How can your citizens benefit from INSPIRE?

How can your citizens benefit from INSPIRE?

General Interest Data Harmonisation Geodata Health Infrastructure INSPIRE Risk Zones Transport Networks

You probably heard the question “How can citizens benefit from the European Union” many times already, and might have wondered about that too. After all, we often hear that things get regulated like crazy and that the EU is too bureaucratic.
The European Union has brought a lot of advantages to the citizens of its members and associated countries, such as:

  • Investments into infrastructure, especially in less developed areas through structural funding
  • Clean lakes and Rivers through the Water Framework Directive
  • Better air quality through lead-free patrol and air quality reporting
  • Less noise through the Noise Directive
  • More consumer rights, e.g. in air travel and telecommunications
  • Labour protection and workplace security
  • Simplified travel and exchange of goods
  • Strong wildlife protection (Habitats Directive, Natura 2000, many others)

If you scratch the surface, the INSPIRE directive doesn’t seem to have much to do with the list above. If you look deeper, however, INSPIRE actually supports many of these activities directly. INSPIRE is thus more than making your network services interoperable. It ensures that information can be shared between agencies, citizens and businesses with maximum efficiency. By harnessing the full power of interoperable geodata, it is not only the GIS community that benefits. Interoperable geodata creates a ripple effect which makes life easier for inter-governmental decision-makers and organizations. As boundaries between data disappear, policy decisions take less time and have better outcomes.

The INSPIRE Directive encompasses 34 different data themes, all of which help the population in certain capacities. Here are a couple of highlights.

Human Health and Safety:

Information from different sources (such as environmental data) needs to be aggregated and analyzed to form a well-planned health and safety infrastructure.

The Human Health and Safety theme ties in with various other themes such as Natural Risk Zones, Soil, and Air Pollution data. Based on these insights, it is possible to have an accurate prediction of Health Infrastructure requirements and design. According to the Human Health and Safety Data specifications, “Inspire infrastructure may provide a unique opportunity to identify possible links between health effects and underlying environmental conditions/exposures that might be related to poor or good health.” Dependable geospatial data will help us to identify relations between cases of poor health and potential environmental factors, and to make decisions based on these.

For example, by gathering insights on the changes particulate matter present in the air caused due to a fire in a forest and wind directions, it would be possible to predict a consequential higher particulate matter presence in another location if the data is interoperable and dependable. Based on this, the correct health resources can be prepared and necessary warnings can be sent out. This kind of information also helps to gain insights on the potential causes of diseases.

Natural Risk Zones

Each year, 160 million people are affected by natural disasters (WHO Study.) Trustworthy and dependable data on risk zones must be provided to all stakeholders to ensure that casualties can be prevented.

The natural risk zone theme provides dependable and interoperable geodata about regions that are at a risk of being affected by natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and landslides. Access to this data can help citizens better understand the potential consequences of living in or visiting certain locations during certain times of the year. It allows for the accurate assessment of safety standards of regions and help prevent casualties that could arise out of natural disasters, and positively affect land use patterns.

An accurate map of landslide prone areas that are divided into high risk, medium risk and low risk can help people calculate the best and safest travel routes across risk zones. This would also be reflected in other decisions, such as construction practices and building restrictions.

Population Distribution and Demography

Population statistics play a key part in policy-making. The data flow across public sector organizations is important to gain an understanding of regions and to assess the existing situation. This association is critical to understand the economic and social make-up of regions.

The population distribution and demography theme helps identify patterns in population density, and also provides sub-categories for the population such as education level, profession, sex, marital status, nationality and others. The formal definition according to Directive 2007/2/EC is, (a) “Geographical distribution of people, including population characteristics and activity levels, aggregated by grid, region, administrative unit or other analytical unit.” It is tightly tied to the “Statistical Units” theme and does not contain any spatial data in and of itself. Access to this data allows to a better understanding of human settlement models, population demographics and consequently an inclusive and resource-efficient policy-making structure.

Data on population density and the breakdown of population statistics is useful for resource planning and policy making.

Transport Networks

Transportation networks are a critical part of INSPIRE due to the cross-border transport networks that are built across EU member states. These networks facilitate commercial as well as non-commercial activities. Approximately 3.5 million people move across EU borders every day, and more make use of domestic transport networks.(European Added Value Initiative) Reliable and interoperable transport data is required to ensure optimal and safe usage of transport networks.

The transport networks theme aggregates data that is important for maintaining and improving current routes, as well as creating new routes. It ties in with other topographic themes such as water networks, elevation, and land cover. According to the INSPIRE Transport Network Data specifications, “It is mainly focused on the “widely reused – widely referenced” segments of spatial objects, supporting the loose linkage between the diverse organizational data with these spatial objects and allowing the extensibility to fit into diverse applications and user’s needs.

As the shift towards smart cities continues, interoperable transport network data is playing an especially important part in town planning. Transport data such as routes, regular traffic flows and congested zones are aggregated to devise the most efficient transportation strategy. A better transport network also provides more incentive to use less private transport, reducing emissions.

Want to know more about the full benefits of INSPIRE? Thorsten Reitz, the CEO of wetransform, will host a free 40-minute webinar that will allow you to identify and mitigate risks, accurately estimate costs and understand the full benefits of an INSPIRE Implementation. There will be two webinars; one in German and one in English. Details are as follows:

  • German webinar: 17th April, 10 a.m. CET
  • English webinar: 23rd April 10 a.m. CET

Interested? Send us a message to with your preferred webinar slot and we'll get back to you!