In 2008 Place Matters: the Location Strategy for the UK was published. It seeks to maximise the value to the public, government, UK business and industry of geographic information and provide a consistent framework to assist national, regional and local initiatives and service delivery. It will also be the basis for delivering the UK’s obligations under the European INSPIRE Directive (see below). The UK Location Programme (see below) has been put in place to implement this strategy.
The European Union INSPIRE Directive
Geographic information does not currently join up between European countries – but the environment does. Major disasters such as forest fires, floods and industrial explosions do not respect national boundaries. To manage the environment better at a European level, change is needed in how geographical information is made available. The INSPIRE Directive (Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe) seeks to make those changes happen. It applies to all Member States and concerns:
- creation of metadata
- interoperable data specifications
- network services
- sharing arrangements
The Directive itself and additional Regulations set out the details.
The legal obligations apply to spatial datasets, which relate to 34 themes. These are needed by public authorities for activities relating to the environment. The themes include reference information such as addresses and administrative areas, and thematic information such as industrial facilities and species distributions.
2. Organisations affected
Public authorities and organisations carrying out duties on behalf of public authorities are in scope. Ordnance Survey, as a government department and agency, is included.
The UK Location Programme
‘UK Location’ is a UK pan-government initiative to improve the sharing and re-use of public sector location information. It will be delivered through a multi-year programme of work – the UK Location Programme. This is intended to deliver a significant change in the management of location information – one that introduces a new, innovative, and joined up service for government, business and citizens. Governance of the Programme is through the UK Location Council.
Ordnance Survey’s roles
- We are a Legally Mandated Organisation (LMO) under the INSPIRE Directive – it is part of our legal mandate to publish those of our products which fall within scope of the Directive to the standards set out.
- We are a member of the Location Council. This means we have a role in steering the UK Location Programme to ensure it delivers the UK implementation of INSPIRE and realises the benefits set out in the UK Location Strategy.
- We are Technical Delivery Partner to the UK Location Programme and are helping provide the IT developments necessary for INSPIRE in the UK and the UK’s Location Information Infrastructure.
We provide experts to sit on various Drafting Teams and Working Groups of the European Commission which are drawing up the regulations and guidance for the INSPIRE Directive.
What these roles mean
Role 1. INSPIRE Legally Mandated Organisation
What we must do
For those products in scope (for Ordnance Survey, this means most of our products with a few exceptions) we have to:
- Make metadata available via a Discovery Service through which users can search the metadata – this is now available.
- Provide the products through a View Service to allow users to view the data - this is now available.
- Provide the products through a Download Service to allow users to download all or part of the dataset, and potentially a Web Feature Service.
- Ensure our sharing arrangements are compliant with the legislation.
- Produce our data to the INSPIRE specifications
What we will not have to do
We do not have to collect any new data, change our business model or Trading Fund arrangements. There will be no changes to our intellectual property rights. This does not preclude us making changes to these things in the normal course of business improvement.
The deadline dates stretch from December 2010 through to 2019. Most of the services need to be developed in the first 2 years. In Phase 1, they will carry our existing products. Most data does not have to be produced to INSPIRE specifications until later, but we are thinking about changes to our content right now, so we can be ready to roll out any changes earlier, if it is beneficial to our customers.
Role 2. Member of the Location Council
The UK Location Programme is the implementation of the UK Location Strategy and includes the UK’s implementation of INSPIRE. Whilst it shares many objectives it is broader in scope than INSPIRE. In particular it is not limited to environmental policy, public authorities or particular themes of data. The Location Council is the governing body for the implementation of Place Matters: A Location Strategy for the UK. Ordnance Survey are active members of the Council and its subsidiary Boards and Groups, and provide the expertise of several members of staff to contribute to the Programme Team.
Role 3. Technical Delivery Partner to the UK Location Programme
The Government Response to the Ordnance Survey Consultation said Ordnance Survey would be the Technical Delivery Partner for the UK Location Programme.
What this means
Since that announcement was made, the Location Council determined that the View and Discovery Services should be provided through www.data.gov.uk. As a result, we have developed a plan of work with the UK Location Programme Team and the Cabinet Office, which owns the data.gov.uk website. A description of the scope of the agreement can be found on the Location website.
There are two aspects to the scope of the work:
Ordnance Survey is supporting UK Location and the Cabinet Office by developing the location-related technical services of the central infrastructure. This includes spatial search and preview services for data.gov.uk and an external-facing catalogue service. This role complements that of Cabinet Office by handling those aspects requiring specific location-related technical expertise.
Data Publisher Tools:
Ordnance Survey is also creating and maintaining re-usable technical components to help data providers and publishers to meet their INSPIRE obligations. This includes a metadata editor and user documentation around open source GeoServer software to support data publishers in the delivery of other services.
Role 4. Experts in Europe
Ordnance Survey has provided experts throughout the development of the INSPIRE Directive legislation and subsequently in the drafting of implementing rules and guidance. In total around a dozen staff have contributed their expertise.
We fully support the principles of INSPIRE and the Location Strategy. As the national mapping agency for Great Britain, we understand that we are a major player in the creation of the UK Location Information Infrastructure. We a have a responsibility to lead, since many of our public sector customers who also have obligations under this legislation are dependent on our data to discharge their own obligations. We will comply and support our customers in their compliance. In addition, we have an objective to ensure that we can all achieve the benefits envisaged in the UK Location Strategy.
If you have more detailed questions about our involvement in UK Location or INSPIRE, do get in touch.