In 2007, the European Parliament and the EU Council adopted DIRECTIVE 2007/2/EC on an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INfrastructures for Spatial Information in the European Union, INSPIRE).

The objective of this DIRECTIVE is to establish general rules for setting up an infrastructure for spatial information for the implementation of Community policies and actions that may have an impact on the environment.

In order to achieve its objective, INSPIRE creates a network for all EU organizations that produce spatial information can make this information available, but with the additional capacity of interoperation among them, and with public access for users outside of the production process.

INSPIRE is based on a series of common principles: avoiding the duplication of efforts in data capture, hosting data in the place where it can be most efficiently maintained, keeping the possibility of combining spatial information from different sources throughout Europe, sharing this information with multiple users and applications, making the information compatible at different scales, and clear information for the user on the geographic information available, the way to use it for a specific need, and the conditions under which it can be acquired and used.

This European infrastructure takes as a starting point the spatial information infrastructures (IDE) to be established and managed by Member States. Therefore, a major factor to be taken into account is to ensure that the IDEs of Member States are compatible and interoperable in a Community and trans-border context. To this end, the DIRECTIVE requires the adoption of common Implementing Rules specific to the areas of Metadata, Data Specifications, Network Services, Data and Sharing Services, and Monitoring and Reporting.

These rules are considered Commission Decisions or Regulations, and therefore they mandatory in each of the countries of the Union. The technical implementation of these standards is carried out through Technical Guidelines, technical documents based on international standards and regulations.

Spain, as an EU Member State, has transposed the INSPIRE DIRECTIVE into Spanish law through Law 14/2010, dated 5th July, on Geographic Information Infrastructures and Services in Spain (LISIGE). The Consejo Superior Geográfico (High Geographic Council) acts as a contact point with the European Commission for the development of the INSPIRE DIRECTIVE in Spain.

The term Spatial Data Infrastructure of Spain (IDEE) appears in this Law as a synonym of the term Geographic Information Infrastructure of Spain that provides the title and acronym to Law 14/2010, the former being the preferred term. IDEE aims to integrate through the Internet data, metadata, services and geographic information produced in Spain, at the state, regional and local levels, and also to integrate all types of sector and private infrastructures, all of them complying with a series of interoperability conditions (standards, protocols, specifications) and in accordance with their respective legal framework. According to the INSPIRE DIRECTIVE, IDEE is based on two pillars:

  • Infrastructure, constituted by a virtual network structure integrated by geo-referenced data.
  • Interoperable services, to locate, display, download, transform and access all the geographic information distributed in different information systems, accessible via internet with a minimum of standardized protocols and specifications.

IDEE coverage includes Spanish national territory, territorial sea, contiguous zone, continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.

The implementation of the IDEE project is carried out through a Geoportal that brings together the Spanish IDEs, so that each of them offers at least the
following three clients: display (providing the display of data through web services and, optionally, their query), location (providing the search of data sets and services through the content of their metadata) and nomenclator (providing the location on a map of a geographic name).

In both Europe and Spain, the standardization of digital geographic information in IDEs is carried out by international standardization organizations: International Organization for Standardization (ISO); and European: European Committee for Standardization, (CEN).  Likewise, interoperability specifications of the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc, (OGC) are followed to facilitate web access, modification and exchange of geographic information in Europe and Spain.

MSDI, SDI of the International Hydrographic Organitation (OHI)

This IHM, as the representative of Spain to the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), takes an active role in all its technical working groups. One of them is the Maritime Spatial Data Infrastructure Working Group (MSDIWG), which is in charge of monitoring all national and international maritime activities related to IDE. This working group establishes the necessary relationships with other relevant technical groups with the aim of increasing accessibility to maritime spatial data. Two of these groups should be highlighted: the IOC-Marine Spatial Management and the World Data Centres for Oceanography, Bathymetry and Marine Geophysics.

Among the main tasks of the MSDIWG are the identification of all actions and procedures that the IHO should undertake to contribute to and support the development of Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI), and the determination of any tasks that either the IHO or any of its Member States can undertake to establish links with other standardization bodies, such as OGC and ISO TC211, ensuring that each Member States is able to meet the challenges they may encounter with the use of the data.