INSPIRE 2010 Conference (23 June Plenary Session) Krakow, Poland

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Wednesday Plenary session continued

Max Craglia (JRC) reported for the Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Joint Research Center (JRC) – European Commission.

A review of INSPIRE and importance of SDIs.

Summary of investments for the reduced scope of INSPIRE. The total investment per annum over 10 years in millions of euros:

EU level: 1.9 million
National Organisations: 13 million
Regional and Local: 77- 122 million

There is a breakdown in costs for these figures and metadata activities were included.

EU level: 200,000 euros
National Organisations: 1.9-2.2 million euros
Regional and Local: 33 million euros

Comment: This seems like serious money with regional and local authorities assuming the brunt of the costs. UK academia possibly similar to regional and local authorities, but then Go-Geo! services offer free support to academia for metadata creation, so considerable savings compared to these local government bodies which must comply with the INSPIRE Directive, which was transposed into law here at the end of 2009 and requires UK academic institutions to create metadata for spatial datasets which fall under one of the annex data themes. Most spatial data created within UK academia probably falls under INSPIRE Annex III themeMetadata for these spatial datasets are required for the end of 2013.

Benefits to these costs:

  • Always the most difficult to quantify
  • Worked on principle that if we could justify the benefits in the environmental sector, all other sectors would add benefits at little extra cost
  • Some benefits we were reasonably sure of, others had greater degree of uncertainty
  • Comment: How can these be quantified with regards to academia? Certainly difficult, but there are cost and time savings if spatial datasets are shared, or metadata used to protect these as part of good data management.


  • Survey of organisations (public and private) undertaking Environment Impact Assessments (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) across Europe in 2002
  • Some 20,000 undertaken every year
  • Average cost was 75,000 euros and last 6 months
  • 5% of cost and 8-10% of time was finding the data needed
  • Removing these costs would save over 100-200 million euros per annum.

    Comment: No one seems convinced that this is the case. We see people running out to buy the latest gadgets, but not very many engaging in good data sharing and management practices. Below is an example Max Craglia provided from England and Wales. It would seem that with current austerity measures, more funding would make sense for long term savings?

    Environmental monitoring and assessment

    • Cost of monitoring the environment in England and Wales was approximately 160 million euros per annum.
    • Most EU countries undertake similar functions although the organisational arrangements are different (centralised federated, decentralised).
    • The approximate cost across EU (15) was estimated as 1 billion euros.
    • Estimates of greater efficiency from well organised metadata, harmonised data, and improved data management can add up to 10% of total cost.

    Extrapolating across the EU 15 countries = 100 million euros per annum.

    Assumed INSPIRE benefits (after revisions): 770 to 1,150 million euros per annum.

    Benefits due to more effective and efficient services:

    Example of Catalonia

    Costs: 1.5 million euros over 4 years


    Benefits: assessed for 2006 with a focus on local government level

    • Efficiency savings account for 500 hours per month = 2.6 million euros
    • Effectiveness savings account for another 480 hours per month

    Wider social benefits for Catalonia:

    • Facilitating the use, reuse and sharing of resources within an SDI helps to close the digital gap between small and large municipalities.
    • Many small municipalities are now able to offer their residents.
    • Provides the basis for greater transparency, more informed citizens, and increased participation in the democratic process.

    Lombardia Regional SDI: key findings

    Costs: 4 million euros for 2006-2008 (including technology set-up and maintenance, training)

    Benefits: focus on external users. Repetition of 2002 European survey on EIA/SEA. 350 EIAs/SEA per annum in Lombardia, a market of around€25 million per annum

    Average saving due to SDI: 11% time, and 17% on cost

    Benefits: 3  million euros year savings a year on EIA/SEA only.

    Equally important is that sharing the same information base among developers and regulators facilitates dialogue, and results in better assessment of impacts and shared understanding of the issues, i.e. better management of the environment.

    Comment: Catalonia and Lombardia seem to demonstrate that there can be benefits in the use of SDIs, which of course metadata plays a critical role.

    Then some reflections on new innovations:

    • New trends in Information Society = new opportunities e.g. Social Networking, e-mail usage
    • Mobile Internet Desk Top Internet Adoption

    increasingly Mobile Phone is used for data and now accounts for more than voice calls.

    – Mobile + geography = innovation and new services

    Amazon example

    Globo Amazonia launched by TV Globo in Brazil in 2008

    • Interactive site with satellite data provided by INPE to report illegal logging and clearing fires.

    •  Expected impact 1 million users in first year.

    • 41 million reports in 3 months
    • Reports followed up by journalists of TV Globo
    • Large social and political impact

    Comment: Quite amazing that this Globo Amazonia received 41 million reports to report illegal logging and clearing fires in just 3 months. It seems we need to consider how to engage the public? Flickr and Youtube have demonstrated the potential which exists for engaging the public to provide information, so could the same be considered for spatial data, and what level of metadata would we expect as Flickr and Youtube submissions offer some discovery level metadata (place and subject keywords, title and the occasional comment which serves as an abstract/description).  Obviously, this is more fun than just sitting and writing metadata, and photos and film are the media for personal expression and sharing experiences with a familiar group or for the general public. There are awards and accolades presented to those providing exceptional photos on Flickr.

    Max Craglia’s conclusions:

    Spatial data infrastructures like INSPIRE are not just a technological artefact but a social process both in their development, and their implementation e.g. in changing business processes in the public administration.

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