INSPIRE a digital Europe: Thinking out of the box. INSPIRE 2017. Kehl-Strasbourg 4-8 September 2017

Theme of INSPIRE 2017

INSPIRE Conference has chosen it’s theme to revolve around this particular phrase: “INSPIRE a digital Europe: Thinking out of the box”.

think out of the box

to think in a different, innovative, or original manner, esp with regard to business practices, products, systems, etc (Collins English Dictionary)

In geospatial context this could mean going to an uncharted territory with your data, leaving boundaries behind and embracing new innovations. At the same time it should mean looking for alternative and better methods and processes for enabling these innovations and tearing down administrative and technical barriers.


Disrupting technologies and new applications

As markets progress towards open data and increasing quality and availability, it is becoming easier and easier for anyone to use your data. This creates an environment where anyone can create a new applications using your data. Innovation flourishes where everyone has equal chance to create something new and spatial data infrastructures offer platforms that paves the way for this innovation. This is more or less what INSPIRE and various Open Data initiatives have promised will happen for that past 10 years. Still it has been a challenge to get tangible benefits from individual INSPIRE implementation or data opening projects.

We need more evidence of the use of INSPIRE data sets, engage with the user community and help them to build their businesses using the excellent data sets made available with the considerable data provider effort since the INSPIRE Directive came into force in 2007. Active user base also means active feedback on the data quality, applicability and availability, leading into better and more accessible data for all. To reach this goal we sometimes need to ease up on our formalism and traditional GIS ways of working with our data, and to simplify some things even if that would feel like killing our precious dataset babies.

New innovations in technology are sometimes disruptive: Creating a whole new playing field with technology that surpasses the old, anyone might find the next generation of spatial data usage. Every minute people around the world are trying to combine new technologies to create something original and fascinating. Right combination of automation, 3D printing and drone-powered automatic flash-delivery making large factories look out-fashioned and expensive by moving manufacturing into urban areas, closer to end-users.

Box-in effect

Geospatial information is sensitive. Records of movement and location are carefully shared data, that should be given out to authorised parties only. To address that, many governments have placed sensitive rules on geospatial data. Lack of coordination and cooperation effectively makes it harder to utilize data in different places. INSPIRE was created to harmonize the administrative boundaries. When the rules are the same everywhere, it is easier to apply one great innovation everywhere.

EULF (European Union Location Framework) is a good example of harmonizing and breaking administrative boundaries. EULF, that was created with INSPIRE standards, helps national mapping agencies to provide data together with the private sector. Companies can acquire data from all different public road authorities with same data specifications now. The pilot is underway in Norway and Sweden as of now, but it is expected to integrate to whole EU in the near future.

These administrative boundaries can be seen as a box that limits innovation. When someone sees a way to move the box or operate outside of it (within limitations of law) new ways to use spatial data can be discovered.

Added value comes from breaking boundaries

Digital revolution has broken boundaries and merged industries together, as we progress towards a mature spatial data society. We don’t need to worry about getting lost anymore, we can rest assure that emergency personnel locate us accurately and we get precise information about environment first hand.

When we can rely on all of these factors working as intended, we can make progress in other matters. That is where the added value resides. Spatial data works at it’s finest when getting information is quick and effortless. Breaking the boundaries between industries helps consumers to find and use data from different sources more easily. If I want to check algae levels of a lake and get directions there at the same time it requires cooperation between data infrastructures.


Thinking outside the box is the future

Developing and implementing new strategies is the only way to penetrate markets and segments these days. It requires tremendous amount of knowledge and innovation to find these small fragments of new strategy and put them together. This is what INSPIRE 2017 drives us towards.

One of the most interesting recent discussions has been the “What if…” -sessions: Last year’s INSPIRE conference included a session called “Well, I wouldn’t start from here – What if we didn’t have INSPIRE” by John Dixon of Defra (see video from part 1 and part 2) and there was a very interesting session called “INSPIRE What if…” at the OGC meeting at Delft in March 2017. This re-thinking process will now continue at this year’s INSPIRE Conference with the session “INSPIRE – What if…? – Conference edition” on Friday morning by Michael Lutz et al.INSPIRE 2017 showcases strategies how to think outside the box, as it is the most efficient way to progress. Don’t limit yourself into a certain way of thinking, but expand into other possibilities.

Spatineo eagerly waits to hear what innovations and ground breaking discoveries our fellow spatial data experts have found this year and look forward to see how we can contribute to what is to come. Remember to attend INSPIRE 2017 for all of this!

More info about Spatineo’s INSPIRE compliance can be discovered here!