Recommendation 18

Recommendation 18: Partner effectively to ensure the successful development and exploitation of spatial data infrastructures


  • The use and integration of location information in public sector processes requires the participation and cooperation of many different actors: not only governments at different levels and/or in different areas, but also private companies, non-profit and academic organisations can contribute to the integration of location information in certain processes, with the aim of providing better services to citizens and other parties
  • Agreements need to be formalised in an appropriate way and by relevant people for any partnership to be successful. Harmonisation of agreements across European borders facilitates collaboration and brings about cost and time savings
  • Even if one party is the central driving force for a location strategy or programme, successful outcomes often depend on multiple parties working together and such an arrangement will stand a better chance of success if these multiple parties have a say in what happens


  • The ground rules of cooperation need to be debated and agreed by the different participants and formalised in an appropriate way, signed by persons of responsibility in the cooperating organisations
  • Partnership agreements should be established as early as possible in cross government strategic data programmes, joint initiatives to develop location interoperability solutions, or where different public authorities are involved in the provision of location enabled digital public services. These may include considerations on:
    • Purpose
    • Scope
    • Outputs
    • Service Levels
    • Intellectual property rights
    • Data protection
    • Responsibilities
    • Funding
    • Personnel
    • Timetable
    • Governance
  • Public private partnerships are progressed to bring the best of both worlds in the implementation of digital public service location interoperability solutions and in the delivery of location enabled digital public services. These can be at a strategic level or in relation to specific projects or services. At a strategic level, partnerships may be established with industry bodies (e.g. groups representing the geospatial, surveying and land management, or insurance sectors) or with key industry players. For specific projects or services, the ‘partnerships’ may be associated with (long term) framework contracts to support public authorities in delivering ICT or digital public services
  • Multi-national partnerships are developed to progress common research interests or promote cross-border opportunities involving location data and services
  • Examples of different types of partnership agreements include:
    • Multilateral Collaboration Agreement
    • Bilateral Collaboration Agreement
    • Memorandum of Understanding
    • Implementing Agreement
    • Data Sharing Agreement
  • The following types of agreement involve more binding elements that can contribute to the partnership:
    • Legal Partnership Agreements
    • Framework Contracts
    • Service Contracts
    • Pre-commercial procurement for R&D services
    • Service Level Agreements
  • Building and maintaining a spatial data infrastructure requires concerted action and cooperation from a large number of organisations (maybe hundreds of public administrations) over a lengthy period of time (the INSPIRE implementation timetable spans 10 years – 2010 to 2020 – and the intended use of the infrastructure doesn’t stop there). Such and activity requires a “community” approach, both at a national level (to engage all the relevant organisations around a common purpose tailored to national needs) and EU-wide (to contribute to specifications, share experiences, collaborate on tools etc.). Such communities may also be relevant at a thematic level (e.g. the marine and transport sectors have active communities) and in relation to particular technologies, e.g. open source software development communities working on tools for data portals, metadata management etc.
  • Partnerships can be long term arrangements. The success of the partnership needs to be evaluated from time to time. Changes need to be introduced into the nature of the partnership, the membership, the priorities for action as needs change and to keep the partnership relevant and performing effectively
  • Partnerships can be set up to lobby government on particular (location) data issues, e.g. in order to get open access to public sector data, to lobby for data to be made available in particular ways


  • In establishing public private partnerships, public authorities have to be wary of giving unfair competitive advantage to particular industry players
  • Participants may be too focused on their own interests rather than the common good. In this case governments should act as regulators in the interest of the citizens
  • Lead times for getting agreements can be significant, particularly if many parties are involved. This can create inertia and potentially limit or counterbalance the goodwill engendered in initial discussions amongst the parties
  • Partnerships may reduce their effectiveness over time unless close attention is given to the operation of the partnership and whether it is effective in achieving the commonly agreed goals
  • Successful communities need constant fuelling in order to maintain interest and momentum. There is a risk that without this, they will not succeed
  • Sufficient funding and resource may not be available to maintain the partnership / community. There is a related risk of dependence on particular sponsors or other individuals who may move on to other things

Best Practices:

Further reading:

Nature of documentation: Technical report


Type of document
European Union Public License, Version 1.1 or later (EUPL) 
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