Action 2017.3 on improved client support for INSPIRE data

The action aims to:

  1. Investigate use cases and requirements for improved client support.
  2. Discuss with the open source community and commercial vendors how to improve support for INSPIRE data, in client (web, desktop and mobile) software.
  3. Investigate means for consumption of INSPIRE data directly from National and European discovery services

More specifically, it will carry out the following tasks:

  1. In collaboration with thematic communities (through the Thematic Clusters platform and the MIG-T), identify test datasets available in INSPIRE encodings (GML-based or alternative encodings discussed in action 2017.2) and relevant use cases.
  2. Conduct a study on the usability of the test INSPIRE datasets identified in Task 1 in different libraries (OGR/GDAL), desktop and web clients (e.g. Quantum GIS, ESRI ArcGIS for Desktop, LeafletJS, OpenLayers) and analytical or ETL tools for data processing (e.g. HALE, FME, R). Depending on the selected use cases, the study could also investigate the usability in other client tools or applications outside of the GI domain that could make use of INSPIRE data.
  3. Organise, together with the open source community and commercial vendors, events to discuss the findings of the study and identify the way forward to improve the client support for INSPIRE data (and, if appropriate, possible follow-up actions for the MIWP in 2019).
  4. Prioritise tools and specific functionalities that should be improved or developed, including the proposal for an approach for stakeholder collaboration (potentially including co-funding) for tool improvements.
  5. Investigate good practices for the implementation of the publish – find – bind paradigm (e.g. direct use of data based on its metadata) for national and EU INSPIRE metadata and catalogues.  

The full action mandate is attached: MIWP-2017.3_Improved_client_support_for_INSPIRE_data_Action_mandate_endorsed.pdf

Meetings / workshops


Background & context

The current data specification TGs define (complex) xml schemas based on GML as the default encoding for all INSPIRE spatial data themes. Many existing (web, desktop and mobile) applications and tools have difficulties in consuming and/or fully making use of data shared according to these schemas.

The INSPIRE xml schemas are complex because they are generated automatically from the conceptual UML model (according to the normative UML-to-GML encoding rules described in the GML standard and INSPIRE Technical Guidelines D2.7 Encoding Guidelines) and therefore reflect all the complex structures present in the conceptual model. In contrast, most existing clients, including the popular GDAL/OGR open source library (that is underlying most OS and proprietary client solutions) consumes and writes flat data structures, where e.g. each attribute can only have at most one value and attributes can have only simple types (e.g. integer, string, boolean). This means that, while INSPIRE data encoded according to the current schemas can be downloaded and viewed, simple use of the data (cartographic visualisation, simple joins, visual overlays, spatial search, …) is difficult in standard GIS clients.

One way to address this gap is to encourage better support by vendors for the current (GML-based) INSPIRE encoding (another one is to create alternative simplified schemas for basic data exchange and direct visualisation in standard GI tools– this solution will be investigated in action 2017.2.).

Some vendors and projects have already started to improve the support for GML. However, different projects/vendors implement different (arbitrary subsets) of GML/XML. In addition, there is no analysis of the subset of XML schema (and GML) that is required in INSPIRE, including for specific INSPIRE themes that may need to deal with this complexity. 

Organisational set-up

The work will be coordinated by JRC and supported by a contractor (mainly for tasks 2 and 3).

Several events will be organised with the INSPIRE stakeholder community, in particular potential users, open source developers and commercial vendors, either stand-alone or in conjunction with other events or conferences (e.g. FOSS4G or INSPIRE conferences).