The INSPIRE directive, adopted by the EC in 2007 provides the guidelines for the organization of all geographic data and is the basis for establishing a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI). Documentation of cultural heritage sites such as archeological areas, historic places and others is not a thematic area addressed in the directive. However, as discussed in this paper the directive can be extended to cover the documentation of these sites as well. The location of an archaeological area and its monuments, its legal status, the surrounding physical environment (NATURA protected areas), the protection zones around the site and the permitted development can be documented following the INSPIRE directive. Additionally, results of research carried out in these sites such as geophysical surveys, use of satellite images or topographical surveys can be also organized using the INSPIRE guidelines.
In this paper the 2006 edition of the Urban Atlas database is used to tabulate areas of low development density, usually referred to as “sprawl”, for many European cities. The Urban Atlas database contains information on the land use distribution in the 305 largest European cities. Twenty different land use types are recognized, with six of them representing urban fabric. Urban fabric classes are residential areas differentiated by the density of development, which is measured by the sealing degree parameter that ranges from 0% to 100% (non-developed, fully developed). Analysis is performed on the distribution of the middle to low density areas defined as those with sealing degree less than 50%. Seven different country groups in which urban areas have similar sprawl characteristics are identified and some key characteristics of sprawl are discussed. Population of an urban area is another parameter considered in the analysis. Two spatial metrics, average patch size and mean distance to the nearest neighboring patch of the same class, are used to describe proximity/separation characteristics of sprawl in the urban areas of the seven groups.