Publish and be Damned – Or Not
We are approaching our 200th council and 4,000th dataset uploaded with DataPublisher. This means 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 considered at the beginning of the program. For instance, what do you do with the shiny new INSPIRE GML once it’s been crafted?
The ambiguity lies in the fact that INSPIRE regulations are unclear at best. Firstly, they state that local authorities must translate their Phase 1 INSPIRE data to INSPIRE compliant GML. They then state that it must be published, but are vague about where or how. The documents infer that the GML data should replace the original data as the source of the WFS and WMS, but it’s an inference rather than anything concrete. This is why we’re 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 problems. The first of these problems is that the schema is verbose, so the WFS will include 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 often exceeds MapInfo field limitations. In other words, if you replace WFS original source data with INSPIRE GML, non-MapInfo customers will have a negative experience. Your MapInfo-using customers won’t be able to use it at all.
What should I do?
One of the key drivers for “doing” INSPIRE is that it’s 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.