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The importance of Spatial Data has been steadily increasing in the past decade. This trend is even clearer for small and medium organizations and enterprises. Whereas classic GIS was related mostly to Defense, Environment Protection and Government, Spatial Information is used on a regular base by a large number of actors of all sizes and sectors.
The need of those actors to exchange data with the external world by the means of standardized formats and data specifications, fits particularly well with the aims of the INSPIRE initiative.
The development of an easy to setup solutions at fair cost can accelerate the adoption of the INSPIRE specifications dramatically, bringing to the SME a large number of benefits.
The FreeGIS.net project, started as a Interreg Italy-Switzerland project by the Italian company R3 GIS, the technological Park of the Province of Bolzano (TIS), the Province of Bolzano (Italy) and the Kanton Graubünden in Switzerland. It’s aim was to devlop a platform based on best of breed open source software packages for creating INSPIRE compliant web services. A particular attention was given to multilingual aspects, since South Tyrol and Kanton Graubünden are both multilingual areas.
A well defined and standardized setup lowers the investments needed to create INPIRE web services and brings INSPIRE to organizations, which would otherwise be excluded from the INSPIRE initiative, for financial or for technical reasons. Also, the ability to consume INSPIRE services in a standardized way and to easily merge them with own datasets using INSPIRE and OGC standards, will give SMEs access to geographic data all over Europe, lowering costs and difficulties related to obtaining data from different organizations. FreeGIS.net is an example on how a small enterprise can create business opportunities by investing on the deployment of INSPIRE-compliant technologies.