In the of the European INSPIRE directive the following "common principles" are presented:

 1. Data should be collected only once and kept where it can be   
    maintained most effectively.
 2. It should be possible to combine seamless spatial information from
   different sources across Europe and share it with many users and
 3. 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.
 4. Geographic information needed for good governance at all levels
   should be readily and transparently available.
 5. Easy to find what geographic information is available, how it can be
   used to meet a particular need, and under which conditions it can be
   acquired and used.*

In principle 2 the term "seamless spatial information" is mentioned. Outside references to the above I fail to find good references.

The closest I can get to have this term explained is an old USGS paper discussing "seamless, scaleless cartographic data bases". Their description is as follows:

A seamless data base implies an ability to query, display, retrieve, or otherwise traverse the contents of a large spatial data base without limitations imposed by the spatial extent of the data. For example, a command to display the Mississippi River would yield the entire river, not just a portion of it. A scaleless data base implies an ability to transition from one level of detail to another appropriate to the scale of the display or precision of the data analysis.

I have also found a reference here on gis.stackexchange.com which answers the question on what a "seamless table" is. But that question does not represent a duplicate of this question.

So the question remains - what does seamless spatial information mean in the context of the INSPIRE directive? Or is it simply a consequence of poor use of language where they actually meant to write "[..]possible to seamlessly combine spatial information"?

  • 2
    I believe that your interpretation is correct. Member states are not supposed to co-operate and make for example the river Danube into one feature. – user30184 Feb 1 '17 at 22:11
  • 1
    In this context, it may have been an attempt to legislate away use of tiled libraries (like the old ArcInfo Librarian and VPF), even though it's more efficient for spatial index performance, and force use of dynamic segmentation for attributing features. – Vince Feb 2 '17 at 2:24

If you look at the technical guidelines that accompany the directives, you'll see that the vision of 'seamless spatial information' means use of common standards, data models, and coordinate reference systems, combined with the heavy use of distributed web (network) services, be they discovery services (metadata) using CSW, view services (WMS), download services (complex feature WFS and WCS), or transactional (WPS).

  • I then acknowledge that this is by intention. In my view the common principles should be presented in a less ambiguous way. Nevertheless - after posting to the linkedin INSPIRE interest group as well as on twitter without getting any further I will sign off your answer as accepted. Thanks! – ragnvald Feb 2 '17 at 21:15

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