File Definition of geographical reference datasets for MPC countries

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Contributor eric

Final version October 2009

EMWIS Technical Unit is managing a project funded by the DG Env of the European Commission, entitled “Towards a Mediterranean Water Information Mechanism compatible with the Water Information System for Europe (WISE)”.

The objective of this project is to prepare a Mediterranean information mechanism on water which is compatible with the Water Information System for Europe –WISE- and that will support the Med Joint Process between the EU Water Initiative and the Water Framework Directive. This mechanism will stream line the access to comparable data related to water in the Mediterranean Partners Country (MPC).

 The project should provide among others the technical guidelines to make sure the interoperability between WISE, the NWIS developed by the MPC and the Med water information mechanism. These technical recommendations will be based on existing EU standards and guidelines (INSPIRE directive, WFD guidance documents, WISE architecture and SEIS principles).


Interoperability can be achieved at various levels. The technical guidelines defined for the Med WIS project should allow achieving the highest level of interoperability referred as ‘semantic interoperability’ between MPC countries and between MPC countries and the WISE system.

 ‘Semantic operability’ can only be obtained when the more basic interoperability requirements are also satisfied:

- Network-protocol interoperability that allows communication between components

- Standard interface specifications can enable clients to perform procedures on a remote system

– Data transfer interoperability allows access to data, sharing of geographic data-bases and other services independent of the proprietary format

– Semantic interoperability concerns an application’s ability to interpret data consistent for common representation or processing

 The first three levels of interoperability (network, procedures and data transfer) can be satisfied in the Mediterranean by applying the same standards defined by the European Environmental Agency for WISE interoperability with the EU Member States. Base network, procedures and data transfer interoperability requirements for WISE provide a solid, proven and reliable technical platform to develop the Mediterranean Information Mechanism since they are based on the most accepted standards and initiatives in this area (ISO 19100, INSPIRE and OGC). Those requirements have been specified in the “Guidance on Implementing the Geographical Information System (GIS) Elements of the EU Water policy” document released by the Water Framework Directive Common Implementation Strategy Workgroup D. In this context, a separate document will be released specifying in detail those requirements for the Mediterranean countries.

 Semantic interoperability requires the definition of a precise, joint, data specification on top of network, procedures and data transfer interoperability requirements. A data specification provides a structure and a common view to exchange information between different nodes. A data specification already exists for WISE. It has been created to comply with the ‘Water Framework Directive’ (WFD) compliance reporting requirements. Since WFD does not apply to MPC countries a new data specification has to be built for the Mediterranean Information Mechanism. The new Med data specification should be compatible with the shared data elements of WISE to ensure a seamless data transfer but should be develop according to the Mediterranean problematic and focus.

 This document specifies a proposal for a ‘Mediterranean Reference Dataset’ that will complement WISE technical interoperability requirements to achieve semantic interoperability in the region.