24 June 2020

Realising the value of data through use and reuse: European Strategy for Data

EuroGeographics Secretary General and Executive Director, Mick Cory welcomes the European Strategy for Data and sets out how members can contribute by delivering high value, authoritative, geospatial data.

Mick CoryThe value of data lies in its use and re-use. For our members, the National Mapping, Cadastral and Land Registry Authorities (NMCAs) of Europe, making their information available for use and re-use by others is at the core of their public task.

High value authoritative geospatial information is one of the basic building blocks for digital transformation, and has significant potential to contribute to the European Strategy for Data. Together with our members, we warmly welcome the important development of this overarching strategy for data and we look forward to contributing to its success by using our experience in facilitating cross border data sharing and re-use of geospatial public sector data.

We fully support the Commission statement: “The value of data lies in its use and re-use”. It is our aim, and our member’s long-standing role, to add to that value for the public good.

Geospatial is not an isolated silo of data; it is ubiquitous across the dataspaces set out in pillar four of the Strategy. In pillar one, it is one of the five High Value Datasets themes expected to be available free of charge in machine-readable format via suitable APIs. With sustainable funding, our members can ensure a continued supply, indeed an increase, in the provision of high value authoritative geospatial data for use and re-use.

Within EuroGeographics, our way of working is built upon the success of our enduring collaborative effort with our members to avoid gaps, eradicate duplications and contradictions, and avoid missed opportunities. We have indeed experienced the problem of fragmentation set out in the Strategy.  It provides an opportunity to address this fragmentation that we must not miss.

Technical and policy duplication hinders progress, is costly and should be avoided. A horizontal, cross-sectorial governance framework for data, regardless of data theme or sector of origin, is therefore an appropriate step forward to the alignment of the different actions.

Trusted, authoritative sources of geospatial data are an important part of a European digital society, and complement many of the policies and projects launched by the European Commission in support of the data economy. We fully support the opening up of public sector data in line with the Open Data (PSI) Directive. The Directive is fundamental to our commitment to provide easy access to, and encourage increased use of, members data, and a key part of our joint purpose. Sustainability will be key with the development of new funding or finance streams needed to ensure that this is done effectively. National governments and the EU will be important in these situations to enable and maximise the re- use of high value datasets and realise the potential that exists as is highlighted by the Strategy.

We also believe that the future Digital Europe Programme will help enable and maximise the best use of digital capacities, standardisation and interoperability. This support is needed to ensure citizens, researchers and business have easy, trusted, and seamless access to public sector data and services. Developing capacity related to new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, is a crucial driver for the full digital transformation of our members and society.The Digital Europe Programme may also support national authorities in making high value data sets available for re-use in different common data spaces.

Authoritative information  from our members can underpin and be used across all the dataspaces set out in the Strategy. For example, public administration relies on trusted authoritative sources to inform policy; transport needs authoritative geospatial datasets for cross-border requirements; and geospatial data supports smart energy systems, identifies where energy efficiency support is needed to deliver it at the right time, in the right place and at the lowest cost.

Cadastre and land registry data provide a basis for property tax in many countries, and provide an important aid to combating fraud and tax evasion at national and international levels. Data from NMCAs also forms an important component of the land parcel identification system which supports the common agricultural policy and makes managing environmental protection easier by adapting actions to the reality on the ground.

A key asset for achieving the goal set in the Green deal political priority lies in data that complys with the INSPIRE Directive, in which our members play a key role, and in many cases, have responsibility for implementation. We would therefore be pleased to contribute to any review of INSPIRE, both within the GreenData4All initiative and across sectors.

In the health sector, geospatial data locates facilities and enables analysis to better inform public policy and operational delivery, and in industry, which need interaction with customers, personalised location-based applications are already available and developing daily.

The full exploitation of data requires adequate awareness and competences: the geospatial sector is no different. Producers and users need geographic information specialists but also coders, programmers and highly skilled information technology professionals to support the Strategy. These skills are transferrable across all the data spaces.

We look forward to being able to make a significant contribution to the success of the Strategy, and welcome being part of a conversation on how best we might do this.

Read our full information paper here.