The geospatial architects

How to save costs converting geospatial data to meet the INSPIRE standards

The INSPIRE Directive launched by the European Union in 2007 has lead to a number of solutions being created in order to solve the problem of converting existing geospatial data into data that meets the INSPIRE Directive standard. But, even before the directive was launched, there were a number of solutions developed that could convert country specific data into a more ‘standard’ format. These solutions largely came in the form of ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) tools which assist only in the conversion of simple data types. Because every European member state has its own data in its own format, these ETL tools only separately convert every type of data for every member state. They don’t provide a singular conversion method that can transform any type of data to meet the INSPIRE standard.

Geospatial software developer Pieter De Graef from Geosparc has been instrumental in the development of such a data-conversion solution at DOV (Databank Ondergrond Vlaanderen - Database Subsoil Flanders). While the solution has been very useful, it does not provide a one-size-fits-all solution to converting different types of data, and only supports very basic conversion algorithms. Each converted map is configured in its own individual manner, meaning that no two datasets can be converted in the same way. “The solution works if you have one or two datasets, but if you have hundreds, you need more automation. Besides, we still have no way of supporting the more complex conversions that INSPIRE requires” says Pieter.

If the INSPIRE Directive is to be fully instituted across all of Europe in an efficient and cost-effective manner, it will necessitate a solution with greater flexibility. The new solution will need to be user-friendly to the degree that it doesn’t require a programmer to operate it. If such an application were to be created, hundreds of geospatial datasets could be converted to meet INSPIRE Directive standards in a short time. That’s why Pieter is now working as one of the top developers on an open source web GIS solution called INSPIRE>>GIS. The finished INSPIRE>>GIS solution will be able to simplify the data conversion process, making it possible for companies to easily meet the INSPIRE standards without having to hire a programmer. Automation will be key to the application’s purpose, as datasets will be able to be periodically converted to meet the INSPIRE Directive standards with the use of a simple user interface. In addition to this, it will allow for users to visualize and analyze the converted data.

The geospatial INSPIRE solution is still being worked on and fine-tuned, and several companies are already using aspects of it to convert existing geospatial data into data that meets the INSPIRE Directive standards. Importantly, INSPIRE>>GIS is capable of converting different types of data from any part of Europe, making it a one-size-fits-all data conversion tool that provides quick and easy conversion.

DOV’s application has been a source of inspiration for INSPIRE>>GIS. By being innovative in the creation of tools and applications that can convert and manage geospatial data, DOV has provided a perfect case study to prove that a data conversion application can be a reality and save costs in the process of converting geospatial data to meet the INSPIRE standards. DOV has been vital in the geospatial data conversion process from 1996 to the present. With the capacity to save money and increase efficiency, INSPIRE>>GIS and similar solutions could be just as vital to DOV in the future.

If you would like to view a live demo of the INSPIRE>>GIS solution, come see Geosparc at the Geospatial World Forum in Amsterdam. Interested in further information? Contact us via email at