By Pinelopi Kapetanaki (Greece)
In the era of technological revolution, growth and development, information is the key sector for a country’s economy and social development, evolution and prosperity. An important factor for development is the use of geoinformation technology that enables management, processing and distribution of spatial data. In Europe the SDI implementation is stimulated by the INSPIRE (Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe) Directive. Quite often existing European environmental directives serve as a use case or context for the development for the INSPIRE data specifications. For the marine domain, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) is a case-Directive that needs INSPIRE data support for assessing the quality of EU marine waters. MSFD does not enquire the collection of new information and should focus on specific aspects that are listed in Annex III of the INSPIRE Directive. The INSPIRE Directive and the MSFD Directive are implemented in a parallel both making use of existing information for serving their scopes. This research gives answers to whether INSPIRE can support the MSFD’s data requirements, if there is semantic interoperability between INSPIRE on attributes level and the MSFD data requirements and if the available INSPIRE data are findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.
INSPIRE Data Specifications were studied for finding marine-related concepts in their scopes. It was proved that 20 INSPIRE Data Specifications were able to serve the MSFD data requirements. The assessment of semantic interoperability between the two Directives was a challenging process. The MSFD requirements were used as keywords for exploring through the UML data models of INSPIRE and search marine-related spatial objects and attributes. The research revealed that there was high naming heterogeneity between the two Directives. Thus, in most of the cases there was no semantic interoperability between the INSPIRE data and the requirements of MSFD.
In the last phase of this research, the FAIR Data Principles were used for evaluating the INSPIRE data. INSPIRE was assessed conceptually and found to be in line with the FAIR principles in a high degree. However, when assessing the data per se the situation differentiated. INSPIRE Geoportal was used for searching the metadata records that are available under five categories: datasets, series, layers, services and download service spatial data sets. The search was limited to three case countries participating in the INSPIRE Marine Pilot Project (IMPP): the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. The assessment resulted that the INSPIRE metadata are Findable and Accessible in a lesser degree than they are Interoperable and Accessible.
Finally, some recommendations are proposed. Since there was created an ad-hoc “Glossary for MSFD Terms”, it is suggested that this glossary will be reviewed and enriched for future assessments like the semantic interoperability of INSPIRE and MSFD. The INSPIRE Geoportal should improve the cross-language query by adding more synonyms. Thus, more results will be received in the searching process. The INSPIRE website, should be enriched with case studies like the IMPP and with information about difficulties in the process. Last of all, it is proposed that INSPIRE could adopt the FAIR data principles as a tool for improving its existing (meta)data, while also using them for producing data of better quality in the future.