Setting the scene 

Driven by the growing needs of society for more and better information and decision-making on what happens "where", "when" and "why" the EU Member States, EEA/EFTA  and neighboring Candidate Accession Countries have been working over the past decade together with the European Commission and agencies to build up a pan-European infrastructure to manage and share  more efficiently geospatial data.

This effort has largely been leveraged through the implementation of the "Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community, INSPIRE Directive" which celebrates this year the 10th anniversary of its entry into force. Considerable progress has been made in lowering many of the initial policy and technical obstacles standing in the way to efficiently share within – and across borders the wide range of geospatial data covered by the INSPIRE Directive. The availability of this data collected and managed by a large number of public services with responsibilities in many different thematic domains opens the door for more widely reaping the economic and societal benefits of this digital resource of public sector information.

This progress has also been made possible by the strong support of the geospatial technology industry, geospatial standards organization bodies, a vibrant Open Source community and many application developers pushing innovation in start-ups and Small and Medium Enterprises.  They shared their experiences with those developing the regulatory frameworks and dedicate their resources to developing the tools, interoperability solutions and applications to make it all work. Thanks to these joined efforts, more and more geospatial data resources are becoming accessible through on-line services and users in governmental services, research institutions, businesses and citizens alike are now more empowered to develop - or benefit from applications fitting to their needs.

Past INSPIRE conferences have been testimonials to many of the issues and subjects addressed above. They have played an important role not only in bringing together and building a community of stakeholders from the public and private sector who from the onset have shared a common vision.
They have also been the place to reach out, and share more widely the knowledge and potential among those concerned about managing our Earth more sustainably and inclusively through making the best of what digital technologies and policy frameworks have to offer for reaching their environmental, social and economic objectives.