User requirements – anyone?

 Meeting the requirements of the users and adapting to the market conditions is a prerequisite for success, no matter if you are a commercial company or a government entity working for the public good.

But how to go about it? Often the users are not able to communicate the entirety of their needs and wants, and the information they provide may also be incomplete, inaccurate and self-conflicting. The responsibility of trying to foresee what the users may require in the future will then fall on the providers. It is therefore important to be well updated on technical and social developments concerning the production and use of geodata.

There are numerous pitfalls in researching market conditions and user requirements. To mention a few:
· Have you talked to the right users? Normally, it is not possible to serve each market segment to the same extent and to decide what market segment to focus on is one of the most important decisions to take. There is no such thing as a “Mädchen fűr alles” as they say in Germany.
· Should you focus on how the technology will drive the market or on what usages the customer might want? Are you talking about requirements or needs? Are the users knowledgeable enough to understand the difference?
· Is it at all possible for the users to identify and express their requirements for new, complex products and services like Spatial Data Infrastructures?

Once the user requirements and other market conditions are researched, one needs to look at the framework for the data providers and try to match these boundary conditions with the findings in the market. These are delicate issues to deal with, in particular for public organisations where political, economical, social, technical, legal and environmental issues need to be considered. But, that is a different story.

Within ESDIN we’ve conducted a desktop study of 117 documents and in total 541 user requirements have been found. The requirements found have been augmented with surveys and interviews and should thus be reasonable reliable. Still, for the above reasons, it cannot be guaranteed that all the requirements found are useful and trustworthy in all their details. However, as the customer groups in focus are defined to be the professionals and the R&D customer groups, and they to a large extent are the authors of the 117 documents as well as the respondents in the interviews, the views should be fairly well-based.

The document that contains all the details can be found on http://www.esdin.eu/project/d33-final-report-user-requirements-and-use-cases. In very brief summary, the below is a high level brief summary of the requirements of the users:
 
· Open up pricing and licensing conditions to enable increased usage, also “downstream”.
· Better functionality (discover, view, download, metadata, data quality descriptions, data exchange formats, consistency between data sets, etc.).
· Organisations working on multinational level need “harmonised” data (data definitions and classifications, reference- and transformation systems, data exchange formats, multilingual services etc.).

Further, to ensure that the views of the key users are fully known, it has been decided to deepen the insight through a separate study to be conducted by a UK-based consultancy company, Live|Work.

The results of this study will be taken into account in the further development work (possibly past-ESDIN) and will be described in later documentation.