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This document proposes the frequently asked questions regarding the ESPON Database Portal and ESPON M4D Project.
Table of Contents
Who has developed the ESPON Database Portal?
The ESPON Database Portal has been developed by the ESPON M4D Project. M4D means “Multi-Dimensional Data Design and Development”. It is the ESPON project in charge of the ESPON database.
The ESPON Multi Dimensional Database Design and Development (M4D) project corresponds to the consortium working on the improvement of the ESPON Database for the period 2011-2014.
The consortium involves teams specialized in different fields:
What is the goal of the ESPON Database project?
The aim of the M4D Project (2011-2014) is to develop an operational and sustainable database through the following guidelines:
How is structured the ESPON Database Portal?
The ESPON Database Portal is composed with different key elements:
What kind of indicators is it possible to query from the Search Interface?
The Search Interface contains key indicators provided by the ESPON Projects that are most relevant for the EU Cohesion policy, mainly at NUTS2 or NUTS3 levels on various thematic fields (demography, environment, labour force etc.). These datasets cover all the ESPON Space at least (EU28+Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). It is also possible to query indicators related to other geographical objects: cities (MUA, FUA, UMZ), World countries or data on the European Neighborhood at regional level.
Please consult the ESPON Database Portal user manual at the following link:http://database.espon.eu/db2/usermanual?idDoc=64 for further information.
How is organised the Search Interface?
Basically, the user can choose between four strategies to make his request:
Whatever their initial research strategy it is then possible for the user to refine his selection by the optional addition of specific filters.
Additional functionalities are also available (a metadata page, a basket page, an inventory of indicators contained in the database.
Please consult the ESPON Database Portal user manual at the following: http://database.espon.eu/db2/usermanual?idDoc=64 for further information.
What kind of indicators is it possible to query from the Zoom-in interface?
The Zoom-in interface contains case-study data provided by ESPON Projects. This interface is mainly fed by ESPON Projects under priority 2 (targeted analysis), but not only. Generally, the datasets downloadable from this Search interface contains data on a specific thematic fields for several territories at a local scale (LAU2). The Zoom-in interface is available at the following link http://database.espon.eu/db2/faces/jsf/case-study-map.xhtml.
How is organised the Zoom-in interface?
The Zoom-in interface is built as a map (using OpenStreetMap technology) from where it is possible to see the location of the case-study by a pins symbol. By clicking on the pin, the user can display the metadata and download the data and possibly the geometries of the case-study.
What is the Core Database Strategy?
The Core Database Strategy (CDS) is a ESPON M4D proposal to support the second objective through the creation of a specific part inside the ESPON database. The idea is to deliver a label “Core data” to a very limited number of indicators that are most relevant for EU Cohesion Policy and should be regularly updated in the future for the purpose of territorial monitoring but also cartographic applications like Web-mapping tool, HyperAtlas, etc. Basically, the CDS is based on five bullet points:
Why the Core Database Strategy?
The ESPON Scientific Platform (Priority 3) has to fill two complementary but also challenging objectives. On the one hand, (1) to store the memory of the production of the ESPON 2013 program because each project is supposed to deliver data and to contribute to the elaboration of a giant repository of archives. On the other hand, (2) to propose monitoring tools based on selected indicators available in long term time series in the past and likely to be reproduced in the future.
The two objectives are certainly complementary, because it is on the basis of research realized by ESPON projects that new innovative indicators can be discovered. But they are also challenging because not all the indicators produced by ESPON projects are eligible to the status of indicator of prior interest that should be updated in the future. And it can also happen that very interesting indicators produced by an ESPON project are available only at one time and are too difficult to be regularly updated because they are based on data or computer application with private copyrights.
What are the potential benefits of the Core Database Strategy?
The CDS may become an efficient strategy for the monitoring of regions and cities within the ESPON area. It focuses precisely on the indicators that can be regularly updated in past and future. It may be useful to understand the current dynamics and the forecast evolutions.
The fact that CDS only stores a limited number of count variables allows yearly updates. And then, all the other derived or complex indicators will be automatically recomputed as they are based on a formula. Yet, any innovation adopted by policy makers (such as maps of deviation, analysis of discontinuities, potential based on time distance…), can be easily transposed to the most recent data.
Last but not least, when modification occurs in the geometry of spatial units (change of NUTS delineations for instance), the revision of indicators is feasible by the use of a limited number of count variables and formula.
How is it possible to obtain ESPON M4D Core indicators?
The easiest way to query ESPON M4D Core indicators is to go into the Search interface, query by project and select “ESPON M4D project”. Then, open the general filter and select Core data only (by default, the all option is activated).
What is frequency of update of ESPON M4D Core indicators?
Updating such indicators is a huge work since it implies to estimate missing values for a long time-period. Consequently, ESPON Core indicators have been updated more or less yearly (depending of Eurostat updates) during the lifetime of the ESPON M4D Project (2011-2014). Afterwards, it is the ESPON Coordination Unit which will manage the update of such indicators.
I need data from the previous ESPON Program (e.g. ESPON Project 1.3.1 on natural hazards). I did not find these indicators on the Search Interface? How get them?
The most representative indicators produced during the ESPON 2006 Program (the previous one) have been integrated into the current version of the ESPON Database. But these indicators are available only for obsolete NUTS versions (1999 and 2003). For querying such data, open the where? filter and select the NUTS1999 and NUTS2003 nomenclature.
Are indicators from the ESPON 2006 program updated?
Some typologies, developed during the ESPON 2006 Program, have been updated in the NUTS 2006 or the NUTS 2010 delineation with recent data (map updates).
For more information concerning these map updates, please contact the ESPON Coordination
What is the geographical coverage of data contains in the ESPON Search interface?
Most of the data delivered by ESPON projects covers at least the ESPON Area (e.g. European Union plus Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland). Some datasets include also the EU Candidate Countries and regions of the European Neighborhood. Please have a look to the Where? filter to select the geographical coverage you are looking for.
How do I declare a mistake in ESPON Database content (strange values, bad description of metadata, breakdown in time series etc.)?
Although the data has been checked in detail, ESPON data may contain some strange values.
Please do not hesitate to contact us by sending an email to the M4D Manager
Is a catalog of indicators contained in the ESPON Database available?
The overview of the indicators contained in the Search interface of the ESPON Database Portal is available at the following link: http://database.espon.eu/db2/overview
How to quote ESPON Data?
Please consult the Terms and conditions of use at the following link:http://database.espon.eu/db2/terms
Who can have an access to the restricted part of the ESPON Database Portal?
To access the restricted part of the ESPON Database, it is necessary to be involved in the ESPON Program as a lead partner, project partner or Monitoring Committee. Please note that most of data available in the ESPON database is downloadable without registration requirement.
What is inside the restricted part of the Database?
The restricted part of the Database proposes access to:
How do I register?
You must fill a slight registration form available from a link on the Login menu item page of the ESPON Database Portal.
This registration form contains a small number of fields required for establishing the identity of the user and her/his relationship with ESPON. Once the administrator has checked the information and validated the request, you receive an automatic notification confirming the possibility to access to the restricted part of the ESPON Database Portal.
Where uploading my dataset?
ESPON Projects are now requested to upload their data through the “Upload” page of the ESPON Database Portal (http://database.espon.eu/db2/upload). You have first to be logged for accessing to this part of the ESPON Database Portal.
What are the possibilities existing for delivering the data produced by my project?
The ESPON P1, P2 and P3 Projects are obliged to deliver all data collected and produced within their project. Depending of the nature of the data itself, three possibilities have been implemented for the data delivery:
For a complete description of these possibilities, please have a look to the how to deliver my data document and the presentation made by the ESPON M4D Project in December 2012 during the ESPON Seminar in Cyprus which are available in the upload menu of the ESPON Database Portal.
What is a key indicator?
The key indicators are innovative indicators highly relevant for policy making and should cover the entire ESPON Space (EU28+4). These indicators will be the only ones searchable from the query interface.
The ESPON projects deliver in principle the indicators related to the maps included in Part B of the (Draft) Final Report - around 10 indicators. In case a typology or composite indicator is included, the data and methodology used to build it should also be delivered.
The requirement in terms of data and metadata is high for this delivery and the ESPON Projects are requested to upload the data via the Upload page.
The key indicators delivery has to follow the ESPON Data and Metadata specifications. To build a strong and efficient query interface, these indicators will be checked in depth before integration.
For a complete description of the key indicator, please have a look to the how to deliver my data document and the presentation made by the ESPON M4D Project in December 2012 during the ESPON Seminar in Cyprus which are available in the upload menu of the ESPON Database Portal.
What happens to my key indicators after it is delivered?
Before being integrated into the ESPON Database, your data delivery must succeed a workflow. This is managed by the tracking tool. It is composed of the following different steps which concern your "Key indicators" only:
What is a zoom-in data?
Besides the key indicators delivery, some ESPON Projects (in particular for Targeted Analysis, but not only) analyze specific territories of the ESPON Area at local scale. To make this kind of complementary and very interesting data easy accessible, a case-study interface will be developed.
To set up this interface, the projects are requested to deliver their most representative data, their geometries (in a shape file format) and a documentation highlighting the content of the data and geometries (following a dedicated template).
Regarding to this delivery, the M4D project will only check if it is possible to map the data and if all mandatory fields of the documentation file are correctly filled.
For a complete description of the zoom-in data, please have a look to the how to deliver my data document and the presentation made by the ESPON M4D Project in December 2012 during the ESPON Seminar in Cyprus which are available in the upload menu of the ESPON Database Portal.
What happens to my zoom-in data after it is delivered?
Zoom-in delivery must be sent both to your TPG Project officer and the ESPON M4D manager (
At the end of the compliance check, a notification is sent both to the coordinator of the project and to the project officer. It means that the zoom-in delivery will be available from the zoom-in interface.
For a complete description of the data integration process, please have a look to the how to deliver my data document and the presentation made by the ESPON M4D Project in December 2012 during the ESPON Seminar in Cyprus which are available in the upload menu of the ESPON Database Portal.
What is a background data?
In order to fill their contractual obligations and to make all data as a coherent set available, each ESPON Project has to deliver a zip file that contains all data, metadata and geometries (if different than the usual ones delivered via ESPON) used in the project.
This zip file is considered as an annex to the final report of the project and is stored on the ESPON Website project page.
For a complete description of the background data, please have a look to the how to deliver my data document and the presentation made by the ESPON M4D Project in December 2012 during the ESPON Seminar in Cyprus which are available in the upload menu of the ESPON Database Portal.
What happens to my background after it is delivered?
You are free to deliver your background data in the format you want. However, it must be contained in a .zip format which does not exceed 100 Mo.
That being said, a template is available under the upload part of the ESPON Database Portal. If your background delivery contains files in various formats (grids, datasets in a .xls format, documentation etc.), we strongly suggest you to organize your files in folders and create a document “read me first” to help external users to manage your background data.
What is the syntactic check?
The data check is the first step of the dataset integration process. It aims at insuring a coherent set of data together with their associated metadata. The data check will perform automatic consistency checking (and when possible, corrections) in the uploaded data file, concerning for instance:
What is an outlier?
An outlier is a value which can be considered as unusual. An exceptionally high or low value when compared with the other values for an indicator could be an aspatial outlier. An exceptionally high or low value when compared with the values of the neighbouring areas could be a spatial outlier. We can test not just indicators on their own, but also combinations of indicators. If an indicator is considered to be an outlier across the range of aspatial and spatial tests, this provides a measure of the weight of evidence in favour of it being a candidate for further attention. Outliers might arise from errors in the data entry to integration processes, but they might also be legitimate values.
What is metadata?
The information which describes the data is known as metadata. Metadata describes how, when, and by whom, a particular set of data was collected, and how the data are formatted. Metadata is essential for understanding information stored in the ESPON Database.
Why are you using a generic metadata model?
Information about the data in the database is vital. Building a rich database would be useless without a strong effort to describe precisely the data that have been gathered and integrated within the database. Creating and organizing metadata is therefore an additional, important, and universal challenge for the ESPON community.
To be useful for ESPON projects and other end-users, data should always be accompanied by metadata, including information about its quality and sources. It is also particularly important that the metadata are created in a manner that is consistent with international (ISO) and European (INSPIRE) standards in order to ensure the use of the database in the longer-run and to make it compatible with other national and international database initiatives.
To ensure correct data processing and integration into the ESPON 2013 Database, the ESPON metadata specifications must be carefully respected by all the data providers participating in the project and by the organizations/persons who intend to create new software implementations interacting with the ESPON Database.
How is ESPON metadata built?
In the context of the statistical results produced by different ESPON projects, data are represented by sets of socio-economic indicator values that have spatial, temporal and source bindings. In that order, the ESPON Abstract Metadata Model is based on four elements which have to be systematically filled:
This ESPON Metadata Model is adapted for key indicators only and must be filed and delivered in a Excel format. As displayed in the figure above, the data sheet and the metadata sheets are linked by some elements (indicator code, territorial units classification, temporal extent, data source) which have to be filed both in the data and the metadata part of a ESPON Dataset. For a full overview of the ESPON Metadata Model, please consult the ESPON Metadata specifications, under the help part of the ESPON Database Portal.
Does ESPON metadata follow INSPIRE directives?
The implementation of the abstract metadata model follows the normalized ISO-19115 INSPIRE-compatible XML document.
How can I create a Metadata file? Where is the Metadata documentation available?
The following reference documents provide useful information for editing in a correct way the ESPON Metadata:
Are some templates existing for delivering my datasets in the relevant ESPON format?
The ESPON M4D project proposes some templates (http://database.espon.eu/db2/upload) to help the metadata edition: A empty Excel template describes all the mandatory fields of the ESPON Metadata and their related reference in the ESPON Metadata specifications. It contains also pre-filed files showing the input metadata of a sample of datasets already included in the Search interface of the ESPON Database.
Do you have a metadata template for raster files (grid data)?
Unfortunately, the ESPON M4D Project has not developed such template. We strongly suggest you to use the Geonetwork metadata editor, adapted for environmental data, for editing this kind of metadata. It is an online metadata editor which is fully INSPIRE compliant and generate .xml files you can join to the layers you may deliver.
Who shall I contact to have some help for my data and metadata creation?
Until December 2014, you can contact the ESPON M4D manager if you have any question regarding to the data creation process. But please not that it is not the work of the M4D project to gather your data and create your data and metadata files.
After 2014, please contact the ESPON Coordination Unit.
Where can I find lists of territorial nomenclatures contained in the ESPON Database (NUTS, cities etc.)?
The list of territorial units used in the Search interface of the ESPON Database Portal are available under the help part of the ESPON Database Portal: http://database.espon.eu/db2/spatialspecifs But please note that it does not necessarily fit fully with the so-called “official” nomenclatures proposed by Eurostat. For instance, the NUTS nomenclature used in the ESPON Program combines the "official" NUTS nomenclature (for the EU28) and the codes for the EFTA and Candidate Countries nomenclature, which has not exactly the same status than the previous one.
To consult the official list of NUTS codes, please have a look on the Eurostat Web site: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/nuts_nomenclature/introduction
What kind of solution do you propose for estimating missing values?
We cannot provide a general solution for estimating missing values; different possibilities exist taking into account the data availability and the purpose of your statistical analysis. The annex 2 of the technical report on the Core Database Strategy (http://database.espon.eu/db2/resource?idCat=32) proposes some alternative solutions which are based on the results of the ESPON Data Navigator II project (ESTI model).
Indeed, it is very important to mention as precisely as possible the methodology used in estimating your data in the metadata (source sheet): if strange or unusual values appear in the dataset, it is helpful for us to be able to understand the steps of data creation.
How referencing missing values in my dataset?
Two possibilities exist: n/a for “not available” or n/r for “not relevant” (e.g. number of sea-port for non-coastal regions). Do not put other valuers like -9999 or 0 or nothing.
For further information, please follow the recommendations made in 3.3.4 of the ESPON Metadata Specifications.
Where can I download the ESPON mapkits?
ESPON Mapkits will be accessible directly on the resource part of the ESPON Database Portal http://database.espon.eu/db2/mapkits. The access to this resource is limited to registered users.
In which electronic formats are ESPON mapkits available?
Each mapkit will be available in the following three formats:
What can I find in all the ESPON mapkits?
The ESPON Map-Kit Tool is composed of a set of six specific mapkits, adapted for different geographical levels,
from local to global. In any case, geometries are available in shapefile (
How can I use the ESPON mapkits?
What are the projections chosen for the mapkits?
For each mapkit, the projection depends on the covered area:
Why have you chosen this kind of projection and not another one?
The projection chosen for the European mapkit is the
How can I get the geometries for local units?
Please contact your project officer to ask an access to the ESPON Intranet where this information provided by Eurogeographics and GISCO has been uploaded.
What shall I do if my maps do not fit with the ESPON mapkits?
Theoretically, if you use the ESPON mapkit, your maps will respect the EPSON design. Nevertheless, if it is not the case, you can read the mapping guide to know the elements that absolutely have to appear on the map layout, please consult http://www.espon.eu/main/Menu_ToolsandMaps/MappingGuide/.
The zoom-in mapkit displays an example for Chinese regions. Is it possible to have the same for other countries (Japan, USA, etc)?
This zoom-in mapkit is actually an example of a layout. If you want to have the same layout on another area, you just have to replace the supplied geometries with yours and adapt the projection to the covered area.
I don't have any knowledge about mapping, do you have some tutorials available for cartographic purpose?
To help you, some guidelines are available in a Technical Report on cartography at the following URL: http://www.espon.eu/main/Menu_ToolsandMaps/MappingGuide.
What are the data available at a LAU2 level for the ESPON Area?
Different types of resources can be mobilised by the ESPON Projects to get data at local level.
First of all, information provided by external data providers (GISCO, Eurogeographics, Eurostat, DG REGIO) which consists mainly by layers and basic data (SIRE Databases). To have a complete listing of available information, please have a look to the M4D Newsletter of June 2012. These datasets are available under the ESPON intranet.
Secondly, we suggest you to go to the resource part of the ESPON Database Portal, subsection local data, where some datasets related to local data have been uploaded. In particular, datasets provided by the ESPON GEOSPECS Project and the ESPON Database 1 project: the ESPON GEOSPECS and the ESPON Database 1 project have gathered data for all the ESPON Area.
What are the existing solutions for collecting local data?
Different resources, with different spatial coverage, LAU2 versions, and degree of quality can be considered of domain of interest. The SIRE database provides the most common and harmonized resources: It includes census data (around 1991 and around 2001 with employment household and dwelling data) from New Member States at LAU 2 level. There are also some census data for 1981 for the Member States at that date.
How to access to the SIRE database?
The European Infra-Regional Information System (SIRE) database, as well as information delivered on the Communication & Information Resource Centre Administrator (CIRCA) Portal is available in the ESPON Intranet, managed by the ESPON Coordination Unit. Please contact your project officer for more information about the conditions to download the SIRE database since its condition of use is extremely limited
Do EuroGeographics LAU2 geometries fit the SIRE data?
The answer depends on the reference year:
What are the links between the urban areas in the SIRE DB and Urban Audit areas?
Urban areas in SIRE are morphological objects (continuous built-up areas delineated from density or maximal distance criteria), while UA Larger Urban Zones (LUZ) are based on administrative and/or functional urban units (See Technical Report “LUZ specifications, UA 2004”, from ESPON Data Base Project). These sources are not always comparable. It can be possible that there is more than one morphological urban area within one LAU2 unit. Data for morphological urban areas that are contained in SIRE are not available in many Member States (Some examples of countries for which data are available: France, Italy, Portugal, United Kingdom, etc).
There is no answer to my question(s) in that FAQ, what should I do?
Please contact the M4D project: