The OKF has been very actively involved in the publicgeodata’s campaign on the INSPIRE directive. Now that it appears compromise between all of the parties — the European Commission, Council and Parliament — has been reached it is natural to ask ourselves both: Where next? and How did we do?

Where Next

The immediate point to make here is that on the issues we care about that the compromise allows for national law makers to exercise a lot of discretion on how they implement the Directive. From our point of view this means there’s plenty to fight for at the national level as INSPIRE will need to be ‘transposed’ into each national law. Any optionality is another chance to obtain more ‘open’ legislation as well as an opportunity to make the case for the social and commercial benefits of open geodata.

How Did We Do

All in all I think the campaign has been a tremendous success. Ok, so we didn’t manage to achieve a total u-turn in European geodata policy but

(a) We can do that next time :)

(b) Though not perfect, INSPIRE is an improvement over the status quo (non-open/unfree geodata is currently the norm across Europe)

What we did achieve with a campaign that was zero-budget, entirely dependent on spare bits volunteers’ time, and only started when the directive was already at second reading was:

  1. A petition that was signed by over 7000 citizens from across the EU

  2. Letters to MEPs and national ministries making the case for open geodata along with personal contact with many of the parties involved (MEPs, civil servants etc). This will stand us in good stead in the future and likely had some impact on the compromise that was eventually reached.

  3. The dissemination and analysis of a large amount of information about what was happening (particular credit to you here Benjamin Henrion)

  4. Link ups with other campaiging groups such as the UK’s freeourdata

So, all in all, I think there plenty to be proud of which should give us heart as we prepare ourselves to take the campaign on to the national level.

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Rufus Pollock is Founder and President of Open Knowledge.