Around 70 persons participated in a German-language workshop with the goal of exchanging information on the technical implementation of the INSPIRE directive. The workshop, which took place on 20th/21st of February 2013, was organised by the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR).
After three introductory presentations on INSPIRE and the state of implementation of the directive four presentations went into the nitty gritty details of harmonising and publishing data sets. In the first example, geologic survey data from the city of Freiburg was harmonised using a methodology similar to the HUMBOLDT approach, but using FME for the mapping and transformation step. In a second presentation from Lower Saxony, street network data was published as a Atom Pre-defined Dataset Download Service. Other presentations showed results of the GS-SOIL project, in which we also participated, and the final one reported on harmonisation work done in the INSPIRE DS teams on geology work.
The third block focused on product presentations, including GO Loader and GO Publisher by Snowflake, XtraServer by Interactive Instruments, FME Inspire Solution Pack and dhp HALE. While all products support aspects of the data harmonisation and publishing process, they have a different focus:
- Snowflake GO Loader and GO Publisher: allow to consume any GML, to store a corresponding structure in a relational database and to provide access to this data using different interfaces and content formats, ranging from GML to Atom. To publish data in an XML schema differing from the database schema, an optional database structure to interface structure mapping step is supported using GO Publisher Desktop. To summarize, “GML to database, database to GML”.
- Interactive instruments XtraServer: a Web Feature Service (supporting all relevant versions) that can serve arbitrary GML schemas and also allows to server other formats by performing server-side format transformations using XSLT. Also allows to perform on-the-fly reprojection. As with GO Publisher, database structures are mapped to the output schema using an internal configuration mechanism. To summarize the focus: “database to GML, with comprehensive WFS support“.
- Safe FME (without extensions): Supports GML, as well as almost any spatial database, and about 100 other I/O formats, and performs best when input and output schemas are relatively simple. FME contains a huge gallery of different transformation functions. Due to this breadth of capabilities, different data harmonisation aspects (format, schema, projection systems, geometry/topology, metadata, …) can be covered using FME. In the context of the INSPIRE use cases, the focus is “Data transformation for preparing data for publishing”.
- conterra FME Inspire Solution Pack: Addresses that for complex schemas, work with “vanilla” FME leads to extremely complex workspaces and can be daunting. The solution pack contains preconfigured FME workbenches, schema-specific transformer packs (“INSPIRE_Lifespan_Setter”, “auAdmUnit_nationalLevel”) as well as integrated INSPIRE documentation. The focus is “configure FME so that it can be used better for transformation of specific input data to INSPIRE GML“.
- Esri ArcGIS for INSPIRE: ArcGIS for Server extension that provides INSPIRE-compliant View and Download services as well as an ArcGIS for Desktop extension supporting data and metadata editing, based on standard ArcGIS editing tools. Uses a specific geodatabase layout underneath and comes with ETL tools to laod data from other specific geodatabases. To summarize, “maintain and publish your data for INSPIRE in a single place”.
- dhp HALE and dhp HALE Web: The only application that enables users to do interactive mapping of arbitrary, complex schemas. High-performance transformation engine with a set of ~15 transformation functions, also available as a web service. Performs advanced validation and quality assessment on the fly, generates rich metadata. The summary: “Understand your schemas and mapping, ensure that the transformed data is of high quality“.
At this stage, most organisations will rely on more than one solution to cover the different aspects of data harmonisation and INSPIRE-compliant publishing of data. A typical workflow could involve FME for reading formats that other solutions don’t support and for geometric harmonisation, using HALE for the schema mapping and then using XtraLoader, GO Publisher, Deegree or ArcGIS for INSPIRE to publish the data. It will be interesting to see how the existing solutions converge and provide integration points to each other.
For us, it was a very encouraging day with positive feedback from the audience.
Thanks to Simon Templer of Fraunhofer IGD, who presented the current state of HALE to the participants, and provided me with the material for this report.