Imagine waking up in the beautiful Portuguese city of Porto and finding out the past two years of your life were a dream… All that talk of GeoRSS, Map Mash-ups, KML, User generated My Maps, The GeoWEB and Paris Hilton were all part of a dream.
We it felt a bit like that on the first day of the annual European Commission GI and GIS Workshop. Over 200 hundred GIS users from Public Sector Organisations and a few private sector ones are together meeting to discuss the impact of the INSPIRE directive now that it has been passed by the European Parliament.
During this first day the web 2.0 buzzwords of neogeograhy were notable by their absence.
Now I am actually less disappointed that I might have been, let me explain why…
INSPIRE is, contrary to all of the fuss last year drummed up by some in the UK, quite tightly focused on the supply of harmonised environmental geospatial data to the institutions of the European Commission, by public sector organisations in the member states. – There is no “public” interface here and the citizens are not seen as major customers for INSPIRE services.
As such you can think of this as a complex back office system for European Government, as much an Enterprise GIS for Brussels as a Spatial Data Infrastructure. So key to success will be clear definition of requirements and well specified system design.
Now here is the rub, despite the fact that much of the INSPIRE directive is not expected to be implemented until at least 2010, it is been designed now and must used well specified and recognised standards – things like the ISO 19100 series of standards developed by the Open GeoSpatial Consortium.
It’s not difficult to appreciate the problem, REST based interfaces, KML, GeoJSON, GeoRSS etc might actually be the best technologies to use today and would be the tools of choice of many, however like many other Government IT projects INSPIRE needs to follow the low risk route of SOAP, WSDL, WMS, WFS etc.
So we may find that organisations will use OGC style interfaces to communicate to other public sector organisations and the commission, while using lighter weight technologies to publish information to their citizens. This is no bad thing !!
I am however disappointed by the continued focus on metadata driven catalogue services as the primary mechanism to find geospatial data, I don’t believe this will work as nobody likes creating metadata, and catalogue services are unproved.
INSPIRE needs GeoSearch !!
Written and Submitted from the Le Meridien Hotel, Porto using the in-room broadband network.