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Spatial Information Service

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Spatial Information Programme - co-ordinating spatial data management across Scotland's local authorities

EU INSPIRE Directive

The Spatial Information Service (SIS) is funded to help meet local government’s obligations under the EU INSPIRE Directive and to enable sharing of such data with the OSMA community.


INSPIRE aims to improve the provision of data to inform environmental policy making – hence why Defra has been representing the UK’s interests on it in Europe. However, in meeting INSPIRE commitments, it is inevitable that countries will establish an infrastructure for environmental-related spatial information across the European Union. Therefore, the Cabinet Office is now showing an increased interest in what INSPIRE dictates.


INSPIRE defines common technical standards for publishing spatial datasets such as addresses, transport networks, land use, protected areas and risk zones covering 34 data themes.


The key technical requirements of INSPIRE are that datasets that fall under the named themes must be made:


  • Discoverable (via metadata records in an online catalogue)
  • Viewable (via a web map service API)
  • Downloadable (via a web feature service API or atom-enabled file download)
  • Transformed to defined standards (though this is complex and likely to be relaxed)


The directive came into force on 15 May 2007 and was transposed into Scottish law in December 2009.


Whilst INSPIRE promotes better sharing of data, it does not, as many people have mistakenly assumed, promote open data. Many organisations that create INSPIRE-related data have intellectual property rights (IPR) inherent in the data (e.g. Ordnance Survey) and are not funded to release it all under an Open Government Licence. Local Government is no different in this regard. Hence, SIS has been creating a sustainable business model that allows them to share council data, but also fund its standardised creation and sharing.


SIS has done the following to help local government comply with INSPIRE:


  • Created metadata records for local government datasets on the national Scottish Spatial Data Infrastructure catalogue
  • Created (Web Mapping Service) View services of local government datasets via the Spatial Hub
  • Created (Web Feature Service) download capability for local government datasets via the Spatial Hub
  • Created various licences and terms and conditions that allow us to share the local government data with different organisations and sectors
  • Begun to collect far more than just INSPIRE’s environmental data themes


SIS has not implemented the data transformation requirements of INSPIRE due to its complexity, lack of resources and because of an expected relaxation in this specification.


SIS will now aim to share the national local government datasets with as many organisations and sectors as possible to realise much more than INSPIRE’s initial goals.


Download: What is INSPIRE? (PDF)


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