EU Science Hub

Study of the terms of use applied in the INSPIRE resources and their usability barriers

In a short period of time, we have witnessed the increasing proliferation of (geospatial) data, thanks to initiatives such as the re-use of public sector information (PSI) and Open Data initiatives. Also, the emergence of the Internet of Things orchestrating and communicating with any sensor and the increasing citizen participation intensifies the volume of data being made available online. Paradoxically, not all this data is necessarily ready and easy to be re-used, especially when combining it with other data sources. Technological interoperability barriers such as formats or access control mechanisms are often cited, but the variety of data policies applicable have an impact on the reuse too. The INSPIRE Directive, in this regard, has helped to enhance access to harmonised geospatial data with direct or indirect impact on the environment, requiring the Member States to adopt measures for the sharing of spatial datasets and services between public administrations. However, although it supports open government principles and ’open’ data’ initiatives, INSPIRE has not specified a common data policy; as INSPIRE applies to existing data and, therefore, involves the competence and policies of the thousands of data providers within the scope of the Directive. This flexibility is reflected in the current complex ecosystem of data policies that data users are now confronted with, especially when INSPIRE's data could be re-used beyond its core European environmental policy purpose. Understanding the extent to which there are barriers to interoperability related to data policy is, thus, the main driver for the production of this report. More specifically, this work has a twofold scope. Firstly, it provides an overall picture of the data sharing approaches applied as available within the metadata provided by the Member States, and accessible through the INSPIRE Geoportal. Secondly, it highlights the user barriers to data sharing encountered during the analysis as a first step leading to possible solutions to reduce them. The key findings of the work are the verification of the existence of a high variety of applicable licenses with different degrees of openness, along with the presence of important user barriers ranging from the low quality of the metadata information on data sharing and its lack of uniformity to the constraining conditions for access and use. The work has been performed as part of Action 1.17, A Reusable INSPIRE Reference Platform under the Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administrations (ISA) Programme.