Survey on the situation and perspectives of the GI market in Europe

The economic situation that we aim to investigate in this study can be divided into the following partly overlapping "markets".

  • Solutions market: Solutions are applications and tools for users of spatial data. From our perspective the producers/vendors of such solutions are in the centre of focus, not the end users of data.
  • GIS market: This especially includes GIS hardware, software and other tools that are being used by data and solution providers to create their own information products.
  • Market for geo-data: Private and public providers of geo-data sell their data products, i.e. processed, quality-secured data according to the requested specifications of customers.

The term "GI market" in this study, therefore relates to the entirety of all the above mentioned markets: The solutions market where geographic data is being used, special systems for the processing of data and the market for geographically related information products itself.


Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) is a joint initiative of the European Commission and European Space Agency with the goal of achieving an autonomous and operational capability in the exploitation of geo-spatial information services.


The EU Directive INSPIRE has the purpose of establishing a European Spatial Data Infrastructure (ESDI). While GMES is about monitoring and collecting data on the environmental media, INSPIRE is about facilitating the access, sharing and use of this collected data for the purposes of community environmental policies and policies or activities which may have an impact on the environment.

The overall aim is to ensure that the available spatial data of public authorities across all administrative levels within the EU are easily detectable, approachable and usable across institutions and countries. This requires the harmonisation of national and local approaches to the provision of spatial data and data services. In relation to meta data, web services, interoperability of data and services as well as entry requirements INSPIRE provides various specifications based as far as possible on international standards (e.g. OGC/ISO).

Data Harmonisation

Creating the possibility to combine data from heterogeneous sources into integrated, consistent and unambiguous information products, in a way that is of no concern to the (end-)user.

Thank you very much for your interest! If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at survey@esdi-humboldt.eu.

1. The European GI market

CENTRAL QUESTION: "How do you perceive the general situation in the GI market?"

1.1 New developments and trends in the GI market

1.1.1 The interoperability of geo-data across various application areas and markets will increasingly gain in importance.
I agree   I rather agree   I rather don't agree   I don't agree  
1.1.2 Which important developments and trends do you expect in the market?
Private sector:
Public sector:
1.1.3 In which application areas will the interoperability of geo-data be of major importance?
1.1.4 The allocation of geo-data through the internet respectively web services will replace the conventional methods of data storage media and devices in the future.
Public data providers: until 2015   until 2020   never  
Private data providers: until 2015   until 2020   never  
1.1.5 In the future, geographic data providers will be forced to allocate more time, effort and resources in order to ensure the interoperability of data.
Yes   No  
1.1.6 In which areas will this effort be particularly high / the highest?
1.1.7 Will networked platforms for "Volunteered Geographic Information," like OpenStreetMaps for instance, be able to sustainably influence and shape the European GI market?
Yes   No  
Please explain the reasons for your foregoing answer:

1.2 Influence of the implementation of INSPIRE

If you do not possess basic knowledge on the European Directive INSPIRE and its implementation, please continue in section 1.3 of the questionnaire.

1.2.1 How do you estimate the necessity within Europe to harmonise geospatial data in relation to its content, quality and actuality?
In general:
very low   low   moderate   high   very high  
In your application area (please provide area):
very low   low   moderate   high   very high  
1.2.2 INSPIRE facilitates and simplifies the cross-country access, exchange and use of geospatial data within Europe. The benefits arising from the establishment of a spatial data infrastructure derive directly from harmonisation and/or interoperability. Upon which of the following, additional benefits do you agree (multiple answers possible)?
Reducing duplication of data collection costs (by accessing a single, harmonised data set)
Development of standardised fundamental core spatial databases, from which new products and services can be developed more cheaply and more quickly.
Enabling easier discovery of datasets via use of standardised metadata and publication of such metadata via electronic means (web catalogue services).
Better, cross-departmental co-ordination of spatial data collection and publishing regimes, due to the availability of harmonised datasets.
Faster access to spatial data (especially with Web-based delivery).
Efficiency gains from wider access to better quality data both internally to an organisation and across organisations and disciplines.
Benefits to society, e.g. better policy making, implementation, and monitoring.
1.2.3 Will the voluntary implementation of INSPIRE (by legally not bound organisations) result in additional submarkets for harmonised spatial data?
Yes   No  
1.2.4 Will the implementation of INSPIRE result in the data storage of redundant INSPIRE compliant data on the one hand and data in the present format on the other hand?
Yes   Maybe   No  

1.3 General importance of data harmonisation per application area

Please evaluate the importance of geo-data harmonisation efforts per application area in the following matrix.

Application Area Significance of Data Harmonisation
Very Important Important Low importance No significance
Security / Risk Management & Defence
Disaster Management
Land Information System (GIS for cadastral and land-use mapping)
Urban Planning
Transportation & Logistics
Utilities Management (energy provision)
Public Health
Environmental Monitoring
Natural Resource Management
Real Estate
Marketing, Retail and Media
Weather Forecasting
Human Resources
Recreation (e.g. Hiking, Surfing, etc.)

1.4 Other influencing factors in future development

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), founded in 1994, is a non-profit, international, voluntary consensus standards organisation that is leading the development of standards for geospatial and location based services.

1.4.1 How does the specification work of the OGC influence the European GI market?
1.4.2 Who is mainly benefiting from this specification work of the OGC?
1.4.3 What kind of other, similar influencing factors or initiatives do you see that will affect the future development of the European GI market?

2. Market for geospatial data

CENTRAL QUESTION: "How will the harmonisation of geospatial data affect the market itself and market participants?"

2.1 Will the harmonisation of spatial data according the principles of INSPIRE allow data providers to offer more attractive products in the market, thereby generating higher revenues?
Yes   No  
2.2 Will INSPIRE also be a strong influence in the private sector on the market?
Yes   No  
If yes, how will this influence look like?
If no, what other motives could encourage private businesses in the SDI field to harmonise their spatial data?
2.3 Besides the statutory provisions derived from the implementation of the INSPIRE Directive, are there any other motives for public authorities to harmonise their spatial data?
Yes   No  
If yes, which motives could that be?
2.4 Will it be made easier for private data or solution providers to place their products in the market?
Data providers: Yes   No  
Solution providers: Yes   No  
To which extent will INSPIRE play a major role for this?
2.5 In Norway spatial data aqcuired by the state is provided for free. How would this approach affect the supply as well as quality of spatial data in your country or region?
2.6 Should INSPIRE compliant geospatial data be supplied for free?
Yes   No  
2.7 Will data consumers be willing to pay an extra charge for harmonised data sets?
Yes   No  
2.8 Of what kind of additional values and advantages can market participants benefit from, derived of the improved data compatibility and interoperability?
Data providers
GIS developers
Solution providers

3. Growth perspectives for the GI market in Europe

CENTRAL QUESTION: "How do you evaluate the growth perspectives in the GI market?"

3.1 Market growth in the overall GI market

3.1.1 Please estimate the prospective annual market growth rate for the next five years.
0-3%   4-6%   7-10%   10-15%   >15%  
3.1.2 The infrastructure deriving from the implementation of the INSPIRE Directive will foster stable growth in the upcoming years.
Yes   No  

3.2 Distinction between market segments.

3.2.1 Which sector will experience stronger market growth?
Data Providers: Public authorities   Private sector   Both equally  
Users: Public authorities   Private sector   Both equally  
What are possible reasons for this development?
3.2.2 Which market participants will experience stronger market growth?
Data Providers
GIS suppliers
Solution providers

3.3 Chances and Risks

Can you give an outline of specific chances or risks (regional or sector-specific) for the growth prospects of the market? Bullet points are sufficient.


4. Demand and usage of harmonisation tools and services

CENTRAL QUESTION: "In what area and context will be high demand and usage of geographic data harmonisation tools and services?"

If you do not possess any knowledge of or have interests in harmonisation tools and services, please continue in section 5 of the questionnaire.

4.1 Current offer and demand of harmonisation tools and services

4.1.1 Does demand for harmonisation, integration or transformation services for geo-data exist in the market?
Yes   No  
Where do you expect a demand and deployment of harmonisation tools in your expert, sectorial or application field?
4.1.2 Is your organisation directly affected by the regulations of the INSPIRE Directive?
Yes   No  
If yes, in what way are you affected?
4.1.3 How do you plan to implement the harmonisation of geo-data that you are handling in your organisation?
Own implementation
Own software solution
External, application specific software solution with harmonisation functionality"
External service provider
Implementation not yet decided
4.1.4 Do you already know applications or tools that are offering harmonisation functionality for spatial data?
4.1.5 Which of the following applications or vendors did you already work with on a professional level?
FME of Safe Software
Interactive Instruments
Snowflake Software
4.1.6 What are strengths and/or weaknesses of the current solutions? (Bullet points are sufficient).
FME of Safe Software
Interactive Instruments
Snowflake Software
4.1.7 What kind of problems or difficulties related to spatial data / geographic information did you already experience? (Multiple answers possible)
Integration/combination of spatial data from different countries, regions, institutions and/or application areas
Different ontologies (semantics)
Complex and time-consuming conversion of data formats
Different or inconsistent data models
Datasets in different languages
Missing, inconsistent or obsolete metadata
Inconsistencies of datasets
4.1.8 Spatial data inconsistencies can differ very much. Please prioritise the coverage of / possibility to solve following factors / potential sources of inconsistencies / errors in data harmonisation processes/tools.
(Rate according to importance as 1 being the most important and 6 being the least important)
Data formats
Scales / resolutions / level-of-detail
Spatial consistency issues borders (edge-matching etc.)
Geographic coordinate reference systems
Ontologies (semantics)
Natural languages
Conceptual schemas (data models)
Classification schemes
Metadata profiles

4.2 Estimation of the professional acceptance of the functional principle of harmonisation tools and services.

4.2.1 The solutions of already well established system providers (e.g. FME von Safe Software) will dominate the data harmonisation market.
Yes   No  
If yes, in what way are you affected?
4.2.2 Will open source tools and services for data harmonisation be able to establish themselves in the market?
Yes   No  
If yes, in what way are you affected?
4.2.3 Please prioritise the following factors/issues in respect to their importance for choosing data harmonisation tools (including open source).
(Rate according to importance as 1 being the most important and 6 being the least important)
Price, in terms of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
Handling of very large data sets
Availability of support (patches, updates, bugs…)
Availability of customer-service
Flexibility / integration in the local system
IT-Governance aspects
4.2.4 How do you estimate the general willingness to also use online services (Software as a Service (SaaS)) besides traditional software solutions for the transformation of spatial data?
Under which circumstances would you use such online services?

4.3 Potential benefits

4.3.1 Upon which of the following potential benefits of spatial data harmonisation processes do you agree in general?
Cost reductions
Time reductions
Improved communication to stakeholders
Customer satisfaction
Acquisition of new customers
Do you expect any other potential benefits or reasons, which are not mentioned?
4.3.2 Will the use of harmonisation tools and services provide added value for private businesses?
Yes No Comments
For data providers:
For data consumers:
For GIS providers:
For service suppliers:
For solution providers:
4.3.3 GIS providers can enhance their products by integrating data harmonisation or transformation functionality in their software.
I agree   I rather agree   I rather don't agree   I don't agree  
4.3.4 Expertise related to data harmonisation processes (e.g. feasibility studies) will be of increasing importance in the coming years. Therefore, demand in related consulting services will be increased.
I agree   I rather agree   I rather don't agree   I don't agree  
4.3.5 Public administration authorities governing spatial data will also benefit from the mandatory, coherent harmonisation of their data pool.
Yes   No  
If yes, which of the following added values could apply?
Cost reductions
Time reductions
Customer satisfaction

5. Prospective market potentials derived from harmonised data

CENTRAL QUESTION: "What kind of prospective market potentials will be created from the harmonisation of spatial data?"

5.1 What kind of new or amplified usage possibilities could emerge in your existing application areas resulting from the availability of harmonised geo-data?
5.2 What kind of concrete new application areas could emerge due to the availability of harmonised geo-data?
5.3 What chances or risks of the availability and usage of harmonised geo-data do you expect in your application area? Especially in the context of eGovernment, Location Based Services (LBS), etc.? Bullet points are sufficient.
5.4 Have you ever been in the situation where the combination of existing spatial datasets could have solved a problem or difficulties or provided an innovative new information product? Manual data harmonisation efforts could have solved the issue but haven't been applied as they were way too time and money consuming.
Yes   No  
If yes, could you describe this situation?
5.5 In how many years will the harmonisation of spatial data across Europe be so advanced that new deployments, application areas and customer potentials can be fully exploited?
1-2 Years   2-4 Years   5-10 Years   10-20 Years  

6. Additional need for action to fully exploit the potential added values in the geospatial area

CENTRAL QUESTION: "What measures have to be taken in order to further advance the harmonisation field?"

6.1 Prospective need for action

6.1.1 Do you think that the current efforts towards the harmonisation of spatial data across Europe are sufficient?
Yes   No  
6.1.2 What has to be done in your opinion to implement the harmonisation as quickly as possible?
6.1.3 What do you regard as more important?
Standardisation (Directives)   Harmonisation/integration tools and services   Both equally  
6.1.4 Will there be additional need for research (basic or applied research) in the overall GI area/market?
Yes   No  
If yes, in what area especially?
6.1.5 Will there be additional need for regulations in the context of INSPIRE and/or in general?
6.1.6 Which priority and timeframe should be set for the implementation of such regulations?

6.2 Networking of expertise

6.2.1 European projects like HUMBOLDT provide a networking platform for experts enabling an effective way for the exchange of experience. How valuable do you assess this kind of networking?
6.2.1 Do you use, respectively will use such networking platforms?
Yes   No  
If yes, to what extent?
If no, what are the reasons?

7. Personal information

7.1 Application area(s) you are active in:
7.2 Your business/organisation:
Public authority
Private sector
7.3 Your role in the business/organisation:
Managerial function (Executive Board / Managing Director)
Department Head / Area Manager
Project management
7.4 What kind of tasks and/or responsibilities do you have in relation to spatial data? (Multiple answers possible)
Provision of GIS or GI-based tools and services
Development of GIS or GI-based tools and services
Customisation of GI processing tools and services
Spatial data acquisition
Spatial data analysis
Processing of spatial data / geographic information from different sources
Data harmonisation / integration
If you are interested in the results of this study, please provide the following optional information. Of course, any personal information you supplied will be duly kept confidential until its deletion. This information will not be distributed to third parties.
Name of your organisation/institution and department
First name