The Development of a Trans-national Academic SDI:
Experiences, Realisations and Perspectives
M. Barea1, P. Carrara2, J. Guimet3, N. Koukourouvli4,
V. Pascual3, M. Pepe2, M. Redondo5, D. Simos4, M. Vaitis4
1Dirección General de Carreteras, Andalusia, Spain
2IREA-CNR, Milan, Italy
3ICC, Barcelona, Spain
4University of the Aegean, Mytilene, Greece
5General Secretariat of Land Management and Urbanism, Andalusia, Spain
Universities and Research Centers are often in charge of research projects regarding territories of limited extent. Because of their restricted spatial scope, these projects investigate their study area thoroughly, examining many different aspects, thus obtaining precious results having a high economic and technical value. Their results are mainly in digital form: geo-referenced documents (such as maps and images), or textual, graphic and multimedia documents with a well identified geographic reference (i.e., reports, theses, books, presentations, etc.). Unfortunately, these investigations and their products are seldom known outside a small academic community, in spite of their importance for a wide users' arena.
The aim of the IDE-Univers1 project, partially funded by the European Union2, is to create a geo-information space on the Internet, aiming at integrating knowledge about small territories, produced by academic institutions in the Mediterranean. It capitalizes on contemporary technological advances in the field of SDI (i.e., geographic metadata standards, catalogue and geographic services), in order to support the discovery and exchange of spatial information derived from research activities.
The project is co-ordinated by Generalitat de Catalunya, with the support of Instituto de Cartografía de Catalunya (Spain). Technical Partners (TP), who are in charge of supporting data-providing institutions (the so called User Entities - UE), are: IREA3 of the National Research Council in Italy, the Department of Geography of the University of the Aegean in Greece, and the Instituto de Cartografía de Andalucía in Spain. Each TP coordinates a number of UE (University Departments/Labs and Research Centres), which have agreed to provide and share part of their geo-information. Region Emilia-Romagna, in Italy, represents the interest of public administration in the project’s results, in order to improve urban and environmental management. The project started in September, 2006, and finished in March, 2008.
The aim of this paper is to discuss the outcomes of the project in various dimensions (technological, operational, and strategic) today, three years after its completion.
In the technological dimension, there were a number of significant contributions. With the substantial support of ICC, software tools were developed or customized (multilingual metadata editor, multilingual web map viewer, and catalogue connector) in order to facilitate all phases during the development of the first, to our knowledge, trans-national SDI for academic institutions in Europe. In the paper, the technological aspects of the project are fully described.
In the operational dimension, there was a successful know-how transfer from ICC (the responsible institution of the Catalonian SDI) to the TP of the project (and to the UE, subsequently), who have no previous experience on the procedures needed for the establishment and maintenance of an SDI. Also, a novel evaluation methodology was introduced, focusing both on technological tests (capacity, availability and performance) and cost/effective assessment, for all parts of the SDI architecture (catalogues, web map viewers, geo-portals). In the paper, the above issues are discussed in detail.
In the strategic dimension, the long term objective of the project to create a Mediterranean-wide academic SDI is partially fulfilled. Although 57 UE have participated and developed 10632 metadata records and 6787 geographic services (using project funding), only few of them are still maintaining them (with own funds). Additionally, no new UE have participated after the completion of the project. However, all of the TP and UE are now well-aware of the importance of SDI,
geoservices, catalogues, etc. and many of them have started new initiatives, based on the very fruitful experience they gained during the project. In the paper, the reasons of this situation are investigated.
Despite the weaknesses, the authors believe that the objective of developing an SDI for academic research results is still valid, in accordance with the INSPIRE directive and the argument that regional/thematic SDIs facilitate the dissemination and exchange of knowledge, essential for regional development. In the paper, the future perspectives of the project are presented.
1 Infrastructure de données spatiales entre Universités et Centres de Recherce dans la Méditerranée Occidentale, www.ideunivers.eu
2 INTERREG IIIB MEDOCC Initiative Programme, Measure 3.4.
3 Istituto per il Rilevamento Elettromagnetico dell’Ambiente