudia, our Senior Consultant and part-time digital yoga instructor), the time has come to shift to a clearer organisation of roles and responsibilities. As we continue to scale our operations (the amount of data on our platform has grown by 1760% in the last year), we realised that competencies now need to be more focused and diversified only when necessary. The question was – how do we achieve that?

Luckily, the free-flowing nature of our workshops and candid discussions led to multidisciplinary ideas on the organisation of work. We also came up with ways to understand and handle the ambiguity in responsibilities that can pop up in a dynamic start-up.

Rebuilding culture

wetransform in the black forest discussing INSPIRE and XPlanung

Honest and open communication with a tinge of playfulness has always been a cornerstone of the culture at wetransform. We looked inwards to see how the pandemic had affected that culture.

The open nature of the discussion encouraged teammates discuss their struggles and created an atmosphere in which we could both vent our problems and look for sustainable solutions, as well as highlight things that were working well for us.

More than half of our team is international, and we also have a large mix of characters ranging from introverted to extroverted, so it is important for us to put in the time and effort to provide everyone with the best possible working environment.

The candid discussion allowed us to understand the struggles being faced, the highlights of the situation, and how to move forward to accommodate the changing demands of a dynamic working atmosphere.

Strategy

So far, wetransform has been focused on the harmonisation of data for open standards such as INSPIRE and XPlanung. We have helped over 1000 organizations achieve compliance with OGC standards with hale»studio and hale»connect. In the process, we have attained a deep knowledge of large-scale data operations.

As one of our colleagues likes to say: “We deal with the ugly stuff.”

We know people will come to us with the data sets that nobody else can figure out and we excel at making those incredibly complex data sets compliant to the required standard. However, this does not mean that we are sleeping on new developments and new ways in which our expertise can help better the world. In the coming year, we want to focus on data spaces. In service of that, we have already established the Environmental Data Spaces Community, to which we will happily welcome new members.

The fun stuff

While many offsites are notorious for “totally-not-mandatory” “fun” activities, the wetransform team is very aware that people have subjective perspectives of what is fun for them and always aims to respect that.

We took some unstructured time off to enjoy the Black Forest, where everyone was free to do what they wanted. Some went for a walk and some went for a run – Kate, our Product/Drone Manager brought out her drone, which we all had a lot of fun with, but were still cautious of where we were flying since we are literally working on a project surrounding drone no-fly zones in Germany (see: the fAIRport Project).

wetransform in the black forest discussing INSPIRE and XPlanung

In lieu of team-building egg-and-spoon races, we opted for a night of communal cooking; an ambitious project headed by the three Indians on the team and Flaminia, our Data Scientist/Dessert Expert. It turned into a serendipitous (and mildly stress-inducing) activity that resulted in enough food for the evening and plenty of leftovers for the team to take home after the workshop.

wetransform in the black forest discussing INSPIRE and XPlanung

Conclusion

All in all, we had some very productive days in a beautiful area. We spoke about strategy and culture, and everything in between. These few days were very valuable in the traditional business sense, but we also decided that it’s worth it to take things one step further and truly foster a people-focused culture. In the future, we plan to have longer offsites that are more focused on getting to know each other in a slightly more informal setting and generating free flowing ideas.

Sound like a fun place to work? Check out our careers page here.

Picture the scene: Late January, snow drifts down in a picturesque village nestled deep within the German Black Forest.

wetransform in the black forest discussing INSPIRE and XPlanung

The wetransform team, now fifteen people strong, has gathered for some much-needed face time and strategy work.

This was my third team offsite at wetransform (should’ve been the fourth, thanks Covid), and it was particularly exciting because it represented a period of change.

The schedule was slammed with discussions around scaling operations, incorporating new team members, and - of course - discussing the company’s future in an ever-changing world where the interoperability of data is more important than ever before.

Moreover, and probably more than we initially realised, it was also great to see most of the team in one place after a pandemic-induced hiatus.

As usual, everyone from the team was invited to the workshop and no one was left behind. Everyone was given an opportunity to present their perspective on different items, even if the discussion was on a topic that was not related to the domain expertise of the team member. Even Franziska, our Senior Project Manager, who could not join because of her maternal leave, attended the sessions virtually and – as one of our colleagues aptly put it – “was the laptop” as everyone continually worked to make sure she did not miss out on anything.

wetransform in the black forest discussing INSPIRE and XPlanung

Here are some of the key takeaways from the few days.

New people, new visions

Six of the fifteen attendees were new to the company. With that influx came a colourful range of backgrounds - ranging from GIS to theatre - and five nationalities, all united by the desire to bring positive change through reliable, interoperable data. They brought in a variety of fresh experiences which, when intertwined with the experience of wetransform veterans, led to some pretty cool ideas. We dedicated time to our current and future onboarding process, as well as the challenges and opportunities of scaling and organising work in a growing company.

Scaling the start-up wall

When I started at wetransform, we were a team of ten. This allowed us to make the kind of swift, flexible decisions that allow you to deal with the joyfully chaotic nature of an early-stage start-up. Since then, we have grown to a team of fifteen.

While we still remain agile and flexible (in part thanks to Claudia, our Senior Consultant and part-time digital yoga instructor), the time has come to shift to a clearer organisation of roles and responsibilities. As we continue to scale our operations (the amount of data on our platform has grown by 1760% in the last year), we realised that competencies now need to be more focused and diversified only when necessary. The question was – how do we achieve that?

Luckily, the free-flowing nature of our workshops and candid discussions led to multidisciplinary ideas on the organisation of work. We also came up with ways to understand and handle the ambiguity in responsibilities that can pop up in a dynamic start-up.

Rebuilding culture

wetransform in the black forest discussing INSPIRE and XPlanung

Honest and open communication with a tinge of playfulness has always been a cornerstone of the culture at wetransform. We looked inwards to see how the pandemic had affected that culture.

The open nature of the discussion encouraged teammates discuss their struggles and created an atmosphere in which we could both vent our problems and look for sustainable solutions, as well as highlight things that were working well for us.

More than half of our team is international, and we also have a large mix of characters ranging from introverted to extroverted, so it is important for us to put in the time and effort to provide everyone with the best possible working environment.

The candid discussion allowed us to understand the struggles being faced, the highlights of the situation, and how to move forward to accommodate the changing demands of a dynamic working atmosphere.

Strategy

So far, wetransform has been focused on the harmonisation of data for open standards such as INSPIRE and XPlanung. We have helped over 1000 organizations achieve compliance with OGC standards with hale»studio and hale»connect. In the process, we have attained a deep knowledge of large-scale data operations.

As one of our colleagues likes to say: “We deal with the ugly stuff.”

We know people will come to us with the data sets that nobody else can figure out and we excel at making those incredibly complex data sets compliant to the required standard. However, this does not mean that we are sleeping on new developments and new ways in which our expertise can help better the world. In the coming year, we want to focus on data spaces. In service of that, we have already established the Environmental Data Spaces Community, to which we will happily welcome new members.

The fun stuff

While many offsites are notorious for “totally-not-mandatory” “fun” activities, the wetransform team is very aware that people have subjective perspectives of what is fun for them and always aims to respect that.

We took some unstructured time off to enjoy the Black Forest, where everyone was free to do what they wanted. Some went for a walk and some went for a run – Kate, our Product/Drone Manager brought out her drone, which we all had a lot of fun with, but were still cautious of where we were flying since we are literally working on a project surrounding drone no-fly zones in Germany (see: the fAIRport Project).

wetransform in the black forest discussing INSPIRE and XPlanung

In lieu of team-building egg-and-spoon races, we opted for a night of communal cooking; an ambitious project headed by the three Indians on the team and Flaminia, our Data Scientist/Dessert Expert. It turned into a serendipitous (and mildly stress-inducing) activity that resulted in enough food for the evening and plenty of leftovers for the team to take home after the workshop.

wetransform in the black forest discussing INSPIRE and XPlanung

Conclusion

All in all, we had some very productive days in a beautiful area. We spoke about strategy and culture, and everything in between. These few days were very valuable in the traditional business sense, but we also decided that it’s worth it to take things one step further and truly foster a people-focused culture. In the future, we plan to have longer offsites that are more focused on getting to know each other in a slightly more informal setting and generating free flowing ideas.

Sound like a fun place to work? Check out our careers page here.

(more)

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hale»connect Release Notes: February 2022
14.02.2022 by Akshat Bajaj, Kate Lyndegaard

Here’s what’s new in hale»connect this month!

For Users

New Features

  • The hale»connect map layer widget now displays a legend so that users can view the symbology of their layers. In addition, we updated the close icon on the widget. Check out the changes below.
INSPIRE layer map legend to view symbology
  • hale»connect now supports the publishing of 3D data that contains X,Y,Z coordinates.

The migration of the hale»connect platform to Angular and the integration of the ETF validator to hale»connect are currently ongoing.

Fixes

• We implemented a fix for an Atom Feed error in the INSPIRE Validator related to the format parameter requested in the GetSpatialDataset URL and the format assumed in the dataset feed.

  • We updated the file splitting functionality, which is used to publish large datasets, to support datasets with special characters in the file name.
  • In hale»connect generated metadata, gmd:metadataStandardName and gmd:MetadataStandardVersion were updated to reference ISO 19115 2003 and ISO 19119 2005, for dataset and service metadata.
  • We added schemaLocation for the INSPIRE Download Services to the WFS capabilities to ensure hale»connect WFSs validate in the INSPIRE Validator.
  • We identified and solved an issue with missing schema imports for some WFSs to prevent numerous NullPointerExceptions in the INSPIRE Validator.

Here’s what’s new in hale»connect this month!

For Users

New Features

  • The hale»connect map layer widget now displays a legend so that users can view the symbology of their layers. In addition, we updated the close icon on the widget. Check out the changes below.
INSPIRE layer map legend to view symbology
  • hale»connect now supports the publishing of 3D data that contains X,Y,Z coordinates.

The migration of the hale»connect platform to Angular and the integration of the ETF validator to hale»connect are currently ongoing.

Fixes

• We implemented a fix for an Atom Feed error in the INSPIRE Validator related to the format parameter requested in the GetSpatialDataset URL and the format assumed in the dataset feed.

  • We updated the file splitting functionality, which is used to publish large datasets, to support datasets with special characters in the file name.
  • In hale»connect generated metadata, gmd:metadataStandardName and gmd:MetadataStandardVersion were updated to reference ISO 19115 2003 and ISO 19119 2005, for dataset and service metadata.
  • We added schemaLocation for the INSPIRE Download Services to the WFS capabilities to ensure hale»connect WFSs validate in the INSPIRE Validator.
  • We identified and solved an issue with missing schema imports for some WFSs to prevent numerous NullPointerExceptions in the INSPIRE Validator.

(more)

News entry thumbnail
hale»connect Release Notes: January 2022
03.01.2022 by Akshat Bajaj, Kate Lyndegaard

Here’s what’s new in hale»connect this month!

For Users

New Features

hale»connect now offers a TN-ITS endpoint. The TN-ITS specification focuses on “describing the exchange of (changes) of road attributes, with the emphasis on static road data.” Through this endpoint, TN-ITS data providers can make TN-ITS data sets available via the standardized TN-ITS REST service interface. TN-ITS data consumers can also obtain the TN-ITS data set via the interface.

Supported endpoints:

/download/queryDataSets returns all TN-ITS datasets of an org as a tnits:TNITSRestDatasetRefList (see API data model).

/download/queryDataSets?lastValidDataSetID=<base64-encoded datasetId> returns all TN-ITS datasets of an org as a tnits:TNITSRestDatasetRefList that chronologically come after the dataset specified in the parameter.

download/readDataSet?dataSetID=<base64-encoded datasetId> returns the tnits:RoadFeatureDataset dataset.

For more information, visit the following links:

Changes

  • In gmd:MD_DataIdentification, users can now edit the revision date, publication date and creation date of a dataset at gmd:citation/gmd:CI_Citation/gmd:date/gmd:CI_Date/gmd:date using either gco:Date or gco:DateTime. Users can use an autofill rule to populate these fields in the metadata editor.
  • The migration of the hale»connect platform to Angular is currently ongoing. Recent upgrades include the migration of the file upload component on hale»connect, which enables users to upload files to the platform.

Fixes

  • We implemented a fix to generate external GetFeatureById links for INSPIRE Environmental Monitoring Facilities features published via WFS, using deegree. The WFS response for published Environmental Monitoring Network features contained relative path links. The underlying issue was that in EnvironmentalMonitoringNetwork.contains, deegree assumed that the referenced element was a NetworkFacility object, which is the association class for linking EnvironmentalMonitoringNetwork and EnvironmentalMonitoringFacility. Because NetworkFacility is not a feature type, deegree did not generate external GetFeatureById links for referencing the respective objects.
  • The global capacity update now only occurs nightly during a defined interval, reducing the load on MongoDB during the capacity update.

Here’s what’s new in hale»connect this month!

For Users

New Features

hale»connect now offers a TN-ITS endpoint. The TN-ITS specification focuses on “describing the exchange of (changes) of road attributes, with the emphasis on static road data.” Through this endpoint, TN-ITS data providers can make TN-ITS data sets available via the standardized TN-ITS REST service interface. TN-ITS data consumers can also obtain the TN-ITS data set via the interface.

Supported endpoints:

/download/queryDataSets returns all TN-ITS datasets of an org as a tnits:TNITSRestDatasetRefList (see API data model).

/download/queryDataSets?lastValidDataSetID=<base64-encoded datasetId> returns all TN-ITS datasets of an org as a tnits:TNITSRestDatasetRefList that chronologically come after the dataset specified in the parameter.

download/readDataSet?dataSetID=<base64-encoded datasetId> returns the tnits:RoadFeatureDataset dataset.

For more information, visit the following links:

Changes

  • In gmd:MD_DataIdentification, users can now edit the revision date, publication date and creation date of a dataset at gmd:citation/gmd:CI_Citation/gmd:date/gmd:CI_Date/gmd:date using either gco:Date or gco:DateTime. Users can use an autofill rule to populate these fields in the metadata editor.
  • The migration of the hale»connect platform to Angular is currently ongoing. Recent upgrades include the migration of the file upload component on hale»connect, which enables users to upload files to the platform.

Fixes

  • We implemented a fix to generate external GetFeatureById links for INSPIRE Environmental Monitoring Facilities features published via WFS, using deegree. The WFS response for published Environmental Monitoring Network features contained relative path links. The underlying issue was that in EnvironmentalMonitoringNetwork.contains, deegree assumed that the referenced element was a NetworkFacility object, which is the association class for linking EnvironmentalMonitoringNetwork and EnvironmentalMonitoringFacility. Because NetworkFacility is not a feature type, deegree did not generate external GetFeatureById links for referencing the respective objects.
  • The global capacity update now only occurs nightly during a defined interval, reducing the load on MongoDB during the capacity update.

(more)

Like last year, the INSPIRE conference was again held virtually. We all keep rooting for a physical conference in Dubrovnik, and it looks like next year we can finally make the trip!

The key theme of the 2021 conference was change. The community dove deep into the current status of INSPIRE, and where things are going given current legislative, governance and business needs.

There were a lot of concepts thrown around – Monitoring Reports, the Green Deal, the EU data strategy. Environmental Data Spaces. OGC APIs, alternative encodings, and use cases. The list only gets longer – and somehow the INSPIRE conference pulled all these dots together.

But it’s easy to miss the big picture when you’re down in the technical trenches of a 5-day long virtual conference. Let’s try to zoom out (no pun intended) and see what the conference focused on and what it achieved.

First, let’s define some of the terminology that popped up across sessions:

Green Deal: A set of policy initiatives by the European Commission with the overarching aim of making the European Union climate neutral in 2050.

EU Data Strategy: The European strategy for data aims at creating a single market for data that will ensure Europe’s global competitiveness and data sovereignty.

Data Spaces: A data space is a data exchange where trusted partners share data for processing without sacrificing data sovereignty.

The state of INSPIRE today, and the way forward

There are 3 aspects to consider: legislation, governance, and technology. The INSPIRE Assessment report and INSPIRE conference sessions gave us a wealth of information on all three.

The assessment report called for:

  • Avoiding overspecification: Generally, avoid overly complex models. In some INSPIRE guidelines, there is a lot of unnecessary structure.
  • Demarcating technical and legal aspects: The INSPIRE Implementing Rules often go too deep in the technological aspect. This overlap means that certain technological aspects are too rigid, and consequently the directive cannot accommodate technological changes easily.
  • Licensing frameworks: To “catalyse data sharing”, we can’t depend only on open data. To ensure the flow of all kinds of data, licensing frameworks need to be created, communicated, and implemented.

Bettina Rafaelson (COWI), Lise Oules (Mileu) and Nadine Alameh ([OGC) presented on this topic. Bettina and Lise gave a summary of a survey conducted in 31 countries and focused on finding where INSPIRE currently stands in the legislative sense. Lise said that, “the added-value of INSPIRE resided in the development of governance structures at national level for data sharing.

While acknowledging the positives, this session also spoke about the negatives such as inflexibility and overcomplexity. Bettina brought in important recommendations, as shown below.

Legal INSPIRE Presentations at Online INSPIRE Conference 2021

Nadine built on this perspective in the closing notes of the conference and spoke of how INSPIRE legislation can be made future proof with respect to technological advancements such as the rapid development of standards. Given that public sector legislation often lags behind private sector innovation, this perspective was more than welcome.

The governance aspect was anchored in a community modus operandi perspective. Codrina Ilie (OSGeo) called for an agile approach to SDIs that captures the complex nature of member states, and said that communities such as FOSS4G were critical in helping us to stay aligned with ever-changing technologies. The Assessment Report pointed to the outdated INSPIRE specifications and INSPIRE Artefact management – two things that were not maintained properly, with several bugs and other issues having been around for more than five years. To deal with this, the INSPIRE community suggested a more agile model that could better accommodate stakeholders and different requirements.

Graph of mean values of INSPIRE Compliance Indicators

The above graph from the report focuses on the results and gives an idea of how far technology has gotten. There’s still a way to go for most member states to be fully INSPIRE compliant. As a community we had a large learning curve to get to this point, but we can’t stop now - our tech stack needs to evolve to be compatible to a changing environment. The report outlined how we can achieve that:

  • Improve accessibility and findability of data, e.g. through Web Indexing
  • Maintain INSPIRE’s focus on open standards and ensure compatibility with new technology
  • Harness the power of APIs and Alternative Encodings to make INSPIRE data useful for those outside the spatial data specialist niche

Future of INSPIRE

Undoubtedly, the biggest development for INSPIRE is the creation of the Green Deal Data Space.

The European Green Deal data space will make environmental data accessible, usable, and useful. It will allow data providers to maintain data sovereignty and protect sensitive data, while unlocking data access for thousands of applications that will help make society more sustainable.

As Hugo de Groof said, “INSPIRE is the blueprint for the European Data Spaces”. INSPIRE has already achieved important steps, and many of the resources in the infrastructure could be considered “data space ready”. The most important aspects are the shared semantics – the data specifications – and the fact that more than 40.000 data sets have already been made accessible.

However, there are also some major TODOs left open. These include defining the governance rules for such green deal data spaces. Governance rules will define who will contribute what to the data space, and what they are allowed to do with the data.

An essential part of any data space is trusted, certified processing services, such as analytic models, transformation services, or machine learning models. These still need to be developed for a wide range of applications, but when they are, they can be rolled out across the EU to achieve optimal impact quickly – exactly what we need to achieve the goals of the Green Deal.

Another aspect is to think about the prioritisation, procurement, development, and deployment of the infrastructure. If public authorities continue to take years in specifying their systems, more years in procuring them, even longer to let them be custom-built, it will take too long to establish data spaces at scale, and best practices will be slow to proliferate. Instead, we expect to see more standard products and Software-as-a-Service solutions, such as our current INSPIRE as a service offering hale»connect, or our future Dataspace-as-a-Service solution. Such infrastructures can be deployed to GAIA-X to achieve optimal digital sovereignty.

Now, this gives us the high-level strategic overview of what’s going on. However, the devil of strategy lies in the details of implementation. Here’s how the conference addressed how we can reach that perfect strategic output.

Governance: Going Beyond Priority Datasets

Governance changes need to occur on all levels. As mentioned earlier, we need to have an agile methodology to make these changes effectively. But there’s more to it – we’ve found that most organisations still don’t have INSPIRE, Open Data and other data strategies as a priority. To change this, organisations need to identify synergies and collaboration potentials and also ensure that long-term budgets are available where needed.

Additionally, as a community we also need to be open to the new, harness new cloud infrastructures such as GAIA-X and automated SaaS instead of increasing fragmentation by inventing individual solutions. Jürgen Moßgraber (Fraunhofer IOSB) spoke of the link between GAIA-X and INSPIRE and how this link promotes “cross-fertilisation of activities around data-sharing.” Similar synergies can be exploited with other automated SaaS.

Introduction to GAIA-X and to what does GAIA-X have to do with INSPIRE

There’s also a bigger picture. We saw an out-of-the-box perspective on this in the location interoperability session. CheeHai Teo from the UN-GGIM spoke about the Integrated Geospatial Information Framework and explained the necessity of having actors at the national level that push forward key geospatial initiatives. This kind of community push is what empowers successful SDIs. This session provided depth of content across different technical and political factors. It highlighted the synergies required between public sector and private sector players and demonstrated the full breadth of what local interoperability projects should look like.

Integrated Geospatial Information Frameworks: the 9 strategic pathways

Technical Stacks and the Industry Perspective

The INSPIRE conferences have always been a platform for sharing new technologies. The “Past, present and future of INSPIRE: an industry perspective” showcased INSPIRE tech stacks from the industry’s point of view, and what can be expected in the future to make the date more useful. Safe Software did a good job of summing up some of the general challenges, as shown below.

Implementation challenges for INSPIRE

Thorsten, wetransform CEO, spoke in depth about the innovations technical INSPIRE stacks will require to keep pace with the development’s dynamic nature and requirements, especially given organisational constraints.

Keeping INSPIRE tech stacks up to date

Thorsten emphasised that implementers need to consider maintenance requirements when building your tech stack, as the creeping costs associated with operations and maintenance can make for a very rude awakening. “Always take the infrastructure and product perspective, commit to long-term effort and funding. Even in other areas like Industry 4.0, success only came after sustained investments and long-term commitments.

There were also mentions of increasing INSPIRE’s usefulness through alternative encodings and OGC APIs. Johanna Ott, consultant at wetransform, stated that she “really liked that we are not talking about how to implement INSPIRE any longer but that the focus is on using the data. We are finally at a point where we can start generating added value from the data we’ve all worked on in the last years.”

As an example, wetransform showed how planned land use datasets are being used in Germany. These datasets receive over a million views each month, so it’s clear that the data is important to data users. We also highlighted another project, in which we created drone flight zones by deriving them from the INSPIRE Protected Sites theme. The INSPIRE data filled in the data gaps that were present, and the result was a portal in which one can see drone flight corridors. Learn more about this project here.

Across all presentations in this session, alternative Encodings and new APIs were the two hot topics in terms of making better use of INSPIRE data – let’s dig deeper.

APIs

APIs are one of the keys to unlocking the full value of INSPIRE data. Plus, APIs are relatively more mature compared to Alternative Encodings, as the interface needs to be defined only once. Alex Kotsev (JRC) left no ambiguity about the value of APIs in his session on technology trends.

Keeping INSPIRE tech stacks up to date

So far, there are four new APIs, mostly focused on download of data:

  • SensorThings API: This type of download service is effective for delivering streams of sensor data and has already been approved as a good practice.
  • WCS 2.0 Download Service: The WCS 2.0 architecture is closer to WFS 2.0 than to the new OGC APIs. However, it adds value because it allows to access coverages very effectively.
  • OGC API, Features: This Download Service type is an entirely new API that builds on web standards and relies heavily on HTTP methods, JSON payloads and OpenAPI. It will likely be approved as a Good Practice very soon. A compliance test is already available in the ETF validator.
  • OGC API, Records: This is a new type of Metadata Catalogue interface, which pairs well with GeoDCAT-AP, a newer metadata format that is central to Open Data platforms. It is likely quite far away from being approved as a good practice, as the standard itself is not yet mature.

Alternative Encodings

Alternative encodings are a means to bridge the gap between a certain format and the needs of end users who want to work with the data. To enhance data usability, other formats or encodings can be used to complement the default encoding. In the context of INSPIRE, this can be an alternative encoding, i.e., one that fulfils all requirements of the INSPIRE Implementing Rule and thus be used instead of the default encoding. Most want to use simpler formats – but since these are alternative encodings to INSPIRE, the simpler formats must also contain sufficient information to make them INSPIRE compliant. These encodings were also mentioned multiple times in the Industry session on INSPIRE, and were seen as a creative way to make the most of INSPIRE data.

Keeping INSPIRE tech stacks up to date

The beauty of a good alternative encoding lies in the fact that INSPIRE compliance can be proven practically through automated transformation from the alternative encoding to default encoding. For example, a Geopackage is relatively easy to create with a hale»studio mapping. The GeoPackage uses a flattened and simplified relational schema, it can be easily picked up by a transformation service and be converted to an INSPIRE compliant GML file – and boom, with only one manual and easy mapping, you have an alternative encoding and an INSPIRE compliant dataset. The flowchart below describes such a potential workflow.

Workflow to create alternative encodings

The usefulness of INSPIRE: What can we actually do with INSPIRE?

Cross-domain probelm solving

As we move onto data-driven decision-making mechanisms, location intelligence is impossible to ignore. It permeates across domains and industries.

The “Statistics and geospatial information” session showed how to optimize current statistical business processes such as the Generic Statistical Business Process Model with the help of geospatial data. We learned about how geodata can play a part in essential business processes and break silos across sectors and industries– for example, the type of geography can influence costs and risks associated with production and distribution.

We also saw how INSPIRE forms a basis for reporting processes in the e-Reporting session. In a joint presentation with Epsilon Italia, wetransform focused on the latest revision of the European Noise Directive (END) reporting. Stefania Morrone from Epsilon spoke about how INSPIRE can be linked with the END, and how similarities between the two directives such as same core information and common cross domain information lead to an optimised workflow. Thorsten’s segment focused more on the technological aspect, and how reporters can leverage GeoPackage for further reporting optimization. He also spoke about the best practices for END reporting, such as flattening hierarchical structures and setting default dataset properties.

Workflow to create alternative encodings

What does all of this mean for me?

From our perspective, the JRC and central groups like the MIG-T have now transferred the torch to the community to push INSPIRE forward. Here’s what you can do:

  • Join in the governance party and encourage good practices: Keep things streamlined and homogenous by creating accommodating initiatives. And if you want to see a change, make it happen! We’re there to help. It’s up to us as a community to start initiatives, build roadmaps and get funding.
  • Keep your tech stack up to date by investing in maintenance and future developments such as APIs and Alternative Encodings. Try to future proof your toolkit by anticipating needs of data users, and act accordingly.
  • Join the environmental data spaces community to help define what Green Deal Data Spaces will really look like.

A concluding remark

Overall – the theme of the event was clear: Showcase use cases of INSPIRE data, and the future development of the INSPIRE SDI with respect to sustainable developments within the EU. It’s clear that a transition is in the works and, here’s how we’re supporting it:

  • hale»studio: Further support for alternative encodings such as GeoPackage and transformed model templates such as the European noise directive in our latest release.
  • hale»connect: We will add general availability support for the OGC WCS API and OGC Features API by the second quarter of 2022. The development of the SensorThingsAPI is in progress, and we expect to push this update in 2022 though the exact timeline is to be confirmed.

And lastly, the next INSPIRE conference will take place in May 2022 in Dubrovnik! (You’re welcome, Game of Thrones fans 😉) You’ll receive updates on that topic from us soon.

Like last year, the INSPIRE conference was again held virtually. We all keep rooting for a physical conference in Dubrovnik, and it looks like next year we can finally make the trip!

The key theme of the 2021 conference was change. The community dove deep into the current status of INSPIRE, and where things are going given current legislative, governance and business needs.

There were a lot of concepts thrown around – Monitoring Reports, the Green Deal, the EU data strategy. Environmental Data Spaces. OGC APIs, alternative encodings, and use cases. The list only gets longer – and somehow the INSPIRE conference pulled all these dots together.

But it’s easy to miss the big picture when you’re down in the technical trenches of a 5-day long virtual conference. Let’s try to zoom out (no pun intended) and see what the conference focused on and what it achieved.

First, let’s define some of the terminology that popped up across sessions:

Green Deal: A set of policy initiatives by the European Commission with the overarching aim of making the European Union climate neutral in 2050.

EU Data Strategy: The European strategy for data aims at creating a single market for data that will ensure Europe’s global competitiveness and data sovereignty.

Data Spaces: A data space is a data exchange where trusted partners share data for processing without sacrificing data sovereignty.

The state of INSPIRE today, and the way forward

There are 3 aspects to consider: legislation, governance, and technology. The INSPIRE Assessment report and INSPIRE conference sessions gave us a wealth of information on all three.

The assessment report called for:

  • Avoiding overspecification: Generally, avoid overly complex models. In some INSPIRE guidelines, there is a lot of unnecessary structure.
  • Demarcating technical and legal aspects: The INSPIRE Implementing Rules often go too deep in the technological aspect. This overlap means that certain technological aspects are too rigid, and consequently the directive cannot accommodate technological changes easily.
  • Licensing frameworks: To “catalyse data sharing”, we can’t depend only on open data. To ensure the flow of all kinds of data, licensing frameworks need to be created, communicated, and implemented.

Bettina Rafaelson (COWI), Lise Oules (Mileu) and Nadine Alameh ([OGC) presented on this topic. Bettina and Lise gave a summary of a survey conducted in 31 countries and focused on finding where INSPIRE currently stands in the legislative sense. Lise said that, “the added-value of INSPIRE resided in the development of governance structures at national level for data sharing.

While acknowledging the positives, this session also spoke about the negatives such as inflexibility and overcomplexity. Bettina brought in important recommendations, as shown below.

Legal INSPIRE Presentations at Online INSPIRE Conference 2021

Nadine built on this perspective in the closing notes of the conference and spoke of how INSPIRE legislation can be made future proof with respect to technological advancements such as the rapid development of standards. Given that public sector legislation often lags behind private sector innovation, this perspective was more than welcome.

The governance aspect was anchored in a community modus operandi perspective. Codrina Ilie (OSGeo) called for an agile approach to SDIs that captures the complex nature of member states, and said that communities such as FOSS4G were critical in helping us to stay aligned with ever-changing technologies. The Assessment Report pointed to the outdated INSPIRE specifications and INSPIRE Artefact management – two things that were not maintained properly, with several bugs and other issues having been around for more than five years. To deal with this, the INSPIRE community suggested a more agile model that could better accommodate stakeholders and different requirements.

Graph of mean values of INSPIRE Compliance Indicators

The above graph from the report focuses on the results and gives an idea of how far technology has gotten. There’s still a way to go for most member states to be fully INSPIRE compliant. As a community we had a large learning curve to get to this point, but we can’t stop now - our tech stack needs to evolve to be compatible to a changing environment. The report outlined how we can achieve that:

  • Improve accessibility and findability of data, e.g. through Web Indexing
  • Maintain INSPIRE’s focus on open standards and ensure compatibility with new technology
  • Harness the power of APIs and Alternative Encodings to make INSPIRE data useful for those outside the spatial data specialist niche

Future of INSPIRE

Undoubtedly, the biggest development for INSPIRE is the creation of the Green Deal Data Space.

The European Green Deal data space will make environmental data accessible, usable, and useful. It will allow data providers to maintain data sovereignty and protect sensitive data, while unlocking data access for thousands of applications that will help make society more sustainable.

As Hugo de Groof said, “INSPIRE is the blueprint for the European Data Spaces”. INSPIRE has already achieved important steps, and many of the resources in the infrastructure could be considered “data space ready”. The most important aspects are the shared semantics – the data specifications – and the fact that more than 40.000 data sets have already been made accessible.

However, there are also some major TODOs left open. These include defining the governance rules for such green deal data spaces. Governance rules will define who will contribute what to the data space, and what they are allowed to do with the data.

An essential part of any data space is trusted, certified processing services, such as analytic models, transformation services, or machine learning models. These still need to be developed for a wide range of applications, but when they are, they can be rolled out across the EU to achieve optimal impact quickly – exactly what we need to achieve the goals of the Green Deal.

Another aspect is to think about the prioritisation, procurement, development, and deployment of the infrastructure. If public authorities continue to take years in specifying their systems, more years in procuring them, even longer to let them be custom-built, it will take too long to establish data spaces at scale, and best practices will be slow to proliferate. Instead, we expect to see more standard products and Software-as-a-Service solutions, such as our current INSPIRE as a service offering hale»connect, or our future Dataspace-as-a-Service solution. Such infrastructures can be deployed to GAIA-X to achieve optimal digital sovereignty.

Now, this gives us the high-level strategic overview of what’s going on. However, the devil of strategy lies in the details of implementation. Here’s how the conference addressed how we can reach that perfect strategic output.

Governance: Going Beyond Priority Datasets

Governance changes need to occur on all levels. As mentioned earlier, we need to have an agile methodology to make these changes effectively. But there’s more to it – we’ve found that most organisations still don’t have INSPIRE, Open Data and other data strategies as a priority. To change this, organisations need to identify synergies and collaboration potentials and also ensure that long-term budgets are available where needed.

Additionally, as a community we also need to be open to the new, harness new cloud infrastructures such as GAIA-X and automated SaaS instead of increasing fragmentation by inventing individual solutions. Jürgen Moßgraber (Fraunhofer IOSB) spoke of the link between GAIA-X and INSPIRE and how this link promotes “cross-fertilisation of activities around data-sharing.” Similar synergies can be exploited with other automated SaaS.

Introduction to GAIA-X and to what does GAIA-X have to do with INSPIRE

There’s also a bigger picture. We saw an out-of-the-box perspective on this in the location interoperability session. CheeHai Teo from the UN-GGIM spoke about the Integrated Geospatial Information Framework and explained the necessity of having actors at the national level that push forward key geospatial initiatives. This kind of community push is what empowers successful SDIs. This session provided depth of content across different technical and political factors. It highlighted the synergies required between public sector and private sector players and demonstrated the full breadth of what local interoperability projects should look like.

Integrated Geospatial Information Frameworks: the 9 strategic pathways

Technical Stacks and the Industry Perspective

The INSPIRE conferences have always been a platform for sharing new technologies. The “Past, present and future of INSPIRE: an industry perspective” showcased INSPIRE tech stacks from the industry’s point of view, and what can be expected in the future to make the date more useful. Safe Software did a good job of summing up some of the general challenges, as shown below.

Implementation challenges for INSPIRE

Thorsten, wetransform CEO, spoke in depth about the innovations technical INSPIRE stacks will require to keep pace with the development’s dynamic nature and requirements, especially given organisational constraints.

Keeping INSPIRE tech stacks up to date

Thorsten emphasised that implementers need to consider maintenance requirements when building your tech stack, as the creeping costs associated with operations and maintenance can make for a very rude awakening. “Always take the infrastructure and product perspective, commit to long-term effort and funding. Even in other areas like Industry 4.0, success only came after sustained investments and long-term commitments.

There were also mentions of increasing INSPIRE’s usefulness through alternative encodings and OGC APIs. Johanna Ott, consultant at wetransform, stated that she “really liked that we are not talking about how to implement INSPIRE any longer but that the focus is on using the data. We are finally at a point where we can start generating added value from the data we’ve all worked on in the last years.”

As an example, wetransform showed how planned land use datasets are being used in Germany. These datasets receive over a million views each month, so it’s clear that the data is important to data users. We also highlighted another project, in which we created drone flight zones by deriving them from the INSPIRE Protected Sites theme. The INSPIRE data filled in the data gaps that were present, and the result was a portal in which one can see drone flight corridors. Learn more about this project here.

Across all presentations in this session, alternative Encodings and new APIs were the two hot topics in terms of making better use of INSPIRE data – let’s dig deeper.

APIs

APIs are one of the keys to unlocking the full value of INSPIRE data. Plus, APIs are relatively more mature compared to Alternative Encodings, as the interface needs to be defined only once. Alex Kotsev (JRC) left no ambiguity about the value of APIs in his session on technology trends.

Keeping INSPIRE tech stacks up to date

So far, there are four new APIs, mostly focused on download of data:

  • SensorThings API: This type of download service is effective for delivering streams of sensor data and has already been approved as a good practice.
  • WCS 2.0 Download Service: The WCS 2.0 architecture is closer to WFS 2.0 than to the new OGC APIs. However, it adds value because it allows to access coverages very effectively.
  • OGC API, Features: This Download Service type is an entirely new API that builds on web standards and relies heavily on HTTP methods, JSON payloads and OpenAPI. It will likely be approved as a Good Practice very soon. A compliance test is already available in the ETF validator.
  • OGC API, Records: This is a new type of Metadata Catalogue interface, which pairs well with GeoDCAT-AP, a newer metadata format that is central to Open Data platforms. It is likely quite far away from being approved as a good practice, as the standard itself is not yet mature.

Alternative Encodings

Alternative encodings are a means to bridge the gap between a certain format and the needs of end users who want to work with the data. To enhance data usability, other formats or encodings can be used to complement the default encoding. In the context of INSPIRE, this can be an alternative encoding, i.e., one that fulfils all requirements of the INSPIRE Implementing Rule and thus be used instead of the default encoding. Most want to use simpler formats – but since these are alternative encodings to INSPIRE, the simpler formats must also contain sufficient information to make them INSPIRE compliant. These encodings were also mentioned multiple times in the Industry session on INSPIRE, and were seen as a creative way to make the most of INSPIRE data.

Keeping INSPIRE tech stacks up to date

The beauty of a good alternative encoding lies in the fact that INSPIRE compliance can be proven practically through automated transformation from the alternative encoding to default encoding. For example, a Geopackage is relatively easy to create with a hale»studio mapping. The GeoPackage uses a flattened and simplified relational schema, it can be easily picked up by a transformation service and be converted to an INSPIRE compliant GML file – and boom, with only one manual and easy mapping, you have an alternative encoding and an INSPIRE compliant dataset. The flowchart below describes such a potential workflow.

Workflow to create alternative encodings

The usefulness of INSPIRE: What can we actually do with INSPIRE?

Cross-domain probelm solving

As we move onto data-driven decision-making mechanisms, location intelligence is impossible to ignore. It permeates across domains and industries.

The “Statistics and geospatial information” session showed how to optimize current statistical business processes such as the Generic Statistical Business Process Model with the help of geospatial data. We learned about how geodata can play a part in essential business processes and break silos across sectors and industries– for example, the type of geography can influence costs and risks associated with production and distribution.

We also saw how INSPIRE forms a basis for reporting processes in the e-Reporting session. In a joint presentation with Epsilon Italia, wetransform focused on the latest revision of the European Noise Directive (END) reporting. Stefania Morrone from Epsilon spoke about how INSPIRE can be linked with the END, and how similarities between the two directives such as same core information and common cross domain information lead to an optimised workflow. Thorsten’s segment focused more on the technological aspect, and how reporters can leverage GeoPackage for further reporting optimization. He also spoke about the best practices for END reporting, such as flattening hierarchical structures and setting default dataset properties.

Workflow to create alternative encodings

What does all of this mean for me?

From our perspective, the JRC and central groups like the MIG-T have now transferred the torch to the community to push INSPIRE forward. Here’s what you can do:

  • Join in the governance party and encourage good practices: Keep things streamlined and homogenous by creating accommodating initiatives. And if you want to see a change, make it happen! We’re there to help. It’s up to us as a community to start initiatives, build roadmaps and get funding.
  • Keep your tech stack up to date by investing in maintenance and future developments such as APIs and Alternative Encodings. Try to future proof your toolkit by anticipating needs of data users, and act accordingly.
  • Join the environmental data spaces community to help define what Green Deal Data Spaces will really look like.

A concluding remark

Overall – the theme of the event was clear: Showcase use cases of INSPIRE data, and the future development of the INSPIRE SDI with respect to sustainable developments within the EU. It’s clear that a transition is in the works and, here’s how we’re supporting it:

  • hale»studio: Further support for alternative encodings such as GeoPackage and transformed model templates such as the European noise directive in our latest release.
  • hale»connect: We will add general availability support for the OGC WCS API and OGC Features API by the second quarter of 2022. The development of the SensorThingsAPI is in progress, and we expect to push this update in 2022 though the exact timeline is to be confirmed.

And lastly, the next INSPIRE conference will take place in May 2022 in Dubrovnik! (You’re welcome, Game of Thrones fans 😉) You’ll receive updates on that topic from us soon.

(more)