As the GIS4EU Project neared the end, the coordinator sent a questionnaire to all Partners to learn more about the value of the project’s products and deliverables to their own organisations. The table below records the responses received from a cross-section of the Partners, including data owners, users, research institutes and IT companies.
Looking briefly at the responses, it is apparent from the replies to questions (1b) and (5) that all GIS4EU Partners found the project to be very instructional, leaving them with a better understanding of what is involved in INSPIRE implementation and what will be require after the project ends.
Assessment of Questions 1 to 5.
Q 1a: While many Partners were already well aware of INSPIRE, they were not aware of how much work would be required in meeting the INSPIRE Implementing Rules, highlighted by the work undertaken in the project, work flows needed, potential organisational changes implied, etc. This applied equally to the research and university institutions, as well as to data owners and users. Prior to the project, some were “by no means able to estimate the time, costs and work necessary to make the datasets ‘INSPIRE compliant’.”
Q 1b. While most Partners felt that they were now better able to implement INSPIRE, at least one noted that there is a difference between knowing what must be done – and being able to do it!
Q 3. There was good general awareness that INSPIRE covers both data and the services operating on that data (discovery, viewing, downloading, etc.)
Q 4a. The value of metadata was well understood, and several Partners’ organisations or regions already had some form of metadata catalogue and discovery service in operation in advance of INSPIRE. One Partner noted that there is a difference between understanding the importance and value of metadata, and getting data owners to create appropriate metadata, regardless of the standard used!
Q5. On the positive side, one Partner says: “The GIS4EU project gave us the possibility to participate in ‘practical experience’ ... to better understand problems and possible solutions ... and get the knowledge to share (the experience) at the inter-regional and national level.” Another added: “We feel now more aware about the cross-border issues relating to INSPIRE implementation.” On the slightly more negative side, other Partners stated that they “Are now more aware, but maybe not better able (to implement INSPIRE)” and “Yes (we are better able) – but – there is still a long way to go.”
An assessment of the two questions requiring move lengthy answers follows.
Q 6. Which plans do you intend to put in place, after GIS4EU ends, to follow INSPIRE?
The general response was that “We plan to follow the national SDI implementation guidelines, which we assume will need to follow INSPIRE Directive rules” or “We are already following the INSPIRE guidelines for creating our portals.” Other comments were – “Most important is to explain, to data production departments, the processes and workflows created in the project” and for the software developers and researchers “we need to continue to make the tools we offer ‘INSPIRE compliant’” and “we will continue to monitor technology improvements ... and new INSPIRE (Technical Guidance) documents.”
Q 7. What do you think could be necessary, after GSI4EU ends, to make the INSPIRE Directive really operative inside your organisation?
Again, general agreement that the experience of the workflows and processed developed and tested in the project need to be widely promulgated to the data production departments. Yet this will require “more effective collaboration among the different sectors and competencies (in our organisation)” in order to make INSPIRE principles “part of our daily lives and work.” In regard to spreading the word on INSPIRE and its implementation rules, there was a plea for a “useful and brief version of the INSPIRE Directive” and for the Technical Guidelines – which today often require real technical experts to understand and interpret. Most users in data production units may not have this level of expertise – they simply want to know how to do something.
The most comprehensive comment, well wort h including there, is from an ICT unit supporting a regional government, who have significant experience in GI/GIS and SDI. They declare that we need:
1. · to care about, and be aware of, organizational issues,
2. · to have clear in our minds what the data are for - precisely,
3. · to be clear on the responsibilities for collecting and updating data,
4. · to ensure that stakeholders know about updating frequencies, and restrictions in viewing and using data,
5. · to improve attitudes towards sharing spatial data, and
6. · to more widely promote information about the value of exploiting spatial data, at different levels, with many stakeholders.
Table 2 shows the data themes for which Partners claimed to be responsible, either by creating and maintaining the data, or using it (not counting Respondent 7), in response to question 2a. The numbers in the first row indicate the type of Partner, as per the legend in Table 1.