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Comparing INSPIRE and OpenStreetMap data: How to make the most out of the two worlds


The beginning of our century has seen the rise of Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDIs) and crowdsourced geographic information projects. This study analyses and compares the most relevant European initiatives in both contexts: INSPIRE, the Directive aiming to establish a pan-European DI used for environmental policies, and OpenStreetMap (OSM), the largest and richest crowdsourced geospatial database. Similarities and differences, advantages and disadvantages of the two initiatives from an end user perspective are presented for a number of characteristics: underlying approach and governance, spatial scope, data structure and encoding,data access, and licensing framework. Overall, despite some weaknesses, both initiatives have developed several good practices and achieved different types and degrees of interoperability, which would make their integration highly beneficial to multiple stakeholders. From the pure technical perspective, such integration is fully enabled by the maturity of the available FOSS4G, which offers specific support for both INSPIRE and OSM resources, also reviewed in the paper.