Open data and information provided by the public sector constitute a significant opportunity for transparency, accountability, better governance, and citizen participation. Reuse of open data can also serve as an instrument for growth, leading to innovation through research, better products and services, new jobs and economic advancement.
The Vickery report estimates the benefits of extended PSI (Public Sector Information) reuse for the EU27 economy at 140b€/year (1.7% GDP 2008).
These financial benefits will be materialized through the establishment of a data economy, led by SMEs providing added value services by repurposing and extending open public data.
Geospatial data account for an estimated 80% of public sector information and are the most significant category of open public data due to their high production, procurement and update costs, as well as their relevance in multiple thematic areas and domains.
The availability of such high value open data has the potential to create and sustain a multi-billion market of applications and services. By nullifying the extremely high costs associated with geospatial data production, SMEs can have unprecedented access to a valuable body of knowledge, enabling novel value added applications and services.
Despite the importance of open geospatial data, they are increasingly difficult to discover and reuse, especially in a cross-boundary multilingual context.
The vast majority of open data catalogues in the EU have limited support for geospatial information, across all phases of their lifecycle. Simply stated, geospatial data are treated as second class citizens, with insufficient capabilities in publishing methodologies and tools, limited technical foundations to support value added services, and simplistic non-scalable support for geospatial data visualization.
These problems directly influence the capacity of SMEs to reuse open geospatial data and deliver value added applications.
The motivating paradigm of geospatial applications, especially in the Web, is the integration of data APIs and services under a RESTful, and/or Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). As proven by the explosion of mobile/web geospatial applications based on Google Maps and OpenStreetMaps/OpenLayers, SMEs require simple, reusable tools and software components, isolating them from the complexities of geospatial data management and service provision. Open geospatial data access and services must therefore be provided in a similar manner.