Each year the European Commission holds a conference on the INSPIRE Directive in a different Member State. This year the conference took place at the end of May in Lisbon, Portugal, and was held in parallel with the Geospatial World Forum. Defra attended to represent the UK INSPIRE community.
Three delegates from Defra joined the UK delegation at the conference this year to present and to learn about the current status of INSPIRE and find out how it is being implemented across the EU. We also set out to make the most of the opportunity to network with colleagues from other Member States and the Commission. If you're not familiar with the INSPIRE Directive it requires public bodies to share spatial data about the environment and you can find out more about it in our INSPIRE'd post or on DATA.GOV.UK.
Over 5 days of the conference more than 350 speakers presented in 80 sessions to 1,500 delegates from 80 countries so there was a huge amount of information to take in. It was generally agreed that the most interesting key note speech came from Martin O'Malley, former Governor of Maryland who is now seeking the Democrat nomination to run for the US Presidency. Mr O'Malley talked about 'data driven government' - how he had made data central to his policy and operations while Governor, and also in his previous post as Mayor of Baltimore. (A video of a more or less identical presentation given earlier this year to a US audience can be viewed here).
There were many learning points that we took away from the conference sessions and two particular issues for further consideration: how will the European Location Framework (ELF) support INSPIRE; and what does the European Digital Single Market initiative mean for INSPIRE.
In the margins of the conference we had many useful conversations with colleagues from Member States about INSPIRE implementation. We also talked with colleagues working at the Commission and the European Environment Agency about their approach to INSPIRE and made several suggestions on benefits and reporting which they undertook to give consideration to.
All contents presented at the conference are now available for download on the Conference Proceedings page.