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JRC and INSPIRE’s Interoperability Mission
The mission of the JRC (Joint Research Centre) is to provide customer-driven scientific and technical support for the conception, development, implementation and monitoring of the European Union. As a service of the European Commission, the JRC functions as a reference centre of science and technology for the Union. Close to the policy-making process, it serves the common interest of the Member States, while being independent of special interests, whether private or national. JRC employs over 2000 people and has seven scientific institutes spread over five sites in Belgium, Germany and Italy.
The INSPIRE initiative was launched in 2001 with the intention to make available harmonised sources of spatial information in support of the formulation, implementation and evaluation of Community policies. It relates to the base information collected in the Member States in order to respond to a wide range of policy initiatives and obligations at the local, regional, national and international levels. This information often already exists today, but it cannot be exploited in a broader context because of the fragmentation of the current monitoring system’s definition and implementation.
Once the INSPIRE Directive (a legal framework currently under review) was formally approved, it began to be implemented and expanded in phases, starting with information in support of environmental policies. Agencies will gradually be adding information specific to other sectors, such as transport, agriculture, etc.
JRC’s role as INSPIRE Technical Coordinator
To organise the process, a participative framework was put in place in 2005 with an open call to spatial data interest communities to propose experts and reference material for the drafting of the technical implementation rules.
The JRC acts as the overall technical coordinator. It ensures the viability and evolution of the technical infrastructure for INSPIRE and guarantees the liaison with the European and international research community. JRC also initiates and monitors the work with international standardisation bodies and is responsible for technical coordination with other relevant international initiatives. JRC is responsible for the preparation of draft Technical Implementing Rules for: - Metadata for spatial data - Spatial data specifications and harmonisation - Network services and interoperability - Technical aspects of Monitoring
Interoperability is Key
Interoperability is, of course, central to the INSPIRE vision. JRC works with other organizations to develop interoperability standards in the OGC and works to establish metadata standards through ISO TC 211 and other organizations. Information sharing by means of Web access to data and services is essential to achieving the INSPIRE vision, and such access depends on open, consensus-derived standard interfaces and encodings.