All European countries generate and utilize geospatial data, but each country has its own specific way of doing so. What does this mean? Imagine Europe as a giant puzzle. This giant puzzle is split into sections (following the borders of countries) where each piece in that section represents data about the country’s land, rivers, cities, and more. Until now, every country has been putting together its puzzle in its own way. This made it hard for everyone to work together, especially when trying to solve big problems that cross borders, like climate change, natural disasters, continental infrastructure etc.

How INSPIRE (The Infrastructure for Spatial Data Information) was born

The European Union decided it was time for a change. Starting on May 15, 2007, they began creating a special digital library that allows all these different puzzle pieces to fit together perfectly. In more technical terms, they began developing the digital infrastructure of spatial data, enabling the sharing of spatial information among various organizational and interinstitutional sectors. This project, called INSPIRE, helps different countries’ maps and data “talk” to each other in a common language, making it easier for anyone in Europe to access and use this information, especially for the development of cross-border policies.

INSPIRE is like a huge, online map room, organized and run by the countries of the EU. It sorts all this map data into into 34 thematic datasets relevant to the environment.

The purpose of the INSPIRE Directive is to make finding, sharing, and using all this map data from different countries a breeze. It’s all available through a special website, where you can mix and match data from different countries to help solve problems that affect us all.

For more about this, you can check out their website here: https://knowledge-base.inspire.ec.europa.eu/index_en.

INSPIRE themes, the 34 thematic datasets

The INSPIRE Directive has identified 34 key themes of spatial data, organized into three annexes (Annex I, II, and III), that are essential for building a comprehensive environmental information system. These themes cover a wide range of geographic and environmental data, from basic location information such as addresses and administrative units, to detailed environmental and socio-economic datasets. This structured approach ensures that data across Europe can be harmonized and made interoperable, making effective environmental policy-making and cross-border cooperation much easier.

Author

Florin Iosub is Team Lead and GIS Solutions Architect at Essensys Software, member of geo-spatial.org board, the Romanian Local Chapter of OSGeo and OSGeo charter member. With over 15 years of professional experience in the GIS field gained as a result of participating in the implementation of numerous projects, he is very well acquainted with the best practice and state-of-the-art of GIS technologies in all related fields. At the same time, he is very determined in spreading the FOSS4G values and principles and involved in various volunteering initiatives.