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This report presents the findings of the workshop on Advanced Regional Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDIs) organised by the European Commission Joint Research Centre in May 2008. The objectives of the workshop were to review the state of progress, analyse the different organisational models established with local and national stakeholders, and assess the social and economic impacts of the regional SDIs. Eleven regional/sub-national SDIs in Europe are presented in the report:
Lombardy, and Piedmont (Italy), Catalonia and Navarra (Spain), Wallonia and Flanders (Belgium), North-Rhine Westphalia and Bavaria (Germany), Northern Ireland (UK), Brittany (France), and Vysovina (Czech Republic).
These experiences are set in the context of the broader European framework provided by the INSPIRE Directive, the national State of Play studies, and international experiences in the USA and Australia. A key finding of the report is that these regions are indeed leading actors in the development of SDIs in Europe, adopting state-of-the art technologies, standards, and models and often setting the pace through example for others to follow. Crucially important is their role in coordinating and organising developments at the local level through a large array of partnerships and organisational models. This organisational work is challenging because it involves a very large number of stakeholders operating at the local level, and requires long term political, organisational, and personal commitment. However, the evidence available at the time that the study was undertaken indicates that it is at the local level that the largest social and economic benefits of an SDI can be found, supporting operational day-to-day applications affecting millions of citizens and local businesses. To achieve these benefits there is no alternative but to engage locally and invest in building and maintaining relationships and trust. From this perspective, the main lesson of the European experiences, supported by those in the USA and Australia, is that Spatial Data Infrastructures are foremost social networks of people and organisations, in which technology and data play a supportive role. The technology is cheap, data is expensive, but social relations are invaluable.
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