Spatial Data Harmonisation in Regional Context in Accordance with INSPIRE Implementing Rules
Abstract: Spatial data seamless exchange and interoperable usage has become a necessity in efficient data management and competitive positioning in the European Union. Conceptual and technical framework for the spatial data and services interoperability is specified within the EU INSPIRE Directive. The Directive provides flexible and modular structure, giving the opportunity for customisation of the data specifications and usage. From the data publisher level to the European spatial data infrastructure, this opened the question of disharmony of the spatial data structure and sharing. Arisen challenges in data harmonisation process are thus subject of interest for different formalisation approaches. This study approaches the spatial data harmonisation process focusing on the area of Western Balkans, the region of Europe with countries that have similar interest for implementation of the INSPIRE Directive. With the main aim to propose the improvement to regional data harmonisation process, the study is focused on geology as the spatial theme. The study (1) analyses the INSPIRE data harmonisation process, (2) assesses critical factors of the process in the region and (3) tests the implementation of the INSPIRE data model harmonised in accordance with user needs. Results of the analysis present the structure and formalisation concepts of the INSPIRE data model, its extensibility, means for securing interoperability and standardised approach in defining data model elements. Critical factors of the harmonisation process are assessed through semi-structured questionnaire answered by competent representatives of the Western Balkans countries. The results show that, on a regional level, spatial data managers have made progress towards compliance and are familiar with the Directive. However, they lack a coordinated approach and implementation guidance. Aside from the low capacities, due to the current state of the data structures, harmonisation is a highly complex process and a goal that is difficult to reach. The outcomes of the INSPIRE defined harmonisation process and user needs are implemented on a practical example, a INSPIRE Theme Geology dataset from a Western Balkans region stakeholder. The user needs and data model structure characteristics of the regional geology dataset were integrated in the formal description of the source and transformed to target INSPIRE data model. The concept required structuring the source model to meet both INSPIRE and local requirements. The study general aim was reached by implementing the INSPIRE data harmonisation with fulfilling the main objectives – creating market-oriented, interoperable and accessible dataset, meeting national legal requirements towards the geological data management and increasing efficiency of data usage. Further application of the developed approach is seen as the implementation methodology for other INSPIRE themes and other geographical regions.
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