Our role in the EU INSPIRE Directive

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.

1. Scope
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, having a public task, is included.

Ordnance Survey’s roles

  1. We are a Legally Mandated Organisation (LMO) under the INSPIRE Directive – this means that part of our mandate from government is to provide data which falls within the scope of the Directive.  This brings us as an organisation within scope, and means we have to publish that data which falls within scope to the requirements of the legislation.
  2. We continue to support Defra, wha are the INSPIRE policy lead, as members of the INSPIRE Compliance Board overseeing the IT, organisational and process developments necessary for INSPIRE in the UK.
  3. We continue to provide experts to temporary working groups under the INSPIRE Maintenance & Implementation Group.

What these roles mean

Role 1. INSPIRE Legally Mandated Organisation

What we must do
For data  in scope (for Ordnance Survey, this means most of the data which we hold) we have to:

Phase 1:

  • Make metadata available via a Discovery Service
    • In the UK, this is linked to the data.gov.uk portal, through which users can search the metadata.
  • Provide the products through a View Service to allow users with compatible software to view the data
  • Provide the products through a Download Service to allow users to download all or part of the dataset, and potentially a Web Feature Service.
    • Our products are generally downloadable and ATOM feeds provide update information in line with INSPIRE guidance.
  • Ensure our sharing arrangements are compliant with the legislation
    • We have reviewed our arrangements to ensure they comply.

Phase 2:

  • Produce our data to the INSPIRE specifications

The schedule for publication of INSPIRE compliant data runs to 2020. So far, we have made the following data available to the INSPIRE models:

  • OS Terrain (DTM and contour)
  • OS Open Names
  • OS Open Roads
  • OS Open Water
  • OS MasterMap WaterNetwork Layer

We are trialling OS MasterMap Highways Network, and consulting users over INSPIRE compliant Address data.

Through EuroGeographics and the European Location Framework project, we are working with European mapping agencies on what INSPIRE might mean for consistent mid and small scale contextual mapping.

What we will not have to do
We do not have to collect any new data or change our business model. 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 2020. Most of the services were developed in the first two years. In Phase 1, they carry our existing products. Most data does not have to be produced to INSPIRE specifications until 2017 or later, but we are making changes to our content and releasing them when launching new products.

Role 2. Partner to the UK INSPIRE Programme
The Government's INSPIRE delivery programme completed in 2015, and with it our rolee as a Technical Delivery Partner for the services that are required to meet Britain’s obligations under INSPIRE.

What this means
We continue as members of the UK’s INSPIRE Compliance Board, and its technical Architecture and Interoperability Board, advising Defra and data.go.uk on spatial matters. We support the Catalogue Publishing Service, which is the UK’s INSPIRE Discovery Service, providing an OGC Catalogue Service interface to the ‘location’ records in data.gov.uk

Role 3. 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 so far, and we continue to provide experts for the maintenance process.

Our strategy

We fully support the principles of INSPIRE. As the national mapping agency for Great Britain, we understand that we 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.

More information

If you have more detailed questions about our involvement in INSPIRE, please get in touch.