1 January 2021

What does 2021 hold in store for EuroGeographics’ members

Secretary General and Executive Director, Léa Bodossian looks to the future

EuroGeographics members are at the heart of the response to Covid-19, delivering the data that people need, in a format that they can understand to enable them to make the best possible evidence-based decisions quickly and confidently. Ireland, Germany and Denmark are just three examples of our members providing up to date, accurate data and expertise to national governments.

With the swift delivery of data and services, they have demonstrated not only the ability to respond rapidly to the fast-moving pandemic, but also that they can adapt their datasets to fuel a hyper resilient society. In 2021, they will undoubtedly remain instrumental in helping to monitor and manage the pandemic, especially as vaccine programmes are rolled out across the world.

More than maps

As we enter a new decade, it’s a timely and very public reminder that we rely on National Mapping, Cadastral and Land Registration Authorities (NMCAs) for more than maps – their data and expertise is fundamental to everyday life. Our members’ authoritative quality-assured information underpins society in many other ways that are not so obvious, including secure and reliable land registration, cadastral services, critical infrastructure development, and planning and implementing health and environmental services.

In 2021, our community will continue to support national governments, European policy-makers and global initiatives by connecting maps, people and policies. In doing so they will play a key role in the countdown to 2030 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and contribute to the Digital Europe Programme, the European Strategy for Data, Open Data (PSI) Directive, Census 2021 and more. All of these need an unprecedented amount of statistical, geospatial and earth observation data that is official, reliable, comparable and verifiable.

Rapid adoption of new technologies

To continue to meet the demand of this data-driven world, we’ll see rapid adoption of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, along with some really innovative uses of earth observation by our members. This will not only help scale costs and overcome resourcing issues at a financially challenging time, but will also enable faster data delivery and increase efficiency in supporting recovery from Covid-19 while ensuring that they can maintain the excellence of their high quality data.

Members recognise that facilitating access to their geospatial information is in the public interest and supports the public good. They have put data access at the centre of EuroGeographics activities and continue to work in partnership to achieve the widespread use of their data across the European and international systems

Open data and Open Maps For Europe

Many of our members are already making their data open and accessible, especially through geoportals, with France just the latest to make its geospatial data free and accessible under an open licence, and Slovakia creating a new Digital Elevation Model. We will see the release of more open data in 2021 as restrictions to using and accessing authoritative data, be they technical, legal (licences) or other, continue to be removed. 

Later this year, we will be launching free to use maps from more than 40 European countries through a new online gateway. Open Maps for Europe will signpost and provide easy access to pan-European open data created using official map, geospatial and land information. The project, which is co-financed by the Connecting Europe Facility of the European Union, is coordinated by EuroGeographics in partnership with the National Geographic Institute (NGI) Belgium.

Change is constant, and our members operate in an industry that has seen radical changes over the past 20 years, which show no signs of slowing down.

Collaboration and a continued commitment to serving the public good

Collaboration, such as the recent Memorandum of Understanding between our members in The Netherlands and Ukraine, is vital if we are to find solutions to common challenges, share best practice and improve capabilities and role. In these uncertain times, this unity is key to demonstrating the certainty members provide to citizens, to governments and to businesses alike, and raising awareness of their collective value in delivering better data for better lives.

The commitment to serve the common good is at the heart of both EuroGeographics and our members’ activities. Like us, they are driven by serving the public and realising benefits for society in general, a society that can trust us to keep data secure and act in its interest above all else.

More than ever before, we need accurate data that we can trust is up to date, definitive and detailed. We will contine to work in partnership with our members to facilitate access to their authoritative geospatial data and integrate it into a sustainable infrastructure for the public good. In doing so, we will take yet another step forward in our vision of a society empowered by the use of trusted geospatial services from official national sources.

More examples of how our members provide more than maps.