European Network for Redistributing Geospatial Information to user Communities

Dr. Stefano Nativi, Project Coordinator,  National Research Council of Italy, Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research discusses geographic information and how technology can assist in this field…

In the present era of big data, geographic information (GI) is ubiquitous and being characterised by a high level of variety as far as granularity levels, conceptual models, metadata schemas and encodings. The same is true for the web-based discovery and access services utilised by the diverse groups of GI consumers.

This heterogeneity has led to an utter lack of agreement on a “simple” and effective baseline of interoperability standards, creating a barrier to realising the full exploitation potential of GI.

The Virtual Hub technology

To address such a crucial challenge, several international and European programmes adopted a Brokering approach[1], applied to GI content and services. The Virtual Hub (VH) technology implements a brokering approach leveraging the Cloud infrastructure and platform capabilities. Virtual Hub is a single point of access to open Geospatial and Earth Observation datasets and information.

Through VH, users are able to access datasets provided by a plethora of remote and heterogeneous systems, as if they were provided by a unique system. Using VH services, users will not need to solve (often complex) interoperability issues, such as: unfamiliar discovery and access protocols/models implementations, coordinate reference system transformations, format mapping, etc. Datasets discovered and accessed via VH are adapted and transformed according to the user’s needs, making them available for use. In addition to mediation and adaptation services, VH can introduce advanced services, including: semantic discoverability, multilingualism support and discovery and access hints.

The ENERGIC-OD Virtual Hubs

The ENERGIC OD (European NEtwork for Redistributing Geospatial Information to user Communities – Open Data) project, funded by the EC, introduced a VH framework that performs all interoperability actions required to interconnect heterogeneous data systems. VH implements a brokering approach where specific components (brokers) provide the needed mediation and harmonisation capabilities. ENERGIC OD deployed 5 VHs at national level in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain. From a technical point-of-view, the deployment was made possible on diverse local infrastructures and on private and public clouds providing Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) functionalities.

The broker architectural approach adopted by ENERGIC OD was designed and developed in recent European and International research programmes[2]. In this approach, specific components (the brokers) perform all interoperability actions required to interconnect heterogeneous systems.

Ten innovative pilot applications in different domains (ranging from land use, protection of the environment, health, cultural heritage, natural hazard assessment, biodiversity, etc.) have been developed by the ENERGIC-OD partners making use of the services offered by the deployed VHs. These innovative applications are addressing the needs of businesses, citizens and public institutions, making use of both public and private (open) geospatial data, encouraging innovation and business activities. The new applications, together with the newly developed VHs, will optimise the exploitation of (open) GI and the development of new marketable services.

ENERGIC OD involves 15 partners from 6 EU member states (Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Spain and UK) and is co-ordinated by Stefano Nativi of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche – Istituto sull’Inquinamento Atmosferico (CNR-IIA) in Italy.


[1] Nativi, S., Craglia, M., Pearlman, J., The Brokering Approach for Multidisciplinary Interoperability: A Position Paper. International Journal of Spatial Data Infrastructures Research, 2012, Vol.7, 1-15. Available at:


Dr. Stefano Nativi

Project Coordinator

National Research Council of Italy

Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research


Project Details

Project reference: 620400

Funded under: CIP

Duration: 36 months (01/10/2014 – 30/09/2017)


Please note: this is a commercial profile


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