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ARE3NA Re3ference Platform

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The Re3ference Platform is an information system that is being developed to help those public administrations responsible for providing INSPIRE data, metadata and services to implement the Directive and for those interested in reusing the approach in other sectors to see how INSPIRE works in practice.

This page helps to share information about interim outputs from the work and details about progress and future plans.


EIF interoperability level

INSPIRE Component

MIG activities

  • Legal
  • Organisational
  • Semantic
  • Technical
 All INSPIRE components

General support to implementation and using INSPIRE


The Re3ference Platform’s aim is to make the implementation of INSPIRE easier. After years of implementation undertaken by the Member States, the INSPIRE team with the help of the MIG and the recently set up Thematic Cluster tool, have discovered weak points in the INSPIRE implementation that need to be clarified and better shared in order to make of INSPIRE a successful project by reusing its outcomes.

The challenges faced are closely related to interoperability issues and the Re3ference Platform aims to support the creation of common approaches to reduce barriers. It also acts as a reference point for describing hte interoperability characteristics of INSPIRE, so that key components and outputs of the infrastructure can be understood and potentially reused in other sectors beyond the environment. It also fills an important gap, by providing community-driven examples of implementations that fulfill the requirements of the Directive (daughter legisaltion and technical guidelines), thus acting as a technical, organisational and even legal interoperability solution. The platform provides a series of inventories about useful material related to technical aspects of  implementation and a means to compare, learn and share details about interoperability solutions through interactive workflows.


The platform is divided into two main sections, a series of inventories and workflows (alongside more general details on plans and progress), outlined below.


The inventories


ARE3NA gathered evidence about software tools and existing platforms that can help exchange geospatial data and, more importantly help implement INSPIRE. This included a survey which captured details about these tools. Evidence for this topic includes:

Missing items

The initial survey and ongoing consultation with stakeholders identified 'missing items' from the full functioning of the data infreastructure. This included examples of updates to existing software and what new tools could be needed to aid implementation or the use of INSPIRE in other sectors. Several of the examples identified have been addressed by ARE3NA and the concept in the platform involves creating a reference list of new developments that can be shared with INSPIRE implementers, solution providers and those interested in developing similar resources.

Work is currently exploring instances where there could be joint developments of solutions and how the platform could present this reference material.

  • Missing item inventory v1 (coming soon)


As well as the survey, a number of projects, particularly at the European level, have been creating reusable solutions that can aid INSPIRE implementation and reuse. This inventory will help to identify tool creation and use in particular contexts, including the public administrations involved in these projects. There will also be the opportunity to register new projects looking for synergies with partners across borders.

  • Project inventory v1 (coming soon)

Case studies

The implementation of INSPIRE has often involved exploring how the requirements of the Directive can also lead to benefits in Member States. the creation of the case studies allows non-technical information about such developments to be shared as good practices for other INSPIRE organisations or other sectors to readily understand, or even follow.

  • Case study template
  • Example case studies: 1 (coming soon)

Mobile Apps and Applications

Following early work in ARE3NA on the state-of-play of mobile app development in the European geology sector, it was clear that the Platform could provide a means to register the development of mobile apps and applications that are driven by INSPIRE and other Spatial Data Infrastructures. Alongside the Case studies, the Apps inventory shows the benefits of deploying SDIs and the sort of application areas that they can support, across a range of sectors, including beyond the environment, such as the cultural heritage mobile app based on INSPIRE data themes. This inventory also marks an extension point for the platform to explore how INSPIRE data, services and metadata can be used.

  • Apps inventory v1 (coming soon)


As well as technical documentation, the work has involved exploring how videos could be associated with technical solutions or implementation tasks. Some examples are shared through the platform but the further development of this work will need to be in response of staekholder demand.


The platform will be hosting different contents grouped in different sections as the liveturorial and e3xposition. The livetutorial section, will gather true INSPIRE implementations examples described step by step and shared in common way so that whoever interested can know of it and get the part(s) of the workflow of its interest. The e3xpo section, will gather different types of materials as videos, tools, uses cases that will allow to better understand and choose the most appropriate tools to implement INSPIRE. Both e sections will be cross-referenced and bound by an agreed common vocabulary to reduce misinterpretation.

  • Videos inventory v1 (coming soon)


The Live3tutorial workflows

The Vocabulary of Tasks

Alongside the inventories which provide specific details in certain areas, the concept of the Re3ference Platform is to help implementers understand their implementation tasks in a consistent and readily referenced way. This is done by creating a common 'vocabulary' for all the tasks that the Directive and other INSPIRE documentation requires. The vocabulary has been structured in a generic workflow that follow the main tasks INSPIRE:

  • For all organisations
    • identify spatial data sets in scope of the Directive
    • share spatial data sets, including harmonised versions according to the specifications of the data themes
    • provide and operate discovery service and related metadata for the datasets
  • For mainly national level actors
    • monitor and report on the implementation and use of INSPIRE
    • coordination of implementers

The vocabulary goes into different levels of detail, allow other information relevant to implementation to be readily referenced and a collection of interoperability solutions to be created with a specific (and at times legally-based) need. In addition, to help the reuse of INSPIRE, a vocabulary of INSPIRE assets has been defined, including actual outputs of the infrastructure (such as the types of data services INSPIRE provides) and potentially reusable interoperabilty assets (such as the codelists hosted in the INSPIRE Registry).

  • V1.1 of the Vocabulary (coming soon)

The workflows

The generic set of tasks outlined by the vocabulary can be seen as a backbone that other information may be related to. They also provide a means to capture information about how organisations are approaching different groups of tasks, which we have seen as steps in 'implementation workflows'. By sharing these comparable examples through the platform (as work on different aspects of INSPIRE progresses) 'live tutorials' are created that other organisations can explore and compare to their approaches and organisational setting. A key link that the implementations make are to the tools and other solutions that have been used, helping to support technical interoperability and potentially the identification of other 'missing items'.

Below are some of the outputs of this work that could be reused in other solutions

Progress and plans

Details about the progress of this work can be found in the platform's roadmap in JoinUp.


The technical development of the platform in Drupal is taking place at the JRC. We are adopting a Living Lab approach to the creation of the platform to show progress with stakeholders and get early feedback about features. Details of this approach were presented at the 2015 eChallenges Conference.


Plans are now in place to expand the current development of the platform to capture more examples of how INSPIRE can and is being used/reused in other sectors including and beyond the environment.

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