[SDI-Europe] Fwd: [OpenSDI] Reflections on the 13th EC-GIS workshop in Porto
klance_remote at yahoo.com
Mon Jul 23 23:55:36 EDT 2007
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Subject: [Fwd: [OpenSDI] Reflections on the 13th EC-GIS workshop in Porto]
From: Jo Walsh
Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2007 13:39:52 -0700
Thanks to Terradue I got to attend the 13th EC-GIS workshop in Porto.
This is an annual workshop series held by the European Commission to
bring together large-scale public providers of geodata across Europe.
This was a special conference, being the first since the INSPIRE
Directive establishing a Spatial Data Infrastructure in Europe
became part of European law.
Joao Ferrao stated at the start, "this is the first INSPIRE conference".
Roger Longhorn in his impromptu prizegiving address at the end,
stated that this is the also the *last* in a series of conferences,
begun when it was first firmly breathed that Europe needed an SDI,
back in 1995. After so many years of policy and planning, work can begin;
yet work is already begun everywhere, no-one is waiting for INSPIRE.
INSPIRE is ostensibly directed at the sharing of environmental data,
so about half the balance of the event was on environmental data
management themes; my attention was very much held by the policy side.
There is talk of cyber-infrastructure for e-government, increasing
automation of cost-benefit analysis. Hugo de Groof talks of a "risk
management approach to policy planning", about tools that facilitate
in the "sharing of a common vision".
If SDI is social, legal, and technological in nature, it is at the
Implementing Rules (IRs) that technocracy meets bureaucracy. The IRs
describe what systems for the description, registration and collection
of spatial data, public authorities in Europe will have to provide.
More detail on what to expect from some of the forthcoming IRs is here:
The trends differ across the Drafting Teams. Metadata took a
future-looking, abstract and minimal approach, and got requests to
clearly define what is "normative" and what simply "informative".
Network Services has chosen to pursue a mandate of SOAP services which
is very concrete, quite current or even backward-looking technologically.
Data Services has reached a great level of abstraction; their remit is
huge, the notion of standard data models for exchange of geodata
across Europe is a high ideal, but one can argue that it is not
systemically necessary or viable in technological terms, let alone the
sense of bureaucratic interference and microdetail in provision that
this approach may engender.
After all, "INSPIRE is not about technology, it is about people", as
Paul Smits put it. SDI is not really a thing, it is a strategy to
raise political awareness of and support for, the benefits of
gathering and sharing a lot of information about the world around us.
The IRs are trying to go a long way to *define*, technologically but
within the strict mandate of a legal framework, what an SDI *is*.
On the closing panel a speaker from a library information management
background laughed and said "i've lost count of the number of
Service Oriented Architectures the European Commission has funded".
So many domain specialists work on parallel systems and can learn from
each other. Flourishing data exchange ecologies outside the OGC/ISO
standards base are ignored or bypassed. The owners of CSW2 catalog
service interfaces publishing ISO19115 metadata sit by, wondering why
no-one comes to find them. More on all this: http://tinyurl.com/34b9r4
The JRC take an encouragingly pragmatic view of standards emerging
from ISO, OGC and other bodies. Uwe Vogels of Conterra offered a
concrete breakdown of how their exercises found flaws in what the OGC
were offering as specifications - ill-defined query semantics, what
appears in GetRecords as elements and what as attributes, information
missing from the GetCapabilities, no provision for federated query -
similarly for ebRIM, also the grounds of complex query composition.
This information is fed back into OGC, the specs get fixed. Hooray!
More than one person complained about the insufficiency/mismodelling
of WCS, i do not know what changes that is provoking.
Otherwise there were a lot of success stories about what great services
we are all running, what great standards we are complying with,
which are not nearly as much fun to listen to as complaints and disasters.
INSPIRE provokes both optimism and caution. The IR Drafting process
could do with a lot more public engagement and I hope that when Rules
are proposed on topics more technologically controversial, that will
provoke useful reflection on what we are all building, stronger consensus,
rather than a lot of shouting in a bucket about changing data models.
There is an understandable cynicism about the possibility of
encapsulating technological practise in law. A presenter on the last
day looked wearily at his slides and said, "Here's the obligatory UML
diagram... I've made sure that it's completely unreadable."
Zeljko Bacic talked of SDI transposition and implementation progress
in Croatia. "Associations of towns are rather weak, and thus
inappropriate partners for SDI development." (Why is it that the
discourse of SDI brings WalMart to mind sooner than school associations?)
"Solutions should be connected to our tradition; how we make decisions"
and abstract rule structures can't be transplanted in from the outside.
INSPIRE should allow the freedom for local consensus to grow within its terms.
As in the development of the NHS systems in England, the promise of a
centralised, information record controlled, planned "solution" with big tag
investment required, held back the development of local networks, data and
resource sharing agreements, on a local level. Let us not hold data back.
Please build glue to merge and fit a lot of systems, not another system.
http://ionia.terradue.com/ - Distributing very large data sets with
http://publicgeodata.org/What_Inspire_Implies - who will have to
comply with INSPIRE's terms and what data sets will be covered.
http://tinyurl.com/3xbwsg - JRC's catalog interop experiments
http://www.edparsons.com/?p=497 - Ed Parsons awoke, 2 years had been a dream
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