Overview - GISCO
GISCO - the Geographic Information System of the COmmission - localise, analyse, visualise
What is GISCO?
Within Eurostat, GISCO is responsible for meeting the European Commission's geographical information needs at 3 levels: the European Union, its member countries, and its regions.
What does GISCO do?
In addition to creating statistical and other thematic maps, GISCO manages a database of geographical information, and provides related services to the Commission. Its database contains core geographical data covering the whole of Europe, such as administrative boundaries, and thematic geospatial information, such as population grid data. Some data are available for download by the general public and may be used for non-commercial purposes. For further details and information about any forthcoming new or updated datasets, see the Geodata section.
GISCO also coordinates Commission-wide geographical information activities. It seeks to promote the use of geographical information and the geographical information system (GIS) within the European Statistical System (ESS) and the Commission. GISCO therefore chairs the working group on the integration of statistical and geospatial information, which includes representatives of National Statistical Institutes (NSI) and National Mapping and Cadastral Authorities (NMCA). For further information, see the GISCO activities section.
Geospatial data – a key factor in statistics
Location is a key attribute of virtually all official statistics. It provides the structure for collecting, processing, storing, analysing and aggregating data. The framework provided by a specific geographic feature, such as national borders, or proximity to the coast, is often the only feature shared by different datasets.
Moreover, location is a concept that most people are comfortable with. Statistics on a specific area can therefore help them understand the relevance of particular information. The most important location framework at EU level is the NUTS classification. It is GISCO in cooperation with the NMCAs and NSIs that produces the NUTS boundaries, which can be downloaded free of charge, subject to certain conditions.
Geography can also change for many reasons, making it tricky to compare statistics over time. Examples include:
- frequent changes in administrative boundaries within Member States,
- new roads,
- urban sprawl, changing land use and land cover.
GISCO's database provides the up-to-date information needed to process, analyse and report statistics, and to plot the final information on statistical maps.