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Rapid Prototyping of XML Data Exchange with FME


SDIs – Spatial Data Infrastructures – are popping up all over, with XML emerging as the format of choice for many such initiatives. With the common goal of sharing data between organizations, quite often the model itself is clearly defined, but the participants are left with the task of figuring out how to transform their own data to comply.

Recently, the FME experts AED-SICAD of München, Germany, had the opportunity to participate in a proof-of-concept project jointly sponsored by the state and federal surveying agencies of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Austria and Switzerland, with scientific support from the GIS Group of the Technische Universität München and the affiliated Runder Tisch GIS e.V. (Round Table GIS).

The project aimed to see if existing software could handle the complex transformation requirements of Europe’s INSPIRE Directive. The test area – the Lake Constance Region – is a mini-Europe, with four agencies converging, all with distinct data models and data management practices.

The challenge was to demonstrate the transformation and harmonization of these four datasets in INSPIRE’s complex XML schema. And they succeeded handily – in a matter of months, with FME and their own FUSION Data Service (FDS) – an FME-based application that takes schema mapping to new heights.

What did they learn along the way? Michael Müller, resident INSPIRE expert, tells us, “It quickly became apparent that data models and complexity vary greatly between agencies, and the bulk of the work lies in defining persistent transformation rules. With those rules in place, it’s a simple matter to adapt workflows to produce homogenous results”.

“We showed that INSPIRE compliance using commercial software is both practical and, more importantly, flexible”, says Michael Habarta, FUSION Data Service developer. “By leveraging FME and FDS instead of writing new code, we were able to prototype the workflow incredibly rapidly. And we ended up with a process that is highly adaptable to the unique requirements of each member state.”

The same concepts hold true for any SDI – whether you are crossing borders or departments, harmonizing data is a challenge, and even more so when the destination is XML. Our thanks to AED-SICAD for demonstrating that the path is a lot smoother with FME to assist along the way.

To read the full project report, download the official INSPIRE-GMES information brochure at safe.local/gmes

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