What the IDEC is

Concept, functions and components of the Spatial Data Infrastructure of Catalonia

What the IDEC is?

The IDEC is an initiative created in 2002 to develop and maintain a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) in the territory of Catalonia.

This infrastructure is aimed to facilitate and improve the access to available geographic information and services by offering the users tools for searching, discovering, analysing and downloading these resources through the Internet, for their subsequent use and exploitation.

The project is made possible thanks to the active and collaborative participation of different type of stakeholders: geographic (or spatial) information producers and providers, and the own users.

The IDEC Geoportal is the website where this initiative and its objectives are described, through which users are able to access the different services offered.

Over what content it operates on?

  • Geographic datasets, often being structured and in digital format.
  • Services associated to them – namely geoservices, dedicated to visualize, download and/or reuse the data. They operate and are accessible through the Web.

What is it useful for?

Mission or Main function – Facilitate the access to geographic data

The primary and main objective of an SDI is to act as an intermediary stakeholder between geographic information producers and/or providers and the end users of this information. It provides suited means and mechanisms to allow them to find the data they are looking for by searching easily over the available geographic datasets and services inventory, analysing their basic characteristics and use the, if applicable.

Such an inventory is usually known as Metadata Catalogue. It is one of the fundamental components of an SDI. Each of the registries in this inventory is called Metadata, constituting a formal and standardized description of a geographic datasets or service.

Chart that shows the main functions and components of the IDEC, as a public service that makes available the data produced and distributed in Catalonia

The figure above illustrates the role of the IDEC as intermediary stakeholder between data producers and/or providers and the users, as mentioned previously:

  • Users access the IDEC Metadata Catalogue through the IDEC Geoportal, where they are able to describe a description of what they are interested in, by typing a number of searching parameters using the tools provided by the infrastructure.
  • Internally, the discovery service compares these parameters with each of the registries available in the catalogue – the metadata registries – and prepares a list of results based on any matching found.
  • The catalogue offers the list of results to the user. Each result or element in the list is accompanied by a number of descriptive details, which allow the user to analyse and evaluate if the geographic information resource may be useful for them.
  • In case any of the results if of interest of the user, the catalogue provides the necessary mechanisms and information to allow them accessing the geographic dataset or service being described, downloading and using it appropriately afterwards.

Other functions – Interoperability, data sharing and reutilization

In practice, an SDI may be understood as the set of technologies, policies, standards, services and human resources which allow making geographic information accessible in an ordered effective and efficient way.

In order to make this possible, the IDEC carries out other functions which are crucial for achieving its main mission (mentioned before), such as:

  • Planning and design of new datasets.
  • Gathering and inventory of existing data, including the registry of its properties.
  • Documenting datasets by means of metadata registries, technical specifications and/or other representation forms describing them formally, but in an easy and suitable way, which allow users their utilization and final exploitation.
  • Manipulation of datasets, transforming them to different data models and/or distribution formats.
  • Implementation of data bases and geoservices, to distribute, make accessible and interact with the data.
  • Develop applications to utilize and exploit the data.

All these activities are encompassed in the objective of promoting the interoperability of geographic information.

Interoperable data means such datasets which are available in digital format, structured based on common criteria, agreed on and adopted by a well-defined community of producers and/or providers and users, so that: they could be shared and used jointly, by applying automatic or near-automatic processes, without implying high cost of adaptation and/or transformation of the original data, and guaranteeing the usefulness and usability of the data being combined.

Interoperability is the key aspect to promote reutilization of existing data and avoid duplicities. In order to achieve it is necessary to implement the geographic information standards in force, as well as comply with the legal framework which adopts them.

The INSPIRE Directive is probably the most paradigmatic example of processes to achieve interoperability, reutilization and no-duplication of geographic data. This Directive aims at developing a Spatial Data Infrastructure in the scope of the European Union, based on the infrastructures existing in the Members States, at different levels of administration – in which the IDEC actively participates among others.

The IDEC carries out all these functions through the Commission for Cartographic Coordination of Catalonia (C4), which acts as main body for the coordination and promotion of all these activities in Catalonia.

As a conclusion, the datasets and services reachable through an SDI shall be interoperable: this means being updated, documented (with metadata and technical specifications), structured and accessible in accordance to the standards and legal framework in force and applicable.

Which are the Components of the IDEC?

In order to achieve its mission, functions and objectives, the IDEC is outfitted with the following basic components:

Functionality and applications:

Data and resources accessible through the IDEC:

  • Geographic datasets and services for the visualizing, downloading and interacting with the data.

The IDEC Support Centre is working for improving these components as well as complete them in the future with other ones which help in reusing all these components and resources – E.g.: IDEC Registry, API for external developers, etc.

Who is involved?

Stakeholders involved in the IDEC initiative are data producers and data providers which serve their geographic datasets and services through the infrastructure, as well as the users that utilize and exploit them.

They belong to both, the public sector (at different levels of administration: national, regional and local ones) and the private sector, sourced from professional communities and companies or academia, and even the own citizens.

Who is managing it?

The IDEC Support Centre is the team and technical resources which make the creation, development and maintenance of this infrastructure possible.