Sonja Lojen (EGIDA);
Mihael Mohori (BalkanGEONet), Jo_ef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana;
Mojca Kosmatin Fras (OBSERVE), Faculty of Civil and Geodetic engineering, University of Ljubljana.
Although Slovenia officially joined the GEO community in 2005, its visibility in GEO and GEOSS has remained rather low. Nevertheless, in parallel with national activities related to the transposition and implementation of the INSPIRE Directive, Slovenian partners participate in several international projects and actions dedicated to technological and non-technological development of SDI and Earth observation systems. On Feb. 16, a workshop on collecting, processing and the application of environmental and spatial data in Slovenia was held in Ljubljana, hosted by Slovenian partners of three ongoing EU FP7 support actions: OBSERVE (University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering); BalkanGEONet and EGIDA (Jo_ef Stefan Institute); and the Slovenian Centre of Excellence for Space Sciences and Technologies Space-SI. The aim of the workshop was to inform national stakeholders, experts, policy-makers and academics on the current status and ongoing activities related to GEO (Group of Earth Observation), GEOSS (Global Earth Observation System of Systems) and GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security).
The workshop was attended by 68 representatives of spatial data providers and users, among others, the key institutions providing and managing spatial data and data collections: Surveying and Mapping Administration, Slovenian Environment Agency, Geological Survey of Slovenia, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Agriculture and Environment, Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, Biotechnical Faculty, Academy of Sciences and Arts, Forestry Institute, and Statistical Office, who presented the current status and activities in development of national spatial data infrastructure. Keynote talks were given by Dr. Herbert Haubold from Austrian Environment Agency, Dr. Silvo _lebir from Slovenian Environment Agency and Dr. Vojko Bratina from the EC ÛÒ DG Research.
A survey among the national stakeholders performed as part of the OBSERVE and BalkanGEONet projects showed that the main problems users face in the search for spatial data are fragmentation of available data, poor coordination of data providers, data discovery services, managers and users, high prices charged by some providers and incompatible data formats. Another burning issue is the lack of data quality control systems for datasets not compliant with INSPIRE; many data sets are out-of-date, incomplete or hardly accessible. In spite of a variety of SDI and Earth observation activities — national programs, research projects and EU-funded projects, ranging from in-situ EO data collection (GMOS or the Global Mercury Observation System), development of sensor networks for in-situ and remote sensing, to the development of interactive remote-sensing technologies and microsatellites (Space-SI programme, funded by ERDF) — Slovenia nevertheless remains among the EU countries with the lowest number of reported datasets1.
As the needs and number of spatial datasets are constantly increasing, private sector became more and more involved and several private web-portals emerged. One of the most compelling examples is the Geopedia.si portal, established in 2007, which grew from a crowd-sourcing application to a commonly used research tool offering access to more than 10,000 spatial layers. As an example, the portal recorded more than 800,000 visitors and 18,000 contributors (individuals and institutional) in 2011, enabling browsing, editing, importing and exporting spatial data, integration into own systems, etc.
A common view of participants at a roundtable discussion at the workshop was that the lack of coordination of activities in data provision and sharing (and in particular the lack of applications for processing and gathering information from spatial data) have to be overcome in an action coordinated at the national level, where governmental bodies play a leading role through better inter-sectorial coordination of their activities.
1 Vanderbroucke, D., Crompvoets, J., Janssen, K., Bamps, K., Masser, I., Salvemini, M., van Loenen, B., Probert, M., Eiselt, B. 2011, Spatial Data Infrastructures in Europe: State of play spring 2011. D4.2 ÛÒ Summary report regarding the results of the European Assessment of 34 NSDI (second year). Spatial Application Division, K.U. Leuven Research & Development, 65 pp.