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Questions on Network Services

What is the difference between network services and geodata services?

The difference between network services and geodata services is examined more closely in the (not published) “Discussion Paper: Towards Implementing Rules for the INSPIRE spatial data services“. Like the geodata sets also the geodata services constitute resources that are made available through the European GeoDataInfrastructure (ESDI) and the network services as part of the ESDI.

The INSPIRE directive defines five different types of network services required for the setup of the European GeoDataInfrastructure, and the regulation on the network services determines (successively until 2012) technical specifications that must be fulfilled by a network service. For this reason, a geodata service meeting all requirements resulting from the INSPIRE directive and the regulation on the network services for one of the five network types, constitutes an INSPIRE conformal network service. Access to the geodata sets and related services of the member states via the INSPIRE geoportal can only be set up through INSPIRE conformal network services.

Is it necessary to publish the URL of the layer of the view service or does it suffice to provide an interactive map client hiding the ULR from the user?

In accordance with the regulation on network services, indication of the Unique Resource Identifier (URI) is required, which must unambiguously identify the resource used for the generation of the layer (cf. also the regulation on metadata). The new version of the Technical Guidance document on view services will include a recommendation on the implementation of this demand.

Which information shall be returned from the view service following a GetFeatureInfo inquiry? All available objects and attributes of the data specification? If not, when will the specification be modified accordingly?

The regulation concerning network services does not prescribe neither the application of a certain standard, nor does it require an operation comparable to a GetFeatureInfo operation as defined in ISO 19128. Therefore, the available objects and attributes do not have to be necessarily returned. However, should the member states involved agree on adopting bindingly this operation into the regulation on network services, e.g. via the IOC TF, the European Commission will take this into consideration and could then propose supplementing technical specifications on the basis of the recommendations by the IOC TF and/or the NS DT.

Hint: Nevertheless, this functionality can in the meantime be offered within the capabilities of a view service. INSPIRE describes for the 5 network service types a minimum functionality and makes no statements on further functions.

View services should be made available to the public free of charge acc. to Par. 14, sect. 1 of the INSPIRE directive. How can commercial re-use be excluded (cf. Par. 14, sect. 3) if it is possible to download and make further use via these free services, e.g. of parts of aerial photographs?

The member states involved decide as to what extent they implement certain restrictions concerning, e.g. watermarks or a lower resolution. Licence agreements are also conceivable. In this context, too, the Guideline 2003/98/EG (EU) on the further use of data of the public sector (PSI Guideline) must be considered.
According to Art. 3 of the PSI Guideline, valid independently of the INSPIREdirective, the public administration shall ensure that documents (in any form), for which re-utilization is allowed, can be employed for commercial and non-commercial purposes.

Who decides which type of Download Service (downloading of predefined (parts of) geodata sets or direct access including possibility of query) is offered?

Acc. to Art. 11 Par 1., Letter c of the INSPIRE directive download services enable downloading of and, if possible, direct access to geodata sets. The draft of the implementation regulations specifies two parts:

  1. An obligatory download service for the purpose of downloading geodata sets, which can be predefined by the member states within the frame of implementation and
  2. If feasible, a download service for direct access to the geoobjects of the geodata sets.

The geodata-holding agency decides whether it will offer a download service for direct access to its geodata sets besides the obligatory download service.

Access to search or view services must be guaranteed via the Geo-Portal INSPIRE as from 9 November 2011 in accordance with Article 2 of the implementing rules on net services. What does this mean for chargeable and generally access-protected services?

Basically, the legal requirements apply also to chargeable or access-protected services, but at the European level a harmonized concept does not yet exist in this area.

The present Technical Guidance Documents do not yet describe how a user authentification between INSPIRE geoportal and network service is regulated. This would be a necessary prerequisite for being able, on the side of a net service, to decide whether to a user of the INSPIRE geoportal access is granted or not.

In the current situation the operator of the INSPIRE geoportal would have to address each network service operator to carry out a vote on the way in which an authentification and, if necessary, electronic billing for access to this chargeable or access-protected service could be implemented. This approach is quite obviously not practicable.

As long as there is no uniform concept concerning access control at the European level and also within the DI-DE, chargeable or generally access-protected services cannot be made accessible to the user of the INSPIRE geoportal. However, the relevant services can otherwise be made available INSPIRE conformously by delivery of an error message when accessing.

Does one map service suffice in the GK4 projection to meet delivery commitments according to INSPIRE?

No, INSPIRE requires at least the provision of geodata services in the geodetic coordinate reference system ETRS89 (EPSG:4258). Moreover, with regard to projections the architecture concept GDI-DE prescribes that Lambert-Conformal-Conic (EPSG:4839) and for scales >1:500.000 Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM), e.g. ETRS89/UTM zone 32 N (EPSG:25832) be supported. These specifications originate from the data specifications on coordinate reference systems.

What is the significance of the “INSPIRE conformal “ test mark with regard to the provision of so-called data services? Will the supply of an original data model as a map on the basis of a WMS/WFS standard be sufficient?

The data model has no effects on the INSPIRE conformity of network services. Conformity of a service means that the specifications from the Regulation on the Implementation of the INSPIRE directive with regard to network services are observed. This concerns the characteristics of the service, which has to support certain functionalities as well as the quality of the service itself (performance, availability, capacity).

INSPIRE view services shall according to Art. 14 Par. 1 of the INSPIRE-directive ”be made available free of charge to the public“. According to Art. 14 Par. 3 the services can be offered “in a form which excludes re-utilization for commercial purposes“. Which procedures for the restriction of commercial re-use are admissible in this context?

Art. 14 Par. 3 allows only to exclude commercial use of the view services, which means that non-commercial use must not be restricted. According to Art. 11 Par. 1 view services must “at least allow to display geodata sets, to navigate in them, and to enlarge/reduce/shift them, to overlap data as well as to display information from legends and other relevant contents from metadata“. Beyond that, they have to consider relevant user requirements, must be easy to use and publicly available.

Provision of view services taking account of Art. 14 Par. 3 therefore requires in individual cases always balancing between the commercial objectives and the minimum requirements on view services as defined under Art. 11.

From the point of view of the European Commission commercial re-use can, for instance, be restricted by an (appropriate) lower resolution or by the use of watermarks. On the contrary, representation of not actual geodata or only a sectional representation would not be in the sense of the directive.

Through which service can the download service be realized with sensor data? The SensorObservationService (SOS) is in the architecture concept 2.0 of the GDI-DE fundamentally recommended as “standard for the provision of sensor services“ and "GDI-DE“. However, in the Technical Guidance document the WFS is recommended as download service.

The Technical Guidance document for download services was drafted with regard to the supply of vector data on the themes of Annex I. Here, a distinction is made between download services for predefined datasets (predefined data sets) and download services for direct access (direct access). Download services for predefined datasets are on principle also suited for sensor data. Download services for direct access to sensor data are not addressed in the current version of the Technical Guidance document.

How shall the WFS performance be realized?

There are no formal regulations about the HOW. Via the provision as download service for predefined datasets (predefined data sets) the performance requirements can, if necessary, be kept somewhat simpler.

According to OGC it is in the case of GetMap-Request possible to modify the visualization via SLD/SE. Does this option have to be offered for INSPIRE, too?

No. SLD are made available by INSPIRE SLD in order to technically specify the relevant standards within the frame of the Technical Guidance documents. If required, these can be used to configure a WMS. However, the functionality of an SLD-WMS (GetMap request with reference to desired visualization) has not to be offered.

Is there any obligation to implement transformation services?

Transformation services are not mandatory to implement as long as spatial data sets are made available in conformity with the Regulation No. 1089/2010 through the adaption of existing spatial data sets, i.e. if they are transformed into the INSPIRE data model through some other means (e.g. offline transformation or on-the-fly-transformation in the download service).

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