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GI and GIS: harmonisation and interoperability


Specific Objectives

Specific Objectives in 2002:

The JRC-IES Institute has been proposed for the technical co-ordination of the Environmental European Spatial Data Infrastructure (E-ESDI) initiative. A huge effort is required to develop the horizontal components and to guarantee the link with the vertical thematic component (in particular to support the GIS aspects of the water framework directive and of the Commission communication COM(2001)144 on agri-environment). This will oblige to strengthen the link with European Umbrellas such as Eurogeographics, Eurogi, Euref and international standards organisations such as ISO and OGC to develop technical guidelines to be adopted in the framework of the future legislation. The situation in MSs should be carefully examined and all proposed technologies should be tested. A specific test bed is foreseen in collaboration with USGS to make EO data interoperable through OpenGIS specifications. The ad hoc support to other DGs should continue because the expertise and support of JRC on GI-GIS aspects is more and more appreciated. In addition to DG ENV (asking to focus on E-ESDI) the JRC support should be, in principle, limited to few other DGs such as EUROSTAT, DG AGRI and DG TREN because it will be impossible to address other request with the current staff. The GIS for Natura2000 will be completed and integrated with the activities of spatial aspects for the monitoring of protected areas in Europe (before part of the PDS/Moland project). Research activity should continue to focus on the development of spatial indicators (for agri-environment), to the integration of GI and statistics and to data fusion, that are the basis for any additional work for the definition or monitoring of EU policies with a spatial component. This project will continue to operate the web portal of the EC for Geographic Information ( as well to organise the annual EC workshop in GI-GIS. Ad hoc specific workshop will be organised, on a case by case basis, to address specific technical problems (e.g. the vertical component of the European Geodetic network).
Planned Deliverables

Deliverables 2002:

Specific deliverables to DGs:

- Technical co-ordination of E-ESDI;

- Support the action plan of the E-ESDI and ESDI. Link with GSDI (Global Spatial Data Infrastructure);

- Standardisation of European spatial databases (reference systems, projection systems, metadata);

- Technical support on GI and GIS (participation in COGI, EEA Advisory Group on Spatial Analysis);

- Relevant indicators related to EU policies as a result of integrated assessments tools/models (related to Agri-Environment, Water Framework Directive);

- Dissemination about EC initiatives on GI-GIS (EC-GIS web portal and 8th EC-GIS workshop);

- Spatial Statistical methods to be used in support or in definition of EU policies.

As a result of the research:

- Spatial Databases of pan-European data sets (land cover, catchments, agro-meteorology) and GIS.

- GIS x Natura2000;

- Agri-environmental indicators (Nitrate pressure from agriculture at catchment level for EU15, Landscape diversity);

- Image2000 (European satellite mosaic);

- Scientific publications, Technical reports, Recommendations;

- 8th EC-GIS Workshop, EC-GIS WEB site, panels of experts, Thematic networks.

Summary of 2001 Deliverables: 31/12/2001

- NATURA 2000 GISVAL prototype in operational use for the validation of all Natura2000 sites;

- Comparability of landscape diversity indicators in the EU. From land cover to landscape in the EU;

- Report on the spatial disaggregating of official statistics with CORINE Land cover;

- Delivery near real time monthly meteorological information to Eurostat F2 (Agricultural production) and F4 (Energy Statistics) via a GIS web-based application;

- "The Spatial Impact of EU policies "; Technical report;

- "The ETeMII Project: findings of the reference data workshop in Potsdam". Position Paper to COGI;

- "Standards in geo-spatial metadata: Recommendations to COGI", Position Paper to COGI;

- "Survey of commercial suppliers of European geographical data", Technical Report;

- "Geographic Information and Enlargement of the European Union", EUR 19824;

- Proceedings 6th EC GIS Workshop; SPE 2000.131

- "Map Projections for Europe", Technical report;

- 1st International workshop on the analysis of multi-temporal remote sensing images, Trento;

- "ECOSITES", Final Report;

- "The Lacoast Atlas", SPI 0039;

- "Image quality assessment for Image2000", Report;

- 7th EC GIS Workshop; Potsdam;

- EU Workshop on Cadastral data as a component of SDI in support of agri-environmental programmes; Budapest;

- EC GI & GIS Web Portal;

- Updated version of the European river basins at scale 1:1mio;

- Business Plan for a GIS Interoperability Laboratory for Europe;

- Contribution to the Commission communication to the Council and Parliament COM(2001)144 to elaborate agri-environment indicators;

- EGEO Newsletter: quarterly newsletter to provide information on IES/LUC projects related to spatial and environmental data.

Output Indicators and Impact

It is intention of the project to self-assess the results achieved through the use of the JRC- "Key Performance Indicators" (Participation in networks, High-quality peer-reviewed publications, Invited presentations & Awards, External scientific positions held by staff) as well as other ad hoc indicators 'customer oriented' such as:
a) number of confirmed DG customers;
b) letters of user satisfaction;
c) level of awareness raised in the EC;
d) number of technical documents adopted by EC;
e) input to EC directives.

The project is supporting the development of a European SDI not only addressed to EC needs. Specific indicators will be developed to see the influence of this project on national decisions. Indicators must be developed finally to try to measure the degree of appreciation of the project from European umbrella and international organisations; the first is important to discuss about a possible GI-GIS topic in the future ERA.
Summary of the project

This project supports the actions to create a European Spatial Data Infrastructure (ESDI). The ESDI encompasses the broad policy, organisational, technical and financial arrangements necessary to support access to spatial (geographic) information. It is seen by many as central to the response to the challenge of sustainable development. It benefits many stakeholders - government and non-government organisations, education and research institutions, the commercial sector, the community at large- at the national, regional and global level. In the EU, no legal entity exists that has a mandate to create and maintain an ESDI and address GI policy issues.

The mission of the GI&GIS project is to fill that void, and to establish the right conditions for the creation of a European Reference Centre for Geographic Information. At the crossroads of GI policy and strategy development, GI interoperability, and the conception of pan-European GI data sets, the GI&GIS project is a unique reference for issues related to GI.

Its core objective is the development of the ESDI, and the use of spatial information by sectorial policies.
Key actions are:

- Assisting in GI policy development, including terms and conditions for the acquisition, use, maintenance, and dissemination of all geo-referenced data used by EC services to formulate and monitor EU policy.

- To support the creation and the updating of pan-European data sets such as CORINE land cover, Natura2000, European Catchments Information System, and European Agro-Meteo products.

-Operating a technology watch in the areas of interoperability, standards development and use, testing and demonstrating their importance.

- Addressing methodological issues related to integrated spatial assessment relevant to EU policy analysis, which includes data fusion, spatial analysis, spatial statistics and data representation;

- To provide scientific and technical support to the services of the Commission and disseminate information to the European GI community via the Internet.


The use of trans-national Geographic Information (GI) will increase enormously over the next few years. Improved access to high quality GI is an important support for European policy, social, and environmental issues, paramount in the light of the Enlargement of the EU. There are clear signals of the increasing awareness of spatial aspects in EU policies (6th Environment action plan, Water Framework directive, habitat directive, Nitrate directive)
and the creation of COGI (permanent inter-service group of the Commission) is a clear answer to such demand. Given the role that GI plays, it is important that GI be created and distributed as economically as possible, and that duplication is prevented. The role of the EU institutions is to ensure that right conditions are met to guarantee efficient GI creation and sharing. Territorial management is multi-disciplinary by its very nature.

The sustainable development principles, agreed at Rio and Kyoto meetings, are examples of developments that increase the need to combine information coming from different disciplines such as agriculture, environment, transport, fisheries, land planning and geology. The only way to succeed in combining data in a cost-effective fashion, and to keep coherence in the decision process, is by creating an infrastructure, making reference data and systems available for all users, from all disciplines, regardless of the scope and reach of their work. The solution to meet the challenges is a common framework called European Spatial Data Infrastructure (ESDI) and to develop a sound expertise on methods to be used to combine heterogeneous spatial data. To support the new initiative of DG ENV aiming to develop the legislative framework for the future Environmental European Spatial Data Infrastructure (E-ESDI) some priorities should be revised and the effort should be channelled to guarantee the success of E-ESDI. The directive is targeted to be adopted in 2004 but its implementation will require several years and a huge co-ordination and technical support where JRC could play a relevant role (in perfect agreement with the subsidiary principle). At the same time other DGs, such as DG TREN, are showing new interest in being supported by the project to start the process of building SDI for their specific needs (e.g. TEN).

Call for proposal

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Institute for Environment and Sustainability


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EU contribution
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