During the past decade-and-a-half open data issues in Europe are being actively addressed by academia, NGOs, SMEs and governmental agencies. This activity is enabled by some longer-term EU programmes as INFO 2000, eEurope, i2010, the Digital Agenda, as well as the multiyear Research Framework Programs and several ICT/eContent oriented programs (including eContent, eContentplus and ICT-PSP).
The associated thematic Europe-wide projects and network including ePSINet, ePSIplus, ePSIplatform, and LAPSI, encouraged expert groups and workshops all over the European Economic Area to work together, share experiences and raise awareness. In the same timeframe, starting in 1996 when the global spatial data infrastructure initiative was established under the auspices of top US and European politicians, the GI 2000 program and a series of pan-European GI projects, some of them CEE-oriented, have been accomplished (including eTEMII and GINIE), that have involved academia (supported by ESF), industry and NGOs.
These paved the way for the INSPIRE directive. Based on some agreed principles, 5-year in-depth technical preparation and multisectoral political support on European level, the INSPIRE initiative had the goal to set up a legislative framework for sharing spatial data in the EU. The INSPIRE Directive came into force in 2007, having the geospatial data sharing as its focal point., endorsing open access to metadata be it data which have to be paid for or open data. The criteria for INSPIRE in form of regulations were elaborated by expert teams with contributions by hundreds of acknowledged spatial data interest communities (SDIC) and legally mandated organisations (LMOs). The implementation has a road map defined until 2020 with a established INSPIRE coordinating and monitoring mechanism.
The importance of open standards has been widely understood and so using the ISO and OGC standards became inevitable for the developer to ensure interoperability and INSPIRE compliancy. Implementation of European projects are intensively participated in by industry and academic institutions and exemplified by Eurogeographics, EUROGI, EuroGeoSurveys. Some recent open geospatial data best practices will be referred. One message from the INSPIRE 2012 Conference will be cited: sharing relevant, reliable data and information is fundamental for sound knowledge based decision making. This is why the Shared Environmental Information System SEIS deals with the entire information management system from data collection to end use in line with the Research and Innovation Program Horizon 2020.
The importance of legal aspects of the data access and re-use, the recently planned amendment of the existing PSI Directive and the new Open Data Policy of the European Commission enabled the interested community to become actively involved in these projects as exemplified by Legal Aspect of PSI (LAPSI) which completed after 30 months in September 2012 but is anticipated to continue involving a wider GI community throughout Europe via EUROGI as consortium member.
The paper focuses from the NGOs perspective on some recent efforts and accomplishments, which might influence the development of the legislative framework and preparation of supporting policy documents. Some relevant highlights of the participated ePSIplatform, GSDI Legal&SocioEcon Committee and LAPSI/EVPSI Closing Conference will be summarized.
The exceptionally data intensive Earth Observation and Digital Earth is an area of interest, where NGOs are active as well. Taking into account the widespread interest in opensource tools, and considering the unprecedented growth of the users of software technology in the past half decade reaching billions, due to developments in GNSS, location based services, sensor web and electronic identifier, mobile communication and internet of things, the challenge is now how to make services interoperable and provide open user interface tools for access to open data to the citizens which make that data easy to understand and use.
GMES as the European contribution to the GEOSS is now high on the agenda of EUROGI with mission goals and actions to be presented by the paper. Finally, an example will be shown introducing an initiative to mobilise capacities that are fully in line with the topic “Digital Earth in Data Intensive Era” of this session.
HUNAGI and others in the European community are joining up with NASA in an international effort to challenge the European higher education community to deliver sustainable solutions that serve the needs of the European community. Each university and their most capable professors and students, are being challenged to showcase their talents to specifically serve the real needs of the European community from local to national.
This Europa Challenge is based on exactly the same goals of our CODATA International Conference, “Open Data and Information for a Changing Planet.” Starting now and every year going forward, the Europa Challenge will seek the best information technology solutions the European universities can deliver based on NASA’s open source technology, Word Wind.
As open source technology it stimulates innovation for highly sustainable information management solutions that can best serve our changing planet, from the local to the national level. World Wind technology is already being used by government agencies around the world for emergency response, resource management, climate research, national defense, and international collaboration. The Europa Challenge will help to make this open technology better serve the information management needs of all.