Published and be Damned – or not

By Jenny on October 5, 2015. Categorised in INSPIRE requirements

As we approach our 200th council and 4,000th dataset on DataPublisher, we’re well on the way to helping half of those customers over the Phase 2 hurdle in time for the October deadline. This concerted INSPIRE activity is raising a series of questions that weren’t necessarily considered at the beginning of the programme – the chief being what to do with this shiny new INSPIRE GML once it’s been crafted.

The answer to this is both ambiguous and straightforward.

The ambiguity lies in the fact that the INSPIRE regulations are really unclear. Firstly, they state that local authorities must translate their Phase 1 INSPIRE data into INSPIRE compliant GML. They then state that it must be published, but are incredibly vague as to where or how. Reading between the lines, the documents infer that the GML data should replace the original data as the source of the WFS and WMS, but it is an inference rather than a bold statement. This is why we are about to release this functionality on our DataPublisher service.

A more straightforward answer can be gained by looking at the end user. Publishing INSPIRE GML as WFS has two significant technological problems that will inhibit end users from actually using it. The first of these problems is that the schema is extremely verbose and so the WFS will include many, unhelpful null values. Not an attractive service to consume – if you can consume it at all.

This brings me to the second problem; the data is so verbose that it frequently exceeds Mapinfo 250 field limits. In other words if you choose to replace your WFS original source data with INSPIRE GML, then your non-Mapinfo customers will have a much worse experience, and your Mapinfo customers won’t be able to use it at all.

So what should you do? One of the key drivers for “doing” INSPIRE is that it is a statutory requirement that your auditors now have on their list. To be precise, they’re likely to assess the following:

  • You should be in Data.Gov.uk with some INSPIRE data
  • The Data.Gov.uk entries should include some WFS and WMS
  • You should be able to demonstrate some INSPIRE data in GML format

Perhaps it’s wise to just go with the path of least resistance.