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Recommendation 16

Recommendation 16: Facilitate the use of public administrations’ location data by non-governmental actors to stimulate innovation in products and services and enable job creation and growth

Implementation guidance Related information



  • These actions help improve the sharing and reuse of location data to help build the data economy.
  • Public sector data is a valuable asset on which added value products and services can be built.
  • Governments are increasingly open to sharing their data but there are still too many restrictions in discovering the right data and accessing this data easily.
  • There are inconsistent models in data licensing across European public administrations.
  • There are proven studies in the contribution of government open data to growth, with geographic datasets being cited as some of the more important data.




Core reference data

  • Take a strategic approach to funding public sector location reference data (i.e. data that acts as a spatial reference to other data) alongside the funding of other important public sector authentic datasets, e.g. citizens, businesses, property ownership, including consideration of innovative funding models, to promote the widest possible benefit from such investment.

Data policy enablers

  • Actively promote the availability of location data and web services to companies, research institutions, citizens and other interested parties.
  • Make the process of searching, finding and accessing these data and web services as easy as possible, through for example:
    • Creating data portals merging location data and non-location data, so data needs can be satisfied in one search;
    • Creating an API marketplace as a facilitator for reuse of location data by non-governmental actors;
    • Using standardised metadata for describing location and non-location data;
    • Consider broad potential uses of the data beyond the primary users, when describing the data resource and specifying metadata;
    • Complementing general search facilities with “specialist” search, e.g. thematic portals, extended metadata, to cater for more specialist needs;
    • Simplified and consistent data licensing using standard government-wide terms and conditions for re-use of data and services, both spatial and non-spatial, based on generally used approaches, e.g. Creative Commons;
    • Clearly defined licensing for access to data that has been derived from third party sources (often a sticking point in access to thematic location data which is linked to authentic reference location data);
    • ‘Open data by default’ or ‘maximised access to open data’ if not the default, with access to public sector data free at point of use and without any reuse restrictions or conditions;
    • Free ‘evaluation licences’ for public sector data that is ultimately chargeable;
    • ‘Freemium’ licensing models to distinguish between free and non-free access to datasets, giving free access to, for example, lower resolution datasets, and chargeable access to higher resolution datasets.

Support to innovation and growth

  • Public administrations actively support private, non-profit and academic actors in the development of new products and e-services through, for example:
    • Establishing ‘innovation labs’ or ‘innovation hubs’ to foster new business developments using public sector data;
    • Promoting open data policy in government and brokering access to this data through hackathons, open challenges to government;
    • Incorporating non-government actors in the governance framework for public sector data, so that their demands and views are heard;
    • Setting up testbeds, as a means to provide different types of user access to services, tools and applications that still are under development. Testbeds make it possible to experiment with new technologies and to test and validate these new technologies in a ‘safe and controlled’ environment. An important benefit of testbeds to private companies is that they make it possible to take into account these new technologies in developing their own products and services;
    • Setting up pilot projects, in which different stakeholders (public organisations, companies, researchers, etc.) collaborate in exploring, developing, testing and implementing new technological developments. The goal of such projects is to share existing knowledge, ideas and experiences on new technological developments, to stimulate people to further experiment with these new developments and to determine an integrated approach;
    • Providing companies and other non-governmental actors the opportunity to add their data and services to the public sector (spatial) data infrastructure, where they are compliant and relevant, providing a wider audience for their products and services;
    • Establishing digital ‘geospatial’ platforms through which a community of data providers, consumers and partners is actively engaged in the sharing, enhancing and using of location data and value is created for all partners in the ecosystem;
    • Investing in data sharing initiatives through public-private partnerships, which provide incentives for both public and private organisations;
    • Taking into account the needs and requirements of businesses, research institutions and other (potential) users in the further development and implementation of INSPIRE/SDI. This means also non-governmental actors and organisations are invited to participate in user requirements analyses and in defining and describing use cases;
    • Demonstrating best practice examples of how private companies, citizens, academic institutions and other users make use of INSPIRE/SDI data and services to provide new or improved products and services. This can be linked to an award competition focusing on the best practices;
    • Providing training in the skills needed to exploit public sector location data, use it in developing digital government solutions, and in creating new commercial products and services.
  • Public administrations take specific action to facilitate companies from other countries wishing to establish operations or do business in their country, for example by:
    • Non-restrictive tender qualifications;
    • Working with other countries on shared information sources for new businesses (see EULF Best Practice 12);
    • Reducing red tape in registration of new businesses;
    • An inclusive approach on promotion of innovation;
    • Supporting the appointment of multi-national consortia on government funded projects to obtain the right skills;
    • Supporting multiple languages where appropriate in relevant documentation and services.

Involve external stakeholders in decision making

  • The external stakeholders themselves are best placed to determine their needs and priorities in terms of collaboration with and support from public administrations. Their views should be consulted to determine relevant actions, particularly when public administrations are involved in collaboration with external parties rather straightforward customer-supplier relationships. This involvement can be through ad hoc surveys, consultations and studies or through more systematic involvement in governance mechanisms. As an example, a recent study carried out by Geospatial Media for the ELISE action examined the opportunities and challenges of collaboration for geospatial services. This included a series a series of structured interviews with 14 geospatial industry organisations to obtain their views on the impact for them of the Open Data Directive and the European Data Strategy. The main findings are summarised below.
Geospatial industry views on the Open Data Directive and European Data Strategy


  • Access to data not previously available for free to private companies
  • Fewest restrictions in use of the data
  • Usable formats with relevant documentation (e.g. concepts, fields, values)
  • Trusted regulatory framework for integration of public and private data
  • Open services for integration of data into information products
  • Mandatory use of open location data for specified purposes
  • Measurement of return on investment and concrete examples to develop behavioural change and raise awareness


  • Enhancing the open data ecosystem through identification of new data sources and development of new products
  • Collaboration through innovative business models
  • Platform services for sharing open data through open catalogues
  • Expertise in standardising data formats
  • Alignment of solutions to meet government needs
  • Bringing out solutions based on public datasets and making them accessible to broader communities
  • Expertise in analytics involving diverse data to improve decision making and reduce inefficiencies


  • Data harmonisation will enable new services and value-added products and applications, leading to increased efficiency and economic development
  • New insights involving situational and causal analysis possible to solve business and societal challenges through increased collaboration and quality and consistency of data
  • More robust, accurate and responsive AI models through Increased access to diverse data
  • Cost savings through reuse of public data
  • Increased revenue through services or solutions transforming raw data into actionable insights


  • Heterogeneity of data in terms of format, structure, granularity and frequency of update hinders re-use.
  • Security risks associated with decentralised data management
  • Slow, inefficient and bureaucratic operations of many public sector entities
  • Need for more streamlined data acquisition processes
  • Lack of involvement of private sector in governance of integrated data sharing initiatives
  • Trusted legal and regulatory framework required to deal with liabilities in data aggregation, data ownership conflicts, monetisation and reuse across sectors and borders, ensure fair competition for all players, and limit the use of regional specifications when there are recognised international standards
  • Erosion of private sector ‘data as a service’ profit margins


  • Showcase value of data to encourage sharing, through innovative uses cases, hackathons and data exchange spaces for public and private entities
  • Provide legal guidance and tools to contributors and enablers to help with data sharing, e.g. contact guidance document for use when drafting contracts involving AI and data
  • Ensure private sector revenues are protected in co-innovation models, e.g. subsidies, incentives
  • Direct incentives to public entities for sharing data, including necessary funding models
  • Tax and procurement incentives for companies complying with standard requirements
  • Data sharing frameworks aimed at promoting trust and protecting small players
  • Rigorous assurance of data quality and ethical oversight across data sharing community, including feedback from data users
  • External review board to address legal ambiguities and ethical issues
  • Fit for purpose governance, technical infrastructure and processes for data distribution
  • Encourage shared data ownership through data trusts, community co-ops etc.
  • Investment in digital skills with collective engagement of all stakeholders

Source: Geospatial Media, 2021 (adaptation)



  • Businesses or citizens may not be aware of the possibilities that access to government location data may offer or have the capabilities to exploit the improved availability of this data. In accessing data, potential users may firstly have difficulties in finding the appropriate catalogue. Secondly, when they do find the catalogue, it may be difficult for them to find the right dataset for their needs, even though it appears in the catalogue. This is because data publishers may fail to provide good search parameters for their data or the catalogues may not have good quality search algorithms.
  • Access to ‘high value’ location datasets, capable of supporting the broadest opportunities, may be more limited than access to other datasets.
  • Access to public location data may be subject to ‘unavoidable’ restrictions, e.g. existing commercial arrangements with suppliers, personal privacy concerns associated with the data.
  • Although the benefits of high value open government data may be recognised, the cost of making such data available free of charge whilst maintaining data quality may be restrictive.
  • Providing open access to high value government data may compromise the commercial position of certain players in the market.
  • Free data still needs to be funded. If funding levels drop due to reduction or removal of income from licensing of data or data services, then quality may be compromised as a result.
  • Different countries may have significant investments in different data standards, making harmonisation difficult to justify, even with the impetus of INSPIRE.
  • Sharing technology and data does not necessarily create business value and growth. There needs to be relevant business and commercial acumen and innovation to build the new data businesses of the future.
  • The broadest capabilities come from existing players in the market who can afford to pay for their data.
  • Product cycles are increasingly short and governments are too slow moving to match this pace of change.
  • Governments may want to develop data services that are more appropriately placed in the private sector.
  • The wider business environment, including wider government policy, may inhibit business growth, regardless of actions taken to provide access to data. This includes, for example, the tax regime, availability of capital, employment policy, policies on establishment of businesses from other countries etc.


Best Practices


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LIFO Monitoring

The Location Information Framework Observatory (LIFO) monitors the implementation of EULF Blueprint recommendations in European countries. Read about the implementation of Recommendation 16 in the LIFO Country Factsheets or the LIFO European State of Play Report. Explore the results for selected countries at LIFO Interactive Dashboards - Recommendations.


Related Frameworks: European Interoperability Framework (EIF)

EIF Pillars Recommendations
Underlying Principle 2: Openness Recommendation 2: Publish the data you own as open data unless certain restrictions apply.
Underlying Principle 6: User centricity Recommendation 11: Provide a single point of contact in order to hide internal administrative complexity and facilitate users' access to European public services.
Basic Component 3: Base registries Recommendation 37: Make authoritative sources of information available to others while implementing access and control mechanisms to ensure security and privacy in accordance with the relevant legislation.
Basic Component 3: Base registries Recommendation 38: Develop interfaces with base registries and authoritative sources of information, publish the semantic and technical means and documentation needed for others to connect and reuse available information.
Basic Component 4: Open data Recommendation 41: Establish procedures and processes to integrate the opening of data in your common business processes, working routines, and in the development of new information systems.


Related Frameworks: UN-GGIM Integrated Geospatial Information Framework (IGIF)

Strategic Pathway 2: Policy and Legal

Documentation Elements

Implementation Guide


Data Protection, Licensing and Sharing

Actions Tools
3. Addressing Opportunities  
Design and Develop

APP2.7: Policy and Legal Instruments - Advantages and Disadvantages

APP2.8: Assessing Fitness for Purpose for a Policy

Guidance and recommended actions aligned with Strategic Pathway 2: Policy and Legal

Data Sharing and Dissemination  
Licensing Geospatial Information Compendium on Licensing of Geospatial Information

Strategic Pathway 5: Innovation

Documentation Elements

Implementation Guide


Innovation and Creativity

Process Improvement

Bridging the Geospatial Digital Divide

Actions Tools
5. Operationalising Innovation  
National Innovation System  
Innovation Programmes APP5.10: Pillars of an Innovation Programme
Innovation Hubs  
6. Innovation Ecosystem  
Bridging the Digital Divide APP5.12: Open SDG Data Hubs


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ELISE Resources

Type Resource Date
Study Assessment of economic opportunities and barriers related to geospatial data in the context of the Digital Single Market 2018
Study Digital Platform for Public Services 2018
Study Establishment of Sustainable Data Ecosystems 2021
Study Study on opportunities and Challenges for Collaboration in Geospatial Services 2021
Webinar Location enabled public services 2020
Webinar Data driven methodology for electricity characterisation of districts 2021
Workshop INSPIRE Online Conference: Co-innovation with public-private sector data ecosystems 2020


Further Reading


Version: EULF Blueprint v5.1