In Europe a major recent development has been the entering in force of the INSPIRE Directive in May 2007 (The INSPIRE directive came into force on 15 May 2007 and will be implemented in various stages, with full implementation required by 2019.), establishing an infrastructure for spatial information in Europe to support Community environmental policies, and policies or activities which may have an impact on the environment.
INSPIRE is based on a number of common principles:
Data should be collected only once and kept where it can be maintained most effectively
It should be possible to combine seamless spatial information from different sources across Europe and share it with many users and applications.
It should be possible for information collected at one level/scale to be shared with all levels/scales; detailed for thorough investigations, general for strategic purposes.
In order to accomplish the INSPIRE directive the FreeGIS.net project aims at defining the details of a Reference Implementation composed exclusively by Free Software components which will help Public Administration for a more conscious approach of the 34 spatial data themes needed for environmental applications as the INSPIRE directive demands.