OGC’s future and mine as an OGC member

Contributed by: 
Lance McKee, Senior Staff Writer, OGC

It was a great personal pleasure for me to attend the the 98th OGC Technical Committee Meeting earlier this month at the World Bank in Washington, DC. The venue, attendees and scope of important work made me immensely proud of the organization that I have served for more than 21 years.
As of today, March 31, I am retiring from my OGC staff writer position. I’m retiring because I want to have more free time, but also I want to participate as an individual member of the Technical Committee. As a member I will be free to work with various domain communities to conceptualize, develop and promote OGC standards that can help those communities achieve their goals.
As I noted in my previous OGC Blog post about the World Bank’s 2016 Land and Poverty conference, most OGC standards have been developed to enable interoperability in any domain of human activity that uses geospatial data. I noted that this is changing: In recent years, specific user domains have used the OGC process to develop domain-specific standards: WaterML 2.0, PipelineML, GeoSciML and WXXM, an aviation-specific weather data model and encoding. SoilML will probably come into OGC. I think this trend represents the next phase for OGC as it pursues its mission of making spatial information immediately available for anyone for any purpose. OGC’s widening scope can also be seen in the focus of the OGC CityGML and IndoorGML standards and the emerging InfraGML standard: OGC is widening its embrace to include not only geospatial but also civil engineering works and indoor spaces.  This opens up even more domains that can benefit from OGC’s unique process, network and member expertise.
My mission as a writer and editor of OGC press releases, articles, papers and web content has been to promote work introduced and collaboratively undertaken by our members. The first priority of OGC staff is to meet the needs of OGC members, so written outreach has focused on things that our members are already interested in. There have been some exceptions, and our press releases are distributed widely, but in general we haven’t done outreach to domains that aren’t yet represented in the OGC. A for-profit company would borrow money or sell stock to fund speculative market development, but we can’t do that because we’re a not-for-profit. Now I can see this situation as a personal opportunity.
I want to keep this blog short, though there is much I want to say about the communities that don’t yet know how OGC can help them. For this week’s post I’ll just provide an outline.  I hope you’ll return to the OGC Blog to read more posts in my blog series, and, of course, to read the excellent posts from other authors. Here are some of the things I plan to write about:

  • OGC’s new “standards incubator” and how I intend to use it
  • OGC standards as business platforms and OGC as a business incubator
  • CarbonML, a projected suite of open standard data models for carbon offset projects  
  • SpectrumML, a projected open standard data model for electromagnetic fields (and, in this context, the need for a consistent set of data models and associated encodings for features and phenomena at all spatial and temporal scales)
  • A projected suite of open standard data models for human geography
  • The need for an international open data model for air quality. EPA’s data model, I’ve been told, is widely used around the world. Perhaps they’ll give it a home in the OGC to make it more widely vetted, more useful and widely used, and better supported over time by new encoding types, search and discovery methodologies etc.
  • Environmental accounting, which, I think, can’t escape from academia into the real world until the things that need to be accounted for have international open standard data models and associated encodings. Related to environmental accounting: the internationally adopted Sustainable Development Goals as a roadmap for OGC domain development

My post-retirement business plan had its beginnings in the OGC white paper that I wrote in 2014 with OGC Board member Prof. Mike Jackson and my colleague Bart De Lathouwer: “OGC Information Technology Standards for Sustainable Development”. My upcoming blog posts will expand on what’s written in that paper.
In closing the last blog post that I’ll write as an OGC staff member, I want to say what an honor and pleasure it has been to work over the last 21 ½ years with my OGC staff colleagues, the OGC Board and OGC members. I look backward with fondness and pride and I Iook forward with hope and excitement. OGC members, I look forward to your ideas and critiques and our collaboration on worthy projects.