[OSGeo-Standards] Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] INSPIRE fit/gap analysis

jo at frot.org jo at frot.org
Thu Aug 28 14:18:32 EDT 2008

On Sat, Aug 23, 2008 at 09:26:49PM +0200, Bart van den Eijnden (OSGIS) wrote:
> I think it could be useful to do an ongoing FIT/GAP analysis between the 
> INSPIRE implementing rules and the OSGEO software stack capabilities, so 
> that as a community we know where we stand, and we can quickly make sure 
> the software stack is ready for INSPIRE. It is an opportunity not to 
> miss IMHO.
> http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/INSPIRE

It's a great idea to have an "INSPIRE-ready stack" and that could be
connected to Cameron's showcase plans. Definitely once the "Discovery
and View Services" draft comes out in its long-awaited public
consultation version there will be more to aim at. (WMS, CSW and/or
OpenSearch Geo, etc) I've signed up and am keen to help out.

It would be good to be able to help more directly via work on prototypes 
and helping the JRC to stress-test the work in progress. Perhaps the
Jornadas gvSIG / OGC TC meet in Valencia in early December will be a
chance to have an OSGeo "fringe meeting" and get sympathetic members of 
the INSPIRE drafting teams along. 

I plan to do a slightly sarcastic INSPIRE-related talk at the 
Open Source World conference in Malaga late October, on the 
Bruce Schneier theme of technology policy - "Legislate results, 
not methodologies" - inspired [sic] by some of the conversations here
and on the discuss list.



Talk abstract, if interested:

Breaking the Chain; Can FOSS Save Us From Standards?

To collaborate and to compete, standards are needed. Support for
"industry standards" has helped open new markets for Free and Open
Source Software for Geographic Information (FOSS4G). For government
work, spatial data is often essential; and "open standards" are
increasingly mandated. 

Bureaucrats love standards; they provide something to measure. But
the pressure to "be standard" in order to get public work leads to
immature specifications becoming mandated in law before they are
ready for use. The business of selling standards to government is big

Bruce Schneier thinks that government should "Legislate results and
not methodologies". In the world of GIS, the INSPIRE Directive
(establishing a spatial data infrastructure in Europe) was planned to
increase public access to the data that describes the world around
us. Now INSPIRE is mired in methodologies, legislating the
micro-detail of protocols and data models. The question now is not
"does the software meet the needs" but "does the software meet the
standards". The process reflects an institutional assumption that a
bad law may be better than no law.

"Rough consensus and running code" produced a generation of
successful internet standards. FOSS projects preserve this ethos. The
Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) has sheltered several
informal efforts at standardisation across projects. The standards
industry might as well be happening on a different planet.

How can we break the chain that binds public work to special interest consortia?
What are the models for a public administration's support of free
software and open data - without confronting industry? 
In an effort to "legislate results", how can FOSS projects help to
minimise the burden of measurement? Can FOSS save us from standards?

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