Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

European-wide metadata services for geographic information (GI) in Europe: Feasibility study

The European Commission, DG XIII, has published a call for tender for the completion of a feasibility study for establishing European-wide metadata services for geographic information (GI) in Europe.

One of the main objectives of the proposed INFO2000 programme, approved by the Commission on 30 June 1995, is to encourage the use of European information content. Before data can be used, however, potential users must know that it exists. Providing better knowledge about European geographic information (GI), and permitting easier access to GI, are key objectives of the GI2000 initiative currently being developed by DG XIII/E as part of the INFO2000 programme.

Users of geographic information need to know what data exists, where it exists, who owns it, and how to access and pay for it. One means envisaged to answer this need is to encourage the development and interconnection of metadata services, i.e. services that provide information about the characteristics of a dataset such as content and quality, and details on points of contact to view or acquire the data.

Potential users of geographic information can consult metadata in order to prevent unnecessary data collection efforts or to share, reuse or add value to existing datasets.

The volume of digital geographic information datasets held by local, regional, national and pan-European data providers and users is growing continually. These databases reside on many platforms, in hundreds of locations and in many formats, including CD-ROM, diskettes and magnetic tapes. Much needed GI is not in digital format, yet knowledge of existence of this data and access to it are also important.

Although several metadata initiatives exist at both national and pan-European level, many data owners are uncertain of the cost and best practice to be followed in making available their valuable metadata. Increasing the confidence of these data holders in the value of metadata services and offering guidance on how to offer such services in a standard format will increase the level of information available about GI, thereby benefiting the market place for GI in both the private and public sectors.

The object of the study will be examine the feasibility of providing geographic information metadata from all European sources by reviewing existing local, national and international metadata services; by examining the costs involved; by reviewing the interconnection options available via EC-wide information networks; and by presenting a set of possible implementation scenarios to suit different levels of preparedness for both offering and using such services.

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