Home Articles PPP in SDI: Of strengths and gaps in Germany

PPP in SDI: Of strengths and gaps in Germany

Dipl.-Ing.Heinz Brüggemann
Cologne District Government – GEObasis.nrw, Bonn,
[email protected]

In May 2008, the company MICUS presented a new GI market study, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry on Economics and Technology, with the title "Prospects for business models of German companies in the European and global geo-information market" (Fornefeld et al, 2008). A comparison of the estimated German market volumes of the years 2000 and 2007 (Figure 1) showed a significant growth of private-sector market: "Content-based growth only took place in the private sector of the geo-information market. Conversely, the geo-information market on the basis of public sector information remained at or developed below the status-quo scenario." (Fornefeld et al, 2008, p. 7). The de-regulation scenario developed in 2003 and shown in figure 2 was created under the following assumptions:
  • Unhindered access to public sector information,
  • access,
  • Simplification of user rights,
  • Appropriate pricing.

The conclusion of the study is: Deregulation of the German GI market has not taken place in an appropriate manner and that the public sector information market has stagnated.

In the following, the author tries to give an overview on the current situation from a public sector point of view and describes the initiatives to come to a better cooperation of the public and private sectors in the field of geoinformation.

Deutschland-Online Geo-Data
Deutschland-Online Geo-Data has been started as part of the German eGovernment initiative Deutschland-Online in 2003. Members of Deutschland-Online Geo-Data are representatives from ministries, mapping agencies, communities and SDI initiatives. Private companies are invited to take part on project basis. All Deutschland-Online Geo-Data projects have to use the German SDI rules and standards, which are defined by the German SDI initiative GDI-DE. Realised projects:

  • Deutschland-Viewer offering viewing access to official maps and ortho-photos
  • Gazetteer Service based on German house coordinates and addresses
  • Xplanung, a service providing local and regional planning maps
  • VBORIS, a service providing standard land values to the public and to value adding private companies
  • Automatic derivation of German standard maps for Germany from ATKIS

GDI-DE, GIW Commission
GDI-DE stands for "Geodateninfrastruktur Deutschland" (Geo-Data Infrastructure Germany). It is the common initiative of the German federal government, the Länder, and the local communities to set up an SDI for Germany. At present, the main task of GDI-DE is to implement INSPIRE for Germany. The GDI-DE office is the central contact point in Germany for all questions around the INSPIRE realisation. Besides GDI-DE, the GIW Commission representing the private economy is involved in the realisation of an SDI in Germany (GIW is the abbrevitation for Geoinformationswirtschaft.). Under the umbrella of the Federal Ministry on Economics and Technology, the trade associations concerned with Geo-Information represent their interests in re-using public geodata and develop solutions. A good example is the portal named GisInfoService, the industry association for geo raw material has developed combining different data sources from public institutions like Geological Surveys and NMAs with private data, which the Länder offices of the association provide to their users. Besides this, the GIW Commission has developed a specimen of a licence agreement for the use of public data by private companies, in cooperation with the German mapping agencies.

Private Use of Public Data – Principles

Legal situation
Currently the INSPIRE directive is being implemented on Länder level, after implementation on the federal level last year. In principle, the regulations of the directive are fully implemented in the different acts.

The Public Sector Information (PSI) Directive of the EU has been split into two different Acts at the national level. Whereas the Freedom of Information Act (IFG) defines the rules for accessing public information by everybody, the Act on Re-Utilisation of Public Information (IWG) specifies the conditions, how private companies can make use of public data for their businesses.

The special field of environmental information is ruled by the German Environment Information Act, which is the national implementation of the respective EU Directive on Public Access to Environmental Information.

The EU Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communication has (stricter) national implementations on federal and Länder levels. In Germany, data privacy is a basic right (right on informational self-determination) defined in Länder constitutions affecting GI too. At the moment it is discussed, whether aerial photographs of high resolution (less than 40 cm) fulfill the criteria of being protected against free access.

The different survey and mapping Acts of the Länder give concrete rules for processing and providing geo-data. In general, access is for everybody on payment for the data or the service. Re-use by private companies is supported based on licence contracts. The private sector criticises the fees and licensing regime.

AAA standard
The German surveying and mapping authorities (AdV) have developed a common standard for geodetic reference data (AFIS), for topographic mapping (ATKIS) and for cadastre data (ALKIS), called AAA. It is published as GeoInfoDoc and available on www.adv-online.de. Based on a common data model, an application schema is described using UML consisting of a basic schema and a semantic schema. The basic schema can be used as basis for application-oriented information systems. For the AAA application schema, an external interface is defined called NAS (standard-based exchange format). The relationships are shown in figure 4. AAA standards are embedded in ISO and OGC standards.

Part of the AAA standard is a proposal how to connect application schemata to the AAA basic schema. This allows public or private users to assign their geo-data to AAA data in a consistent manner.

Use Of Public Data – Solutions
Solutions following the AAA proposal are based on the 3-level structure of the GeoInfoDoc consisting of
  • AAA modelling framework,
  • AAA basis schema,
  • AAA application schema.

The connection principles are shown in figure 4, which can be used for the modelling of application information systems on different levels of integration. A very poor connection is given by A, whereas a full integration using the AAA application schema is shown as E.

This approach could overcome some technical problems of re-using public geo-data by private companies. AdV is prepared to start new discussions, and Deutschland- Online Geo-Data is a good place for developing and testing demonstrating projects as part of the general German eGovernment initiative.