ENERGIC-OD: How open data in the Geographic Information System will drive innovation

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Trilateral Research

Date: 18 October 2017

The value of open data business is increasing at a very fast pace. The open data market is projected to be worth over 75 billion in 2020. Yet, accessing this expanding market is not easy. Open data sources are difficult to find, not interoperable and hardly reusable, as argued by a recent Open Knowledge Foundation’s report.

ENERGIC-OD, a European Commission project, aims precisely to facilitate access to the open data market in the Geographic Information System (GIS) sector. Just to mention some examples, digital mapping, marketing, transportation and logistics, design and engineering are some of the sectors which have successfully utilised GIS. Further GIS’s potential can be achieved coupling GIS systems with modelling tools, the so-called “intelligent GIS” (Birkin et al. 1995). The retail sector has already utilised intelligent GIS, integrating shops’ data and topographic data to forecast shops’ maintenance costs and revenue streams (Altaweel 2016).

An example of ENERGIC-OD intelligent GIS app is the Natural hazard assessment for Agriculture application. Using satellite imagery, this app delivers predictions of the yield reduction in specific crops based on statistical models, considering factors such as drought, humidity, frost, etc.

Natural hazard assessment for agriculture application

The ENERGIC-OD project represents an example of international cooperation to promote growth and development. In fact, as the market research conducted by Trilateral has confirmed, while SMEs look with high interest at the pEVH,  these are also the businesses that will, in the next years, drive innovation and economic growth across Europe.

The Pan-European Virtual Hub

The project built a pan-European Virtual Hub (pEVH) simplifying the access to and the use of GIS open data in Europe. ENERGIC-OD consortium has developed 10 applications based on VH-brokered data. These applications range from an app promoting communication between citizens and land consolidation authorities to a coastline monitoring system that allows people to participate in the scientific observation of coastlines.

The pEVH ensures open data is easy to Find, Accessible, Interoperable and freely Reusable. In accordance with the FAIR principles, pEVH-brokered data is:

  • more findable than before thanks to the single website where data is stored
  • usable and interoperable, thanks to the single API adopted by ENERGIC-OD
  • re-usable thanks to the freemium licence: data is free to use and users can pay for some extra features of the pEVH.


Promoting Innovation and economic development

ENERGIC-OD is committed to enhance innovation among SMEs and use local economic development across Europe. SMEs constitute the backbone of the European economy. ENERGIC-OD functions as a facilitator for these businesses, enabling them, to tap more easily into the GIS open data market. Such objectives appear achievable for three reasons.

Firstly, the FAIR principles characterising pEVH-brokered data facilitate SMEs’ ability to utilise GIS data sources, as ENERGIC-OD lowers entry barriers preventing the use of such data.

Secondly, the main features of GIS make this branch of IT extremely suitable for business (Azaz 2011):

1) spatial imaging, namely GIS’s ability to convey information with a spatial dimension

2) database management: GIS’s capability of storing, manipulating and providing data

3) decision modelling, or GIS’s potential to provide intelligence supporting decision making

4) designing and planning, namely GIS’s potential as a design tool (Azaz 2011)

Thirdly, small and medium enterprises are the greatest beneficiaries of the open data movement. Since they can have free access to data they would normally not being able to use,  they are more likely to take advantage of open data and become drivers of innovation (Verhulst and Caplan 2015).

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