Pre-conference: What is metadata? Common standards and properties

Wednesday 9 November, 13:30 – 17:00 CET in Beta 5 (starting with network lunch at 12:30)


Organised by:

EUPHA Public health monitoring and reporting section, Population Health Information Research Infrastructure (PHIRI), Sciensano, Belgium, The Norwegian Directorate of eHealth, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, ELIXIR (Research Infrastructure for Bioinformatics)


Routine population health monitoring is based on data collections and making these data available for secondary use is an essential step towards enhancing the data findability: making data discoverable for a wider circle of data users, including researchers and policy advisors. Metadata is a set of data that defines and describes a resource (e.g., data collection, dataset, sample...) so that it can be discovered, understood, and reused. They can be collected in metadata catalogues which describe the available data collections in a national or international repository or hub, for example Findata (national data hub) and the Health Information Portal (European population health catalogue).

Metadata plays an increasingly important role in Europe and beyond because it increases the FAIRness levels of data collections: it contributes to increased Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability and Reusability of data. The European Health Data Space is an initiative aiming to increase the FAIRness levels of health data across Europe, with secondary use of health data for research and policy making purposes at its core. To exploit metadata to their full extent, machine readability is a key aspect.

This pre-conference will cover the concepts of metadata standards and FAIR principles, the quality of metadata and interoperability between metadata catalogues. The pre-conference consists of three elements: an introduction to the concept of metadata standards and the FAIR principles, a section on the use of metadata (Eurostat, ELIXIR) in showcasing examples of EU initiatives, and an interactive session on how to create your own metadata catalogue (DCAT compliant). We will start by explaining what metadata is and provide an overview of common standards and their properties used in public health. A second presentation will point out why metadata is important in the domain of public health. Practical examples will be provided on how metadata catalogues have been created and how they can be used. The preconference will continue with examples that showcase the use of metadata repositories in other health domains, such as genomics or clinical research. These practical examples will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the metadata standards.

Finally, the pre-conference will include a hands-on session where participants will create their own descriptive metadata record using documentation based on the DCAT-AP standards. standard.  This will provide them with an in-depth experience of using a standard which is commonly used across Europe and has the potential to be one of the main standards to be used for the implementation of the European Health Data Space.

Pre-conference participants will be familiarised with the concepts and key standards and properties of metadata. The session is aimed at a broad public health audience to familiarise public health practitioners with the topic rather than data engineers. Theory will be illustrated through practical examples. Participants will have ample time to interact and share their own experiences.





13.30 – 13.40

Welcome and opening

Petronille Bogaert, EU Health Information System Unit, Sciensano, Belgium

Setting the scene and Inspirational cases

13.40 -14.20

What is metadata? What are common standards and their properties?

Truls Korsgaard, Norwegian Directorate for e-Health, Norway
Pascal Derycke, EU Health Information System Unit, Sciensano, Belgium

14.20 -14.40

Why we need metadata for public health data sources? Illustrated with the European Health Information Portal and the ambition of the European Health Data Space (EHDS2 pilot).

Hanna Tolonen, Challenges and Solutions on Population Health and Welfare, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Finland
Petronille Bogaert, EU Health Information System Unit, Sciensano, Belgium


Assessing FAIRness levels of health data within HealthyCloud

Irini Kesisoglou, EU Health Information System Unit, Sciensano, Belgium

15.00 -15.30



Metadata repository clinical trials

Steve Canham
European Clinical Research Infrastructure Network (ECRIN)


The FAIR Cookbook: pharmas and academics join forces to make data FAIR

Susanna-Assunta Sansone, ELIXIR

Practical exercise


Create your own metadata documentation using DCAT standard

Group work facilitated by:
Pascal Derycke, EU Health Information System Unit, Sciensano, Belgium
Truls Korsgaard, Norwegian Directorate for e-Health, Norway


Wrap up and key messages

Petronille Bogaert, EU Health Information System Unit, Sciensano, Belgium



The registration fee is € 75 which includes networking lunch and refreshments.