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GeoRhena: a cross-border GIS for the Upper Rhine

Boris STERN and Yasmine SOULAÏMANI-HARTMANN

(Submission #155)


Abstract

GeoRhena is a geographical tool (Geo) for cross-border cooperation in the Upper Rhine Area (Rhena), which overlaps France, Germany and Switzerland. It aims at filling the voids of thematic maps, due to the fact that, usually maps stop at national borders. Based on the European INSPIRE Directive, it collects, assembles and harmonizes thematic data on the Upper-Rhine Area, such as touristic flows, demographic trends, protected natural areas, etc. On this basis, GeoRhena produces on the one hand static cross-border maps in PDF format for novice users and, on the other hand a cross-border Geoportal that allows more experienced users, to access data and dynamic maps interactively. The commonalities and differences between the three countries composing the Upper-Rhine Area, as well as the diversity of the cross border area, are hereby highlighted. GeoRhena is based on a physical and semantic cooperation of 29 French, German and Swiss Geomatics experts from the Upper Rhine Area. The main purpose consists in setting common thematic definitions to create a common semantic model for the Upper Rhine. This is achieved through regular meetings. Geometric and topological consistency generally remains a minor problem. While the implementation of the INSPIRE Directive has made it easier for GeoRhena to access metadata and even some Geodata, the language barrier and the stiff application of interoperability rules at local level don’t allow (yet) to get easily and operationally, fine cross-border maps, whether for a novice or a more experienced user. After more than 10 years of experience, the work of GeoRhena remains still a real necessity to develop cross-border cooperation in the Upper-Rhine. Indeed, the pooling and sharing of some specific national thematic Geodata remains extremely complicated. The problem is that the same “word”, even if the translation is correct, concretely refers to different definitions and concepts. That’s’ why the main issue consists in setting common and shared definition, before beginning any statistic or mapping work. Unfortunately, this often leads to a loss of precision. That’s for instance the case for "Area zoned for economic activities" (“Zones d’Activité” in French, “Gewerbegebiete” in German), which are major development and management land factors, often with significant cross-border effects: because of cultural differences, each country and partner has its own definition, with different semantic content. Swiss colleagues even have a different semantic definition / content for each Canton. Our aim is that GeoRhena gets more useful and better known by the citizens.

Categories

Topic Area:  [1.8] Spatial planning (land – maritime)
Abstract Type:  Speed Presentation (5')

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