At the recent INSPIRE Conference, I was challenged as to why we in UK had developed separate documentation known as UK GEMINI 2.3 in parallel with the INSPIRE Technical Guidance – why not just adopt the INSPIRE Technical Guidance? It’s a good question; here are some answers that I can think of – I’ll leave it to you to say whether you think they’re sufficient!
“UK GEMINI” is the UK geographic metadata standard. Or perhaps profile – in that it’s a subset of the family of ISO standards clustered around ISO 19115:2003. Or perhaps it’s guidance on how to publish geographic metadata in the UK, in the context of INSPIRE and particularly the UK national implementation of INSPIRE. In reality, it’s all those things.
GEMINI was originally published in 2004, as an evolution of the GI Gateway metadata standard to take into account the then new UK eGovernment Metadata Standard. It was updated in 2009 to version 2, to come in line with the INSPIRE Metadata Regulation, which had been published in 2007, and had adopted ISO 19115:2005 and ISO 19119:2005; that was the biggest change – introducing metadata to describe web services. GEMINI 2.1 and 2.2 kept track with changes in the INSPIRE guidelines, and meanwhile, Defra’s UK Location programme published an independent set of guidance, including how to encode GEMINI in XML (ISO 19139).
In June 2018, AGI published GEMINI 2.3, updating GEMINI 2.2, partly to bring it up to date with the INSPIRE “Technical Guidance for the implementation of INSPIRE dataset and service metadata based on ISO/TS 19139:2007” (2.0.1) – aka the INSPIRE Technical Guidance. GEMINI 2.3 brings together three AGI documents (GEMINI 2.2 as amended, and two of the three separate guidance documents) and three UK Location (Defra) documents – a national INSPIRE profile of GEMINI, encoding guidance, and a document about errors).
I led that update, as chair of AGI’s Standards Committee.
For UK GEMINI, see https://www.agi.org.uk/agi-groups/standards-committee/uk-gemini.
The INSPIRE Technical Guidance is 178 pages (in PDF form), although to be fair it’s only 86 pages of actual guidance (plus the easily overlooked three page Annex C.7 which summarises other metadata elements that are specified in particular theme guidance!).
We believe we’ve made that easier for various audiences to use: those creating metadata (for datasets, with a separate view/entry point to GEMINI for services), those creating metadata tools, and those validating metadata instances.
Reducing implementation choices
Leaving aside that INSPIRE Technical Guidance is just that – it’s not binding – the INSPIRE TG still contains a number of choices. We believe we have made metadata creators’ jobs easier by reducing those choices – either with an instruction, or (more often) with a ‘heavy hint’.
This one is ‘so trivial as to be hardly worth stating’, in a UK context: Metadata language & Resource language: for INSPIRE, these can be any of the official languages of the EU. We point out which are the two in formal use in the UK, and recommend (strongly!) that the metadata be in English.
Making explicit some things that are hidden
Some things are rather hidden in the INSPIRE TG, perhaps appearing in examples, or as subordinate paragraphs in other requirements. We make these explicit.
Closer alignment with the ISO standards
Sometimes GEMINI just “change the name” of the element – usually to that used by ISO. This makes it easier for communities already using the ISO metadata standards to see how to bring their metadata across to INSPIRE.
In the case of “Resource identifier”, we had found that the INSPIRE/ISO name “Unique resource identifier” confused people for two reasons:
UK specific things: data.gov.uk
Some extra things are required just to make the metadata work in the infrastructure, including with data.gov.uk. Others are useful to make it work better in that environment.
Previous versions of GEMINI added the function, name, and description sub elements to Resource locator. But INSPIRE has now included these as recommendations. GEMINI just describes how they get displayed in data.gov.uk.
UK specific things: code and term lists
For some elements, we mention UK specific lists that could be used. For example:
We included some things at the request of user communities in the UK. For example
The aim is to make UK geographic metadata more consistent and better quality.
There are several kinds of ‘extras’ in GEMINI:
All these restrictions and extensions are still within the scope of the underlying ISO standards, and are known to work in the INSPIRE infrastructure. None of the actual extensions beyond INSPIRE (allowing for INSPIRE’s hidden requirements!) is mandatory.
The other changes just aim to bring information together into one place, for ease of use.
 ISO 19115:2003 itself, ISO 19119:2005 (service metadata), ISO 19139:2007 (XML encoding), and the never-published ISO 19119 extension to ISO 19139. NOT TO BE CONFUSED with their replacements: ISO 19115-1:2014 and ISO 19115-3:2016. Perhaps this footnote answers ‘why?’!