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Settlements - administrative unit or statistical unit

I have an interesting question regarding settlements, as I am finding it difficult to locate the INSPIRE data theme that includes this kind of geospatial data. From my understanding settlements partially fit in the following themes: administrative units, geographical names, statistical units and population distribution.

I am referring to settlements, understood as populated places, organized as hamlets, villages, towns and cities. In Romania settlements are part of the administrative plan for the national territory, and are hierarchically one level lower than LAU-2 (NUTS-5) and they each have a national code. One settlement or several settlements are grouped to form a LAU-2 unit, and several LAU-2 units are grouped to form a county (NUTS-3).

Our database has census information for each settlement, population data for 2002 and 2011, as well as postal codes, and administrative unit types, and hierarchical dependencies.

Does anybody have an ideea where to classify this dataset?

  • Peter PARSLOW

    I suspect that the answer will vary between countries.

    In the UK, we have created a Geographical names NamedPlace for each of what we consider as a settlement (type = populatedPlace; local type indicating whether it's a hamlet, town etc).

    Once we have INSPIRE Administrative Units data, I hope we will then populate NamedPlace.relatedSpatialObject, where that is relevant - in the UK: there are a lot of named settlements that are not administrative units.

    From your description, it seems that your settlements are 'primarily' Administrative Units, although someone for Romania should create a NamedPlace feature instance (spatial object) for each one too. That's the same for any thing with a name.

    Statistical data then relates to the Administrative Units; when the INSPIRE Statistics specification was published, the link from the AU model was reversed, so that the Statistical Unit points to the AU for which it provides statistics, rather than the other way round. But a different UK government body is responsible for statistics, so I haven't looked into that too much. Taking a quick look at the INSPIRE Population Distribution model, it only allows for its StatisticalDistribution features to be related to StatisticalUnits.

  • Sorin RUSU

    Hi Peter,

    Thank you for your input, it is greatly appreciated.

    You are confirming what I already suspected, that this dataset falls in the Geographical Names data theme, even though they primarily function as Administrative Units. I have yet found a way to include settlements in AU schema (there doesn't seem to be any mention of administrative units lower than LAU-2).

  • Peter PARSLOW

    I don't think the AU spec or schema mentions NUTS/LAU levels at all. Are you using version 3.1, dated April 2014? Annex D now contains a couple of examples of how the six AdministrativeHierarchyLevel values fit, to Germany & Norway. If you retrieve the earlier version of the AU spec (3.0), Annex B contained more examples - although I know that we don't quite agree with how UK is presented. They are all informative, indicating that it is up to each member state to consider how to use this. Not all levels have a NUTS/LAU equivalent.

    That said, when creating AU spatial objects, I don't think you should consider primarily what NUTS level it is, but how it sits in your national administrative hierarchy. Some states are 'very flat', whilst others have very deep hierarchies; back in 2007, only UK, France, and Germany proposed using six levels. From what you describe, you have AdministrativeHierarchyLevel 1 = Romania; level 2 = county; level 3 = 'LAU 2 unit'; level 4 = settlement.

    It would fall to your national statistics people to work out how to manage without an LAU 1 level. In INSPIRE terms, it wouldn't be a problem, because each statistical spatial object relates to a specific administrative one, regardless of the level its given.



    Indeed, an interesting question. Settlements can be mapped to more than one INSPIRE theme. 

    I agree with Peter's suggestion to provide your settlements as Administrative Units and Geographical names NamedPlace if the settlements in Romania belong to the administrative hierarchy.

    For the EuroGeographics pan-European topographic datasets settlements are collected as point and surface features depending on their area size and population. The name and the population number is stored with the point representation of the settlements. In the ELF project we have discussed to map these features to Geographical names NamedPlace (point) and LandCover (surface) with a link between them. In order to be able to provide also the population number for the settlements we decided to extend the INSPIRE GN NamedPlace in the following way:

    INSPIRE/ELF Geographical Names