Mark Reichardt presentation to UN High Level Forum on Global GI Management

I have just had the privilege of presenting at the United Nations High Level Forum on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN GGIM).

In my address to the distinguished delegates from around the world as part of a session on “Developing Common Frameworks and Methodologies,” I covered the topic of "Standards for Cross Community Understanding and Decision-making." My goal was to reinforce the point that there are no borders any more when it comes to information sharing, notably with respect to natural hazards and disasters, and that standards are a critical component of frameworks and
methodologies to assure cross boundary sharing.
In my presentation I made three recommendations:

  • Consolidate, prepare, and promote best practices to align policy for data sharing and to guide the deployment of interoperable data collection, maintenance and distribution capabilities. This means identifying and leveraging an agreed upon framework of OGC, ISO and other complementary open standards across a community of practice, or between cooperating communities of practice. The goal is to be prepared for both steady state and disaster / emergency response scenarios through implementation of these best practices.  The UN is in the ideal position to be a broker of best practice, encouraging adoption of best practice and coordinated policy between member nations. OGC has advanced a number of best practices that can be leveraged by member nations. 
  • The next area is pilot projects. Practice makes perfect.  Pilot projects will help to validate the use of geospatial information, technologies, procedures and policies based on real world, user scenarios. Again this is based on agreed upon standards, best practice and policy. All too often, potentially valuable geospatial information and capabilities are delivered amidst a crisis event, only to be ignored due to lack of policy, procedures, knowledge of information utility and accuracy etc.  Pilot projects provide an excellent opportunity to test and validate collaborative support and data sharing.  Pilot projects also offer opportunities for the technology and standards community to investigate or test new methods.  By sharing the experiences and outcomes of these events, we improve policies and procedures.  For years, the OGC has conducted successful pilot projects and testbed activities to develop, test and validate standards in a user context.  By organizing member nation pilot projects keyed to topics of importance, and by involving government, industry data providers, software vendors, research and academia, and other standards developing organizations (SDOs), we can greatly improve policies and procedures and our capacity to share information and collaborate when events require it. 
  • The third and final recommendation concerns maintaining agility in adoption of new methods, technologies and standards.  This will require that organizations within UN member nations maintain active involvement in SDOs. As a community, we must work collaboratively to develop / test / pilot and promote standards and associated best practices for various Communities of Interest, that is, communities such as those focused on, Climate Change, Earth Observation (GEOSS), Urban Planning & Management, Emergency / Disaster Management, and Water Resources Management. SDOs provide UN organizations and member nations with some of the best opportunities available to stay abreast of market trends and stay agile in adopting new standards and best practices. UN organizations and member nations could benefit greatly from influencing the evolution of standards and best practices, as well as influencing how location is addressed in the broader IT standards community. The UN and member nations are in a good position to encourage communication and cooperation among SDOs, leveraging the relationships the OGC has built with other SDOs to help make sure that standards solutions work across the "stack" as well as within the OGC / ISO standards framework.

On behalf of the OGC, I would like to thank the UN GGIM High Level Forum organizers for giving us the opportunity to make these suggestions. I hope that the OGC and other SDOs can work together with more purpose and urgency to address these topics within the UN GGIM process. Now we need to work on marshalling the resources to make it happen.