BGR Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe

Networking of BGR to establish spatial data infrastructures

BGR is involved in the development of national and European spatial data infrastructures in different ways. In the field of the implementation of the Spatial Data Infrastructure of Germany (GDI-DE) the BGR advocates the geo-scientific affairs in the working group of IMAGI, i.e. the Federal Interministerial Committee for Geo-Information. The headquarter of the German GeoBusiness Commission is placed at BGR. It mediates between the demands of the business sector and the geodata suppliers of the state authorities. Furthermore, BGR supports the European spatial data initiative INSPIRE (Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe) by participation in the thematic working groups for the pedological and geological data specifications, becoming subsequently part of the INSPIRE implementing rules.

80% of the decisions, taken within administration authorities and business companies, are made on basis of spatial information, e.g. for the

  • search for suitable areas to establish industrial parks to overcome problems with competing areal uses,
  • selection of appropriate locations for the utilisation of geothermal resources,
  • estimation of potential risk zones for flooding, land slides or earthquakes.

Therefore both expert knowledge and awareness about the geographical location is needed

The flooding catastrophy of the German river Elbe, occurred in the eastern part of Germany in August 2002, has shown that harmonisation and interoperability of public geo-information as well as its availability plays an important role during planning and implementation of complex authoritative operations. First, this environmental disaster revealed the existence of the necessary data for solving acute problems but on the other hand also the missing transparency due to their dispersion on different authorities of the federal and state governments and the municipalities as well. Furthermore, data collection and preparation is often carried out applying different criteria. Thus a quick reaction can be hampered or even made impossible on account of an inhomogeneous information base: for example rescue teams are led to wrong locations or aid assistance miss the optimum place for their operation area. Especially such a situation can take place if a catastrophy extends across administrative boundaries.

Without doubt, there is a huge demand for high quality, homogeneous and interoperable geodata needed by all business sectors. Companies do not care about the administrative authorities holding the necessary data; instead they rather want a quick and simple access to geodata regardless of administrative boundaries and provision of the needed degree of quality, resolution and geographical coverage. Uniform distribution conditions and prices as well as similar protection rules of personal data are of high importance for the optimization of existing business processes or support of new business models. This is only achieved if spatial data - of possibly different origin or structure for various industry sectors - can be offered in a barrier-free and market-oriented manner.

Great effort has been made since several years for standardisation and for a better access to geo-information to reach these aims. Many initiatives are launched on state, federal and European level to set up spatial data networks.

Information Platform of the State Geological Surveys of Germany (InfoGEO)

The State Geological Surveys of Germany and BGR work together with respect to many questions of geodata like formats, data harmonisation and development of standards as well. The website provides the internet platform for the cooperational products and results of the working groups where publications, data schemes and web applications are offered for free. This website is expanded successively in order to establish a common access point in Germany for geoscientific information..

Federal Interministerial Committee for Geo-Information (IMAGI)

In the year 1998 the federal government of Germany established the Interministerial Committee for Geo-Information (IMAGI) in order to coordinate the necessary efforts for the setup of the federal spatial data infrastructure. BGR is an active member in the working groups since the beginning and supports the implementation process by providing metadata and web services. So BGR's data and web services are close connected with the federal web portal For instance this portal offers search functions for spatial data in Germany including datasets of BGR and a web map application to view these data.

On-going efforts of the federal authorities will further underpin the German (GDI-DE) and European Spatial Data Infrastructures (INSPIRE).

Spatial Data Infrastructure of Germany (GDI-DE)

In their meeting on 27 November 2003, the Head of the Federal Chancellery together with Heads of State and Senate Chancelleries approved the creation of a geodata infrastructure in Germany (GDI-DE):

  • The "Working group of the State Secretaries for eGovernment in the states and the federal government" is asked for receiving responsibility of the issue "Joint implementation of the spatial data infrastructure in Germany by the federal and state governments in the context of eGovernment" in addition to the Germany-Online initiative.
  • A steering committee shall be established for the political and conceptual management of the Spatial Data Infrastructure of Germany.
  • In order to tailor the data portfolio within the Spatial Data Infrastructure of Germany in a customer-oriented manner, the steering committee shall be accompanied by an additional advisory committee to represent the interests of the business sector (GIW commission).

You will find more detailed information about the Spatial Data Infrastructure of Germany on their website

Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe (INSPIRE)

Since 2001 the European Commission worked on the Directive establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community, INSPIRE) ( which has been approved by the European Parliament on 13. Feb. 2007 and subsequently had to be transferred into national laws until March 2009. Simultaneously various expert groups are working on detailed implementing rules whereby BGR participates via different member organisations:

  • BGR as so called Legally Mandated Organization (LMO) is allowed to comment the draft papers and can effect improvements during the review process.
  • BGR is a member of EuroGeoSurveys which is recognized as Spatial Data Interest Community (SDIC). The European requirements for the Spatial data Infrastructure are adjusted within EuroGeoSurveys and are placed in the review process.
  • BGR introduces the German requirements for the data specifications via the Thematic Working Groups "Geology" and "Soil".

Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS)

The GEOSS ten-year implementation plan forms the internationally agreed work basis of the Group on Earth Observations (D-GEO, It was adopted at the third Earth Observation Summit on 16 February 2005 in Brussels by ministers and high government representatives. It is based on many existing strategies of the various earth observation initiatives, such as IGOS, the Integrated Global Observing Strategy, or CEOS, the Committee for Earth Observing Satellites. Many German authorities, with BGR and the German GeoBusiness Commission among them, participate in the realisation of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems under the aegis of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development.


Tanja Wodtke
Phone: +49-(0)511-643-3455

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