The 2011 INSPIRE conference was held in Edinburgh between the 27th June and the 1st July. This blog post covers the plenary speakers of Wednesday 29th June.
John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for finance and sustainable growth, welcomed delegates to the event and reiterated the position Scotland held in the development of science and technology. This was not confined to the Scottish Enlightenment, rather it held true today as Scotland took a lead on progressive governance. This could be seen in initiatives such as the OneScotland Mapping Agreement (OSMA) which simplifies the licence agreement between government and the Ordnance survey, and makes it easier to share data and information between OSMA members. This initiative has been successful, there are over 100 OSMA partners and the scheme has been replicated in other areas of the UK.
Wednesday’s plenary session had talks from Leen Hordijk (JRC), Hugo De Groof (Directorate-General for the Environment) and Daniele Rizzi (European Commission). Hordijk’s (JRC) presentation focused on “Evidence based Policy Making“, highlighting the main challenges that face Europe and the rest of the World. These include:
- natural resources
The role of the JRU is to bring data together and to turn data into information that can inform policies.
Hordijk demonstrated that targets were not the be all and end all. Targets had to be simple and achievable in a realistic timescale. He pointed out that predictions based on research are often rubbished if they never actually happen. However, this doesn’t mean that the original analysis was wrong, rather it formed part of a cycle along the lines of
Analysis –> Projection –> Reaction –> Prediction never materialises due to the reactive intervention.
An example of this would be the acid rain predictions. Acid rain has not killed our forests. The analysis and predictions triggered an intervention which has reduced SO2 by around 80%. The prediction was valid given trends at the time.
Hordijk provided a good example of how INSPIRE compliance can make things work. The European Floods Alert System (EFAS). EFAS relies on around 15 European datasets that have to be harmonised in order that Europe wide forecasts can be made. This system already exists, but it relies on interoperability and INSPIRE will make similar schemes easier, and cheaper, to implement.
The challenges that persist when trying to inform policy at an EU level are:
- Gaps in data
- Access to data
- Inconsistencies in methodology which make it hard to integrate data
- A lack of documentation, especially on the quality of data or analysis
Hordijk concluded by stating that data creators should aim to make data:
Combinable –> Accessible –> Usable
Second up was Hugo de Groof (Directorate-General for the Environment) who provided an update on compliance across the EU. The message to take away from this was that the majority of nations had achieved the targets but federative states, such as Austria, were finding it difficult to pull together data as a result of their administration structure. De Groof noted that there was:
- A mismatch between the demand for data and the supply of data
- Information and data sharing infrastructures are not yet sufficiently developed
- Data from which information is derived is not fit for purpose
The plenary talks concluded with Daniele Rizzi who updated delegates on the development of the INSPIRE implementing Rules Legal Acts. Significant dates include:
- 9th November 2011 – Discover and View services must be in place
- December 2012 – Transform and download services
- December 2013 – Annex III data made available
More information about these dates, and many more, can be found in the INSPIRE roadmap.