Inspire Helsinki 2019 was a success – what is the future of data challenges?

Inspire Helsinki 2019 Epicenter

After last year’s INSPIRE conference in Antwerp, a lot of the regular visitors to the conference asked themselves where will the next INSPIRE conference be held. The answer turned out to be Helsinki, but it was not going to be the typical yearly affair. Inspire Helsinki 2019 was a change to the long running tradition of yearly INSPIRE conferences. This time the focus was more on technology and data users and based on the feedback, the event was well received. So what was different and what did we learn from Inspire Helsinki 2019?

Data Challenges and technological approach

The event was organised by the National Land Survey of Finland, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry along with the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. Spatineo was part of the local organisation committee and lead the organisation of the data challenges. 

Usually topics and presentations in INSPIRE conferences have been about policy related matters, information and updates on technical guidance, and news about progress in implementation. While technology has always been a part of the conferences, this time it was decided the event should focus on both technology and data users.

The event hosted a number of workshops and data challenges. Challenges were hosted by our challenge partners who designed challenges where data was to be used to solve a problem or help people in their day to day lives. There were four challenges ranging from testing INSPIRE infrastructure to improving day to day commuting:

More information and the webinars related to the challenges can be found from the links above.

Why Data Challenges?

INSPIRE Conferences have been hosted by and for the people working on INSPIRE policy and implementation. This format has worked well, and was especially important in the early days of INSPIRE implementation, but as more and more data has been published, more and more people have been asking about presentations on how the data is actually used. In the Inspire Helsinki 2019 event we specifically set  out to address this issue.

Five teams who had produced submissions to the challenges presented at the event and they showed their solutions. Their works ranged from identifying landslide hazards to bike route planning while avoiding bad weather to analyzing best vacation areas using machine learning methods. You can read more about all five submissions on the challenge website.

The room where the teams presented their solutions was packed with standing room only and feedback from the audience sent a clear message that there is a need in the community to reach out and hear back from developers using open data. I feel there are two important factors here: 1) seeing how data is used is a real motivator for service providers – it is difficult to get excited about opening data if you don’t see how that work can impact society and people, 2) the developers using data benefit from a connection to the service providers – being able to ask questions and provide feedback, to have a dialogue between the provider and user, is crucial for developing a true ecosystem.

The winners were announced on the last day of the event and JRC sponsors one member of each team who presented at the event to attend the Dubrovnik INSPIRE Conference in 2020!

From Helsinki to Dubrovnik

As the dust settles in Helsinki, it is a good time to start thinking about how we can as a community, to make future INSPIRE Conferences even better. INSPIRE, while not complete, is ready for use and as such, should reach out to data users and developers. This requires dialogue: meeting people and getting the word out of the confines of the comfortable INSPIRE implementation bubble. The Helsinki Data Challenges were well received and I feel we were able to start the dialogue between data providers and users. We really hope that this good spirit and communication is carried over and continued in upcoming INSPIRE conferences as well!

Spatineo will be once again attending the upcoming event in Dubrovnik, and we’re thrilled to see how INSPIRE events can evolve over time towards a better more inclusive ecosystem.

Get Smart with Widgets – How to be transparent with your spatial web services?

Get Smart With Widgets

As more and more spatial web services and more and more data, are being opened to the public, it becomes vital to display more and more of transparency. How are your services working, and how is that information shared with your users? We have figured one very efficient way to relay that information for everyone to see!

Users and your IT can reach information easily

“I’m having trouble, I’m wondering if the service is working properly at the moment?”, “Is this service reliable enough to use in our application?”, “Is there any planned maintenance in the service I should be aware of?”

These can be questions your users and even your own employees might be wondering from time to time. These can be difficult to answer, and even with experienced IT personnel it can take quite a while to answer these relatively simple questions your users have. What if this information would be automatically and transparently available to everyone?

We think this kind of transparency of quality in spatial web service is vital. Your services might be used by for example first aid personnel who need that data to be reliably accessible. Achieving this kind of credibility is something you need to build slowly and maintain. Giving information about the quality of your services is one key factor when building this trust.

This is where the widgets in Spatineo Monitor can be an amazing solution for you.

Dashboard of your spatial web services

We are just going to jump to the awesome results we have witnessed our customers have been able to do. Informatie Vlaanderen from Belgium is one of our customers, who have taken the mission of transparency very seriously. They are really ahead of the game with this one. Their spatial web service dashboard ( is a prime example where the organisation displays openly the status of their services. The page shows the current status as well as historical availability and the information is there for everyone to see. Anyone can find this page and see themselves that Informatie Vlaanderen’s services are top notch. 

We have also noticed that the “dashboard format” is quite ideal for these widgets. The layout Informatie Vlandeeren made displays all services in a neat and compact format. You can check the availability and notifications of any service in mere seconds from single page. 

One of the reasons why widgets in Spatineo Monitor can be trusted is that the monitoring is performed by a third party. Spatineo tests the services by accessing the services exactly how users would access them. Therefore our monitoring gives very accurate information on how reliable those services are.

So, how to get smart with Widgets?

Displaying availability widgets is actually a really simple process with our tools. We’re not even exaggerating when we’re saying that the whole process can be done in few clicks. 

Log into Spatineo Monitor, select which service you want to show, go to the sharing tab and copy the “widget loader snippet”. See the animation below for how to do it.

Geospatial Availability Widgets

So now that you have the snipped copied, all you need to do is paste that into your webpage. The animation below you can see how easy it is to add the widget to a WordPress site.

Vóila, you can see the result below. This widget shows the availability of the Finnish Environment Institute’s INSPIRE Hydrography web map service.

The examples our customers have created for themselves are a little bit more complex, but anyone with basic HTML skills should be able to pull of similar layouts. Your imagination is the limit! 

We would love to see your availability widgets in action! If you have implemented our solution, please share that with everyone – Examples help everyone else to achieve better transparency and assist their goals to help their own users.

Want to stay ahead of the game, and get latest news from us? Subscribe now to our newsletter!

The economic benefits of geodata in digital urban planning and building process

Spatineo Inc. and its partner GIS-kvalitet i Norden supported Lantmäteriet, the National Land Survey of Sweden, in answering an essential and important question “What is the economic benefit of national harmonization and standardization of geodata and the national platform for access of geodata?”. The companies made together a project to Lantmäteriet  in which they assessed the potential economic benefit of the use of geodata in the digital urban planning and building process in Sweden. The estimated annual economic value is 22,6 – 42,2 billion Swedish crowns.

Goal of the study

The urban planning and building sector is the biggest sector in Sweden that effects on the built environment. Therefore, Lantmäteriet has been commissioned by the Government to work for a streamlined digital urban planning process. The goal is a more effective interaction between authorities, citizens and businesses. This is promoted by providing all actors the most important national basic datasets as a geospatial service from the national platform. National basic datasets are mainly produced by cities and municipalities.

It was already stated by Smart Built Environment in 2016 that an “unbroken” information flow in urban planning and building process can save billions of  crowns. The main goal of our study was to analyse in more detail the economic benefits of the subprocesses and show the estimated total value.


Our study is a meta-analysis of both Swedish and international studies in which the economic impacts of the use of geodata have been analysed. Results from international studies has been applied to Swedish conditions so that national statistics related to number of units and users, revenues, salaries etc. have been used. One core requirement for the existing studies that has been utilized in this study is that geodata has been an essential part of application, service or product that produces the benefits to users. Without geodata the economic benefits would not have been realised.

Economic benefits

The urban planning and building process includes the following subprocesses: general planning, detailed planning, real estate formation, building permit, building and construction planning, groundworks and construction, and maintenance. Our analysis shows that the biggest economic benefit can be gained in the groundworks and construction, in total 19,4-38,8 billion Swedish crowns. The second biggest economic benefits can be gained in building and construction planning, 3 billion Swedish crowns.

The economic potential of geodata in digital urban planning and building process

Open geodata

In our analysis of the potential economic benefits we have not taken into account whether the geodata is open or not. However, it is emphasized in the report  “Nationella basdata från stat och kommun” by Geodatarådet in 2017 that fully financed open geodata from a national service is making the digitalization of public processes much easier and faster, and stimulates innovation and growth of small and medium size private companies.

Lantmäteriets report “Nationellt tillgängliggörande av geodata i samhällsbyggnadsprocessen” is based on Spatineo’s and GIS-kvalitet’s report “Ekonomisk nytta av geodata i samhällsbyggnadsprocessen i Sverige”. You can download the full study for free here.

Spatineo Inc. ( is specialised in providing SaaS and professional services in the field of quality assurance for spatial web services, Spatial Data Infrastructures and impact assessment.

GIS-kvalitet i Norden AB ( is owned and operated by Helena Ringmar, the GIS strategist and certified business architect with over 30 years of experience in running projects and get the benefit of geographical information to businesses.