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Green and digital transformation in the EU: towards more flexible and agile geospatial data sharing

Stock-taking and the way ahead for the geographical data sets used for environmental purposes published in a JRC report
Stock-taking and the way ahead for the geographical data sets used for environmental purposes published in a JRC report
Oct 21 2021

Geospatial data made available in Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDIs) should evolve from complex and highly specialised frameworks, with legal obligations enforced by strict technical specifications, to flexible, open, agile, and self-sustainable data ecosystems, according to a recently published study of the Joint Research Centre.

The findings will be discussed during the 2021 INSPIRE Conference “Towards a Common European Green Deal data space for environment and sustainability”, co-organised by the JRC with DG ENV and the European Environment Agency (EEA) between 25 and 29 October, online. Packed with experience and lessons learned from the past, the discussion will be opened on how to transform the INSPIRE Directive to a data sharing instrument that will fuel the EU common data space with green open data. Full programme and registrations.

The analysis on how the Member States have created and shared these datasets for the last 15 years led to a set of general observations that made then the recommendations possible. Whereas the INSPIRE legislation boosted the data sharing via the national services and led to technical innovation, the strong utilisation of particular standards and the limited methods of sharing created obstacles to the best use of these data sets.

The European data strategy of 19 February 2020 announced the support for the creation of common European data spaces in strategic economic sectors and domains of public interest, including environment, to boost the development of the European data economy and to harness the value of data for the benefit of the European society. Data spaces will also contribute to achieving the digital decade objectives.

The Commission’s focus on the green and digital transformation holds the potential to make INSPIRE a key tool for the successful (environmental) data sharing in Europe, provided some lessons are learnt from the data gathering and sharing process since 2007, and some recommendations are taken into consideration for the next steps.

A simple legal and licensing framework, flexible governance, transparency and close cooperation among interested stakeholders as well as improved accessibility of data are the main findings of the report about how the future SDIs should look like. A key recommendation is to extend the entry level beyond geospatial specialists, welcoming an increased participation from less traditional stakeholders (e.g. open source software communities, standardisation bodies and early adopters) in addition to data providers and users.