Access to Spatial Data (DE0004)
Action Plan: Germany National Action Plan 2017-2019
Action Plan Cycle: 2017
Lead Institution: Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) and other federal ministries in the IMAGI (Interministerial Committee for Spatial Data), depending on responsibility for individual measures (in particular Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI); Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB); Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi); Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL))
Support Institution(s): Steering committee GDI-DE (Spatial Data Infrastructure Germany)
Policy AreasAccess to Information, Capacity Building, E-Government, Land & Spatial Planning, Open Data, Public Participation
Description: Spatial data are data which link information to a location or space. They permeate all areas of life and are an essential resource of a digital society. To tap the full potential of spatial data, the Federal Government seeks to ensure the basic supply and make available a broad range of such data for spatial decision-making. Another aim is to make spatial data easier to use. Innovation is to be promoted by encouraging, testing and supporting the implementation of new services. Aim: In addition to organizing more expert conferences and discussions on the benefits of spatial data as well as the access to and use of such data, in the next two years the focus will be on interoperable, standardized, free and open provision of spatial data in accordance with the Spatial Data Access Act. Participation of civil society in collecting data will also be taken into account. Status quo: In the National Spatial Data Strategy, federal, state and local governments in consultation with businesses, the research community and stakeholders agreed on goals to make spatial data accessible in an effective and economic manner and use them to gain added value. In its 4th GeoProgress Report, the Federal Government has committed to pursuing further measures which also support the OGP process. Ambition: The measures aim at improving the use of spatial data, in particular those provided by public authorities. Until 2019, the focus will be on ensuring interoperable and open provision. New or ongoing: ongoing Implemented by: Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) and other federal ministries in the IMAGI (Interministerial Committee for Spatial Data), depending on responsibility for individual measures (in particular Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI); Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB); Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi); Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL)) Organizations involved in implementation: Steering committee GDI-DE (Spatial Data Infrastructure Germany) Organizational unit and contact: Division O7, O7@bmi.bund.de Open government values addressed: Transparency, technology/innovation, participation Relevance: Spatial data are an important basis for location services, the use of relevant spatial data and the interaction of users (citizens, businesses, researchers) with government services and thus a basis for an innovative information ecosystem as defined by OGP.
IRM Midterm Status Summary
4. Better Access to and Easy Use of Spatial Data
Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:
“Spatial data are data which link information to a location or space. They permeate all areas of life and are an essential resource of a digital society. To tap the full potential of spatial data, the Federal Government seeks to ensure the basic supply and make available a broad range of such data for spatial decision-making. Another aim is to make spatial data easier to use. Innovation is to be promoted by encouraging, testing and supporting the implementation of new services.”
4.1 Promoting implementation of INSPIRE in Germany by connecting the GDI network to federal and state bodies through contact points of the conferences of specialized ministers and mentors from GDI-DE
4.2 Carrying out expert conferences and discussions e.g. “Knowing where” event of the Federal Agency for Cartography and Geodesy, National Forum for Remote Sensing and Copernicus (March 2019)
4.3 Providing Copernicus data/services via the IT platform CODE-DE
4.4 Transition of the IT platform CODE-DE from pilot to effective operation
4.5 Developing a recommendation on how to handle crowdsourcing data for use within the federal administration
Start Date: July 2017
End Date: June 2019
Context and Objectives
Spatial data has long been a centerpiece of open data legislation and practice. The 2007 European Union (EU) INSPIRE Directive  and related initiatives, for example, call for public access to spatial data services as a central theme. EU member countries, including Germany, have, for quite some time, worked toward expanding access to spatial information. As a result, Germany’s access to spatial data is rated at 100 percent and identified as the best-performing open data area in the country. 
Against this backdrop, this commitment captures some ongoing work to address shortcomings in interoperability and uptake. Monitoring related to the EU INSPIRE Directive revealed that Germany’s provision of geospatial data (geo-data) could improve in conformity and interoperability.  The commitment directly addresses some of these issues. In addition, the most recent (2016) detailed monitoring report raised concerns about the lack of uptake and use of open geo-data. 
Specific milestones of this commitment, focused on outreach and induction (4.1 and 4.2), also reflect these concerns. Milestones 4.1–4.3 directly respond to some of these shortcomings. Milestone 4.1 aims to strengthen the internal institutional mechanisms that underpin Germany’s main platform for interlinking geo-information across all levels of government and providing access to this data. Milestone 4.2 supports outreach activities to the related practitioner community. Milestones 4.3 and 4.4 seek to broaden access to geo-data from the European Copernicus network of satellites and other data sources, Europe’s main Earth-observation initiative. Milestone 4.5 could build stronger linkages to user-generated data from community mapping to bottom-up environmental quality measurements, as this is a major area of crowdsourced data.
The commitment is thus relevant to the OGP values of access to information and civic participation. This commitment is also relevant to technology and innovation, due to its focus on interoperability and alternative, crowdsourced geo-data.
Overall, this commitment could have a minor impact on enhancing the accessibility and use of spatial data. The commitment focuses on tighter integration and standardization of already available data. The milestones are verifiable but lack the specificity to more effectively track the quality of their design and implementation. This is particularly the case for Milestones 4.2 and 4.5, which are the most important for expanding linkages with alternative data providers and users. The commitment could benefit from clearer outputs and more concrete follow-up steps, such as a joint conference declaration and a memorandum of understanding for collaboration.
The IRM researcher recommends that milestones be linked to clearer quality and performance criteria (e.g., specific criteria for effective operation in Milestone 4.4). Such clarification will make a significantly improve the commitment design and the impact of opening government.
If a commitment in this area is retained in the next action plan, it would benefit from moving beyond ongoing activities under INSPIRE to expanding the interactions and linkages with citizen-generated data. It would be worthwhile, in this regard, to give specific attention to Milestone 4.5, exploring how the milestone could be expanded and leveraged for such purposes. 
Moreover, future commitments in this area could focus on interlinkages with adjacent data spaces, such as real-time mobility or environmental data. Such commitments could explore new modalities of public-private-civil collaborations, including data collectives or data trusts. And they could include explorations of the governance and societal challenges related to geo-tracking, location-guided information interventions, and advanced remote-sensing capabilities.
 “Acts Adopted under the EC Treaty/Euratom Treaty Whose Publication Is Obligatory,” Official Journal of the European Union 50 (25 April 2017), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=OJ:L:2007:108:TOC.
 “Germany,” Country Detail, Open Data Barometer and World Wide Web Foundation, 2017, https://opendatabarometer.org/country-detail/?_year=2017&indicator=ODB&detail=DEU.
 “INSPIRE Monitoring-DE,” Coordination Office SDI Germany, http://cdr.eionet.europa.eu/de/eu/inspire/monitoring/envwvlgqg/EN_gdi-de.html.
 INSPIRE, Bericht Mitgliedstaat: Deutschland, 2016, http://cdr.eionet.europa.eu/de/eu/inspire/reporting/envvzxibw/INSPIRE_Bericht_Mitgliedstaat_DE_2016.pdf.
 For an overview of recent developments and thinking in this area, see, for example, the collection by Gloria Bordogna, "Geoinformatics in Citizen Science," ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information 7 (2018): 474.
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