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Plan4all Project Interoperability for Spatial Planning


Abstract and Figures

For several reasons, few projects funded by European Commission end with a printed book summarising the outcomes of the project and its achievements. In this case, while the project activities were still running, Plan4all considered this oportunity and has found it useful to prepare such a book, mainly on the basis of the idea that the achieved results about spatial planning interoperability should be spread among the wider communities at EU and international levels. The Plan4all project has been able to deliver technical results that will surely be of interest to spatial planners, GI experts and ICT professionals. On top of such technical results, the Plan4all project fosters the exchange of ideas and experiences between those professional communities, whose need and interest for a more extended dialogue has also been evidenced during the workshops convened by the project.
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Plan4all Project
Interoperability for Spatial Planning
Plan4all Project
Interoperability for Spatial Planning
Edited by
Mauro Salvemini
Franco Vico
Corrado Iannucci
Tipografia Marina Anzio
Plan4all Project
Interoperability for Spatial Planning
Mauro Salvemini, Franco Vico, Corrado Iannucci (Editors)
© 2011 by Plan4all Consortium
This book by the Plan4all Consortium and the individual chapters are licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Licence.
ISBN 978-88-905183-2-4
Note of the Editors 7
Forewords 9
Chapter 1: Spatial planning and ICT 27
Didier Vancutsem
Chapter 2: Interoperability, SDI and spatial planning 41
Manfred Schrenk, Julia Neuschmid, Daniela Patti,
Wolfgang Wasserburger
Chapter 3: The Plan4all Project 55
Tomáš Mildorf, Václav Čada, Otakar Čerba, Karel Janečka,
Karel Jedlička, Jan Ježek, Radek Fiala
Chapter 4: Planning systems in Europe and SDIs 65
Manfred Schrenk, Julia Neuschmid, Wolfgang Wasserburger
Chapter 5: The role of metadata and GI in spatial planning and SDI 77
Štěpán Kafka, Karel Charvát
Chapter 6: Plan4all data models definitions 93
Flavio Camerata, Otakar Čerba, Vincenzo Del Fatto,
Monica Sebillo, Franco Vico
Chapter 7: A collateral experience: 115
the INSPIRE Thematic Working Group on Land Use
François Salgé
Chapter 8: The Role of SDI networking architectures for spatial planning 125
Stein Runar Bergheim
Chapter 9: Plan4all pilots on data harmonisation and interoperability 143
Petr Horák, Martin Vlk, Šárka Horáková,
Miloslav Dvořák, Lea Maňáková
Chapter 10: Spatial planning and the INSPIRE Directive: 153
the point of view of the Plan4all stakeholders
Corrado Iannucci, Bino Marchesini
Chapter 11: Some lessons learned cooperating in the Plan4all project 169
Partners presentation 177
About Authors 197
List of Acronyms 205
Corrado Iannucci, Mauro Salvemini, Franco Vico
For several reasons, few projects funded by European Commission end with a prin-
ted book summarising the outcomes of the project and its achievements. In this
case, while the project activities were still running, Plan4all considered this oppor-
tunity and has found it useful to prepare such a book, mainly on the basis of the
idea that the achieved results about spatial planning interoperability should be
spread among the wider communities at EU and international levels.
The Plan4all project has been able to deliver technical results that will surely be of
interest to spatial planners, GI experts and ICT professionals. On top of such te-
chnical results, the Plan4all project fosters the exchange of ideas and experiences
between those professional communities, whose need and interest for a more ex-
tended dialogue has also been evidenced during the workshops convened by the
To be fruitful, such dialogue requires a common language, going across the borders
and the constraints of the “dialects” peculiar to each discipline. The Plan4all project
has aimed to contribute to this common language; this book, focussing on the ap-
proaches more than on the technicalities, is also a result of such effort.
The book has the following structure:
- Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 define the contexts concerning spatial planning
and ITC and the need for interoperability of spatial planning data; the key
concept of Spatial Data Infrastructure is also introduced;
- Chapter 3 gives an overview of the whole Plan4all project, with its structure
of work packages;
- Chapter 4 is a summary of spatial planning in the EU Member States, with
similar problems and different solutions, even within the same country;
- Chapter 5 describes the metadata and their catalogues as a tool for infor-
mation sharing;
- Chapter 6 and Chapter 7 address the data models that are the conver-
gence point of ICT experts and spatial planning domain experts;
- Chapter 8 reports the network architecture that supports interoperable so-
lutions for spatial planning data;
- Chapter 9 shows how it is possible to deploy such interoperable solutions;
- Chapter 10 summarises the findings and suggestions collected through
the workshops convened at the country level; and
- Chapter 11 includes some comments and suggestions provided by con-
sortium partners, as posted on the project blog.
Note of the Editors
A list describing the 24 partners that have cooperated inside the Plan4all Consor-
tium is attached. They come from 15 different countries, express different compe-
tencies and are active in various sectors including academia, public administration,
private sector, pan-European and national organisations. The diversity of the
Plan4all partners has been a factor in the complexity of the project and also a
strength at the same time.
This list can be seen as a sort of European directory of the entities that are aware
of the problems and of the possible solutions for the interoperability and harmoni-
sation of the data related to the domain of the spatial planning. This directory can
also be a reference for any possible future actions in this domain.
The Editors would like to firstly thank Krister Olson, who as Project Officer has au-
thorised and supported the specific idea of producing this book, among the various
publications of the project.
All the consortium members have contributed to the book, but specific thanks have
to be given to the authors of the chapters who summarise the works performed du-
ring the project duration, and also to project coordinator Tomáš Mildorf, who was
the leader of the process of realisation of the book together with EUROGI, who
have managed the necessary resources.
Julia Leventon has been of great help having the patience to revise the English lan-
guage and Francesco Buscemi has expressed his creativity in designing the cover
and taking care of editorial printing.
The present book has been made possible by the joint effort of all the mentioned
The Editors.
Tomas Mildorf
University of West Bohemia
The Plan4all project proposal was put together when I was in the middle of my trai-
neeship at the Joint Research Centre in Ispra. After negotiation with the Commis-
sion, the project started in May 2009. At that time, everyone had his/her own vision
of the future Plan4all results that were later assimilated to a common goal and un-
derstanding. 24 partners from 15 European countries demonstrated the feasibility
of spatial planning data harmonisation despite the diversity of their languages, cul-
tures and disciplines. Tremendous work was done to make a huge step towards
the interoperability of spatial planning data. I am grateful to all the partners who
took responsibility for the project execution, to all affiliated partners who contributed
with their expertise and to all stakeholders who provided us with their feedback.
The Plan4all contribution is not only a solution for environmental policies of the Eu-
ropean Commission; it should be understood as a framework that can be exploited
on any governmental level, by many organisations in public and private sectors and
in cross-border activities. It also creates a challenge for follow-up activities and fur-
ther research into spatial planning and data sharing.
SDI for ePlanning
Zorica Nedović-Budić
University College Dublin
School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy
Planners were among the first and most prominent users of geospatial technologies
from the time when they became more widely accessible and affordable in early
1980s until today (Masser and Craglia 1997, Warnecke et al. 1998). In the short
span of less than two decades, we have moved from standalone geographic infor-
mation systems (GIS) to spatial data infrastructures (SDI). The ultimate objectives
of both GIS implementation and SDI initiatives -- to promote economic development
and to foster environmental sustainability – are all closely related to the general
purpose of planning (Masser 2005). However, with all the technological dynamics
that had shaped the ways in which spatial data is retrieved, manipulated and sha-
red, one aspect that has remained constant is the predominantly generic nature of
the supporting interfaces, functionalities and frameworks. Plan4All project addres-
ses the very core issue of customising the implementation of the European SDI ini-
tiative – the INSPIRE Directive -- to the needs of spatial planning as it is practiced
across the European Union (EU) region.
The context – substantive, cultural, socio-economic -- is recognised as an important
consideration for SDIs to be understood and viable (Masser 2005, Nedović-Budić
et al. 2011). The diverse nature of planning systems across the 29 countries pre-
sents a substantial and challenging task before the Plan4All team. The 2006 clas-
sification of European planning families based on the European Spatial Planning
Observation Network (ESPON) 2.3.2 project identified five legal groups of planning
systems: British, German, Scandinavian, Napoleonic and East-European (Lalenis
2007). In addition to this typology based on the legal systems, the traditions -- com-
prehensive-integrated, regional-economic, land-use planning and urbanism – as
well as the administrative systems and related distribution of power and authority
among various territorial levels also determine the nature of planning.
Concomitant to this complexity and diversity of planning are: a) qualitative and
quantitative data, planning documents, and the attached meanings and terminolo-
gies that are used to signify and label planning processes and phenomena as they
are understood in different cultural and socio-political contexts; b) planning functions
as required by planning laws and local circumstances and relevant analyses, ap-
plications and decision-support systems; and c) the network of actors involved in
the planning process, with the nature of their participation ranging from data pro-
ducers and users to various stakeholders. Respectively, these areas correspond
to the three foci of the Plan4All project – metadata definition, data model, and net-
work services architecture.
METADATA for planning data
Participants in the planning process rely on many types of information, including
formal analytical reports and quantitative measures, complemented by understan-
dings, arguments, and meanings attached to planning issues and activities (Innes,
1998). Planning decision and policy-making processes are dependent on accurate
localised information and on deeper understanding of the broader societal issues
and trends and considerations of variety of stakeholders’ interests. Extensive data
collection, dissemination, interpretation, analysis, and presentation activities are
undertaken in planning organisations on a daily basis. Planning information is often
integrated and such process often involves the use of data represented in various
scales ranging from large (e.g. 1:5000) to small (e.g. 1:25,000) and with boundaries
derived through institutional, administrative, or analytical processes (e.g. planning
jurisdiction, districts, census tracts, neighbourhoods or subdivisions, traffic analysis
zones, blocks, and parcels) as well as those defined ecologically (e.g. critical areas,
watersheds and drainage basins, airsheds, and habitats). In addition, there is gra-
phical, numerical and textual information from planning documents – plans, ordi-
nances, and reports.
Metadata is, obviously, the first call of duty for an SDI to secure understanding of
the diverse datasets – their origin, contents, purpose, format, and access among
others. The variety of terms used in planning across different European regions
and countries presents a major challenge. Understanding urban ontologies is the
scientific underpinning of the translations that need to happen to ensure cross-cul-
tural and cross-boundary planning. Resulting from the ‘Towntology’ project Laurini
(2007) suggests an approach by which the initial definitions (sub-ontologies) are
collected using a decision tool and then consolidated with a tool that would allow
for transforming verbal or multimedia definitions into descriptive logics codable with
OWL. The author emphasises the language problem as the major challenge to be
overcome with creative solutions. The GEneral Multilingual Environmental Thesau-
rus (GEMET), developed by the European Environment Information and Observa-
tion Network (Eionet; offers one such
pragmatic approach to communicating within the linguistically and culturally extre-
mely diverse environment. The more fundamental research on planning ontologies
and their commeasurability across cultures and the SDIs embedded in them is es-
sential for resolving the issues of interoperable terms and meanings (Saab 2009).
DATA MODELS for intelligent planning process
Planning intelligence is the most advanced level in a hierarchy starting with data
and moving toward information and knowledge. The intelligence is achieved through
conversion of data into higher forms via statistical analysis, modelling, simulation,
systems analysis, and decision-support systems (also referred to as planning sup-
port systems or PSS). The planning intelligence function provides support to all
other local planning programmes—advance planning (long-term strategies), pro-
blem solving (short-term projects), and development administration and manage-
ment. This analytical and decision support is needed for a comprehensive range of
considerations, such as land use, economic development, environmental protec-
tion, community health, housing, provision of transportation and utility infrastructure,
and supply of public services, amenities and facilities, among others.
Instrumental (functional) and communicative (substantive) rationality as the key
theoretical underpinnings of planning provide insight into the evolving role of geo-
spatial technologies and tools in planning practice (Nedović-Budić, 2000). Guha-
thakurta (1999) believes that the contributions of spatial technologies are capable
of transcending the ‘‘communicate versus calculate’ dichotomy as planning draws
upon both facts and values. The attempts to conceptualise the planning activities
and needed support and translate those to data and application domain models are
only rare. Hopkins at al. (2005) provide a set of conceptual schema for organising
the planning data, actors, assets, actions, decision situations, plans and system ar-
chitecture for implementation of Planning Markup Language (PML; Figure 1).
Figure 1: Elements of Planning Data Model (after Hopkins et al. 2005)
Planning requires networking and involvement of various parties – some for the
purposes of data collection and/or dissemination, some for the purposes of the par-
ticipation in the planning processes and decisions. With regard to data sources
and/or recipients, the primary and secondary sources include libraries, national,
state, and local agencies, other public and quasi-public bodies, survey organiza-
tions, and commercial organizations and groups. The participants in the planning
process also cover a wide range of other relevant public institutions and private ac-
tors, such as businesses and individual citizens as well as non-profit groups and
Ideally, an SDI should provide benefits to all involved entities – as a means of data
exchange, access, communication and networking. In particular, the needs of coo-
perating members must be met, and the additional provision made for other non-
participating members to take advantage of the SDI contents – data and/or services.
As the number of participants grows, the data pool is broadened to enable the rea-
lization of further benefits and economies of scale. Beneficiaries of the evolving
SDIs provide means for networking and referencing various data sources and for
ensuring consistency and compatibility of data development across administrative
and organizational boundaries. For the purposes of planning the SDIs would also
facilitate and support the planning process. Research in the enabling network ser-
vices and customisation of latest ICT and geospatial tools to serve SDI purposes
is of ultimate importance for the ensuring and enhancing its utility to planning.
The next step – validation and evaluation
Plan4All project deals with three elements that are necessary for an SDI to be of
service to the planning purposes – metadata for planning data; data models & ap-
plication schema for the (intelligent) planning process; and network services as un-
derlying technological infrastructure to support online planning activities (access,
manipulation, exchanges and communications). The project also validates its fin-
dings and recommendations through a large scale testbed.
Similarly, a holistic evaluation of SDI facility is necessary. In addition to access, ho-
rizontal and vertical integration, flexibility, suitability, and movement of spatial infor-
mation resources are important for effective planning and policy-making. However,
evidence about the benefits planners desire and derive from SDIs is mostly anec-
dotal. The agenda for future research should consider if and how SDIs for planning
are providing utility to the planning mission, functions and actors. To learn how exi-
sting SDIs satisfy planning information needs we need to evaluate data products
supplied at the national, state, and local levels, or developed through cooperative
initiatives and programs, against the specified criteria. For example Nedović-Budić
at al. (2004) suggest the following criteria: awareness of SDI efforts and products;
data availability; data accessibility; relevance of data to local planning;
flexibility/adaptability of data to planning applications; effect on decision making;
and impact on local cooperation. Crompvoets et al. (2008) review a wide set of per-
spectives for undertaking the assessment of SDI. However, regardless of the per-
spective, it is important to know if SDIs make a difference and, if yes, how so – as
a basis for their improvement and better adjustment to the nature and needs of
Crompvoets J, Rajabifard A,van Loenen B, Delgado Fernandez T (Eds.), 2008
A Multi-View Framework to Assess Spatial Data Infrastructures (RGI, Wageningen)
Hopkins L D, Kaza N, Pallathucheril V G, 2005, “Representing urban development
plans and regulations as data: a planning data model” Environment and Planning
B: Planning and Design 32 597-615
Innes J E, 1998, “Information in communicative planning” Journal of the American
Planning Association 64(1), 52-63
Lalenis K, 2007 Typology of EU National Governance and Spatial Planning Sy-
stems PLUREL project WP2.2
Laurini R, 2007, "Pre-consensus ontologies and urban databases", in Ontologies
for Urban Development Eds J Teller, J R. Lee, C Roussey (Springer Verlag, Studies
in Computational Intelligence, 61) pp. 27-36
Masser I, Craglia M, 1997, “The diffusion of GIS in local government in Europe”, in
Geographic Information Research: Bridging the Atlantic Eds M Craglia, H Couclelis
(Taylor & Francis, London)
Masser I, 2005 GIS Worlds (ESRI Press, Redlands CA)
Nedović-Budić Z, 2000, “Geographic information science implications for urban and
regional planning” Journal of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Asso-
ciation 12(2) 81-93
Nedović-Budić Z, Mary-Ellen F. Feeney M-E F, Rajabifard A, Williamson I, 2004,
“Are SDIs serving the needs of local planning? Case Study of Victoria, Australia
and Illinois, USA” Computers, Environment and Urban Systems 28(4) 329-351
Nedović-Budić Z, Crompvoets J, Georgiadou Y (Eds), 2011 Spatial Data Infrastruc-
ture in Context: North and South (CRC Press, Boca Raton FL)
Saab D J, 2009, “A conceptual investigation of the ontological commensurability of
spatial data infrastructures among different cultures” Earth Sci Inform 2 283–297
Warnecke L, Beattie J, Kollin C, 1998 Geographic Information Technology in Cities
and Counties: a Nationwide Assessment (Urban and Regional Information Systems
Association, Chicago IL)
Bruce McCormack
Land use planning, spatial planning, physical planning and other terms are used to
describe the process of decision-making regarding the use of land and buildings.
Whatever term is used, one thing is for sure, namely, that decisions taken about
how land and buildings or other structures are used effect every citizen in direct
ways on a daily basis. The impacts are however not just directly on citizen’s daily
lives, but also on general national, and ultimately global, conditions.
It is instructive to take but a single example that highlights the wide ramifications of
planning decisions. If plans require towns and cities to grow in compact ways and
there is a bias against permitting single family houses to be built in the countryside
for urban people, then commuting distances are reduced with associated reductions
in greenhouse gas emissions; biodiversity would be less threatened; water quality
in countryside streams would be protected from inadequately maintained sanitation
systems; and last but by no means least, significant cost savings would be made
in the provision of essential services.
The above example highlights one facet of planning, namely, its role in the avoi-
dance of negative effects. Planning however has the potential to shape broad pat-
terns of growth and local urban form to produce new and positive circumstances.
For example, at a broader scale, focussing new economic development can help
to create agglomeration economies that help support ongoing sustainable economic
growth. At the local scale, creative use of topography, views, orientation, aspect
and existing vegetation, along with sensitive design can create housing estates with
a strong sense of place, which are defensible from anti-social behaviour, are affor-
dable and look good.
Sound planning which avoids the negatives and reaps the positives requires a
strong, solid evidence base, which is itself built on good, relevant and up to date
information and useful tools for manipulating the information.
Evidence in the form of facts about real world circumstances is of course not the
only input into planning decision-making. Other main inputs are norms and values
of citizens, communities and society at large, political considerations filtered though
elected representatives, financial drivers in a market economy, as well as other fac-
Plan4all does not begin to address the norms and values, political or other issues
but instead deals directly with key aspects of the all important information base and
tools that underpin a sound planning system.
Land use planning has geography or location, at its core and this aspect needs to
infuse every aspect of the planning information base. EUROGI is an organisation
not of planners, but geographical information (GI) orientated organisations, which
themselves have up to 6500 organisational and individual members across Europe.
The strong commitment to advancing the use of GI and the superb expertise base
that we can draw on has, without doubt, been a major contributing factor in the suc-
cess of the Plan4all project. This fusion of location specialists and planners has
been rewarding for those involved, giving rise to useful outputs which will be of par-
ticular benefits to planners in their quest to improve the evidence base for their ac-
I am thus most pleased that EUROGI has played a key role in the project, and more
particularly, has taken responsibility for producing this book. I am sure that through
this book, the impact of the Plan4all project will be leveraged substantially and will
have a significant impact across Europe amongst the wider planning community.
Finally, on behalf of EUROGI I would like to thank all those from the many partici-
pating organisations for their input and the long hours and deep thinking that they
have contributed. Your efforts will be rewarded, in no small part through the wide-
spread use of this book.
How challenging is the interoperability for spatial
Mauro Salvemini
Since the beginning of the 90s, issues of interoperability have received a increasing
attention from within the culture and the praxis of European technical and profes-
sional communities as a result of scientific and technical initiatives and subsequen-
tly from the INSPIRE Directive. It is worth noting that in the presence of a
multicultural and multilingual environment such as Europe, interoperability used to
be treated mainly in specific scientific contexts and primarily at a theoretical level
and for commercial and institutional purposes. It later received practical conside-
ration for the benefit of solving some urgent issues, mainly related to sharing data
in the different phases of natural disasters and risk management.
Information regarding the land and the territory, which used to be called cartography,
has historically been considered and treated as strictly rooted to the native civiliza-
tion. Therefore any initiative addressing the interoperability of Geographic Infor-
mation (GI) directly impacted local cultures. The fact that almost seventy years ago,
European nations where still at war and were using their own, classified military
and civil cartography is a crude but indisputable consideration which gives some
light to the new praxis of sharing geospatial data as fostered by the political decision
of EU Parliament that passed the INSPIRE directive. Therefore, the INSPIRE di-
rective, more than other technical and administrative acts, impacts the local culture
that deals with the description of the territory and the land where the ancestral hi-
story and the origins of all populations are rooted. Nowadays, the multicultural di-
mension, so prominently fostered by the media and the World Wide Web, is only
scratching the surface of the real understanding of land as known and perceived
by local communities. The impressive GOOGLE tools let the user know and per-
ceive physical aspects of land in a real image that is truly and fully understandable
by anyone who already has a sufficient knowledge of the area. The tags voluntarily
seeded on GOOGLE pictures help specific user categories by supporting their un-
derstanding, but are insufficient for ensuring the interoperability of deep understan-
ding of the territory and its components. The contemporary society that uses freely
available geo-web tools is focusing on where to go and how to get there, while que-
stions of “what is it?” and “which are the components of the land?” are not conside-
red due to the lack of interpretative information provided by the web. Interoperability
of land detailed knowledge remains a hard aim to achieve because of the resistance
and difficulty in sharing cultural information behind geospatial data.
Interoperability and e-government
Interoperability is also only accepted as long as it does not touch specific interests,
personal data, or impact sensitive issues such as faith, religion, local customs and
personal interests.
Nevertheless there are some very efficient examples of interoperability applications
that run well-established services including bank transactions, freight and goods
delivery, passenger movements and a consistent number of e-government services;
all these take place at a national and international level, while also solving cross-
border issues. The ITC techniques and tools, from web- services to communication
standards, which are used to ensure the functioning of such complex systems, are
based on and use the same architecture that is defined and legally stated by IN-
SPIRE. Specifically speaking about the thematic essence of INSPIRE, the 34 spa-
tial data themes from Annexes two and three of the Directive depict a complex
scenario, characterised by problems that the Member States will be called on to
address when invoking the directive itself and the legislated interoperability. The in-
teroperability process seems to be characterised by serious vagueness about how
data for spatial planning will be treated in order to be shared with the European
SDI. In this sense the Plan4aLL project has been an unique opportunity for learning
more about this issue and for paving the road to acceptance of seven data schemas
out of 34 listed in INSPIRE Annexes. The mentioned discrepancies are mainly crea-
ted by the heterogeneous characters of populations which perceive understand and
manage the territory by applying their own cultural schemas.
Interoperability is an intelligent and fruitful form of homogeneity, which needs to be
grown and fostered because it currently does not have the same meaning or the
same relevance for all communities and populations. This is particularly true during
these days where all over the world, but specifically in Europe, it is possible to note
the political and social tendency of local regions and authorities to waive their in-
dependence from national government and central authorities, often on the premise
of affirming strong cultural differences. It is a matter of fact that the same popula-
tions and parties that support local independence, local rules and even laws and
administrative procedures, appreciate the use of interoperable public services to
ensure a sustainable life for citizens. Therefore, in principle, interoperability may
be well supported by those who wish to sustain the independence of local cultures.
But it is necessary to check the scale of interoperability in order to verify the appli-
cation of a true interoperable model instead of intra-operable one. Intra operability
is the ability of diverse systems and organisations to work together (inter-operate)
using proprietary standards or standards that are not open. This approach may en-
sure the perfect control of a workflow inside the specific system and organisation
but makes it extremely difficult to combine data sets and for services to interact wi-
thout repetitive manual intervention. The differences between interoperable and
intra-operable models of data and functions used in spatial planning, e-government
and ICT domains, need to be carefully considered.
The private sphere is also very relevant for interoperability. People appreciate data
sharing as long as it does not encroach on the private and personal sphere and as
long as it facilitates the efficiency of services provided by public authorities. Some
communities may become very much less open and more suspicious of interope-
rability when their own approach to classification of solid property of land and buil-
dings is not fully respected.
The few considerations about the public and private approaches to the interopera-
bility show that it is at the same time desire of interoperability and the conservation
of native or local operability and knowledge it means privileging the intra-operability
organisational and intra-community praxis.
Europe as a world region and densely populated area hosts a diverse cultural he-
ritage and the local communities rooted on the territory have their own understan-
ding and use of the settled area where so many centuries of history and tradition
are present. As soon as interoperability affects these aspects, it becomes culturally
and technically very challenging. Demonstration of this resides in the fact that it is
necessary to move from languages to dialects in order to understand specific land
features. In this way of reading the territory, the granularity of geographic information
increases dramatically heading to the single parcel history of ownership and often
dealing with multi centennial history.
Through the INSPIRE initiative and directive, Europe is fostering a particularly chal-
lenging process of overcoming geo spatial interpretative information for the benefit
of making knowledge interoperable and improving the effectiveness of actions. Ho-
wever, existing considerations about the objective difficulties in obtaining a diffuse
and widely accepted interoperability have to be taken seriously.
In the current economic and the relative shortage of resources, there is an extre-
mely pressing need for the promotion and sharing of best practices in order to de-
monstrate that it is possible to achieve good results in interoperability using
sustainable resources. Spatial planning is critical both for demonstrating the feasi-
bility of interoperability applied to territories and human settlements and for mana-
ging land and cities. The Plan4all project may easily become a monument in this
Chapter 1
Spatial planning and ICT
Didier Vancutsem,
1.1. Introduction
In the past 250 years, we have experienced five major technological revolutions
and each of these was linked to a specific technological innovation (1771, The First
Industrial Revolution in Britain, based on the mechanisation of the cotton industry;
1829, The Age of Steam and Railways; 1875, The Age of Steel and Electricity; 1908,
The Age of Oil, the Automobile, and Mass Production; and 1971, The Age of Infor-
mation and Telecommunications). Every technical invention and development has
resulted in advantages and disadvantages, which have influenced the well-being
and prosperity of mankind. But somehow, they have provided the conditions for a
long period of sustained economic growth as a process of economic development,
which is usually described as a series of waves (Kondratieff waves)(Kondratieff,
Figure 1.1: Simplified Kondratieff Wave Pattern (2009), Source: Rursus, Wikipedia http://en.wikipe-
These technological innovations, characteristic for each periods of technological
revolution, had a fundamental influence on the behaviour of man and consequently
on society. Such influences can be seen in every level of daily life including living
conditions, housing and recreation, and have changed our habits and our culture.
They have also a number of aspects in common. First of all, specific technologies
have a wide applicability to a variety of different production processes, generating
both process and product innovations. Secondly, because of this feature, they ge-
nerate a whole series of new applications. Thirdly, because of large and increasing
demand for this bundle of innovations, they create and shape new industrial com-
plexes, which can be characterised by a large number of horizontal and forward
reaching linkages: Everything is interlinked.
Among the five technological revolutions, three are directly linked to the means of
transportation and communication. The developments of the steam engine, the
combustion engine and the microchip technology in the 60s together represent a
shift from the moving of goods, to an increased ease of moving people and exchan-
ging information and ideas. The integration of digital technology and computers fi-
nally resulted in the development of communication technology and the introduction
of the term ICT (Information and Communication Technology). In terms of the on-
going microelectronic revolution, we are still in the middle of a learning process.
Considering the on-going developments in cloud computing, multi-touch screens,
intelligent systems for houses and communication, broadband and broadcasting,
also related to nanotechnologies, it seems evident that the Information and Com-
munication Technology will dominate our way of life in the near future. One aspect
is however evident from the past 250 years: Technological change involves both
technical change and organisational change (Van der Knaap & Linge, 1987).
It remains difficult to evaluate the effects of ICT on the organisation of society and
on spatial and urban planning because the topic is very complex and the microe-
lectronic revolution is still in process. Nevertheless, it is evident that the ICT in-
fluence is not direct, but indirect via social and economic trends, which cause
changes in the behaviour of each individual in society, the economy and, conse-
quently, in culture.
A rapid transformation is currently taking over advanced industrial cities. Old ideas
and assumptions about the development, planning and management of the modern,
industrial city seem less and less useful. Accepted notions about the nature of
space, time, distance and the processes of urban life are similarly under question.
Boundaries separating what is private and what is public within cities are shifting
fast. Urban life seems more volatile and speeded up, more uncertain, more frag-
mented and more bewildering than at any time since the end of the last century.
The use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has been under con-
stant development over the last decade and has become a standard today in the
European Urban and Spatial Planning context. Publishing information via the inter-
net, communicating via e-mail, chatting and using interactive, real-time virtual reality
to show the results of a planning process is the planners new normal day. Actual
development is the “e-planning” philosophy, which refers to the use of electronic
processes in delivering planning and development services, such as the online pla-
cement and processing of development applications, and the provision of web-
based information such as maps, regulations and state and local policies. Such
processes are already installed in several administrations around the world and
give positive feedback with strong support from government, industry and commu-
1.2. Industrial change and the emergence of ICT
Technological change has a large number of consequences. Because it involves
technical change it may have implications for the use of materials and equipment,
as well as for the organisation of work processes. Its impact is not limited to the
production process alone, but in the case of fundamental innovations, which are
adopted in society at large, its effects are felt throughout society and may lead to
organisational change. In this context, questions arise about the nature and direc-
tion of the introduction of a whole range of information and communication techno-
logies during the last two decades on the territory and the physical space. Since
the new ICT industries are the consequence of the integration of digital telecom-
munication, computing and media technologies, this has led to a whole new branch
of activities in the rapidly growing leisure industry by making use of image construc-
tion and the creation of virtual realities (e.g. 3-Dimension images, Second Life, Web
The impact of ICT within existing industries has had a number of different effects.
It has lowered production costs of existing products, changed the type and quality
of individual products through product differentiation and it has increased the pos-
sibilities of customising products. These changes are becoming more visible in a
change of production organisation. Although a large number of such changes can
be observed in general, it does not imply that investment in ICT will directly lead to
a growth in productivity: this is the so-called productivity paradox (cf. Nooteboom,
1990). The costs of ICT investments are visible and measurable, but the returns
cannot be measured in a direct way, because of the large number of indirect effects
associated with them.
During the 1960s, the industrial economy matured (Rostow, 1960); it shifted from
an emphasis on the production of capital goods to durable consumer goods and
mass consumption. This structural transformation in the economy has generated a
shift in the demand for inputs from physical energy based resources to knowledge
and information-based inputs. The emerging information and communication te-
chnologies have enabled a rapid economic growth since the 1980s. Access to in-
formation has become a crucial and strategic factor in the production of goods and
services. This had a considerable impact on the organisation of production and has
lead, amongst other things, to the creation of a new role for middle management in
medium sized as well as large organisations with regards to the conversion of pro-
duction and the transportation of knowledge.
The increased importance of information and knowledge at different levels of orga-
nisations did not only have a considerable impact on the handling of information
and information transfers between people and between organisations, but also on
the role of distance as a factor in the transfer process. Distance has developed into
a multi-dimensional concept; as a barrier to communication, it tends to become ir-
relevant in real time when information is codified and available in the public domain
(The Economist, 1996). On the other hand, when communication involves the tran-
sfer of tacit knowledge, distance is extremely relevant and proximity and direct con-
tact are essential for successful communication. Similarly, proximity and direct
personal contact generate the conditions for the creation of trust, which is important
for the transfer of tacit knowledge and for learning by accidental encounters (Noo-
teboom, 1999). Therefore we can argue that distance is of crucial importance for a
large number of different communication processes. The spatial effect of the in-
creased variation in the type and nature of communication means that we can wit-
ness two opposing processes occurring simultaneously. They consist of a
de-concentration process of economic activities related to easy access of different
inputs and codified knowledge, and a concentration process associated with the
availability of strategic information and tacit knowledge, which are crucial for ma-
nagement and control functions.
1.3. Telecommunications and urban planning
Cities and spatial planning are becoming more and more influenced by the use of
ICT in the industrial change. As Cedric Price described, eggs provide the analogy
of the evolution of cities. The boiled egg corresponds to the walled city, the fried
egg to the industrial city, the scrambled eggs to the multi-centred urban region. Wil-
liam Mitchell (1999) proposes a fourth urban evolution model: the “huevos ranche-
ros”, eggs mixed with other ingredients, to form the digital city.
Emerging trends of urban evolution are supported by:
• Digital telecommunication networks such as the Internet and broadband
• “Nomadic” tools facilitating mobile lifestyles, such as mobile phones, wire-
less, laptops, PDAs, smart phones, pagers, GPS, etc;
• Decentralised networked intelligence embedded everywhere, in the Inter-
net itself, including also cloud computing; and
• IP services, sensors, smart electrical supply, electronic road pricing and
navigation (Mitchell, 1999)
Digital telecommunication networks are new types of urban infrastructure, following
in the footsteps of water supply and waste disposal, transportation, electrical supply,
telegraph and telephone networks. They often replicate the routes and nodes of
earlier networks, which both fragment and recombine urban activities and spaces.
New networks infrastructures selectively loosen spatial and temporal linkages
among activities. Latent demands of human settlements for adjacency and proximity
become reality. This produces simultaneous fragmentation and recombination of
urban types and spatial patterns. Some traditional spatial types may disappear,
others may transform themselves and new types and patterns emerge.
In the time of information, different combinations of local and remote interactions,
together with synchronous and asynchronous modes of communication provide the
“glue” that holds communities together. Many options simultaneously exist, with dif-
fering costs and advantages. Citizens are able to choose among them within an in-
creasingly complex, so called, economy of presence.
Figure 1.2: The Form of the City, Vancutsem (2010) adapted from “The City as an Egg”,
Source: Price (1970)
The relationship between spatial settlement pattern and modes of communication
is illustrated in Table 1.1. The emergence of the information society is demonstrated
in a massive shift across the diagonal of the table, from local synchronous interac-
tion to dispersed asynchronous communication. These shifts affect markets and
organisations as well as communities, as they produce a new cycle of fragmentation
and recombination of familiar spatial types and patterns.
1.4. Spatial Planning and ICT in Europe
In the last centuries, the consideration of spatial planning radically changed: in the
past, spatial planning was more related to a traditional “own world”, in balance with
nature. Lewis Mumford, in his Book “The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transfor-
mations, and Its Prospects” (Mumford, 1961), had the ideal vision of the city, which
can be described as an “organic city”, where culture is not usurped by technological
innovation but rather thrives with it. However, today the world is becoming more
and more urbanised.
Globalisation and sustainability affect spatial planning today; globalisation requires
new way of governing the city to take advantage of its benefits, while sustainability
demands new attitudes toward the way of living as a whole. This double challenging
context imposes changes and structural reforms on the countries’ administrative
Table 1.1: Information in the Urban Age, ISOCARP Congress 2002, Source: Mitchell, 2002.
structures, including the traditional planning model and implementation mecha-
nisms, which were clearly unable to respond to the existing economic, social and
environmental problems.
Today, Cities in Europe are facing major challenges. The following figures are widely
accepted as a raw but indicative picture of the current situation: Over 60 percent of
the European population live in urban areas with more than 50,000 inhabitants. By
2020, about 80 percent will be living in urban areas. This figure could be much hi-
gher, as in Belgium or the Netherlands and the urban future of our continent is
directly affected by urban land use. Also, technological progress and market
globalisation are generating new challenges for European cities (Vancutsem,
URBACT Projetct Lumasec 2010). Townscape and social structures are in funda-
mental transformation processes, and the use of land is shifting from decline in one
area of a city or city-region to growth in another. (Vancutsem, Plan4all 2010)
Originally, land use planning, town or urban planning and regional planning were
terms used regarding the planning of distribution of people and activities on a ter-
ritory. In the early 1960s, a Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe raised
concerns, reflected in the presentation in May 1968 of a historic report on Spatial
/Regional planning "A European problem". Consequently, a first European Confe-
rence of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning started in 1970 in Bonn with
the Council of Europe’s activities relating to spatial planning.
Spatial planning includes all levels of land use planning, including urban planning,
regional planning, environmental planning, national planning and that at the EU and
other international levels. Land use planning is the term used for a branch of public
policy, which encompasses various disciplines seeking to order and regulate the
use of land in an efficient and ethical way. When considering it as a process, urban
or city planning is more related to the integration of land use and transport planning
disciplines, exploring a wide range of aspects of the built and social environments.
Regional planning, as a branch of land use planning, deals with the efficient place-
ment of land use activities, infrastructure and settlement growth across a larger
area of land than an individual city.
There are several definitions of the spatial planning. A reference is from the Euro-
pean Regional/Spatial Planning Charter adopted in 1983 by the European Confe-
rence of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning (CEMAT): "Regional/spatial
planning gives geographical expression to the economic, social, cultural and eco-
logical policies of society. It is at the same time a scientific discipline, an admini-
strative technique and a policy developed as an interdisciplinary and
comprehensive approach directed towards a balanced regional development and
the physical organisation of space according to an overall strategy."(European Re-
gional/Spatial Planning Charter, 1983, P. 1)
Therefore, spatial planning is not a single concept, a procedure or a tool. It is a set
of concepts, procedures and tools that must be tailored specific situations if desi-
rable outcomes are to be achieved (by extension “strategic” spatial planning). Spa-
tial planning is therefore a wider, more inclusive approach that considers the best
use of land and provides greater scope for politics and other organisations to pro-
mote and manage changes on the territory. It is in contrast to traditional land use
planning, which focuses on the regulation and control of land. In Europe, especially
based on the 2020 Strategy of the European Union (2020 Strategy European Union,
2010), the term “territory” and “territorial cohesion” is increasingly used.
In strategic spatial planning, the planner has a role to play in:
Assessing the environment (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, thre-
ats), external trends, forces and the resources available;
• Identification and gathering of major stakeholders;
• Development of a realistic long-term vision and strategies taking into ac-
count the power structures, uncertainties, competing values etc.;
• Design of plan-making structures and development of content, images and
a decision framework through which to influence and to manage spatial
• Generating mutual understanding, ways of building agreement, ways of
mobilising organisations to influence different arenas;
• Preparing decisions (short- and long- term), action and implementation;
• Monitoring and feedback.
Therefore, we can say that spatial planning is the consideration of what can and
should happen and where. It investigates the interaction between different policies
and practice across regional space, and sets the role of places in a wider context.
It goes well beyond traditional land-use planning and sets out a strategic framework
to guide future development and policy interventions, whether or not these relate
to formal land use planning control.
1.5.The European Dimension of Spatial Planning
Because spatial planning contributes to a better spatial organisation in Europe and
to finding solutions to problems that go beyond the national framework, its aim is to
create feelings of common identity, in North-South and East-West relations. Human
well-being and interactions with the environment are the central concern of spatial
planning, its aims being to provide each individual with an environment and quality
of life conducive to the development of their personality in surroundings planned
on a human scale.
According to the Council of Europe, spatial planning should be democratic, com-
prehensive, functional and long-term oriented (Council of Europe, European Charter
Torremolinos, 1983):
• democratic: it should be conducted in such a way as to ensure the partici-
pation of the people concerned and their political representatives;
• comprehensive: it should ensure the co-ordination of various sectoral po-
licies and integrate them in an overall approach;
• functional: it needs to take into account the existence of a regional con-
sciousness based on common values, culture and interests, sometimes
crossing administrative and territorial boundaries, without overlooking the
institutional arrangements of different countries;
• long-term: it should analyse and take into consideration long-term trends
and development. It should be oriented to address economic, social, cultural,
ecological and environmental phenomena and interventions.
Spatial planning must take into consideration the existence of a multitude of indivi-
dual and institutional decision-makers, who influence the organisation of space, the
uncertainty of all forecasting studies, the market pressures, the special features of
administrative systems and the different socio-economic and environmental condi-
tions. It must however strive to reconcile these influences in the most harmonious
way possible.
As for the implementation of spatial planning, achievement of regional/spatial plan-
ning objectives is essentially a political matter. Many private and public agencies
contribute through their actions towards developing and changing the organisation
of space. Spatial planning reflects the desire for interdisciplinary integration and
coordination and for co-operation between the authorities involved. It must be based
on active citizen participation.
In 1999, the ministers responsible for regional planning in the EU member states
signed a document called the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP).
Although the ESDP has no binding status, and the European Union has no formal
authority for spatial planning, the ESDP has influenced spatial planning policy in
European regions and member states, and placed the coordination of EU sectoral
policies on the political agenda.
At the European level, the term “territorial cohesion”, the fundamental aspects of
which are sustainable development and access to services, is becoming more wi-
dely used and is, for example, mentioned in the draft EU Treaty (Constitution) as a
shared competency of the European Union; it is also included in the Treaty of Li-
sbon. The term was defined in a scoping document in Rotterdam in late 2004 and
is being further elaborated using empirical data from the European Spatial Obser-
vatory Network (ESPON) programme in a document entitled “The Territorial State
and Perspectives of the European Union”. At the minister's conference in May 2007
in Leipzig, a political document called the "Territorial Agenda" was signed to conti-
nue the process begun in Rotterdam.
1.6. Impact of ICT on Spatial Planning
The information society represents a new economic area in the history of mankind
(Castells, 1996). This is the fourth area after the agrarian, industrial and service
areas. Therefore the impact of ICT on spatial change and development is to be con-
sidered as a part of the development of the information society. However, related
to the interaction of spatial planning and ICT, it is important to specify the following
• The development of the information society is taking place in various ways
and at a different pace across all developed countries, as well as now gra-
dually also in the developing countries. This development will affect societies
as a whole and will cause fundamental changes in economic and social life.
Knowledge and skilled people will become the most important factors in pro-
• The development of information and communications technology will be
the main driving force in the formation of the information society,
• The emergence of information and communications technology makes it
possible to create new ways of working as well as making it possible to re-
organise industrial, public and personal activities and structures. Globalisa-
tion will play an increasing role in these processes,
• The change in the meaning(s) of space, place, distance and time as the
determinants of location factors - with probably the best known concept of
the changing role of space, place, distance and time in the information age
being suggested by Castells (1996) when he introduces the concepts of
space of flows, space of places and timeless time. As a result we will have
a virtual world functioning side by side with that of conventional physical set-
Such developments will profoundly affect spatial development and spatial planning.
The consequences of the application of ICT in production and services will change
traditional ways of running businesses in industry, services and other organisations
as well as changing everyday life more generally (Mitchell, 1999 and 2003; Castells,
2001 and 1996). These developments form the basic driving force for spatial
change and have been discussed by many scientists and futurologists. Major de-
velopments are ongoing in the sectors of industry, services, business location, new
working practices, housing and conventional traffic.
ICT is a significant factor affecting spatial change and consequences can often be
rather surprising. This necessarily provides planners with some challenging pro-
blems. Spatial change from the point of view of urban and regional planning is al-
ways both an opportunity and a threat. However, current on-going changes offer
opportunities to use the new possibilities inherent in ICT to enable regions, cities
and rural areas to partake in new types of development. New development trends
can also threaten the future of these areas. Therefore planners have to find ways
to try to forestall such possible negative effects.
On the other side, decentralisation, multilevel governance, public participation, bot-
tom-up approaches, empowerment, local government, regional approach, environ-
mental policies, strategic planning, participative budgets, council of regions, public
private partnerships, administrative links, local agendas 21, low carbon concepts
and climate change, vertical and horizontal integration, are some of the actual topics
considered today in legal bodies and planning practices.
Many expectations can be found in the early 21st century for spatial planning: scien-
tific progress in communication technology, genetics, micro-biology, but also energy
efficiency and data technology will influence the European spatial planning. But
some recommendations on spatial planning remain (ISOCARP, IMPP 2009):
• Long term planning of the use and management of resources
Achieving planning objectives independently of economic growth
• Improving public participation and implementation
• Influencing politics through planning more adapted to the needs of the pu-
• Nurturing robust professional ethics through on-going appraisal.
Regarding the implementation of ICT into spatial planning, we should consider the
inclusion of ICT infrastructure in planning and plans more than we have today.
1.7. Conclusions
Information and Communication Technology is the main driving force of the deve-
lopment of the information / knowledge / network society, and should be more spe-
cifically taken into account in urban and regional planning. From the planning point
of view, there is significant untapped potential in the utilisation of ICT-applications
in spatial development.
The changing economic base increasingly highlights current spatial development
trends, where knowledge and skilled people are becoming the most important fac-
tors in production, and new functional and organisational issues. As a consequence
of this, the traditional ways of running businesses in industry, services and other
organisations, as well as activities in every day life, will change. Moreover, the pre-
requisites for the locations of different activities will change too as they will be driven
by new cultural, social, economic and technical drivers, which will also rapidly and
dramatically affect the spatial modification of our territory.
The expected spatial changes are diverse. The growth of large urban areas is seen
as a consequence of the development of global metropolises. Development within
these areas will disperse. There are also emerging possibilities for new types of
Related to the future of small towns and rural areas, small- scale developments
may yet continue to be possible. New life styles and the special features of places
will however play an increasingly important role in decisions on the locations of
some types of activity.
If planners want to influence new spatial development they should then incorporate
the impact of the development of the information society and ICT into regional and
urban planning. Indicators suggest that this has not been common practice thus
far. Competition, cheaper solutions, activities with improved functionality and pos-
sibilities to implement solutions that would previously not have been possible, are
some of the arguments which may affect the relocation of current activities or de-
cisions on new locations. Therefore those who are responsible for urban and re-
gional planning should actively work for the application of the impact on
development of the information society and ICT on planning practices. In these pro-
cesses new types of conflicts between cities, municipalities and regions will appear.
There is a significant need for further research on the spatial impact of the applica-
tion of ICT in general, and in specific planning areas in particular, as well as for the
development of new planning theories, methods and models. In addition, the pro-
grammes of planning education and further training should be updated, as should
the legal provisions for planning. The first thing to do is to ensure that all planning
authorities take the decision to incorporate ICT as a new element into planning and
plans, and decide upon the actions which should be undertaken to promote the
achievement of the adopted principle. The winners will be those who best under-
stand the emerging new spatial order.
Castells M, 1996 The Rise of the Network Society, The Information Age: Economy,
Society and Culture Vol. I (Oxford, Cambridge, MA)
CEMAT, 1983 European Conference of Ministers Responsible for Regional Planning
Council of Europe, 1983 European Charter Torremolinos
ISOCARP, 2009 International Manual of Planning Practice (ISOCARP, The Hague)
Knaap, G A van der, Linge G J R, 1987 Technology and industrial Change (Croom
Helm, London)
Mitchell W, 1999 E-topia (MIT Press, Cambridge MA)
Mitchell W, 2002 Planning and Design for the Information Age (ISOCARP, The
Mumford L, 1961 The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Pro-
spects (Mariner Books, London)
Nooteboom B, 1999 Inter-firm Alliances, Analysis and Design (Routledge, London)
Nooteboom B, 2009, “Evolutionaire Economie” Economisch Statistische Berichten,
94(4571), 655 (Tilburg University)
Rostow W W, 1960 The Stages of Economic Growth (Cambridge Press, London)
Plan4all D 2.1, 2009 Clusters of Leading Organizations in SDI for Spatial planning
(accessed 28.07.2011)
Chapter 2
Interoperability, SDI and spatial planning
Manfred Schrenk, Julia Neuschmid, Daniela Patti, Wolfgang Wasserburger
2.1. The concept of SDI and the need for interoperability
Geoinformation technologies in the planning process focus on managing and con-
veying information to improve the decision-making process. Some of the most basic
tools for public and private organisations in spatial planning are Geographic Infor-
mation Systems (GIS) as a decision support tool both for technical experts and de-
cision makers. As the amount of spatial data available and the usage of GIS have
grown, organisations have become interested in sharing data both internally and
with other organisations. This trend has led to the evolution of spatial data structures
that rely on web services technology and standardised data formats to allow users
to access data distributed across various organisations.
Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDIs) are frameworks of spatial data, metadata, stan-
dards, tools and users that are interactively connected in order to use spatial data.
Current SDI development is the combination of different kinds of stakeholders, data
providers, users, data, technologies, standards, legislation and also implementation
initiatives. SDI development is mainly based on Web Mapping and Service Oriented
Architecture and also affected by growing Web 2.0 approaches that facilitate inte-
ractive information sharing, active participation, interoperability, user centred design
and collaboration.
2.1.1. The INSPIRE Directive
The INSPIRE (INfrastructure for SPatial InfoRmation in Europe) Directive aims to
establish a European Spatial Data Infrastructure and entered into force in May
2007. The Directive defines SDI as “... metadata, spatial data sets, spatial data ser-
vices; network services and technologies; agreements on sharing, access and use;
coordination and monitoring mechanisms, process and procedures, established,
operated or made available in accordance with this Directive ...” (EC, 2007, art.
3.1). INSPIRE does not aim to establish new infrastructures, but it is based on in-
frastructures created by Member States that are made interoperable by common
Implementing Rules (IRs) and measures established at the Community level. The
purpose is to align national legislation and achieve a joint result within European
Member States.
Although the Directive specifically aims to support European environmental policy,
INSPIRE is having a great impact on the European GI community. The correct im-
plementation of the INSPIRE Directive could represent a big step towards effective
information sharing to support problem solving. INSPIRE represents a solid foun-
dation on which to build wider interoperability of spatial planning in Europe, since it
takes into consideration current standards and practices in the field of SDIs, and
summarises the point of view of most stakeholders.
Among the actions aimed at supporting the process of implementation of the IN-
SPIRE Directive, the European Commission Programme “eContent-plus” has fi-
nanced the Plan4all Project, which deals with the question of harmonisation and
interoperability of spatial planning data.
2.2. An overview of the planning process
In order to understand the role of SDI in spatial planning, it is necessary to take a
step backwards and look at what planning is and how it works. Different interpreta-
tions of reality lead to the fact that there is not only one theory of the spatial planning
process, but several interpretations. On the one hand, spatial planning is a technical
science with defined methodologies; on the other, it is also a unique and creative
process with unpredictable outcomes.
2.2.1. Well-defined linear Planning Process
According to Meise and Volwahsen (1980), spatial planning can be described as a
technical solution for spatial problems. Spatial planning is an ideal linear process
consisting of defined steps. These steps are the collection of information; structu-
ring the problem and fixing the goals; analysing the information; and developing
the plan, prognostic assessment and evaluation. Therefore planning has a variety
of steps and processes to solve spatial problems.
2.2.2. Balancing regulation and reality
Lendi (1988) described spatial planning from a juridical point of view. Spatial plan-
ning is seen as a public task and a political-administrative system that is embedded
in national legislation. Lendi speaks about a certain tension between regulation and
reality. If the tension is too strong, planning will become utopia and its general ac-
ceptance will decrease. If the tension is too weak, planning will only fulfil reality and
become redundant. Therefore spatial planning is not an administrative performance
but a political process.
2.2.3. Integrative Contemporary Planning
Fürst (1996a and 1996b) and Selle (1994 and 1996) distinguish between ‘traditional
planning’ and ‘contemporary planning’. From a temporal perspective ‘traditional
planning’ is characterised as an inflexible linear development of a plan and its im-
plementation without long-term sustainability of the planning activities. Spatially,
‘traditional planning’ refers to ‘planning islands’, which are thematic divisions within
the administrative departments, and from an institutional perspective, planning is
carried out by the responsible authority. On the other hand, ‘contemporary planning’
is a more flexible and less linear process. Side effects and outcomes of planning
processes must be monitored in order to integrate new results into ongoing planning
processes. Planning is more integrative and aims to coordinate and balancing dif-
ferent interests., ‘Contemporary planning’ has an integrative character, not only the-
matically, but also spatially. For these reasons planning does not follow a fixed
standardised operation but is always a complex, unique process that does not in-
volve only technical tasks and defined methods, but also a great amount of creati-
vity. The planning process is not linear but ongoing, meaning that it gets continuous
input including new developments during the planning process, changes in infra-
structures, new data/information, etc.). These inputs constantly influence the sta-
keholders and then also the planning result (plans, explanatory reports, etc.). It can
be said that the planning cycle never ends and that when one cycle is finished the
next one has already started.
Figure 2.1: SDI as a data provider in the never-ending planning cycle
Figure 2.1 describes the spatial planning cycle as an interaction of real events from
the dynamic world, several stakeholders and data inputs and outputs.
2.3. Who are the actors involved and the different planning per-
In the planning processes there are different players that have different back-
grounds, roles, interests and intentions but are all linked to one another and there-
fore must come to mutual agreement. A political ecology approach (Bryant and
Bailey, 1997) assumes that land is strongly influenced by the way different actors
interact at a local scale and vice-versa. Interests of actors at different levels can be
complementary and/or conflicting and can lead to different types of alliances (Kai-
ser, 1995).
Two main typologies of actors can be defined: private and public. Main public actors
are politicians, planning bodies, urban administrations, local bureaucracy, civic sup-
plies and police. Main private actors are residents, farmers, entrepreneurs and spe-
culators, property dealers and developers. Planners often take the role of
consultants, guiding and steering the process. Actors are usually on different spatial
and administrative levels such as national, regional and local.
2.3.1. Actorsand their role
Local bureaucracy
Planning bodies
Civic supplies
Land registration
Research Institutes
Farmers, agriculture
Entrepreneurs and specula-
Economic and social development
Urban design, planning, land supply and housing
Provision of infrastructure (Water, Electricity, etc)
Mapping and registration of land ownership
Resolving disputes about land
Approbation on land-use policies
Preservation of illegal land occupation
Information, publishing
Research, teaching, education
Farming, leasing
Buying or renting out residential space
Buying, renting land, building
It appears important to develop a kind of “trialogue” (Engelke, 2008) between public
actors, private sector and politics to integrate the emerging perceptions of a pro-
blem, and by this means, to overcome the gap between planning and implementa-
tion, and between the long-term and short-term objectives (Engelke, 2008).
2.3.2. From government to governance
With multiple public, private and political stakeholders involved in public service
provision, ‘policy networks’ are becoming increasingly important in governance
structures, comprising inter-organisational linkages and dependencies that enable
the exchange of researches which are necessary for achieving common goals
(Rhodes, 1996). The Commission on Global Governance defines governance as
the sum of many ways in which individuals, institutions, public and private, manage
their common affairs. It is the continuing process through which conflicting or di-
verse interest may be accommodated and cooperative action taken” (Commission
on Global Governance, 1995, p.2). Multi-level governance is when both vertical in-
teractions (between levels of government) and horizontal interaction (between go-
vernment and non government actors) occurs at each level (Flinders and Bache,
2.3.3. Cross-thematic interests
Spatial planning has an interdisciplinary character, meaning that it touches almost
all thematic fields such as environmental, economic and social aspects. The current
vision is that in the complex planning process, a unifying element is the Spatial
Data Infrastructure that, as a thread, sews together the different planning themes,
geographic areas, stakeholders and administrative levels.
SDI is globally recognised as a fundamental tool for the different users to achieve
better information, taking into account its complexity as much as possible. Yet the
challenge for spatial planning is to use and to connect data in a way that information
and then knowledge can be generated, to finally reach better and more transparent
decisions, as illustrated in figure 2.2.
Table 2.1: Actors involved in the spatial planning process (edited and extended according Plan4all
D2.1, 2009)
Property dealers
Mediation in transaction, information, care-taking
Financing, planning, speculation
Representation of interests, lobbying
2.4. The need of up-to-date interoperable spatial data
Digital information on spatial planning has been managed on a national, regional
and/or local level, which results in a suite of datasets that are not always compatible
with each other. Traditionally, standardisation in spatial planning activities has been
rather poor and some of the main challenges are the heterogeneity of datasets and
sources, gaps in availability, lack of harmonisation between datasets in different
scales, duplication of information as well as loss of time and resources in searching
for needed data which have been characterised for the European situation in spatial
planning (Ryser & Franchini, 2008). This situation is definitely not an adequate
basis for achieving planning’s purposes in a global context.
Even experts from one country might have problems in understanding the planning
regulations of the neighbouring country. Especially for investors and decision ma-
kers, it is almost impossible to compare planning regulations across Europe. The
INSPIRE Directive and the Plan4all Project aim towards the interoperability of spa-
tial data in Europe because the present situation of the planning panorama is so
Figure 2.2: From Data to Information, Knowledge and Wisdom for better decision making (Schrenk
2001, based on Laurini 2001)
2.4.1. Types of heterogeneities
Fragmented planning systems, different planning results and heterogeneous data
management are characteristic for the European planning landscape. The harmo-
nisation of spatial planning data is the first required step towards the accessibility
and sharing of data via SDIs. Data harmonisation and integration basically face two
types of heterogeneity: data heterogeneity and semantic heterogeneity (Hakinpour
and Geppert, 2001). Data heterogeneity refers to differences of data in terms of
data type and data formats and could be further divided into the categories of syntax
and structure. Syntax heterogeneity refers to differences in formats. With the foun-
dation of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) in 1994, solutions to overcome
the problems of syntactical heterogeneity began.
Structure heterogeneity is related to differences in schemas (formalised description
of conceptual data models). Semantic heterogeneity applies to the meaning of the
data and is related to the different terms and meaning in a specific context. For
example, a river can be seen in terms of flow intensity and flood recurrence interval
by a river basin authority because they are the authority responsible for the safety
of human settlements. Whereas an environmental protection agency would look at
it in terms of biological quality and ecological functionality as they are responsible
for nature conservation. At the same time, the same river can be seen as an energy
source by an energy agency, as part of an ecological corridor by landscape desi-
gners, as a waterfront by planners designing for a municipality, or as an area for
leisure and sports, shipping of goods, etc. Conceptually the same river can be seen
in different ways either as a line or as a polygon, including or excluding banks or
yearly flooding areas, and consequently its area can be delimited differently as il-
lustrated in figure 2.3 (Camerata et al., 2010).
Figure 2.3: River Leiblach (Austrian-German border): different river data models across the border
(HUMBOLDT Consortium 2010)
2.4.2. The multi-scalar dimension
The administrative levels responsible for planning, although not the same for all
European countries, are basically the national, state/county and local levels. When
referring to the purpose of planning, where supra-regional and global issues are
dealt with as much as local and sub-municipal issues (Ghose and Huxhold, 2003),
the current administrative levels do not completely match today’s requirements. In-
creasingly, spatial planning does not act at national, state and local levels, but rather
at in-between levels, in transnational regions, cross-border regions, metropolitan
regions, neighbourhoods, etc. Issues such as transport networks, nature protection,
natural hazards like floods and earthquakes, urbanisation, river basins and many
more, do not all reflect and respect administrative borders. Relevant planning areas
are development regions, touristic areas, industrial or nature protection zones, river
basins districts, natural risk zones, etc. SDI can contribute to better integrate all
levels of spatial planning and provide accessible data for those administrative levels
not directly addressed by official policy making levels.
2.4.3. Dynamic planning
Dynamic planning is the ability to react to changes. The advantage of dynamic plan-
ning is that what was initially foreseen as a plan can be monitored and checked re-
gularly in time, and when problems occur small fixes can be immediately done
instead making more elaborate repairs at a later date in order to be compliant with
initial planning objectives. As there is a need to make an economic use of the scarce
natural resources and to promote sustainable spatial development across the whole
of Europe, the inclusion of the time component in planning becomes necessary (De
Amicis et at., 2011). Planning must not be seen just as a series of legally binding
documents but as all the space-related planning activities. SDI is a supporting tool
to make planning more dynamic and to better fulfil its purpose.
2.4.4. Cross-border planning
The relationship between time and spatial data also becomes relevant in cross-bor-
der regions. One of the geoportals within the Plan4all Project is the CentropeMAP
(see figure 2.4), a cross-border initiative between Austria, the Czech Republic, Slo-
vakia and Hungary, which follows the approach of processing spatial referenced
data via OGC compliant Web Map Services (WMS). The validity of spatial plans is
constricted to a certain number of years, so zoning regulations and spatial planning
activities will usually be revised on a regular basis. For cross-border regions it will
be impossible to perform integrated spatial planning if the data, the updated plans
and the activities are not visible, harmonised and comparable.
SDI activities in the cross-border region are a big step towards the modernisation
of public administrations. Especially concerning environmental issues, interoperable
data-infrastructures allow international long-term monitoring.
2.4.5. The benefits of SDI in Planning
Although massive investments are being made worldwide to build and harmonise
Spatial Data Infrastructures, the economic benefits are still hard to quantify due to
SDI’s constantly evolving nature, its dynamicity and complexity. The implementation
costs are known; In Europe alone, at the European, national and local levels, they
are estimated to be from 202 to 273 million Euro each year (Crompvoets and Bregt,
2003). Yet the economic benefits and the parameters to calculate them are chan-
ging according to each specific situation.
Because the value of spatial data depends on numerous variables, such as the
users, the time, the purpose and the interrelations, quantifying the economic value
in itself is very difficult and therefore the evaluation of the benefit has to be done by
looking at the service provided (Longhorn, 2011). Because SDI’s benefits are not
only economic, but also environmental and social, it is absolutely necessary to look
at the actors involved in the planning processes and the use they make of the SDI.
Figure 2.4: The Centrope Region (Source:, July 2011)
2.5. Conclusions
The possession of up-to-date and interoperable data enables the modification of
future visions, the connection of different actors and planning themes, cross-border
planning and interactions different governance levels. All these factors enable us
to reach a better knowledge of the world. SDI connects stakeholders from different
spheres, such as economy, politics or administrations, to foresee and monitor chan-
ges, and therefore on the basis of this make plans for cities and regions.
Although short-term economic benefits are not presently easily quantifiable, the
long-term perspective enables us to see that costs in all phases and fields of plan-
ning would be greatly reduced if up-to-date reliable SDI were available to all relevant
actors. This is because the planning process depends on continuous input in order
to monitor urban, regional and environmental development, to detect changes and
to be able to find strategies to further steer spatial development. Spatial data infra-
structure can contribute as it aims to modernise public authorities and offer wider
access to geospatial data across Europe.
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ten (DIFU, Berlin) 35, 20-37
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in Formulating Neighborhood Planning Policy” URISA Journal
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Chapter 3
The Plan4all Project
Tomáš Mildorf, Václav Čada, Otakar Čerba, Karel Janečka, Karel
Jedlička, Jan Ježek, Radek Fiala
University of West Bohemia
3.1. Introduction
The main focus of the eContentplus project Plan4all was the harmonisation of spa-
tial planning data according to the INSPIRE Directive and based on existing best
practices in EU regions and municipalities and the results of current research pro-
jects. This chapter introduces the objectives, consortium, work-plan and the target
users of the Plan4all project. The chapter is concluded with a summary of the pro-
ject’s impact and sustainability.
3.2. The Plan4all Objectives
Plan4all was a European project co-funded by the Community programme eCon-
tentplus. The main aim of the project was to harmonise spatial planning data and
related metadata according to the INSPIRE principles.
Spatial planning acts between all levels of government both in bottom-up and top-
down directions. Every day, national, regional and local authorities face important
challenges in the development of territorial frameworks and concepts. The situation
is complicated by the diversity and overall complexity of spatial planning.
Spatial planning is a holistic activity. All the tasks and processes must be solved
comprehensively with input from various sources. It is necessary to make the inputs
interoperable. This allows the user to search the data, view them, download them
and use them with help of information technologies.
Plan4all significantly contributed to make spatial planning data more accessible,
usable and exploitable. These are also the main goals of the Community eConten-
tplus programme.
The Plan4all project helped to standardise spatial data from a spatial planning point
of view. Its activities and results will became a reference material for the INSPIRE
initiative and other related projects. Plan4all was focused on the following 7 spatial
data themes as outlined in Annexes II and III of the INSPIRE Directive (EC,2007):
• Land cover
• Land use
• Utility and Government services
• Production and industrial facilities
Agricultural and aquaculture facilities
Area management/restriction/regulation zones and reporting units
• Natural risk zones
Plan4all was a Best Practice Network. It profited from orchestration of available so-
lutions (best practices) in the field of spatial planning and SDI (Spatial Data Infra-
structure). The main project aims are to:
• Promote Plan4all and INSPIRE in countries, regions and municipalities;
• Design the spatial planning metadata profile;
• Design the data models (application schemas
in the INSPIRE termino-
logy) for selected spatial data themes related to spatial planning;
• Design the networking architecture for sharing data and services in spatial
• Validate the metadata profile, data models and networking architecture on
local and regional levels;
• Establish a European portal for spatial planning data;
• Deploy spatial planning data and metadata on local and regional level.
Figure 3.1 depicts the initial stage of the project, where the core of all the activities
was the INSPIRE Directive and its principles. Metadata profiles and data models
were drafted for each spatial data theme based on user requirements, national le-
gislation, leading organisations in SDI
and spatial planning and availability of
best practices.
Figure 3.1: Overall schema of the Plan4all acti-
3.3. The Plan4all Consortium
Plan4all was a consortium of 24 partners including universities, private companies,
international organisations, data providers and public administrations. The consor-
tium covered 15 European countries (see Figure 3.2).
None of the Plan4all participants had the critical mass in human or financial terms
to undertake the work alone. European collaboration increases access to pooled
resources and technology transfer and emulates the ‘global’ marketplace. Table 3.1
shows the Plan4all partners, short descriptions and the roles in the project.
Figure 3.2: The Plan4all partners.
Partners Short name
Short description and the role in the project
University of
West Bohemia
The Section of Geomatics at the UWB in Pilsen focuses
on collecting, distributing, storing, analysing, processing
and presenting geographical data or geographical infor-
Coordination, research, standardisation
Partners Short name
Short description and the role in the project
Society of City
and Regional
ISOCARP is a global association of experienced, professional
planners, and was founded in 1965 with the vision of bringing to-
gether recognised and highly qualified planners as well as other
stakeholders involved in the development and maintenance of
the built environment in an international network.
Evaluation, standardisation, dissemination, analyzing
City of
The City of Olomouc is a local authority creating a land-use plan
on the level of municipality as well as settlement plans.
Content provider, testing, validating
Evaluation, standardisation, dissemination, analyzing
The mission of TDF is to facilitate the development of high-tech
innovation according to the national and EU programming doc-
uments, and to promote the implementation of innovations and
development of high value added production.
Analysing, testing, content provider, validating
Help service re-
mote sensing
HSRS has vast experience with SDI for Urban Planning. It is re-
sponsible for the management of systems, and in some cases
also for Web hosting, for 20 municipalities. HSRS is responsible
for the Czech national metadata and catalogue system. It coop-
erates on definitions of the Czech national INSPIRE profile and
also on the profile for Urban Planning.
Content provider, technology provider, standardisation
und Vermes-
LGV Hamburg DE
LGV Hamburg, an agency under the supervision of the Ministry
of Urban Development and Environment, is responsible for the
production and publication of official maps and for keeping the
official land register of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.
Content provider, standardisation, testing, validating
European Um-
brella Organi-
sation for
Geographic In-
In order to ensure good governance, economic and social devel-
opment, environmental protection and sustainability, and in-
formed public participation, the mission of EUROGI is to
maximise the availability and effective use of Geographic Infor-
mation throughout Europe.
Evaluation, standardisation, dissemination, analyzing
Zemgale Plan-
ning Region
The Section of Geomatics at the UWB in Pilsen focuses on col-
lecting, distributing, storing, analysing, processing and presenting
geographical data or geographical information.
Coordination, research, standardisation
Partners Short name
Short description and the role in the project
Provincia di
The Province of Rome is a second tier local authority in the Ital-
ian decentralized government (NUTS 3). It is an intermediate
authority between municipalities and regions. The Province of
Rome has taken over many functions that concern the environ-
ment, cultural heritage, transport, education, hunting, fishing,
technical and administrative assistance to local authorities, pro-
fessional training.
Content provider, analysing, testing, validating
Temi Zammit
Based at the University of Malta, the Fondazzjoni Temi Zammit
(FTZ) is Malta’s leading local development agency.
Content provider, analysing, testing, validating
Greek Development organisation focused on EU integration
and international development co-operation.
Content provider, analysing, testing, validating
Navarra de
Suelo Residen-
cial S.A.
NASURSA is a public enterprise attached to the Spatial Planning
and Housing Department of the Regional Government of
Navarre. Its main aim is to consolidate sustainable territorial de-
velopment in Navarre.
Content provider, analysing, testing, validating
The company is well situated in the public administration market
sector with many public administration customers (Local and Re-
gional authorities), supplying products and services including
waste management procedures, CMS, automated procedures
and workflow management systems.
Standardisation, implementation, validating, testing
Gijón is a local authority with 275,000 inhabitants and occupies
an area of 181.7 square kilometres, which lies on the coastline
in the north of Spain.
Content provider, analysing, testing, validating
The Central European Institute of Technology (CEIT) is an Ap-
plied Research and Development Establishment founded in 2006
and located in the City of Schwechat, next to Vienna International
Technology provider, standardisation
Partners Short name
Short description and the role in the project
Asplan Viak In-
ternet AS
Avinet is a consultancy company specialised in Internet based
map and database solutions.
Technology provider, standardisation
Dipartimento di
Studi Urbani -
Università degli
Studi di Roma
The Department of Urban Studies of Rome III University conducts
research on urban contemporary development and design, spa-
tial organisation and policies.
Designing, research, standardisation
Euro Perspec-
tives Founda-
The Euro Perspectives Foundation is an institutional structure
able to address public interest in an enlarged Europe and to
bring endogenous capacities to cross fertilise through Territorial
Cooperation with Regional stakeholders in the EU and outside
for added value Regional polices and EU Integration.
Content provider, analysing, testing, validating
Agentia de
Dezvoltare Re-
gionala Nord-
ADR Nord-Vest RO
The North-West Regional Development Agency (NW RDA) is a
non-government, non-profit organisation of public utility that op-
erates in the field of regional development, representing the ex-
ecutive body of the Regional Development Council of the
North-West Development Region.
Content provider, analysing, testing, validating
Regione Lazio
- Direzione
Regionale Ter-
ritorio e Urban-
Lazio IT
Lazio Region is a local autonomous authority involving health
sector, social welfare, training, vocational education, town plan-
ning, public housing, economic development, tourism and cultural
activities, agriculture, forestry, mining, regional public transport,
public works, environment, and implementation of EU regulations
and policies.
Content provider, analysing, testing, validating
Help forest
The company focused its activities on agriculture, forestry, ecol-
ogy and on municipal collaboration. Help forest provides data col-
lection directly in the terrain, support for forest management
planning and geo-data management for agriculture.
Content provider, testing, technology provider
AM/FM GIS Italy is a non-profit organisation created to promote
the exchange of knowledge and experience between the public
and private sectors of Geographic Information Systems and Ge-
ographic Information and promote the development of applica-
tions for the governance of land use and the management of
services and infrastructure.
Content providing facilitator, analysing, dissemination, vali-
dating, capacity builder
3.4. Project Work-plan
The Plan4all work-plan was divided into nine work packages (WP):
WP1 Project management and coordination.
WP2 State of the art analysis
• the identification of leading regional and local administrations in spatial
planning and SDI;
• the identification of innovation challenges and the framework structure for
analysing relevant technology developments and trends;
• the INSPIRE requirements; and
• the analysis of standard metadata, data models, networking technologies
and user requirements for planning systems.
WP3 Design of Plan4all metadata profiles – defines metadata profiles for selected
INSPIRE spatial data themes (listed below) as a combination of national le-
gislation for spatial planning and the INSPIRE profile.
WP4 Plan4all data model definition – focuses on the national models and their
combinations and translations into common models.
WP5 Networking architecture – extends the INSPIRE networking principles for
the purpose of European Spatial Planning.
WP6 Large scale test-bed - aims to demonstrate the technological feasibility of
the models designed in WP3, WP4 and WP5.
Partners Short name
Short description and the role in the project
The National
ics Applications
Centre Ltd
The National Microelectronics Applications Centre (MAC) pro-
vides consultancy and complete innovative electronic, software
and e-business/e-government technological solutions.
Content provider, technology provider, standardisation
Ministry of
Ecology, Sus-
tainable Devel-
Transports and
The Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and
Town and Country Planning is in charge of the French policies
related to its field of competence. Among other things, the Plan-
ning, Housing and Nature General Directorate deals with matters
related to planning and with the development of the usage of ge-
ographical information in the area of land and town planning.
Content provider, analysing, testing, validating
Table 3.1: Plan4all partners, their descriptions and roles in the project.
WP7 Content deployment - populates the Plan4all spatial data repositories using
semantically rich, multilingual metadata.
WP8 Validation – provides the quality framework for the evaluation of the outputs.
WP9 Dissemination, clustering, consensus building and sustainability planning –
includes activities to promote and valorise the project results. A major aim is
to achieve wide dissemination at multiple levels.
3.5. Target Users and Related Projects
The Plan4all user groups can be defined according to the level that they primarily
act on:
• On the local level - politicians and decision makers in the field of SDI and
for relevant land use requirements, e.g. risk prevention, investors, regional
and local governments, local agents, architects or city councils.
• On the regional and interregional level - public authorities, stakeholders
and private companies, associations, trades unions, universities, emergency
services, technical experts, surveyors, regional consortiums, public compa-
nies, private companies, real estate business.
• On the national and European levels - the European Commission and its
projects, including INSPIRE, GMES, GEOSS and SEIS (see the reference
list for URLs), expert panels on basic issues of spatial planning, professional
associations, universities and other relevant research centres and managing
authorities and security and defence organisations.
Figure 3.3: Work package and work-flow overview.
As Plan4all is based on a bottom-up approach, a very important part of the project
was the involvement and feedback of target groups to define their requirements
and to validate the project results. The Plan4all consortium has created a network
of affiliated partners with more than 100 members. These contributed to the Plan4all
objectives by providing feedback on the results.
3.6. Impact and sustainability
The problems of spatial planning, its governance, participation of all stakeholders
and open decision processes are very important in Europe. With EU enlargement,
their importance increases. There exist many cases where low levels of participation
at all levels of government and low levels of involvement by NGOs, stakeholders
and citizens lead to non transparent processes. In the future phases of implemen-
tation, this can effectively block important investment opportunities.
The concept of planning is an interaction both between various levels of government
in a region and between public authorities, businesses and citizens. A specific re-
gional framework allows parties to weigh up the influence of investment or admini-
strative control by public agencies. At the same time, there are the benefits of
legitimacy, transparency and public participation.
On the other hand, Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDIs) are being created thanks to
the INSPIRE Directive. These SDIs are opening doors to the release and exploita-
tion of key Public Sector Information (PSI). Common spatial data catalogues can
be queried from multiple locations and thus provide a consistent coverage and avai-
lability of spatial data to all relevant decision makers, even if linked virtually. Spatial
data duplication is minimised and decision contexts are harmonised.
Plan4all can be considered as a test-bed for INSPIRE. Bottom-up approaches sho-
wed the feasibility of spatial planning data harmonisation using common standards
with various technologies and platforms. The results create a significant role for fol-
low-up activities focused on the interoperability of spatial data.
Application schema - conceptual schema for data required by one or more applications
EC, 2007, “Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of
14 March 2007 establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European
Community (INSPIRE)“ Official Journal of the European Communities L108 25 April
(European Commission, Brussels) (accessed 09.08. 2011)
Chapter 4
Planning systems in Europe and SDIs
Manfred Schrenk, Julia Neuschmid, Wolfgang Wasserburger
4.1. Introduction
An analysis of the current European situation of spatial planning systems, spatial
planning data harmonisation and sharing shows that planning systems in Europe
are very fragmented. Nevertheless, the aims of data harmonisation and building of
Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI) are becoming increasing pertinent, especially in
the frame of the INSPIRE Directive. SDI brings changes and potentials so that the
concept has found its way into spatial planning processes. The analysis is presen-
ted in this chapter, and starts with the collection and description of the different plan-
ning systems in Europe. It then further presents the development of spatial data
infrastructures with respect to the requirements of the users as well as INSPIRE.
The results are based on the collection and analysis of relevant literature, expe-
riences and recommendations from best practice projects and extensive European-
wide e-surveys, and are groundwork for further activities on data harmonisation
and sharing.
4.2. Planning systems across Europe
In general, many European countries have complex planning systems, sometimes
with over-complicated related administrative structures. All countries have different
legislations. Spatial plans have different legal definitions and binding aspects, they
are established on different scales and administrative levels, their updates vary,
and they have different representations. For example, whereas plans are more
schematic in France, they are very precise in Germany. Depending on the
country/state, content as well as the legal binding of plans differ. On top of all not
all regions or municipalities in Europe do have plans (Ryser and Franchini, 2008;
Plan4all D 2.1, 2009).
European countries were surveyed online in 2009 for the following issues: their po-
litical and administrative organisation, administrative competence for planning, main
planning legislation, planning and implementation instruments, development con-
trol, planning system in practice, short facts and settlement structure. Surveyed
countries were: Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Ire-
land, Italy, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Spain (Plan4all
D 2.1, 2009).
4.2.1. Administrative organisations and competences
In terms of political and administrative processes, European countries are organised
on the national level; on the level of federal states/regions, which then can be further
subdivided into counties/provinces; and on the local level. Some countries, like Ger-
many and Austria, distribute competencies and functions between three levels of
government. Others, like Italy, have four levels. Other countries have administrative
regions and prefectures, such as Greece, or planning regions such as Bulgaria.
However, in general the ministry is the leading institution in the elaboration of re-
gional policy. An example exception is Austria because it has a federal political and
administrative structure. Basically spatial planning systems can either be more hie-
rarchic and centralised (as they are for the majority of European countries, e. g.
France, Romania), or decentralised and federal (Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain).
Top-down regulation through the three or four levels is often the case for European
countries. The linking element all over Europe is the autonomy of municipalities,
which are responsible for spatial planning in their territory, carried out according to
the principles and guidelines defined by higher levels. There are attempts to intro-
duce and practice the principle of subsidiarity in planning, where decisions are taken
by the lowest competent authority – in general the local level – and upper levels do
not take action, except in the areas that fall within their exclusive competence or
where higher-level action is more effective.
4.2.2. Main planning legislation
Contemporary planning legislation can be found in the Netherlands (legislation
came into force in 2008), whereas other countries still stick to older planning legi-
slation following a long-term tradition (e. g. Italian planning legislation from 1942).
Generally, it can be observed that new EU member states renewed their main plan-
ning legislation: for instance, the Bulgarian legislation was established in 2001 (Spa-
tial Planning Act), and the new Building Act in the Czech Republic was established
in 2007. Also the French legislation was actualised in 1999; the German legislation
was amended in 1990; and the Greek legislation was actualised in 1999 and 2006.
The planning legislation’s date of approval indicates the extent to which it reflects
current planning philosophies. For example climate change, energy consumption
and mobilisation of brownfield sites are relatively new topics of the 21st century,
whereas environmental impact assessment relates back to the 1980s and 1990s.
4.2.3. Planning and implementation instruments
Different frameworks and instruments for planning can be distinguished between
countries. On the upper levels, plans and/or strategic visions can either be legally
binding or can have the status of a recommendation. Relations and binding forces
among plans and instruments on different levels are in some countries more and in
others less strictly defined. Regulations at lower levels have to be consistent to re-
gulations at upper levels. The most common instrument in European planning sy-
stems is the local land use plan (sometimes with different denominations), followed
by the regional plan, which focuses on regional development and regional structure.
All over Europe, the planning documents on the local level include at least one le-
gally binding plan which can be a zoning plan or land use plan on different scales,
and which either covers the whole municipality or only parts, such as just the built-
up land.
4.2.4. Multilingualism and terminology
Multilingualism requires the exact translation of building law denominations. Re-
gardless, several building regulations can hardly be translated into one common
language because of the different legal basis in different countries. Even between
countries/states that have the same official language, terminology is not automati-
cally consistent. This generally produces problems in terms of semantic interope-
rability. The best examples are Germany and Austria with their various legislations
in each federal state; on the one hand, the same term in the same language can
mean something different, and on the other hand, there are different terms for one
item. For instance a “zoning plan” is called a “Flächenwidmungsplan” in Austria but
a “Flächennutzungsplan” in Germany. Green- or grassland is called “Grünland” in
some Austrian federal states (e. g. upper Austria, lower Austria) but “Freiland” in
other Austrian federal states (e. g. Tyrol, Styria). A standardised terminology is im-
portant for spatial planning data harmonisation but it is also hard to achieve because
this would require legal amendments.
4.2.5. Development control
Planning instruments are controlled differently in all European countries; they are
either submitted to the ministry for approval, or to the federal state, the region or
province. Procedures of approval are also different depending on the country/state.
Time of updates vary; sometimes the update of the planning instruments corre-
spond with the political elections, sometimes there are reports that describe the
status quo whether a plan has to be renewed or not.
4.2.6. Planning systems in practice
In practice, most planning systems are organised hierarchically and function in a
top-down manner. Local plans have to take into account spatial development fra-
meworks and regional plans have to respect national plans, if they exist. Figures
4.1 to 4.3 show planning systems from selected countries
: France is shown as an
example of a centralised planning system, Austria because of its federal structure,
and the Netherlands as an example of a contemporary planning system. An impor-
tant issue is the legal binding status of online plans, which has already been intro-
duced in the Netherlands, but is a long way from existence in many other countries
where the stamped paper plan in the city administration is still the only legally bin-
ding plan.
As a pioneer in Europe, the Netherlands started to solve this key issue (Duindam
et al., 2009). In 2008 the new Spatial Planning Act of the Netherlands came into
force. Fewer rules, less central control and an implementation-oriented approach
are the guiding principles behind the Act. The document is closely connected to the
National Spatial Strategy, which contains the most important principles of the spatial
planning policy for the period up to 2020 and follows the principles of decentralisa-
tion, deregulation and direct implementation. On all levels (national, province and
local), governments are required to set out their policy in a structural vision that re-
places the former key planning decisions (national), regional plans (provincial), and
structural plans (local level). The structural vision can be characterised as a strate-
gic policy document involving citizens and social organisations in its development.
The zoning plans on the local level are compulsory for all municipalities. All new
spatial plans must be in digital form and are legally binding. With the new Act more
responsibility was given to the municipal level, and national and provincial levels
are only responsible when national or provincial issues are concerned. Another
point of the new Act was to simplify and shorten procedures to make administrations
and governments more effective.
In France, planning is undertaken either by the state or the local governments. Se-
veral ministries have competence in the spatial planning system and mainly define
the applicable laws and the roles of the bodies in charge of implementing the law
(e. g. ministry in charge of town and country planning, ministry in charge of the en-
vironment, ministry in charge of agriculture, etc.). The national government has de-
centralised offices at regional (Nuts 2) and departmental level (Nuts 3), which report
to the ministry. The French State uses multiple instruments on three levels: spatial
planning documents (territorial directives), strategic spatial planning document
(SCOT), and local land use plans (PLU).
Figure 4.1: The Dutch spatial planning system: levels and instruments
Figure 4.2: The French spatial planning system: levels and instruments
Austria is a federal republic. In this case the role of the national level in spatial plan-
ning is limited. Austria has different legislations in each of the nine federal states.
Even though the competence of spatial planning on the national level is limited,
there is the Austrian Conference on Spatial Planning, which is a federation of all
nine federal states that coordinates spatial planning on the national level. It fun-
ctions especially for the growing importance of EU policies. Sectoral plans and con-
cepts are made by individual authorities (ministries). Austria uses land use and
zoning plans, which are both made by the municipalities and are based on the de-
velopment plans and concepts of the federal states and also include sectoral inputs
from the national level.
4.3. SDI finding its way into Spatial Planning
4.3.1. SDIs in European countries
Spatial planning systems, processes and outcomes (such as plans) are very frag-
mented throughout Europe. Nevertheless, SDIs are becoming increasingly present
in spatial planning procedures on European, national, regional and local levels. The
past years have been characterised by a change of paradigm concerning accessi-
bility and sharing of geodata. Whereas traditionally data has hardly been accessible
for the public, nowadays there are several initiatives that support data accessibility
and sharing. INSPIRE fosters SDI building, data and metadata documentation and
Figure 4.3: The Austrian spatial planning system: levels and instruments
harmonisation, providing a robust framework. In addition, many municipalities in
Europe have started their Open Government Data Initiatives, by sharing geodata
via web services. Moreover, there is a broad Open Data Community and user ge-
nerated content (Web 2.0) that is constantly growing and gaining importance for
There are a high number of existing European best practice projects in the context
of spatial data harmonisation and SDI
. The majority of analysed best practice pro-
jects have a European dimension, and integrate public authorities, private compa-
nies and researchers. Projects on a national and regional level can also be
identified. Moreover, almost all of the projects deal with planning relevant data, are
compatible to the standards of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and follow
the aims of the INSPIRE Directive. In Europe best practice SDI building projects
are mainly:
• (transnational) thematic activities for sectoral themes such as soil, envi-
ronment, land use, geology, addresses, etc.;
• national activities such as the development of national land information
and monitoring systems;
• regional activities such as cross-border mapping;
• activities emphasising the collection and creation of metadata; and
• network and capacity building activities.
An important question to discuss in planning is the legal binding status of online
plans, as in many cases the stamped paper plan in the city administration is still
the only legal binding plan. This implies that the information coming from SDIs
needs to be checked against paper documents before they can be used. Therefore
the question of the value of the information that is stored in an SDI rises. If informa-
tion stored in an SDI has no defined legal value, what is its value? Digital spatial
planning, like in the Netherlands (Duindam et al., 2009), covers all aspects of an
SDI, including stakeholders, data, access networks, policies and standards. It has
a very strong foundation because of its sound legal basis and is specially equipped
to replace the analogue plan with a digital one with immediate effect, both in the
existing planning process and the legal process.
4.3.2. What INSPIRE requires
To ensure that the multiple spatial data infrastructures of the EU member states are
compatible and usable in a community and transboundary context, INSPIRE (EC,
2007) requires that common Implementing Rules (IR) are adopted in a number of
specific areas, including metadata, data specifications, network services, data and
service sharing, monitoring and reporting. These IRs are adopted by the Commis-
sion as decisions or regulations, and are binding in their entirety. The Commission
is assisted in the process of adopting such rules by a regulatory committee com-
posed of representatives of the member states and chaired by a representative of
the Commission.
INSPIRE (EC, 2007)
does not require the collection of new spatial data and it does
not establish new infrastructures. Moreover it is based on already existing data and
infrastructures created by member states that should be made compatible. It must
be taken into consideration that INSPIRE is a long-term process, especially as far
as technical implementing rules are concerned.
One main requirement is to provide correct data via SDIs. Cross-border accuracy
is an important issue when datasets from different national geodatabases are
brought together. For example, border-lines between countries are usually not sur-
veyed once per border-line, but twice: once by the country on the one side of the
border and another time by the neighbouring country. As these datasets are surve-
yed by different institutions and stored in different cartographic projections, there
may be (and often are) differences between two datasets representing the same
real life object. Therefore it is recommended to explicitly express topological rela-
tionships. For example, polygons such as administrative units at the same level of
hierarchy must not overlap; gaps between polygons such as administrative units in
principle should not be allowed; and boundaries of neighbouring administrative units
must have the same set of coordinates (INSPIRE Thematic Working Group Admi-
nistrative Units, 2009; Plan4all D 2.3, 2009).
In practice datasets are sometimes not used, either because of their poor quality
or because hardly anyone knows of their existence. Metadata are required to search
and find existing data. Therefore metadata quality is as important as the actual data
quality. The user working with geodata needs to know the origin, for which scale
the data is suited, how data has been processed and much more. As the overall
quality of a product is always dependent on the weakest link, a dataset is only as
good as its metadata documentation. INSPIRE requires the definition of metadata
elements for all the data and services related to the INSPIRE themes from Annexes
II and III (EC, 2007).
Further INSPIRE addresses data modelling and application schemas; specifically,
trying to find a sound balance between keeping models simple enough to be agreed
on, and detailed enough to be usable by the wider audience of stakeholders in the
spatial planning domain. It should be “possible for spatial data sets to be combined
and for services to interact without repetitive manual intervention in a way that the
result is coherent and the added value of the data sets and services is enhanced”
(EC, 2007, Article 3). There is the need to distinguish between ‘data of spatial plan-
ning’, which is in fact land use data, and ‘data for spatial planning’, which is any
space related thematic data. The seven themes treated by Plan4all may be consi-
dered together with other themes from the INSPIRE Annexes for sufficient coverage
of the domain of spatial planning.
4.3.3. From the users’ perspective
The analysis of user requirements (Plan4all D 2.4, 2009) is completed by the follo-
wing user groups: spatial planning authorities, other civil service authorities, owners
of transport and technical infrastructure, planning engineers and city planners, pri-
vate companies, NGOs, investors and real estate owners, real estate agents, public,
researchers and students. Because of the big differences between individual coun-
tries in spatial planning systems, planning habits as well as technological, financial
and human capacity, the user requirements vary by country as well as by actor.
Some common requirements for data harmonisation are the vertical and horizontal
interoperability of tools and methods; the possibility to publish own data and to use
services from other data providers; the definition of a spatial data legend for data
presentation; INSPIRE compliance; the possibility of metadata profile extension;
free access to spatial planning data; and the possibility to make physical data ac-
cessible in electronic format together with ensuring digital rights management. Mo-
reover, the following issues should be covered: implementation of an explanatory
dictionary for spatial planning (glossary); a multilingual thesaurus for spatial plan-
ning; a referential geographical system and projection; descriptions of the data tran-
sformation process and of tools for data transformation.
Additional user requirements regarding technological aspects are to overcome te-
chnical hurdles with software that makes data management and sharing possible
and easy, without having specialised IT skills and investments. There are OGC con-
form Web Services (WMS, WFS) and a variety of software (open source as well as
commercial software) available that are being continuously developed. Require-
ments might be to upgrade some map servers to fully functional Web GIS servers,
to make use of web mapping standards, to develop new services and to optimise
data visualisation, automation, updating, etc.
There is also a need for more transparent accessibility of plans that are still in the
phase of preparation. Better availability allows both administrations and society to
participate pro-actively in the elaboration of plans. However, this requires changes
in some planning cultures from hierarchical, bureaucratic practices to an open-min-
ded, transparent and participative way of planning.
4.4 Conclusion and Outlook
Planning systems are fragmented and spatial plans are difficult to compare. Tradi-
tionally spatial planning data sharing has been poor. However, due to several ini-
tiatives, standards and changes in planning culture, the harmonisation,
interoperability, sharing and accessibility of data are increasing. The leading driving
forces are INSPIRE as the legal framework on the European level (top-down), in
combination with rising capacity and awareness of stakeholders in regard to the
topic on all levels, from European to local and vice versa (bottom-up).
The implementation of SDIs in spatial planning faces several challenges. For future
developments in SDI, bigger efforts are necessary in data collection (quantity and
quality) as there are still big disparities between different European regions. In par-
ticular, much metadata information is still incomplete and is not collected according
to the required standards. Accurate metadata collection clears the way for data net-
working and SDI building in a European context. Further, interregional, cross-border
and transnational cooperation (horizontally) as well as cooperation between the
state and regional or local governments (vertically) are key factors for SDI. A chal-
lenge for further development is also to work more towards the implementation of
the INSPIRE principles. It is of high importance to strengthen awareness of data
providers as well as data users that SDIs and data harmonisation are necessary
for integrated planning, and to point out the benefits of data harmonisation initiatives
in order to keep networks stable and to gain new partners for the future. SDI aims
to integrate data providers and users from different organisations on different levels
Figure 4.4: General requirements on data management in planning
who do not have the same capacity in terms of data, data harmonisation, GIS te-
chnologies etc. Besides promoting the idea of data sharing within the circle of SDI
experts, a challenge is to promote SDIs, their value for planning, new services and
technology to a wider group of planning stakeholders in the simplest way. In spatial
planning these particularly include actors from public administrations, including the
several ten thousands of planning related public administrations in Europe. Plan4all
contributes to the process of SDI development in Europe, and aims to integrate
SDI, technology and planning processes in the best way.
The schemas were provided empty and filled by partners. They are available for the following sur-
veyed countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia,
the Netherlands, Romania and Spain (Plan4all D 2.1, 2009).
44 best practice projects were collected in the frame of Plan4all in 2009 (Plan4all D 2.2, 2009).
In addition to the INSPIRE Directive (EC, 2007), several INSPIRE documents were analysed with a
standardised format composed of some descriptive items and of a SWOT table for the evaluation of
the document (Plan4all D 2.3, 2009).
Duindam A et al., 2009 “State of Play of the Operational and Legally Bound Spatial
Planning SDI in The Netherlands” in Proceedings of GSDI 11 World Conference
Spatial Data Infrastructure Gonvergence, 15-19 June, Rotterdam (accessed
EC, 2007, “Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of
14 March 2007 establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European
Community (INSPIRE)“ Official Journal of the European Communities L108 25 April
(European Commission, Brussels)
(accessed 09.08. 2011)
INSPIRE Thematic Working Group Administrative Units, 2009, D2.8.1.4 INSPIRE
Data Specification on Administrative Units – Guidelines,
cification_AU_v3.0.pdf (accessed 09.08.2011)
Plan4all D 2.1, 2009 Clusters of leading organizations in SDI for spatial planning
(accessed 28.07.2011)
Plan4all D 2.2, 2009 Analysis of innovative challenges
(accessed 28.07.2011)
Plan4all D 2.3, 2009 Analysis of INSPIRE requirements
(accessed 28.07.2011)
Plan4all D 2.4, 2009 Analysis of user requirements
(accessed 28.07.2011)
Ryser J, Franchini T, 2008 International Manual of Planning Practice (IMPP) (Sit-
Chapter 5
The role of metadata and GI in spatial planning and SDI
Štěpán Kafka, Karel Charvát
Help Service Remote Sensing
5.1 Introduction
Spatial planning acts between all levels of government, meaning that every day
planners face important challenges in the development of territorial frameworks and
concepts (Schrenk et al., 2011). Planning is a holistic activity and all tasks and pro-
cesses must be comprehensively solved with input from various sources. It is ne-
cessary to make inputs interoperable because it allows the user to search data from
different sources, view them, download them and use them with help of geoinfor-
mation technologies. Spatial planning is not directly addressed by the INSPIRE An-
nexes; nevertheless it is one of the activities that is primarily driven by spatial data
(EUROGI, 2009). Due to the massive use of digital data for producing plans at dif-
ferent scales, in recent years public authorities at national and sub-national (local)
levels have demonstrated interest and effort in harmonising data in order to com-
pare different policies and planning maps. Nevertheless, planning legislation varies
between countries and sometimes even within countries there are significant diffe-
rences in the terminology associated with planning acts. The methods used for har-
monisation and interoperability vary between countries and between regions of the
same country. Such methods range from the use of a common legend and a unique
base cartography to the use of common data models and neutral exchange formats.
It is worth noting that most of the initiatives for harmonising spatial planning data
have taken place in the framework of e-government applications. Today’s spatial
planning practises face major challenges such as decentralisation (following regio-
nalisation on the one hand and globalisation on the other), cross-border and tran-
snational planning, vertical and horizontal integration, bottom-up approaches and
the involvement of multiple actors on different levels with different interests and in-
Spatial plans are very important sources of information about the future evolution
of the world around us. The most common instruments in European planning sy-
stems are land use local plans for regulating local land use and regional plans fo-
cused on regional development and structure. From this point of view such
information should be considered by INSPIRE. Some of the INSPIRE themes di-
rectly deal with information about future changes, for example, land use. However,
many more themes may also be affected by changes over time, including the tran-
sport network, hydrography, production and industrial facilities. Such evolution is
currently not considered by the INSPIRE directive.
5.2 Role of Metadata in the spatial plan lifecycle
Metadata are defined in the INSPIRE Directive as “information describing spatial
data sets and spatial data services and making it possible to discover, inventory
and use them” (Directive 2007/2/EC). In other words, to facilitate the finding of spa-
tial data sets and services and decisions over how they may be used and for what
purposes, the providers of spatial data sets and services secure their descriptions
in the form of metadata. Plan4all considered two roles of metadata in the lifecycle
of a spatial plan (Figure 5.1):
• Evidence of all relevant documents and their status during the plan’s pre-
paration and acceptation phases
• Discovery functionality
Metadata have to support both of these functionalities to help the administration to
manage planning processes, but also in later stages to support access to planning
Discrete units of metadata are metadata elements, for example the resource title,
Figure 5.1: Spatial plan life cycle events and time aspects according to Czech legislation
keyword, spatial resolution or responsible organisation. Spatial plan metadata con-
tains metadata of the spatial plan as a whole and can catalogue spatial plans on
any level (regional, state, European). Because one spatial plan consists of many
components, e.g. textual documents or maps in paper and digital form, individual
components may be optionally described by independent metadata records with
links to the corresponding spatial plan. In order to have metadata that is compatible
and usable in trans-boundary contexts, the INSPIRE Metadata Regulation sets out
a core set of metadata elements. This is referred to as the INSPIRE metadata pro-
The Plan4all metadata profile is compliant with the INSPIRE metadata profile and
aims to make spatial plans comprehensible and comparable. In addition to spatial
plan metadata, the Plan4all metadata profile consists of dataset metadata and ser-
vice metadata. The Plan4all metadata profile fulfils the requirements of national
metadata regulations, national spatial planning legislation, user requirements for
spatial planning metadata and the INSPIRE directive. National and user require-
ments for metadata were collected using questionnaires. The goal was to compare
national metadata regulations and to define common sets of items that will be used
for common metadata sharing. The metadata profile also supports the international
standards ISO 19115 (core metadata for geographic datasets), other ISO standards
and the standards of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC).
The problem with spatial plan data is that they refer to future situations that may, or
may not, be realised. The Plan4all proposal is to add to metadata status information
(e.g. existing/planed/under construction/for demolition) to all considered INSPIRE
themes, along with some additional information about the terms for realisation.
5.3. Using metadata profile for cataloguing spatial plans
ISO 19115/19139 metadata standards are widely used for spatial data documen-
tation, cataloguing and discovery. The INSPIRE Metadata Regulation introduces
metadata that are based on these standards. Metadata catalogues are applications
that are used to manage and discover metadata records and are based on OGC
Catalogue Service for web (CSW 2.0.2). They are considered to be the most im-
portant part of INSPIRE and other Spatial Data Infrastructures across world (Beyer
et al., 2009).
The Plan4all team experience provides opportunities for the reuse of these stan-
dards and infrastructure for cataloguing spatial plans in the same way. The spatial
plan may be seen as a complex dataset composed not only from digital data but
also some documents or map compositions and with some legal aspects (Figure
5.2). Spatial representations of the spatial plan are crucial and are comprised of:
• Data with some legal influence (e.g. land use)
• Data with an informative character, introduced to the spatial plan as upda-
tes of existing datasets during the process of spatial plan design or created
with informative status (e.g. view points, tourist routes, infrastructure etc.)
These data may be good sources of inputs or upgrades for other datasets or infor-
mation systems (HSRS, 2010).
Similar to other datasets, the spatial plan metadata may offer different levels of de-
tail with regards to application scope (see Figure 5.3).
Figure 5.2: Spatial plan structure, from HSRS (2010).
Figure 5.3: Metadata detail, from HSRS (2010).
The basic metadata level of discovery may be used for evidence and catalogue se-
arching. It provides basic information about the spatial plan as a whole. No struc-
tural description is required at this level. The spatial plan may be described as one
MD_Metadata record with the structure not much wider than the INSPIRE metadata
If the spatial plan is considered as a data source for other applications (e.g. the IN-
SPIRE themes), the detailed description should be available to facilitate a good in-
terpretation of the contained data. Detail description should cover these areas:
• Metadata of each dataset contained in spatial plan. Because the data in-
corporated into spatial plans are very different, quality parameters, scales
and time aspects are very important for correct interpretation and reuse.
Application schema in some modelling language. The application schema
represents formalized description of dataset inner structure. Depending of
the application it may be provided separately for each dataset or for spatial
plan as a whole. The description should include:
- Feature types
- Attributes
- Domains
• Relations between features. This description is not part of the metadata
profile itself, but should be provided together with spatial plan data and the
metadata record should link to this file. This model may be the starting point
for automatic data conversion to other schemas e.g. INSPIRE theme.
According to these requirements the spatial plan should be described in a more
complex way (see Figure 5.4).
Figure 5.4: Possible components of spatial plan, from Kafka & Fiala (2010).
There are a number of possible options for achieving full spatial plan metadata:
1. Set of “independent” files consisting of
a) Spatial plan metadata file (or catalogue record)
b) Individual metadata files (or catalogue record). The link to parent file is
set by parentIdentifier
c) Application Schema binary file (or an optional graphic representation of
the schema)
2. One complex metadata file (record) containing aggregation of all meta-
data elements in one file (catalogue record) and/or application schema bi-
nary file (see example 1).
3. Hybrid approach, including a set of independent metadata records as de-
scribed in 1, but with some additional features (see example 2).
Due to the possible problems with implementation we would recommend the use
of option 1 or 3 with an optional “Overview file”.
Example 1: Complex metadata record
<gmd:DS_DataSet xmlns:gmd=""
xmlns:gts="" xmlns:gml="" xmlns:xlink=""
xmlns:xsi="" xsi:schemaLoca-
Example 2.: Hybrid approach
<gmd:DS_DataSet xmlns:gmd=""
xmlns:gts="" xmlns:gml="" xmlns:xlink=""
xmlns:xsi="" xsi:schemaLoca-
xlink:title="My metadata"/>
xlink:title="My metadata 2"/>
5.4. Feature level metadata
If the spatial plan plays a role as the source for other datasets (e.g. INSPIRE land
use theme), traceability issues are very important for handling and interpreting the
resulting dataset. For example, if a member country provides a layer that is harmo-
nised both vertically (schema transformation) and horizontally (combining data from
different sources and regions - see Figure 5.5), the feature-level metadata (meta-
data related to single features of the dataset) would be the only way of keeping the
required information (Janecka & Kafka, 2010).From a practical point of view, the
metadata should be stored as a reference (using xlink:href attribute) rather than as
embedded elements in GML (Geographic Markup Language). In the INSPIRE data
specification, the gml:StandardObjectProperties/gml:metaDataProperty element
may be used to address data without any changes to the schema. The number of
source datasets is unlimited and the number of metadata records must correspond
to the number of source datasets, providing that there have been no feature-level
metadata introduced to the source metadata. These records are linked by reference
from the feature (see Figure 5.6).
Figure 5.5: Inheritance of metadata during schema conversion , from HSRS (2010).
Figure 5.6: Features coming from three different sources are described by three metadata records
that are part of the dataset, from HSRS (2010).
5.5. Specific Metadata Elements for Spatial Plan
The Plan4all metadata profile introduces some elements needed for spatial plan-
ning that are not part of the INSPIRE metadata profile, but that are part of the ISO
19115/19119/19139 standards. The mandatory ISO 19115/19119 metadata ele-
ments omitted by INSPIRE were included into the spatial planning metadata profile.
The profile is shown in Tables 5.1 and 5.2.
Table 5.1: For spatial plan metadata
Table 5.2: For single dataset metadata
For catalogue services, the following query able metadata elements were introdu-
1. Spatial Plan type (corresponds to Hierarchy level name)
2. ProcessStep (composition of Process Step Description, Process Step
Date, Process Step Processor)
For a detailed description, see the Spatial plan metadata profile published in the
scope of the Plan4all project (Kafka & Fiala, 2010).
5.6. Implementation
To demonstrate the feasibility of the solution and to provide a possibility to practically
test the existing model, the designed metadata profile was implemented as part of
the Plan4all Geoportal. Four independent services were implemented:
• Metadata creation
• Metadata import
• Metadata management
• Discovery services
Metadata creation services support the creation of metadata records according to
the Plan4all profile (see Figure 5.7).
Figure 5.7: Metadata record creation.
The creator also supports the search of parent metadata using catalogue services
(see Figure 5.8).
The created metadata could be saved on a portal, validated against a Plan4all pro-
file or downloaded as an XML file.
Metadata import offers the possibility to upload metadata from existing files or to
harvest metadata from GetCapabilities of existing services (see Figure 5.9).
This metadata could also be interlinked, validated, saved or uploaded.
The metadata manager (Figure 5.10) supports the management and editing of exi-
sting records.
Figure 5.8: Search of parent metadata.
Figure 5.9: Metadata import.
Figure 5.10: Metadata manager.
The discovery client (Figure 5.11) supports discoveries based on the INSPIRE di-
scovery services specification with extended functionality for the Plan4all profile
(Charvát et al., 2011).
Figure 5.11: Advanced search.
Beyer, C., Wolfgang, W., Wasserburger, Bergheim, R., Brūns, P., Charvát, K., Dvo-
rak, M., Horak, P., Neuschmid, J., Stelian, D., Zanetti, N., 2009, “Analysis of Inno-
vative Challenges”, Plan4all deliverable to the European Commission.
Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 March
2007 establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Com-
munity (INSPIRE)
EUROGI, 2009, “INSPIRE Requirements Analysis”, Plan4all deliverable to the Eu-
ropean Commission.
HSRS, 2010, “Plan4all Metadata Profile -Final version”, Plan4all deliverable to the
European Commission.
Janecka, K., Kafka, S., 2010, “Analysis of National Requirements on Spatial Plan-
ning Metadata” Plan4all deliverable to the European Commission.
Kafka, S., Fiala, R., 2010, “European Spatial Planning Metadata Profile - First Ver-
sion” Plan4all deliverable to the European Commission.
Charvát , K., 2011, “Pan European Plan4all Platform” Plan4all deliverable to the
European Commission.
Schrenk, M., Mildorf, T., Neuschmid, J., 2011, “Plan4all – Spatial Planning Data
Harmonisation According to the INSPIRE Directive”, Proceedings of the GIS
Ostrava Conference, Ostrava, Czech Republic, 24th to 26th January.
Chapter 6
Plan4all data models definitions
Flavio Camerata*, Otakar Čerba **, Vincenzo Del Fatto***, Monica Sebillo***,
Franco Vico***
*Dept. of Urban Studies, Rome III University
** University of West Bohemia
*** AMFM GIS Italia
6.1. Modelling Plan4all themes: Languages and techniques
When modelling a mini-world, a number of steps are typically carried out whose
goal is to determine self-contained schemas capable of expressing properties, re-
lationships and behaviour of objects featuring the domain of interest. The initial
phase, named conceptual design, is meant to derive a conceptual schema in agree-
ment with a conceptual data model, which represents a map of concepts assem-
bling semantics of the mini-world under investigation. Starting from a requirement
analysis, which should extract facts about the nature of the mini-world, a conceptual
schema describes things of interest, their properties and associations by using a
data definition language, syntactic rules and a possible graphic notation. The re-
sulting schema can be expressed through different levels of abstraction/detail, i.e.,
it is possible to simplify it through a generalisation process, as well as further refine
it by adding details which do not alter the abstract perspective. This allows users to
zoom in or out of portions of the schema and query underlying data through the
available languages. Phases subsequent to the conceptual design should then
produce logical and physical schemas in order to develop a database for managing
mini-world content.
Literature provides designers with different data models, each devoted to handling
the domain of interest through a data definition language and a data manipulation
language. Depending on the available systems and tools, designers can choose
the most appropriate data model, thus benefiting from its languages. In particular,
when adopting a standard data model, several advantages can be gained, which
guarantee the goodness of the result. Among other advantages, a schema can be
both partitioned in subschemas and enhanced by integrating additional subsche-
mas, semantics can be univocally interpreted due to the well-established syntactic
rules, and syntactic rules allow for the univocal specification of transformation rules
for (harmonising) pre-existing data.
The models proposed in Plan4all D4.2 (2010) have been described through UML
(Unified Modeling Language) diagrams, a standard notation that allows for the con-
ceptual modelling of real-world objects during the first step of an object-oriented
methodology (Fowler, 2003). In particular, UML can be used to describe the whole
software development life cycle by integrating techniques from data modelling (en-
tity relationship diagrams), business modelling (work flows), object modelling, and
component modelling.
Among the modelling concepts that UML specifies, the models proposed in Plan4all
exploit those referring to classes (of objects), objects, associations, use cases and
packages. In particular, the Plan4all themes have been modelled through class dia-
grams characterised by a set of attributes (with multiplicity) and methods, and are
related through different typologies of associations, namely aggregations (part-of),
specialisations, and relationships with multiplicity. Moreover, pre-defined lists of do-
main values are included, namely enumerations and code lists. The former corre-
sponds to a frozen, no-empty list and the latter refers to a list of domain values that
can be extended, depending on users' requirements. It may initially be empty. An
extensive usage of voidable attributes has been also done in order to handle situa-
tions when a characteristic of a spatial object may be not present in a spatial data-
set, but may be present or applicable in the real world.
Finally, in terms of geometry properties, they have been managed by adopting the
ISO international standard for geographic information embedded within UML. This
approach also allows the automatic generation of topological relationships when
deploying databases. In particular, connectivity and contiguity are handled through
the topology and other relationships are established by performing a calculation on
(x, y) coordinates.
6.2. UML schemas: generalities
UML includes a set of graphic notation techniques to create visual models of ob-
ject-oriented software-intensive systems, and derived models can be exchanged
among UML tools by using the XMI interchange format. Figures 6.1(a) and 1(b)
show the graphic notation for basic elements of a UML class diagram.
A class is depicted as a box consisting of a list of typed attributes along
with a multiplicity (Figure 6.1 (a)).
Associations are always assumed to be bi-directional; this means that both
classes are aware of each other and their relationship, unless a uni-direc-
tional association is qualified. In this case, two classes are related, but only
one class knows that the relationship exists. Moreover, the uni-directional
association includes a role name and a multiplicity value, but unlike the stan-
dard bi-directional association, the uni-directional association only contains
the role name and multiplicity value for the known class. See the association
between Class1 and Class3 in Figure 6.1(b) as an example of bi-directional
association. Also multiplicity is associated.
An association with an aggregation relationship indicates that one class is
a part of another class. In an aggregation relationship, the child class in-
stance can outlive its parent class. An aggregation is represented through
an unfilled diamond shape on the parent class's association end. See the
association between Class1 and Class4 in Figure 6.1(b) as an example of
• The composition relationship is a kind of aggregation relationship, but the
child class's instance lifecycle is dependent on the parent class's instance
lifecycle. It is represented by a filled diamond shape.
An association class includes valuable information about the primary as-
sociation it is tied to. The association line between the primary classes in-
tersects a dotted line connected to the association class. See the
AssociationClass in Figure 6.1(b) as an example of association class.
• Even if it is not a UML basic characteristic, it may be useful to specify pro-
perties for specialisation or generalisation. See the association between
Class1 and SubClass1 in Figure 6.1(b) as an example of a specialization. A
specialization can be partial / total and overlapping / disjoint, thus allowing
four different combinations. In cases where a subset has been specified, it
represents a partial and disjointed specialisation. In cases where two or
more subclasses have been associated with a superclass, the specialisation
can be:
Figure 6.1: Some basic graphic notations from UML: (a) class notation, (b) diagram notation
- either total (each instance of the superclass is always an instance
of one or more subclasses) or partial (an instance of the superclass
may not belong to any subclasses), and
- either disjointed (an instance can be a member of at most one of
the subclasses of the specialisation) or overlapping (the same in
stance may be a member of more than one subclass).
A specialisation is graphically represented by either an annotation tree or by single
arrowed associations.
6.3. Some Plan4all data models
6.3.1. Introduction
As mentioned in Chapter 3, the Plan4all Project was focused on the following 7
spatial data themes included in Annex II and III of the INSPIRE Directive (INSPIRE,
• Land cover
• Land use
• Utility and Government services
• Production and industrial facilities
Agricultural and aquaculture facilities
Area management/restriction/regulation zones and reporting units
• Natural risk zones
The Plan4all Project was submitted as a proposal in June 2008, started in May
2009 and ended in October 2011. Meanwhile, in order to develop the data specifi-
cations of the Annex II and III themes, INSPIRE decided to establish specific The-
matic Working Groups (TWGs) including GI experts and domain experts. They
started their work in June 2010 and will end in April 2012. Of course TWGs covering
the 7 Plan4all themes were created as well.
Plan4all, as an SDIC of INSPIRE, submitted reference materials and proposed ex-
perts for TWGs. Although no formal agreements amongst Plan4all and TWGs were
defined, strong relations and interactions were developed. Chapter 7 explains these
interactions as far as the Land Use theme is concerned.
There are differences among Plan4all data models and INSPIRE TWGs data speci-
fications; they are the result of some temporal shifts and mainly of the different points
of view involved. While Plan4all has worked on data models from the spatial planning
point of view, the TWGs had different approaches and aspects to consider.
Because of the size of this volume, in the following sections only three out of the
seven Plan4all data models are presented and quickly compared with the corre-
sponding data specifications drafted by the INSPIRE TWGs: Land Use, Land Cover
and Natural Risk Zones. Land Use refers to data of spatial planning, and is the
most specific and therefore detailed. Land Cover and Natural Risk Zones, are less
detailed: they are examples of themes referring to data for spatial planning. All
Plan4all data models are described in Plan4all D4.2 (2010).
6.3.2. Land Use theme
In the INSPIRE Annex III, Land Use is defined as “Territory characterised according
to its current and future planned functional dimension or socio-economic purpose
(e.g. residential, industrial, commercial, agricultural, forestry, recreational”) (EC, 2007).
Plan4all Land Use data model
Figure 6.2 shows a simplified UML view of the Plan4all Land Use data model.
The two “core” classes of the model are “PlanObject” and “PlanFeature”; all other
pieces of information are related to these classes. “PlanObject” represents the plan
itself from a geometric point of view (the boundary of the entire area over which the
Figure 6.2: Simplified view of the Plan4all Land Use data model
plan is effective), while “PlanFeature” represents the single provisions of the plan,
each with its geometry, which are considered a subset of the “PlanObject” geome-
With regards to the association between “PlanObject” and “PlanFeature”, the car-
dinality shows that each Plan Object can have from zero to many Plan Features. In
the case, for example, of a regional plan that intends to limit urban sprawl, giving
generic provision to be applied by the municipal plans, no specific portions of land
are indicated; the plan will have no Plan Feature, because there is no information
of a geographic kind, but only textual information. On the other hand, in the case of
a municipal plan, there will be more Plan Features; each of them will provide infor-
mation on the land uses of each portion of the municipal land.
The “PlanFeature” class generalises a series of child classes and each adds further
information to that provided by the parent class.
Other classes, such as those providing textual information, or information about the
administrative process, are related to the “PlanObject” class.
The area of a Plan Feature doesn’t necessarily correspond to the single cadastral
parcel, even if the latter is the minimum spatial unit on which spatial plans have ef-
fect. A single plan provision can encompass more cadastral parcels. Also, since
spatial planning works by overlaying thematic data and specific provisions, plan
provisions can, totally or partially, overlap. Therefore, Plan Features are not mutually
exclusive. So, according to the authors of the model, it makes no sense to define
a minimum spatial unit for land use datasets; the smallest unit will be the smallest
portion of land resulting from the intersection of more overlapping land use features
(Figure 6.3).
Figure 6.3: Examples of land use features overlapping from Torino (Italy) municipal plan 2009 (only
some overlapping features are highlighted): black line - long-established urban areas; dashed line -
urban transformation zones with specific rules; black square dotted line - geomorphologic hazard
zones boundary; white round dotted line - cemetery restriction zone
The following is a detailed description of the complete model, which can be found
in the Plan4all D4.2 (2010). In this deliverable, the model, with all its classes, attri-
butes, code lists and enumerations, is described both through a UML diagram and
a feature catalogue.
• “PlanObject” provides information about the plan itself, including the geo-
metry of the plan borders. Related to this class are the following:
- “AdministrativeInformation”: information on the administrative si-
tuation and the planning process, for example the name of the re-
sponsible authority, date of adoption of the plan, legal validity of the
plan, step of the planning process (i.e. if the plan is being drafted, if
it is adopted, approved, obsolete, etc.);
- “GraphicalInformation” - graphical specifications for the paper-
based outputs, if existing;
- “TextualInformation” and “TextualRegulation” - files containing the
textual parts of the plan; and
- “Raster” - raster files referring to old plans in paper form.
• “PlanFeature” contains the specific land use indications. It gives informa-
tion such as the status of the land use indication (whether it refers to an al-
ready existing land use, or to planned land use), the type of regulation (for
whom the land use indication is binding), the reference to any specific norm
it refers to, etc. It contains also the geometry of the land use indication (the
land area that the specific indication refers to). Specialisations of this class
are the following:
- “FunctionIndications”, comprising all kinds of land use indications,
from the most general classification of the municipal land (e.g. ur-
banised / to be urbanised / rural / natural), down to the specific fun-
ction for the single land parcel. These indications can be also about
dimensions (“DimensioningIndications” including indexes, volume
ratios, maximum heights), type of construction (“ConstructionIndica-
tions” including type of building or roof shape allowed), and / or in-
directly executable (“IndirectExecution”, in the case that the task of
specifying in detail the function of a certain area is entrusted to other
-“ConditionsAndConstraints” acting on urban development, coming
both from outside the plan and generated by the plan itself. In order
to use code lists that have already been defined, some connections
to other themes have been attempted whether developed by IN-
SPIRE TWGs (“Protected Sites”), or by other Plan4all partners
(“Area Management, Restriction, Regulation Zones and Reporting
Units” and “Natural Risk Zones”); and
- “DevelopmentApplications”, which are administrative information
regarding the procedures for issuing building permits and other kinds
of authorisations referring to the same plan.
Comparison between Plan4all Land Use data model and INSPIRE Data
Specification on Land Use
At a first glance, there are many differences but also similarities between the
Plan4all Land Use data model and the Data Specification on Land Use elaborated
by the INSPIRE Land Use Thematic Working Group (TWG-LU) (INSPIRE
D2.8.III.4_V2.0, 2011).
First of all, the INSPIRE model is divided into three parts:
• the Core Land Use model, containing classes which are generalisations
of the classes of the other parts of the model;
• the Existing Land Use model; and
• the Planned Land Use model.
The Plan4all model considers only Planned Land Use. Its authors assumed that
“existing land use” and “planned land use” are two completely different issues, and
modelling both of them with a unique model would lead to misinterpretations and
misunderstandings. The same TWG-LU highlighted “the confusion between land
use and land cover in existing datasets” (INSPIRE D2.8.III.4_V2.0, 2011, p 11).
Therefore, the Existing Land Use part of the INSPIRE model is not comparable to
any part of the Plan4all model. For this reason, the tables below only compare the
Core Land Use and Planned Land Use parts of the INSPIRE model with the Plan4all
There are some general differences between the two models:
• the use of the coverage (“CoverageByDomainAndRange”) feature type.
For unknown reasons, INSPIRE chose this type of geometry for the land
use information. In contrast, Plan4all chose the GM_Aggregate type in order
to be able to support multi-point, multi-line and multi-polygon geometries;
• the INSPIRE model is more simple and generic in regards to the general
structure, classes and attributes. Some kinds of more specific information,
supported by the Plan4all model, are not supported by the INSPIRE model.
Other kinds of information are supported by the INSPIRE model by means
of generic attributes referring to open code lists or described by free cha-
racter strings.
The following tables (6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4) visually compare single parts of the two
data models. Classes (or groups of classes) that have the same colours or hatches
are classes (or groups of classes) that are conceptually similar, or that support the
same kind of information.
Table 6.1 shows how the two core classes of the models, and their mutual associa-
tion,, are very similar in the two models. Therefore, it can be said that the two mo-
dels are conceptually very similar in their basic structures.
Table 6.2 compares the actual land use/zoning information contained by the mo-
dels, i.e. the most important information. The Plan4all model contains more specific
information about land use/zoning, while the INSPIRE model is more generic, the
main information about zoning being entrusted to the attribute dominantLandUse
and its proposed standard Hierarchical INSPIRE Land Use Classification Systems
(HILUCS). Trying to cope with the complexity of contemporary planning, the Plan4all
model contains additional information, including LUCAS_Code, macroClassifica-
tionOfLand, otherTerritorialClassification and interventionCategory,.
The two classes in Table 6.3 are similar, with the exception that the INSPIRE class
has been conceived in order to contain also, for example, the “high-level” plans that
cannot be georeferenced because they only show general “drawings” illustrating a
strategic vision for a wide territory.
As regards Table 6.4, SupplementaryRegulation (INSPIRE) and ConditionsAndCon-
straints (Plan4all) are conceptually very similar despite their different names. A “sup-
Figure 6.4: UML overview of the INSPIRE Planned Land Use application schema (INSPIRE
D2.8.III.4_V2.0_v2.0, 2011, p. 18)
plementary regulation” (INSPIRE) is a feature that overlaps the zoning elements,
providing additional information and/or limitations to land use; “conditions and con-
straints” (Plan4all) are all those norms limiting land use, deriving from other plans
or generated by the plan itself. As shown in the table, while in the INSPIRE model
SupplementaryRegulation is associated to the whole plan, in the Plan4all model
ConditionsAndConstraints is connected to the single plan feature, i.e. a part of the
plan. The concept is almost the same; both information about zoning and informa-
tion about supplementary regulations (i.e. constraints etc.) are two types of infor-
mation that are part of the same plan. However, from a geometric point of view,
the choice made by INSPIRE seems to be due to the fact that the zoning elements
cannot overlap, therefore the supplementary regulations have their own geometry
and can overlap with the zoning elements as additional information layers. In the
Plan4all model, plan features can overlap; therefore the conditions and constraints
are simple specialisations of the PlanFeature class.
As a conclusion, it can be said that, from a conceptual point of view, the two models
are quite similar; however, INSPIRE tries to be more generic (fewer classes and
attributes) whilst at the same time managing to contain many kinds of information.
For more detailed comparisons between the two models, the complete text illustra-
ting the comparison can be found at
Table 6.1
Table 6.3
Table 6.3
Table 6.2
6.3.3. Land Cover theme
In the INSPIRE Annex II Land cover theme is defined as “Physical and biological
cover of earth's surface including artificial surfaces, agricultural areas, forests,
(semi-)natural areas, wetlands, water bodies” (EC, 2007).
Land cover data represent a (bio)physical description of the earth surface. It has
broad applications in many fields of human activity where the goal is in nature con-
servation, monitoring the impact of industrial and agricultural processes and plan-
ning and implementing activities. Land cover typology includes features such as
artificial surfaces, agricultural areas, forests, (semi-)natural areas, wetlands, water
bodies. In this way it is different from the land use data dedicated to the description
of the use of the Earth’s surface.
The typologies of the above elements are divided into separate subgroups in order
to describe all the features that are useful for environmental matters that exist in
Europe, and are produced with an adequate minimum area threshold (“Minimum
Mapping Unit”). Land cover is described by the hierarchical nomenclature system,
and classes must be defined and kept in time in order to identify land cover changes
within time series. Land cover information has to be homogenous and comparable
between different locations in Europe, based on the infrastructures for Land Cover
information created by the Member States (if they exist), and made available and
maintained at the most appropriate level. Classification should be consistent with
the Land Cover Classification Systems (LCCS) and CORINE.
Land cover is linked and overlaps with other themes including Orthoimagery and
Land use. There are strong links with themes that can be considered elements of
land cover, such as Transport Networks, Hydrography, Buildings, Production and
industrial facilities, Agricultural and aquaculture facilities and Oceanographic geo-
graphical features.
Plan4all Land Cover data model
When analysing the semantic content of the data model proposed by Plan4all, the
following statements have been extracted:
• A LandCoverArea is adjacent to one or more LandCoverArea(s);
• A LandCoverStandardisedArea is a kind of LandCoverArea;
• A LandCoverOriginalArea is a kind of LandCoverArea; and
A LandCoverStandardisedArea is an aggregation of LandCoverOriginalA-
A set of enumerations and codelists are provided to complete data specification.
Comparison between Plan4all and INSPIRE Land Cover data model
Plan4all and INSPIRE Land Cover data models are based on the same goal, na-
mely to guarantee (as much as possible) the simplicity of the model and the har-
monisation between different LC classification systems and original data (and
classification), but they use different approaches to achieve this goal. The INSPIRE
data model (see INSPIRE D2.8.II/III.4_v2.0, 2011) is general rather than specific
and supports many different LCCS and LC measurements, because the model has
to be useful in describing all data of the land cover theme. While the LC Plan4all
model is very simple, the INSPIRE model is more complex and wider. It contains
more descriptive attributes. In INSPIRE LC data specification the harmonisation is
undertaken by requesting data providers to document their classification systems
in a systematic manner. In the Plan4all data model, this aspect is not addressed in
detail. The INSPIRE model does not explicitly specify the geometry of a vector ob-
ject. The Plan4all model works with polygons described as GM_Multipolygon, be-
cause the majority of land cover data sets are composed from polygon geometry
types. But for a description of all possibilities, the use of some more general types,
for instance GM_Object, would be more appropriate.
Unlike the Plan4all model the INSPIRE data model contains a part that is focused
on raster data (coverage).
Figure 6.5: Feature types as defined by Plan4All
Both data models try to make a connection to the original data (and classifications),
but there are different approaches. The Plan4all data model prefers a specific class
(class LandCoverOriginalArea). This class is connected to the abstract class Lan-
dCoverArea and contains two attributes: classification (text description of original /
local classification system) and classificationLink (optional attribute provided link to
the original / local classification system through the standardised metadata type
gmd:Citation). INSPIRE data specification allows the linking of more taxonomies to
one Land cover area (class LandCoverObject).
Area items in the INSPIRE model can include more than one different type of land
cover classes: it is possible to declare the percentage of each type of coverage. In-
stead, the Plan4all model works with homogeneous land cover areas. The INSPIRE
model does not contain any standard land cover classification. The Plan4all model
uses the taxonomy defined for CORINE Land Cover (CLC) data. This classification
system represents the fundamental European taxonomy and it is the most popular
Figure 6.6: INSPIRE Land Cover Survey Initiative and Land Cover Data (see INSPIRE
D2.8.II/III.4_v2.0, 2011 p 8 and p 12)
in European data sets. Moreover, many countries have developed transformation
processes between their national or local taxonomies and CLC.
Other issues, which were highlighted during the Plan4all validation phase, seem
better framed in the INSPIRE data model than in that of Plan4All: one of them is
the suitability of using an object-oriented approach for designing a data model that
is inherently hierarchical. But, according to ISO feature-geometry-model, Land
cover model is instead a description of single land features.
6.3.4 Natural Risk Zones theme
In the INSPIRE Annex III definition, Natural risk zones are: “Vulnerable areas cha-
racterised according to natural hazards (all atmospheric, hydrologic, seismic, vol-
canic and wildfire phenomena that, because of their location, severity, and
frequency, have the potential to seriously affect society), e.g. floods, landslides and
subsidence, avalanches, forest fires, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions” (EC, 2007).
"Natural risk zones" are zones where natural hazards areas intersect with highly
populated areas and/or areas of particular environmental/ cultural/ economic value.
Risk of the exposed populations and of the environmental, cultural and economic
assets in the zone considered, is defined as:
Risk = Hazard x Vulnerability x Exposure (6.a)
In particular:
Risk is the combination of the consequences of an event (hazard) and the
associated likelihood/probability of its occurrence (ISO 31010);
Hazard is a dangerous phenomenon, substance, human activity or condi-
tion that may cause loss of life, injury or other health impacts, property da-
mage, loss of livelihoods and services, social and economic disruption, or
environmental damage (UNISDR 2009);
Vulnerability is the characteristics and circumstances of a community, sy-
stem or asset that make it susceptible to the damaging effects of a hazard
(UNISDR 2009);
Exposure is people, property, systems, or other elements present in hazard
zones that are thereby subject to potential losses (UNISDR 2009).
The broad field of natural risks may link and overlap many other themes, mostly
concerning physical environment, such as land use, elevation, hydrography, land
cover, geology, area management, environmental protection facilities, meteorolo-
gical geographical features, oceanographic geographical features. In particular, it
is of upmost importance to manage such connections, because they are crucial
when assessing the level of threat that a certain hazard may cause on life, health,
property or environment. Knowledge deriving from implicit interrelationships among
different themes can help decision-makers better face specific hazards.
Data models presented by Plan4all (Plan4all D4.2, 2010) and INSPIRE Natural
Risk Zones Thematic Working Group (TWG-NZ) (INSPIRE D2.8.III.12_V2.0, 2011)
represent two complementary views of a complex domain. Both adopt a general
description provided by INSPIRE (2008) and describe essential elements which
characterise a natural risk zone. Indeed, within both application schemas, the Ri-
skZone feature type represents the core element that everything else is related to.
However, each of them focuses on a specific issue of the whole theme and models
it by specifying all the relevant items that characterise it. In particular, Plan4all has
faced aspects concerning the natural risk zone classification by providing users
with an organisation of zones according to their nature and in agreement with the
directives of European Parliament and Council on related issues, such as flood
risks and protection of soil. In contrast, TWG-NZ has managed aspects more stron-
gly related to the definition of Risk. Namely, INSPIRE TWG-NZ has modelled rela-
tionships given in the equation at 6.a, thus emphasising how a factor may affect
the others, how a hazard area can be specialised, and finally which relationships
should be established with respect to the Area Management and Planned Land Use
feature types.
The choice of two different approaches in defining the application schemas derives
from the multifaceted nature of the theme under investigation. The theme consists
of several aspects ranging from hazard/risk typologies, such as natural and techno-
logical, to their international standardisation from processes to scientific models
used in the area identification. However, both models are extensible in many direc-
tions, to cover theme aspects that are partially handled. In particular, although the
RiskZone feature types defined in schemas differ for some attributes (see Figure
6.7), due to the aim and scope of their specification, it is possible to integrate them
by selecting common elements and specialising differences in one or more sub-
classes according to their purpose. Moreover, the use of code lists in both applica-
tion schemas gives users the option of extending general schemas by adding
values that may be applicable to a different level. Indeed, there is no currently avai-
lable list or classification of natural hazards or risks that can be considered as an
international standard. The use of codelists and enumerations are also meant to
create interoperable lists which may contribute to data harmonisation.
Plan4All Natural Risk Zones data model
In Figure 6.8 a simplified version of the application schema proposed by Plan4all
is given.
When analysing the semantic content of the application schema proposed by
Plan4all, the RiskZone feature type represents the schema core and it specialises
in six further feature types, as follows:
• An InundatedRiskZone is a kind of RiskZone
• An InundatedRiskZone is composed of Embankment
• A StormRiskZone is a kind of RiskZone
• A DroughtRiskZone is a kind of RiskZone
• An AvalanchesRiskZone is a kind of RiskZone
• A VolcanicActivityRiskZone is a kind of RiskZone
• An EarthmovesRiskZone is a kind of RiskZone
• An OtherHazardsRiskZone is a kind of RiskZone
A set of enumerations and codelists are provided to complete data specification.
Figure 6.7: The RiskZone feature type as defined by Plan4All (a) and by INSPIRE TWG (b)
INSPIRE TWG-NZ data model
Figure 6.9 depicts a simplified version of the application schema proposed by the
INSPIRE TWG-NZ (INSPIRE D2.8.III.12_v2.0, 2011). The RiskZone feature type
represents the schema core and it is related to four further feature types. A Hazar-
dArea specialisation is also specified. Besides relationships with Planned Land Use
and Area Management, the following statements can be extracted:
• One or more HazardArea is related to zero or more RiskZones
ModelledOrDeterminedHazard is a kind of HazardArea
ObservedHazard is a kind of HazardArea
• One or more ExposedElements is related to zero or more RiskZone with
the associated class VulnerabilityOfElements
• Zero or more ObservedHazard is related to zero or more ExposedEle-
Figure 6.8: A simplified version of Plan4all Natural Risk Zones data model
6.4 Final considerations
Some comments presented in the previous sections derive from the Plan4all data
model validation phase, which took place in Winter-Spring 2011 (Plan4all D8.2,
2011). In particular, involved stakeholders pointed out that spatial planning mana-
gement strongly depends on the organisation or institution in charge of it, whose
task also consists of binding the scope and establishing the appropriate threshold
of detail. Then, data modelling, and the goal of data harmonisation, strongly depend
on the achievement of a shared global view of the topic under investigation by all
subjects involved.
Data models have to be "as simple as possible but not simpler" (Albert Einstein).
Details have to be “as little as possible” and “as much as needed” (INSPIRE JRC
team, but with reference to metadata). These two meaningful quotations effectively
synthesise the "balance challenge" that is behind defining data models. In particular,
as far as the Land Use theme is concerned, some of the mentioned differences
between the Plan4all and the INSPIRE data models deal with this issue.
At the time of writing this chapter, INSPIRE Annex II and III data specifications were
at the draft stage. The INSPIRE team launched testing activities for the further de-
Figure 6.9: A simplified version of INSPIRE TWG Natural Risk Zones application schema
(see INSPIRE D2.8.III.12_v2.0, 2011)
velopment of these draft data specifications, starting in June 2011 and ending in
October 2011. After this testing phase, the TWGs will deal with the comments re-
ceived and elaborate the final versions of the data specifications by April 2012 (see
Chapter 7). Therefore, the INSPIRE data specifications will probably change again
in the future.
While the INSPIRE data specification testing is mainly focussed on transformation
feasibility, i.e. on transforming existing data into INSPIRE-compliant data, a second
logical step is foreseen. This step is “fitness for purpose” testing, which “aims at
demonstrating the usefulness of spatial data compliant with the INSPIRE data spe-
cifications when addressing real applications” (INSPIRE Consolidation Team, 2011,
p. 10). This step necessarily includes stakeholders and data end-users, and it is
the key way to understand if the elaborated data models are going to work and be
EC, 2007 “Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of
14 March 2007 establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European
Community (INSPIRE)“ Official Journal of the European Communities L108 25 April
(European Commission, Brussels)
(accessed 09.08. 2011)
Fowler M, 2003 UML Distilled: A Brief Guide to the Standard Object Modeling Lan-
guage (Addison-Wesley. Boston)
INSPIRE Consolidation Team, 2011 INSPIRE Annex II+III Data Specifications Te-
sting Call for Participation
ticipation_Annex_II_III_final.pdf (accessed 07.09.2011)
INSPIRE D2.8.II/III.4_v2.0, 2011 Data Specification on Land Cover – Draft Guide-
INSPIRE D2.8.III.12_v2.0, 2011 Data Specification on Natural Risk Zones – Draft
cification_NZ_v2.0.pdf (accessed 07.09.2011)
INSPIRE D2.8.III.4_v2.0, 2011 Data Specification on Land Use – Draft Guidelines
INSPIRE, Drafting Team “Data Specifications”, 2008 Definition of Annex Themes
and Scope
(accessed 31.08.2011)
ISO 31010, 2009 ISO/IEC 31010:2009, Risk management – Risk assessment te-
Plan4all D4.2, 2010 Conceptual Data Models for Selected Themes
(accessed 07.09.2011)
Plan4all D8.2, 2011 Assessment of Project Solutions
(accessed 07.09.2011)
UNISDR (UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction), 2009 Terminology on
disaster risk reduction (accessed 05.09.2011)
Chapter 7
A collateral experience: the INSPIRE Thematic Working
Group on Land Use
François Salgé
7.1. Land Use in the Context of INSPIRE
The Land Use (LU) spatial data theme is included in Annex III of the INSPIRE Di-
In the INSPIRE Directive, Land Use is defined as “Territory characterised according
to its current and future planned functional dimension or socio-economic purpose
(e.g. residential, industrial, commercial, agricultural, forestry, recreational”) (EC,
2007 p 13).
Land Use may be split into two different types:
1.The Existing Land Use (ELU: “current” Land Use in the above definition),
which objectively depicts the use and functions of a territory as it has been
and effectively still is in real life.
2.The Planned Land Use (PLU: “future planned” Land Use in the above de-
finition), which is composed of spatial plans, defined by spatial planning au-
thorities, depicting the possible utilisation of land in the future. PLU is
regulated by spatial planning documents elaborated at various levels of ad-
ministration. Land use regulation over a geographical area may be compo-
sed of an overall strategic orientation, a textual regulation and a cartographic
representation. Spatial planning documents result from the spatial planning
process, and therefore, once adopted, third parties must conform with them.
PLU incorporate elements that in the real world can be related to other INSPIRE
spatial data themes such as Area management / restriction / regulation zones and
reporting units or Natural Risk Zones. These will be seen as supplementary regu-
lations related to Land Use as soon as this information is incorporated in the legal
spatial plan.
7.2. Thematic working group context
The process of developing an INSPIRE data specification in a Thematic Working
Group involved the following areas of expertise:
• Domain expertise - expertise about the thematic domain and the data to
be used in the application;
• GI expertise - expertise about geographic information specifications (ISO
19100 series, OGC standards) and information modelling as well as network
services used to provide access to the spatial data sets;
• INSPIRE expertise - expertise about the Generic Conceptual Model, data
encoding guidelines, the INSPIRE architecture including the service archi-
tecture, the methodology to develop INSPIRE data specifications and other
INSPIRE documents;
• Software expertise - expertise about implementation and deployment
aspects of the relevant specifications.
The Land Use Thematic Working Group is composed of 12 experts from Belgium,
Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the European Com-
mission (INSPIRE TWG, 2010). Its working period is June 2010 – April 2012.
Connexions with other TWGs were organised via both direct bilateral contacts and
cross TWG meetings organised by the Joint Research Centre (JRC).
7.3. Development process of Land Use data specification
The data specification on Land Use was prepared according to the methodology
elaborated for INSPIRE (see INSPIRE DT “Data Specification”, 2008) respecting
the requirements and the recommendations of the INSPIRE Generic Conceptual
Model (see INSPIRE DT “Data Specification”, 2010), which ensures a coherent ap-
proach and cross-theme consistency with other themes in the Directive.
7.3.1. Use case development
The use cases and application scenarios to be supported by the INSPIRE data spe-
cification were analysed. 47 use cases were submitted by the Spatial Data Interest
Communities (SDIC) and Legally dated Organisations (LMO). Half of these were
further investigated via interviews of the submitting organisation in order to ascertain
the user requirements. The use cases section of the LU data specification (see IN-
SPIRE D2.8.III.4_v2.0) documents the TWG-LU understanding after this process.
The aim of the use case section is to describe situations where land use datasets
are required to perform a given task. These use cases are documented in order to
understand how the requirements have been filtered in view of designing a con-
ceptual model that is generic enough to cover potential use cases and simple
enough to minimise the burden on data producers and users.
Eight use cases have been selected as representative of those reported to the land
use thematic working group :
• Land planning,
Analysis of land consumption,
• Ecological network mapping,
• Greenhouse inventory reporting,
• Land use for environmental impact assessment,
• Land use for the flood directive,
• Statistics for Land Use,
• Land use for soil management.
7.3.2. Identification of user requirements and spatial object types
The theme-specific requirements regarding data were extracted from the use cases
and application scenarios. This included the identification of the required levels of
detail. The result was a description of the relevant universe of discourse for the
theme including a candidate list of spatial object types with definitions and descrip-
The data requirements as they result from the use case analysis are presented for
both existing and planned land use in the LU data specification. They express the
main requirements regarding the features that need to be taken into consideration,
the nomenclature to be used, the temporal dimension, identifiers, portrayal, meta-
data and requirements for consistency with other themes. They also identify requi-
rements that have been omitted mainly due to the expected difficulties in meeting
The key aspects that have enabled the shaping of the LU data model and the rela-
tions with other themes are also presented.
7.3.3. As-is analysis
An as-is analysis of the current situation regarding spatial data sets for the theme
was carried out in parallel with the previous steps. Based on a checklist, the analysis
of the 36 reference materials submitted by the SDICs and LMOs enabled the iden-
tification of the relevant data interoperability aspects.
7.3.4. Gap analysis
The gap analysis identified user requirements that cannot be met by the current
data offerings. For each gap, a data interoperability approach – which may also in-
clude a conclusion that specific user requirements cannot be met – have been iden-
tified and agreed upon.
7.3.5. Data specification development
Three application schemas are described in the LU data specification and specify
the spatial object types with their properties, range of valid property values and con-
straints. The data specification itself has been documented according to ISO 19131,
the International Standard specifying the contents of data product specifications in
the field of geographic information. The application schema, accompanied by a cor-
responding feature catalogue derived from the application schema, constitutes the
core component of the data specification.
Two versions of the LU data specification have been submitted to the other TWGs
and to the INSPIRE drafting teams for an internal review. The first one (version 1.0),
delivered in October 2010, concentrated on the scope description and the main ob-
ject types. About 100 comments were delivered during that stage and were taken
into consideration. The second version (version 1,9), delivered in April 2011, cove-
red all the requested chapters. 36 comments where provided. The result of the data
specification development is version 2.0, provided in June 2011 for SDICs and
LMOs comments and testing (INSPIRE D2.8.III.4_v2.0).
7.3.6. Implementation, test and validation
The LU data specification as well as the other theme data specifications were re-
viewed by the stakeholders and tested within one or more pilots under real world
conditions using the use cases to test the proposed specification for consistency,
completeness, feasibility and implementability. This step started in June 2011 and
ended in October 2011.
7.3.7. Cost-benefit considerations
Incremental costs and benefits of the data interoperability and harmonisation efforts
require tracking and documentation.
The development and establishment of the European spatial data infrastructure is
a challenge, which requires not only the consideration of the technical feasibility,
but also the proper assessment of the related costs and benefits. Such considera-
tions are a core part of the process of establishing the regulation related to the in-
teroperability of spatial data sets and services. The qualitative aspects of community
feedback, together with the quantitative results of SDI studies and testing provide
a solid basis for drawing conclusions about the feasibility and proportionality.
7.4. Plan4all and TWG relationships
The Plan4all Project was proposed when neither a thematic working group nor a
drafting team was established for the seven themes considered by the Plan4all Pro-
7.4.1. From INSPIRE to Plan4all
The Plan4all analysis of INSPIRE requirements (Plan4all D2.3, 2009) provides an
implementation-neutral and INSPIRE-oriented set of recommendations for the mo-
delling concepts for geographic data and metadata that are further developed in
the Plan4all project.
The analysis provides short annotated readings of INSPIRE, and recommendations
for metadata profiles and data models coming from INSPIRE. Some hints and re-
commendations coming from the analysis of other relevant documents (INSPIRE
related projects and/or spatial planning projects and initiatives), and some thoughts
about terminology were also provided to the Consortium.
7.4.2. From Plan4all to INSPIRE
As a result of the Plan4all activities, several documents were provided as reference
material to the TWG-LU; namely the Analysis of National Requirements on Spatial
Planning (Plan4all D3.1, 2010), the Analysis of Conceptual Data Models (Plan4all
D4.1, 2010) and the Conceptual Data Models for Selected Themes including the
“Land use” feature catalogue (Plan4all D4.2, 2010) as well as the analysis of User
Requirements (Plan4all D2.4,2009). In the course of the TWG-LU work, the Plan4all
Metadata Profile - Final version (Plan4all D3.2.2, 2010) was also provided.
All these documents were key in the design of the LU data specification as they re-
sulted from a multi-national analysis. Many of the concepts of the planned land use
data model are directly derived from the Plan4all work as well as the metadata sec-
tion of the LU data specification.
7.4.3. From INSPIRE to Plan4all
The JRC of the EC has requested SDICs and LMOs to participate in two types of
testing activities: “feasibility testing” and “fitness for purpose testing”.The testing
should mainly focus on transformation feasibility. However, where possible, tran-
sformed data (compliant with the proposed schemas) should be made available for
subsequent fitness for purpose testing.
The objective of the feasibility testing is to measure the technical feasibility and the
efforts related to transforming existing data into data that is compliant with the re-
quirements and schemas proposed in the data specification documents. The
Plan4all Consortium agreed to perform feasibility testing for land use and other the-
Feasibility testing included the development of mapping tables, transformation rules
or workflows, their implementation in a transformation tool or service and the vali-
dation of the transformed data, which are provided through the Plan4all portal.
7.5. Land Use Data Specification
The June 2011 version as documented in INSPIRE D2.8.III.4_v2.0 (2011) is pre-
sented in the following sections.
7.5.1. Main characteristics of the data specification
The main value of the INSPIRE Land Use model is its simple, yet flexible structure
that allows data providers to publish their existing data in the most convenient way.
In order to ensure consistency between data sets containing ELU information and
PLU information, a core model was first designed.
The core model for Land Use corresponds to a Land Use dataset that covers an
area and provides a partition of that area with polygons (vector mode) or pixels (ra-
ster mode) that are mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive, i.e. they cover
the whole area. The area covered by a Land Use dataset may differ from the area
managed by an authority for multiple reasons, including the data capture method
(e.g. from imagery) or the legal context. The core model also corresponds to a Land
Use dataset that provides Land use information attached to a discrete set of loca-
tions. These polygons and locations are named CoreLandUseObject in the UML
model. Each of them is described by a dominant land use category. The covered
area can be irregularly shaped and multipart.
The core model enables the assignment of a land use category from the Hierarchi-
cal INSPIRE Land Use Classification System (HILUCS) to each polygon or location.
HILUCS will evolve gradually in a consistent way. The responsible body guiding
this evolution is yet to be defined. The objective is to move towards a stable clas-
sification system at the European level. In order to ensure a minimum level of inte-
roperability, it is mandatory to use the first level of HILUCS.
The core model also enables the assignment of a land use category from at least
one classification system that is stable and well-defined, either at an international
(such as SEEA from the UN, LUCAS from Eurostat), national or local level. Mapping
such a specific land use classification system with HILUCS will improve interope-
The ELU model corresponds to a dataset that depicts the reality of the land surface
at a certain point or period in time. Usage of a dataset depicting existing land use
may require providing information on the same piece of land at different time. The
model does not implement this requirement. It means that the existing land use on
the same area at two different times will be provided as two different datasets.
The ELU model enables the provision of information on other land uses, besides
the dominant land use, inside one land use object. Doing so will not indicate the lo-
cation of these other land uses, but it will enable the provision of percentages. The
opportunity to provide land uses other than the dominant one, alongside their re-
spective percentages enables calculations of the surface of each land use inside
one area.
The PLU model matches a dataset that corresponds to a spatial planning document.
Only the spatial planning documents that contain geographical information are
taken into consideration in the Land Use data model. Only the spatial planning do-
cuments, that are legally adopted by an authority and thus opposable to third par-
ties, are considered within INSPIRE.
The concept of zoning is part of PLU in many countries. The zoning is composed
of polygons that are mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive. Zoning provides
regulations for the evolution of Land Use. Zoning elements allow for the expression
of land use that is planned by the administrative authority. It has several specific
attributes such as the nature of the regulation, indications about dimension rules
that apply to the use of the land and reference to the applicable regulation.
Supplementary information is often present in spatial planning documents in order
to delimit locations where a specific regulation applies and to supplements the re-
gulations of the zoning. These supplementary regulations may be seen as a buffer
around an object in the real world. A point or a line can also bear the regulation.
This supplementary information is implemented in the model.
A specific nomenclature indicates the types of supplementary regulations that may
exist in the spatial plan. It is country-dependant as it directly links to legal articles.
The model enables the documentation of the fact that a supplementary regulation
exists at a certain location and allows for connection to a description about how it
affects the land use via a country-dependant mechanism. There is no agreed Eu-
ropean code list for supplementary regulations. Nonetheless, the LU data specifi-
cation proposes a first level for a future harmonised European code list for
supplementary regulations.
Planned land use datasets are specific as they correspond to legal documents con-
taining the regulations. The model implements the requirement to include the re-
gulation inside the dataset or via a link to the digital facsimile.
The scanned version of any maps included in spatial planning documents may also
be associated with the spatial plan.
The hierarchical nature of HILUCS has been devised on two dimensions: the land
perspective, and the economic perspective. The objective is to provide a list of ge-
neric classes that every country could implement in their Land Use datasets at costs
that are as marginal as possible, enabling a basic level of semantic interoperability
between datasets from all countries. Level 1 can be extended to more levels, but
only the level 1 is mandatory.
Comparable data on top of harmonised specification elements create additional
value for achieving interoperability in INSPIRE. For this finality the data specification
on Land Use includes recommendations on reporting data quality parameters.
Regardless of whether or not these recommendations on data quality are met, the
actual values of data quality elements should be published as metadata. These ele-
ments usually have to be published at the dataset level.
For visualisation purposes, simple rules for default portrayal are given by specifying
the colour attached to each class of HILUCS at level 1.
7.6. Conclusion
The TWG-LU largely benefited from the existence of the Plan4all Consortium , its
members and their achievements. The overlap of the respective timetables or May
2009 – October 2011 for Plan4all and June 2010 – April 2012 for TWG-LU, was ap-
propriate for the involvement of spatial planners in the land use data specification
development. It is worth mentioning that the number of spatial planners being aware
of the LU data specification requirements needs to increase beyond the Plan4all
partners. The INSPIRE implementing rules will be adopted late 2012 regarding the
annex III themes, thus including spatial plans. Almost any local governments will
have to conform to them by the end of 2014 for any new spatial plans in digital form
and by the end of 2019 for any existing datasets. Because the number of local go-
vernments in Europe exceeds 100,000 entities, raising awareness, identifying and
promoting best practices and ensuring networking between local governments are
EC, 2007, “Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of
14 March 2007 establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European
Community (INSPIRE)“ Official Journal of the European Communities L108 25 April
(European Commission, Brussels)
(accessed 09.08.2011)
INSPIRE DT “Data Specification”, 2010 D2.5 Generic Conceptual Model v3.3 (ac-
cessed 03.09.2011)
INSPIRE DT “Data Specification”, 2008 D2.6 Methodology for the development of
data specifications
v3.0.pdf (accessed 03.09.2011)
INSPIRE D2.8.III.4_v2.0, 2011 Data Specification on Land Use – Draft Guidelines
cification_LU_v2.0.pdf (accessed 03.09.2011)
INSPIRE TWG, 2010 Data Specifications. Thematic Working Groups for Annex II
& III (accessed 03.09.2011)
Plan4all D2.3, 2009 INSPIRE Requirements Analysis
(accessed 03.09.2011)
Plan4all D2.4, 2009 User Analysis Report
(accessed 03.09.2011)
Plan4all D3.1, 2010 Analysis of National Requirements on Spatial Planning Metadata
(accessed 03.09.2011)
Plan4all D3.2.2, 2010 Plan4all Metadata Profile - Final version
(accessed 03.09.2011)
Plan4all D4.1, 2010 Analysis of Conceptual Data Models for Selected Schemes
Used in Single Countries
(accessed 03.09.2011)
Plan4all D4.2, 2010 Conceptual Data Models for Selected Themes
(accessed 03.09.2011)
Chapter 8
The role of SDI Networking Architectures for Spatial
Stein Runar Bergheim
Asplan Viak Internet as
8.1. Introduction
Spatial and societal planning are disciplines that require access to all available data
on the past and present of a jurisdiction, in order to shape and propose solutions
for its future development.
Traditionally, gaining access to data has involved identifying and approaching all
stakeholders with a vested interest in the planning area, including but not limited to
land tenure, infrastructure provision, industry, commerce, residences, transporta-
tion, economy and demography, in order to understand opportunities and con-
The process has largely been manual, whereby phone calls are made; meetings
are held; letters are exchanged; terms are agreed; and finally, data are made avai-
lable, though often only for the area under the jurisdiction of the plan and not un-
commonly subject to costs.
In short, the process is comprehensive, time-consuming and requires extensive
manual after-work. Such work consumes precious planning resources that would
be better used analysing data, developing planning alternatives and proposing ac-
tions and policies in support of the overall goals of the plan.
This chapter discusses the current and future role of Spatial Data Infrastructures in
data management and dissemination processes related to spatial planning.
8.2. Actors, policies, processes and data
The INSPIRE Directive approaches the disciplines of planning from a GIS centric
perspective. However, in order to understand the role that spatial data infrastructu-
res and their standardised networking services may play in the future, it is first ne-
cessary to understand the role of GIS in planning. Four key observations are
important to contextualise SDIs within spatial planning as illustrated in figure 8.1
The first observation that must be made is that in data terms, a plan does not equal
a map. All plans have a textual document, many of which have an associated map.
Looking at planning data from the perspective of GIS alone will therefore often not
provide sufficient contextual information to interpret and understand the information
being presented.
Secondly, more than being a provider of spatial data, spatial planning is a discipline
that consumes spatial data originating from all over the public sector. This means
that we must look at the capacity of SDIs to provide access to data that may be
used as an input to planning processes.
Thirdly, spatial planning is a discipline carried out on a local level and by a multitude
of public and private sector actors. There are no international standards for land-
use planning and even within single national or local legislations, there is great va-
Figure 8.1: The business of spatial planning is not only a question of maps – spatial planning is about
legislation, processes, data, documents and all available information about of a planning area, making
spatial planning not only a provider but also a consumer of spatial data.
riance in the way guidelines are interpreted and put into action. We must therefore
be able to handle the heterogeneity of policies, processes, skills, data and tools
present across European spatial planning authorities.
Fourth and finally, spatial planners are not GIS professionals. While INSPIRE Annex
I themes are generally produced and maintained by domain professionals residing
in national mapping agencies or authorities with strong GIS skills, many planners
are relating to the data only after these have been visualised in maps. For this rea-
son, thirty years into the GIS era, many planning processes are only supported by
GIS through the constraining and limited medium of printed maps.
8.3. Services required for planning
Having understood the specific conditions prevalent in spatial planning, the next
step is to look at how an SDI might serve to support spatial planning and make the
existing business process more efficient; and how, in the longer term, SDIs may
contribute to transform the way spatial plans are developed.
In order to explore this topic we must consider three aspects: The current set of IN-
SPIRE services; additional web services required to satisfy the requirements of the
professional domain of spatial planning; and emerging and future services that may
support the transformation of current business processes and practices.
8.3.1. The present set of INSPIRE services
At the heart of the INSPIRE networking services infrastructure (Network Services
Drafting Team, 2007) lies the Open Geospatial Consortium family of web mapping
standards. The services are named according to their principal function in the in-
frastructure as shown in figure 8.2 and are described briefly below.
Discovery services
Discovery services enable users to identify what spatial data are available through
free-text, attribute-specific and spatial searches towards standardised metadata.
Discovery services conform to the OGC Web Catalog Service (CS-W) standard
(OpenGIS, 2007), a protocol that describes request and response formats for que-
rying, downloading and updating metadata catalogues over the Internet, enabling
both publishing and subsequent harvesting of metadata between catalogues.
Discovery services will typically be implemented by data providers only as publi-
shing services. SDIs will implement discovery services as both harvesting and pu-
blishing services, enabling harvesting of metadata originating from multiple sources
and subsequent cross-searches. The latter is the case for the INSPIRE registry,
Figure 8.2: The core INSPIRE networking service architecture defines seven types of services which
(may) be present in an INSPIRE compliant spatial data infrastructure: a registry/discovery service; a
view service; a download service; a transform service; and an invoke service.
which is the top-level SDI for accessing information about available spatial datasets
on national and regional levels throughout Europe.
Well managed discovery services are essential to identify which data are available
and play a key role towards ensuring that the spatial planning process is aware of,
and has access to, all available data for the concerned area.
Digital rights management (DRM)
DRM is a collective term for mechanisms used to protect copyrighted digital content
such as spatial data. Due to the complexity of managing the diversity of digital rights
associated with spatial data, as defined by EU, national and regional legislation and
practice, INSPIRE has omitted to specify a protocol or standard by which DRM for
spatial data may be handled in a consistent manner (Janssen & Dumortier, 2007).
The rights management practices for spatial planning data varies from no licensing
via public domain to costly commercial licenses. Whatever the license, in no cir-
cumstances is it permissible to modify spatial planning data as they are considered
legal documents in most jurisdictions.
Spatial planning data are included under the INSPIRE Annex III themes and will, at
least for public use, be made available in accordance with the regulations of the di-
rective. Any licensing and or restrictions to follow the data will have to be embedded
in the accompanying metadata.
View services
While the INSPIRE metadata are harvested from source metadata catalogue ser-
vices into centralised repositories to facilitate cross-searches, the services providing
access to the actual data are decentralised.
The most fundamental of these services are the View services, which allow users
to access digital cartographic visualisations of individual spatial data layers or ready-
made maps. View services conform to the OGC Web Map Server (WMS) protocol
(OpenGIS, 2006). Through this standard it is possible to compose maps based on
source data residing on different servers across the Internet.
Situations in which a View service may be useful include creating a map mosaic
based on identical data from different data providers (e.g. a seamless map of land-
use for a portion of Europe), or creating a map showing all the data available for a
certain area (e.g. identifying all relevant data available from any data providers for
a specific planning area).
While WMS is a simple protocol, View services fit well into the traditional business
process of spatial planning, whereby domain experts in the field of spatial planning
are analysing and correlating information about their planning area based on paper
maps and visual analysis. View services will not remove the need for studying and
interpreting the maps on screen. Instead they will greatly improve the process of
obtaining and combining data from a multitude of sources and speed up the overall
planning process. Where a planner would previously have had to relate to many
different data providers, write letters requesting data, collect and harmonise data
before combining them using a GIS tool, all of these steps are now made redundant
by the capabilities of the View services.
In addition, WMS is a pragmatic first-level integration that allows for sharing and
use of digital map images in joint geographic space.
The prime limitation of WMS is that the underlying data structure is not exposed in
a manner that makes it possible query the dataset as a whole; it is only possible to
query individual points in the map.
It is also important to note that GIS is still a discipline that is not exploited to its full
extent and that the current prime function of GIS in supporting the spatial planning
process is still the production of paper maps. WMS also has a limitation on the size
of images that may be generated (pixel size) in order to limit the load on web ser-
vers. This imposes a limitation on the size of paper maps that may be printed using
WMS data sources as the underlying data for maps. Desktop GIS software is ho-
wever implementing automatic tiling solutions that seek to circumvent this limitation
and View services alone offer a significant contribution to the spatial planning pro-
Download services
Download services bridge the gap left by View services in that they provide the end-
user with access to the underlying data. This is necessary when you want to do
analysis working against datasets and not merely “click around” in the map to see
what is there.
Download services conform to the OGC Web Feature Server (WFS) protocol
(OpenGIS, 2005) and enable the same set of features as WMS. However, instead
of transferring digital map images, the data returned to the client is Geography
Mark-up Language (GML) vector data embedded in a WFS XML envelope.
The transfer of vector data to the client enables a user to perform any operations
on the dataset as if it was a spatial dataset residing on their own computers. Ho-
wever, Download services introduce a number of challenges compared to View ser-
• The transfer time increases greatly as high-precision vector data encoded
in GML produces large XML-files
• The data must be rendered on the Client which means that a GIS applica-
tion is preferable to a simple web application that is likely to result in poor
• If combining a number of decentralised data sources into a mosaic that
may be queried, the underlying data models must be harmonised.
The above limitations aside, Download services bring a lot of useful features into
the hands of planners in the digital era. Using OGC filter encoding expressions, it
is, for example, possible to execute sophisticated spatial queries to a remote WFS
server, in effect enabling users to “lend” processing power from the “Cloud”.
Also, with vector data available on the Client, map sizes are no longer restricted by
pixel size concerns and it is possible to execute any attribute or spatial queries
across different datasets.
Transformation services
A service that is primarily transparently accessed through WMS or WFS services
is the Transformation service. While transparent to the user this is probably the
greatest “revolution” in the way networking service infrastructures facilitate the com-
bination of information from different sources.
GIS professionals or spatial planners who have been executing cross-border or
inter-regional projects involving different spatial reference systems (SRS), often find
that metadata do not express information that is considered implicit, and so it is a
lot of manual work (and in some cases guess-work) to identify the relevant source
SRS of the concerned data.
Transform services enable transformation-on-the-fly between different coordinate
systems (Cadcorp Ltd., 2001) so that one WMS service is capable of offering data
in multiple coordinate systems. The user determines which target system data
should be returned by specifying an SRS code, which corresponds to a set of tran-
sformation parameters originally defined by the European Petroleum Survey Group
(EPSG), now evolved under a set of different regimes.
A dataset originally stored in WGS84 geographical coordinates (epsg:4326) may
be rendered on the Client according to the ID ETRS LAEA (epsg:3035) parameters
or as UTM Zone 32N (epsg:32632).
The server configuration determines which projections will be available for the user
to choose from and INSPIRE dictates those that are mandatory.
Processing services
INSPIRE Processing services may be considered to be a placeholder for potential
future services that expose sophisticated processing capabilities to remote users
via the OGC Web Processing Service protocol (WPS) (OpenGIS, 2007).
WPS is currently only specified as a wrapper format around server side functionality
and there are no defined formal semantics that standardise the instructions accep-
ted by a service.
It is possible that complex analysis capabilities, which are currently not available
through WFS filter encoding queries, may in the future be implemented as Proces-
sing services. Types of spatial processing functionality and services which could
be made available as processing services could for an example be network problem
resolvers such as shortest distance, travelling salesman and many others.
Another potentially important service that might be implemented as a WPS service
would be a format translation service, allowing download of INSPIRE datasets in
formats other than GML, with CAD drawings being the most important target format.
As described in section “Spatial data repositories and upload services” below, CAD
environments constitute the most important production platform for spatial planning
8.3.2. Additional services required
As mentioned in chapter 2 above, the fundamental observation which must be
made when studying the potential role of INSPIRE networking services in the pro-
fessional domain of spatial planning is that planning is more than maps and spatial
While arguably most plans have a spatial component that is expressed through
maps, the meaning of the maps or data may not be accurately appreciated unless
it is given in the context of the plan itself, usually via a text document.
This section discusses services capable of closing the gaps left by the INSPIRE
services in order to cover the information flow requirements when accessing and
using spatial planning data through SDIs and INSPIRE networking services. The
extended features of a Plan4all SDI node compared to a baseline INSPIRE com-
pliant SDI node is shown in figure 8.3 above.
It is important to be aware that the services discussed are not requirements for
using data accessed through INSPIRE services as input to the planning process.
They are only required when publishing spatial planning data for unambiguous in-
terpretation and re-use.
Document service
In order to understand the meaning of spatial planning data the user may study the
associated INSPIRE metadata. However, metadata are typically centred on the
spatial characteristics of the data and omit details specific to the formal, legal mea-
ning of the data.
A spatial plan commonly defines a set of polygon, line and point features, which
are assigned a land-use category gathered from the legislation governing spatial
planning in the planning area. This land-use category often has an high-level de-
scription which defines the land-use restrictions on an abstract level with additional
details and regulations specific to the current planning area described by the plan-
ning document.
The dataset level metadata of the spatial plan should therefore include a reference
to the planning document in the form of a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI). By en-
Figure 8.3: The INSPIRE networking service infrastructure is designed from a GIS centric perspective
and does not meet the all the requirements of a functional Spatial Data Infrastructure for spatial plan-
ning. Grey boxes show additional elements to be considered in the Plan4all infrastructure whereas
white boxes show, simplified, the core INSPIRE architecture.
tering this URI into the address line in a web browser, the document must be shown
in human readable form to the user. No specialised protocol beyond the regular
Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is envisaged to be needed for this purpose.
If the planning document would be formatted according to the DocBook standard
(Walsh, 2011), it would not only be possible to reference the document as a whole
but also to reference individual sections and paragraphs inside the document. This
feature would be particularly useful to link individual polygon, line or point features
in the spatial planning data to their corresponding descriptions in the textual docu-
This is however likely to be a very time-consuming and complex process and not
likely to be a practice which will materialise across European planning authorities
any time soon. The short-term pragmatic solution would therefore be to make the
planning document available as free-form Hyper Text Mark-up Language (HTML)
or Portable Document Format (PDF) documents.
Legal references service
The legal frameworks governing spatial planning vary from country to country, from
region to region and, in some countries, even between local municipalities. The
same combination of words, e.g. the land-use category “residential area”, may have
different meanings in different legislations and in order to understand the meaning
of the data, it is necessary that the metadata provides a link to the relevant law or
regulation by which the plan is mandated. As for the documents, the legal reference
should be provided as an URI.
In some countries, Public Sector Information (PSI) directories that publish all laws
with persistent identifiers have been put into place and may be linked from INSPIRE
spatial planning metadata. In areas where this is not possible, the legal reference
must be made available by the planning authority. The latter practice is potentially
problematic as it leads to duplication of documents that should be considered au-
thoritative data. This which may be the cause of inconsistencies if a law is changed
and different versions flourish across the Internet.
Spatial data repositories and upload services
The INSPIRE infrastructure is specified for authorities that have strong technical
skills and resources capable of implementing and running comprehensive spatial
data infrastructures (SDIs), consisting of streamlined business processes for GIS
data creation and maintenance, web servers, application servers and database ser-
The bulk of European spatial planning authorities do not fit this description. For this
reason, it is necessary to devise a strategy that will enable these data providers to
also publish their data without putting too great a strain on their human and financial
The typical scenario in the smaller European spatial planning authorities is a very
limited number of resources; they are predominantly planning professionals who
use CAD as their data creation environment and data are maintained as drawings
rather than GIS data. Unless the infrastructure observes this characteristic, it is li-
kely to exclude a significant number of spatial planning data providers.
A model emerging all over Europe is that of regional IT co-operations, where a pro-
vince takes responsibility for hosting joint IT-systems for a set of underlying muni-
cipalities, or where one larger municipality services a set of smaller surrounding
municipalities. The introduction of remotely managed spatial data repositories would
be consistent with the development observed above and would allow small institu-
tions with limited resources to publish their data without investing in the establi-
shment of their own SDI.
A managed repository would allow users to upload and manage spatial data files
to a server, edit corresponding metadata and publish the metadata and spatial data
through Discovery, View and Download services. No protocols or standards cur-
rently exist for Upload services, but big commercial actors such as ESRI and Goo-
gle are developing spatial data hosting services which are likely to become
benchmarks for the future standardisation of this type of service.
Pan-European thesaurus for spatial planning
Having successfully equipped the spatial planning data with the necessary meta-
data for its unambiguous interpretation as well as uploaded the data to a spatial
data repository, one challenge still remains; Using the data in combination with data
from other sources.
Because of the different understandings of land-use categories defined by the re-
spective legislations, if a user wishes to combine land-use data from three different
data providers in a cross-border scenario it will be difficult to classify the data in
such a way as to give meaning.
It will be difficult, but ultimately rewarding, to establish a pan-European thesaurus
for spatial planning which will allow the generalisation of content values from diffe-
rent data sources to a least-common denominator. For example, for visualisation
purposes, this would enable consistent cartographic representation of similar spatial
planning features.
At present, no thesaurus exists and it is left to the discretion of the user to correlate
the different terminologies used in classifying the spatial data.
8.3.3. Future services
Plan4all has not yet experimented with Table Joining or Linked Data services, but
they may potentially have an impact on the way SDIs contribute to the spatial plan-
ning process and are therefore discussed below.
Table Joining Service
A new OGC standard, Table Joining Service (TJS) (OpenGIS, 2010) allows the real-
time joining of tabular data to spatial datasets. As input to spatial planning proces-
ses, statistics (predominantly tabular data) are equally important as spatial datasets.
TJS allows statistical data to be linked to spatial datasets if a common key exists
in both the source and target tables. This will typically be the case in regional plan-
ning when linking e.g. demographical data to municipalities or census tracts.
Persistent ID services and Linked Data
While not a problem that is specific to the domain of spatial planning, it is appro-
priate to mention the importance of Linked Data as the underlying substance of the
Semantic Web, a digital eco-system that SDIs and INSPIRE networking services
form a part of.
The value of INSPIRE datasets increase substantially if a feature has a persistently
managed ID that may be referenced or linked to by external parties. Currently, the
INSPIRE IDs are structured, created and managed by individual data providers in
a variety of ways and persistence is guaranteed neither by process nor standard.
This means that between two versions of a dataset, a user may not rely on the IDs
remaining persistent; hence, object referencing between two INSPIRE datasets, or
between INSPIRE datasets and external data through (for example) TJS services,
may lead to orphaned records as IDs change either at the source or target tables.
8.4. Business processes
The role and impact of SDIs on spatial planning is not only determined by the pos-
sibilities posed by the technology. More important is the willingness of planners to
adapt their business processes in such a manner as to efficiently exploit the te-
While this chapter has so far centred on how INSPIRE technology requirements
support spatial planning, this section discusses how spatial planners have to evolve
their processes to exploit the potential of the technology. An example of a simplified
planning process including interfaces towards the Plan4all and INSPIRE SDI infra-
structure is shown in figure 8.4 above.
Figure 8.4: In order to benefit from a pan-European SDI for planning data technology alone is not suf-
ficient, the “business” of spatial planning must also evolve to utilize the possibilities offered by the te-
chnology throughout the planning process as shown in a simplified manner above
8.4.1. The business of spatial planning
Spatial planning has been around for hundreds of years, while the World Wide Web
is a relatively fresh arrival that has yet to celebrate its 20th birthday. As a conse-
quence, the predominant practices within spatial planning have evolved out of a
non-technological environment.
Spatial planners are concerned about spatial features such as residential, commer-
cial, mixed use and industrial areas; about traffic, transportation, and utilities infra-
structure; about community facilities; and about all information that impacts the
distribution and suitability of the aforementioned areas. The only way to get an over-
view of and correlate this type of information is through maps. Due to the long tra-
ditions of spatial planning, this very often means paper maps.
Spatial planners like to draw and conceptualise on maps and, as many are not
oriented towards abstract concepts of GIS, express their professional capabilities
much more effectively using pen on paper than they would working directly in a di-
gital environment.
While, from a GIS perspective, information resulting from the spatial planning pro-
cess is considered data, the spatial planner will often consider the same information
as sketches or drawings. As a result, the often rich by-products of the planning pro-
cess will not be shareable because they do not conform to any standards interpre-
table by third parties.
The logical next step for a spatial planner who is used to drawing on a paper map
is to shift into a CAD environment, which effectively replicates the drawing board in
a software environment. In CAD scale, micro-accuracy is of great significance, whe-
reas spatial location and orientation is often not observed. The output is also self-
contained drawings that print well, but often do not conform to any form of standard,
making it impossible to transform the drawing into data that is shareable and re-
usable in a GIS environment.
8.4.2. Acquiring data
The most promising feature offered to spatial planners by SDIs is the ability to quic-
kly identify all available spatial data for a planning area. As opposed to the business
process changes required to create spatial data, the changes required to efficiently
use spatial data as input to the planning process are considerably less.
The prime enabler for efficient data retrieval is the data format translation service,
discussed in section “Processing services” above, as well as increased awareness
of discovery services among spatial planners and other domain professionals at
the fringe of the GIS community.
It is also to be noted that whereas GIS used to be an expert discipline reserved for
domain professionals, the art of digital map making, combining information from a
multitude of sources and browsing it on the computer screen is now at the fingertips
of any contemporary computer user. This may facilitate a behavioural change whe-
reby less of the map information will have to be printed and more may be accessed
directly online from decentralised View and Download services.
8.4.3. Online publishing and maintenance of spatial planning data
The first impediment to publishing spatial data on the Internet is the fact that in most
planning laws, the paper map, including its map scale, cartography and underlying
base map, is what is adopted as the legal spatial plan. This means that publishing
the spatial plan as data will not constitute legal data. It may not be desirable from
the perspective of the planning authority because it may cause dissent due to the
use of the data at larger scales and with different cartography, which may render
boundaries extended or contracted compared to the legal plan.
The second impediment is that introducing static pre-defined data models, control-
led vocabularies and GIS software into the equation of spatial planning is a major
paradigm shift for the traditional planner.
It is also a shift that may consume a disproportionate share of the spatial planner’s
professional resource in resolving technical obstacles and which may curb her or
his ability to produce high quality professional work. It must therefore be assumed
that the transition from drawings to data will take a significant amount of time.
Such a transition is, however, necessary if we want to effectively enable not only
the use of spatial data as input to planning processes, but also to get spatial data
as output from the planning processes.
The big software actors in the CAD domain, such as Autodesk, are currently ena-
bling more comprehensive data intelligence to be embedded into drawings. In
doing so, they are gradually bringing the universes of CAD and GIS closer together,
therefore facilitating the INSPIRE Directive objectives of enabling the efficient use
of spatial data across professional disciplines.
A key enabler to achieve this end is the upload service briefly discussed in section
Spatial data repositories and upload services” above.
8.5. Conclusions
SDI Networking architectures have great potential to improve the quality of spatial
planning, enabling quick overviews of, and access to, all spatial data available for
a certain planning area, thus ensuring quality input to the spatial planning process.
However, it is necessary to understand that spatial planning is not only maps and
spatial data, but is also planning documents and planning laws, which need to be
available in order to unambiguously interpret the planning data.
Furthermore, a bridge between the mapping and digital cartography environments
of CAD and GIS is needed in order to support the flow of information between ho-
mogeneously GIS oriented SDI infrastructures and highly the heterogeneous mixes
of CAD and GIS that are being used in spatial planning authorities across Europe.
In addition to the possibilities offered by the technology, behavioural change is re-
quired among spatial planners in order to effectively exploit the possibilities of the
SDI Networking architectures in their day-to-day operations.
Cadcorp Ltd., 2001 Coordinate Transformation Services (1.00 ed.), (M. Daly, Ed.)
Open Geospatial Consortium Inc.
Janssen K, Dumortier J, 2007 “Legal framework for a European union spatial data
infrastructure: uncrossing the wires” in H Onsrud (Ed.) Research and Theory in Ad-
vancing Spatial Data Infrastructure Concepts.
Network Services Drafting Team, 2007 INSPIRE Network Services Architecture IN-
SPIRE - Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe.
OpenGIS, 2005 Web Feature Service Implementation Specification (1.1.0 ed.) (P.
A. Vretanos, Ed.) Open Geospatial Consortium Inc.
OpenGIS, 2006 Web Map Server Implementation Specification (1.3.0 ed.). (J. d.
Beaujardiere, Ed.) Open Geospatial Consortium Inc.
OpenGIS, 2007 Catalogue Services Specification (2.0.2 ed.) (D. Nebert, A. White-
side, & P. Vretanos, Eds.) Open Geospatial Consortium Inc.
OpenGIS, 2007 Web Processing Service (1.0.0 ed.) (P. Schut, Ed.) Open Geospa-
tial Consortium Inc.
OpenGIS 2010 Georeferenced Table Joining Service (TJS) (1.0.0 ed.) (P. Schut,
Ed.) Open Geospatial Consortium Inc.
Walsh N, 2011 DocBook 5: The Definitive Guide. (R. Hamilton, Ed.) (O'Reilly).
Chapter 9
Plan4all pilots on data harmonisation and interoperability
Petr Horák*, Martin Vlk*, Šárka Horáková*, Miloslav Dvořák**, Lea Maňáková**
*Help Forest s.r.o.
**Statutarní město Olomouc
9.1. Spatial planning data challenges
European countries have various spatial planning systems with different legislation,
administrative structures, hierarchic planning systems and different methodologies
for the spatial planning process as well as diverse spatial planning data structures.
Moreover, many countries have no standards or rules for spatial planning data.
These facts lead to a situation where the spatial planning data from different cities
or regions are not comparable on either national or European levels.
Nevertheless, things have moved forward during recent years. Thanks to the buil-
ding of Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI) and the progressive implementation of
national and international standards and/or common rules for data in European
countries, there are many more possibilities for data publication, sharing and ex-
ploitation, though limits still exist. On the one hand, a lack of SDI products or an in-
compatibility between planning instruments and SDI structure can be found; for
example in Bulgaria or Latvia, where SDI is not available on a regional level; or in
France, where SDI exists on the regional level, but still does not correspond to plan-
ning instruments. On the other hand, some municipalities across Europe that are
managing land use and zoning plans can be overstrained by duties to use SDI and
publish these plans. The availability of this data on the internet is a logical require-
ment for current times, but unfortunately there is still a lack of common awareness
regarding common rules and data standards (such as INSPIRE, OGC, etc.) among
end users, data providers and the public bodies responsible for spatial planning
data. The questions are how to overcome all of these problems; how to get relevant
and comparable data from different areas and sources; and how to offer better ser-
vices for spatial planning data stakeholders and end-users. Answers to these que-
stions are not as simple as they may appear, and the practical realization will be
much more difficult than theoretical replies. Nevertheless, the way forwards should
include the definition of a common framework for data rules and standards, the de-
velopment of interoperable systems and the preparation of harmonised data sets
or transformation services.
9.2. Interoperability & data harmonisation
What do the terms „Interoperability“ and „Data Harmonisation“ mean? There are
lot of definitions available on the Internet, but the INSPIRE definition will be the
most relevant and accepted in terms of relevance to the Spatial Planning data
INSPIRE defines Interoperability as a “possibility for spatial data sets to be combi-
ned, and for services to interact, without repetitive manual intervention, in such a
way that the result is coherent and the added value of the data sets and services
is enhanced” [INSPIRE Directive: DIRECTIVE 2007/2/EC OF THE EUROPEAN
PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 14 March 2007, Article 3, page L108/5].
Interoperability should provide access to spatial data sets through network services
(e.g. Internet) and may be achieved by either harmonising and storing existing data
sets or transforming them via services for publication in the INSPIRE infrastructure.
Data harmonisation, one from two Interoperability options, is specified as a “process
providing access to spatial data through network services in a representation that
allows for combining it with other harmonised data in a coherent way by using a
common set of data product specifications. This includes agreements about coor-
dinate reference systems, classification systems, application schemas, etc.” [JRC
A typical task of interoperability is the combining of spatial planning data and ser-
vices from different sources across the European Community. Regarding spatial
planning data, but also generally, we can distinguish horizontal interoperability from
vertical interoperability.
By the term horizontal interoperability we understand the data interoperability pro-
cesses at the same level of the hierarchic structure of spatial planning. These pro-
cesses should reflect all types of used data models at the appropriate level. The
goal is to get the same presentation of data from different sources and simultane-
ously keep the detail of both the graphical and textual information as high as pos-
By the term vertical harmonisation we understand the data interoperability proces-
ses operating through several levels of hierarchic structure or, in some cases, ge-
nerating new levels with generalized data coming from the detailed data on the
lower level.
In establishing interoperability rules, we therefore do not see the setting of the uni-
fied data format, the unified data model and the unified geoinformation technology
for all producers of geospatial data. Local specifics should berespected, whereas
the feature of information continuity across territorial units should ensure:
• Standardized legend of the monitored phenomena separately for the local
and regional level, and the legend of plan phenomena of all municipalities
for the needs of Plan4all portal;
Application processes and technical solutions for the transformation of data
models in both horizontal and vertical directions.
9.3. How to make spatial planning data interoperable
As already mentioned, spatial planning data currently exist in very diverse forms
and data structures throughout the European countries. The Plan4all project was a
European project focussed on the interoperability and harmonisation of spatial plan-
ning data and metadata while observing basic INSPIRE principles. One of the main
tasks of the Plan4all project was to achieve such a process of data interoperability
that would allow the utilization of source data from individual countries in a form
common to the all. There were three main stages specified within the Plan4all pro-
ject for achieving interoperability of spatial planning data (see Figure 9.1):
1. Definition of appropriate conceptual models
2. Process of spatial planning data harmonisation
3. Publishing of harmonized data
The INSPIRE data specifications and the Plan4all conceptual models for relevant
themes were corner stones of the whole harmonisation process (see Chapter 6).
On the basis of these models, a final structure of harmonized data was formed as
the first step of the data harmonisation process.
The second step represented a precise description of source data intended for har-
Figure 9.1: Plan4all interoperability scheme
monisation. It allows for better understanding of data for the determination of tran-
sformation conditions. This description includes a layout of the data structure, cha-
racterization of individual object types and an overview or a list of codes. Sometimes
spatial data are not in a GIS structure and must therefore be modified and transfor-
med into an appropriate format.
The set up of transformation conditions is a key point of the harmonisation process.
The conditions are formed by relations between source and target data that should
be defined at the object, feature and attribute levels. For the representation of the
relations, a transformation table or scheme are usually used. When the transfor-
mation conditions have been defined, the final step of the whole harmonisation pro-
cess can be run. The whole transformation can be performed by means of
transformation tools or directly with the help of SQL queries. Harmonized data,
which are saved in the target structure, may be published in several ways. In the
individual regions included in the Plan4all project, publishing of harmonized spatial
planning data was tested through the regions’ web map applications and also by
providing data via OGC web services, WMS or WFS. In this phase of the project,
the harmonized data are presented as map layers in a web client or in the form of
web services.
9.3.1. Plan4all regions
The Plan4all project covered 15 European countries. The existing content for spatial
planning exists in all of these countries and the project demonstrated possibilities
for how this content could be standardised. The level of spatial data content is not
equal in all countries; in some, the content is well developed but in others, there is
still only content in development. From the 24 partners involved in the project, 17
data providers gave their spatial data for testing purposes, representing content
from a range of countries and regions.
In the course of the project lifetime, the Plan4all team was invited to participate in
the testing of the INSPIRE Annex II and III data specifications. Spatial planning is
multidisciplinary and reflects many INSPIRE themes from various fields. Because
it was not possible to cover all of them, the team chose main 3 themes for testing
INSPIRE data specifications:
• Land Cover
• Land Use
• Natural Risk Zones
The involvement of partners in the testing of the INSPIRE themes is indicated in
Figure 9.2
Regarding spatial planning, LandUse is one from the most important INSPIRE the-
mes. Most project partners are directly involved in urban or landscape planning, or
they deal with planning data. Therefore they paid particular attention to the Land
Use theme.
9.4. Pilot on land use
The pilot described below is only one example of Plan4all testing spectrum, but it
should give a good idea to readers about Plan4all interoperability and data harmo-
nisation processes. The pilot was elaborated for Land Use data from Sumperk and
Olomouc cities in the Czech Republic and it served as an example to other project
partners for understanding principles, methods and expected outputs of data har-
9.4.1. Data harmonisation
In the case of both Sumperk and Olomouc, the main input into the harmonisation
process was local planning data that the municipalities had published on the web.
The data was in SHP and raster formats, originated from DGN (graphic data) and
DOC (textual data) file formats. Although the data were the same formats, the data
structures (data models) as well as cartographical presentations of data were com-
pletely different and represented a perfect input for a data harmonisation example.
Prior to defining the transformation model for data harmonisation, it was necessary
to carry out a detailed description of the structure of the source data, including the
definition of individual attributes and of the range of values. The target data structure
(structure of harmonized data) was defined on the basis of the Plan4all Conceptual
Model for Land Use. As mentioned above, within the Plan4all project, Plan4all con-
ceptual models were tested as well as INSPIRE data specifications. However, the
testing of INSPIRE data specifications was not finished at the time that this book is
being prepared, so only the first test is described here. It was decided to use a Po-
Figure 9.2: Plan4all Data providers and covered INSPIRE schemes
stgreSQL/PostGIS database for Sumperk and Olomouc pilots.
The making of the transformation conditions proceeded in two sub-steps:
1. Firstly, the relations between source and target attributes were defined.
2. In the next step, relations between code lists of individual source and tar-
get data attributes were specified.
An example of the definition of relations between attributes in the transformation
model for spatial planning data of the town of Sumperk is shown in Figure 9.3 (a
part of transformation scheme):
The source data item (Kod_vyuz), refers to a source item, which is used for filling
in the most important attribute of the GeneralLandUseType harmonized database.
At the same time, in case a different transformation key is being used, this
Kod_vyuz item is used for filling in other target attributes (MacroClassificationO-
fLand and SpecificLandUseType). Items referring to optional attributes were filled
in on the basis of source data. Items in the target database refer to attributes that
have mostly a metadata character – the value is the same for all the database re-
cords, but does not exist in source data. These items were all filled in at the same
The second sub-step of the definition of transformation conditions was to define re-
lations between code lists of source and target data. The relations between indivi-
dual items can be simple, but they are sometimes very complicated. Figure 9.4
outlines complications with the definition of relevant relations between the source
and the target code lists.
Figure 9.3: Examples of the definition of relations between attributes in the transformation model
The attribute of the harmonized database is filled in with a value which is dependent
on the values of attributes of the source database, either solely on the “Develop-
ment Area Category” attribute in case it contains the value of P or Z, or also on the
“Land Use” attribute if the value of “Development Area Category” is K or is not filled
in. When the all transformation conditions were defined, the source data could finally
be harmonized. It was possible to provide the transformation process using ArcGIS
Model Builder, spatial data integrator Talend Studio, Humboldt harmonisation tools
or PostGIS. Each project partner chose his own solution for data harmonisation; in
the cases of Sumperk and Olomouc, the harmonisation process itself was carried
out on the basis of SQL queries.
9.4.2. Data publishing
Harmonized data was published in a web map application and in the form of WMS
and WFS web services. Help forest and Olomouc municipality, who are partners
responsible for Sumperk and Olomouc pilots, use a system called GeoHosting.
GeoHosting offers services that support the creation of a spatial data sharing sy-
stem with the possibility of publishing data for any user that has access to the in-
ternet. The system is based on open formats and is open for interaction with other
SDI platforms. The system is developed on the OpenSource platforms (MapServer,
GeoServer) and allows data and metadata publishing, usage of existing data sets
for data processing, integration of spatial data from different sources, data input to
user-defined structures and more. Some components of the GeoHosting system
were integrated into the general Plan4all portal.
For the Sumperk pilot, the harmonized data were published into layers of Plan Fea-
Figure 9.4 : An example of complex relations between items of source and target data
ture Status, General Land Use, Height Indications and Volume Indications using
GeoHosting. For the Olomouc pilot, the layers used were Plan Feature Status, Ge-
neral Land Use, Specific Land Use and Indirect Executions. Figure 9.5 presents a
comparison of the differences in source data from Sumperk and from Olomouc and
also a comparison of their harmonized outputs. Thanks to data harmonisation, data
that was originally different has an identical visual presentation style and may be
easily compared and analysed.
Sumperk source data
Olomouc source data
Olomouc Harmonised Data (GeneralLandUse)Sumperk Harmonised Data (GeneralLandUse)
Once published, data can be discovered easily through a metadata catalogue and
can be displayed or added into various thematic or general maps. Figure 9.6 pre-
sents a Land Use thematic map composed strictly from web services WMS. There
are currently WMS’s of Sumperk Land Use, Olomouc Land Use and the referential
WMS Topography layer. The services are grouped in a Geohosting project and
stored on the Plan4all general portal. In Geohosting, it is possible to add any WMS
or WFS layers or internal data (e.g. SHP). The whole project can be easily published
in a web map application or in a new web service, which means that all included
web services are grouped into one new service. All the functionality is available on
the Plan4all portal (Figure 9.6).
Figure 9.5: A comparison of harmonized data from selected regions
Sumperk Harmonised Data (FeatureStatus) Olomouc Harmonised Data (FeatureStatus)
Figure 9.6: Integration of different web
services on the Plan4all portal
9.4. Plan4all data harmonisation experience and reflection
The Plan4all project tried to implement INSPIRE principles in spatial planning prac-
tice, or at least, to demonstrate a potential method for implementation. Spatial in-
formation services allow users to identify and access spatial or geographical
information from a wide range of sources, from the local level to the global level, in
an interoperable and interactive way for a variety of uses. Nevertheless, a range of
such services is still limited and sometimes is totally missing. Improvement of this
situation undoubtedly requires better data harmonisation and interoperability bet-
ween spatial planning systems.
The present experiences with the spatial data harmonisation process within Plan4all
testing may be summarized into several recommendations:
• To better understand source-target relations, a precise definition of the
source data should be created and described. There does not exist any fixed
standard for planning data in many countries and the definition should help
to harmonise different data in the same way.
• Exact specification of code lists and enumerations with an explanation of
terms is highly valued. The same values may imply different meanings to
people from different countries and consequently, harmonised datasets may
be technically correct, but are not correct in reality. This is not a problem of
the data model, but a consequence of differences in spatial planning in Eu-
ropean countries.
• Multiplicity of harmonised attributes is a problem. It is better to avoid this
situation and to appropriately modify the data sources
• It is necessary to keep models, schemes and tables as simple as possi-
• The precise specification of metadat