FAQs - The Role of OGC

Q and A: 
  1. Where is geoprocessing technology headed?
  2. What is the difference between "business GIS" and "the spatially enabled enterprise?"
  3. How will OGC Web Services (OWS) change the World Wide Web?
  4. What role does OGC play in the development of Location Based Services (LBS)?
  5. How does OGC facilitate e-commerce in geodata and geoprocessing services?
  6. What is Sensor Web Enablement?
  7. What are Geospatial Fusion Services (GFS)?


Q: Where is geoprocessing technology headed?

A: Geographic information will no longer be segregated in GIS and earth imaging systems. It will be easily discovered, accessed, integrated and used. The level of expertise required to use geospatial data will be greatly reduced because the data types, data formats, resolutions, coordinate transformations, and semantic issues will usually be handled automatically and invisibly. The questions and answers below provide more detail.

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Q: What is the difference between "business GIS" and "the spatially enabled enterprise?"

A: "Business GIS" is a term that evolved to describe business applications of geographic information systems. Most such applications involved sales and marketing analysis on standalone software systems that were "islands of automation" in the enterprise. With the advent of OGC's open geoprocessing standards, businesses are finally able to go far beyond business GIS, bringing the power of spatial analysis and spatial awareness to any department. Everything and everybody is somewhere and everything happens somewhere, so it is logical that many workflows can be assisted by information systems that fluidly publish, discover, display, and process spatial information. Mobile, location aware devices, Web Services and spatial extensions to general purpose databases further support "spatial enablement" of the enterprise.

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Q: How will OGC Web Services (OWS) change the World Wide Web?

A: Now that vendors of Web-based software are implementing interfaces conforming to OpenGIS Specifications, geoprocessing software of different kinds from different vendors is beginning to work together "one-to-many" on the Web. When OpenGIS Specification conformant interfaces have been adopted on a large scale (and this is happening) any client will communicate with any server as if they were in the same vendor family of products. So the Web will be full of maps and spatial services, just as it is now full of text and simple images, and all of this will be available to everyone (unless restricted by the owner). Catalogs conforming to the OpenGIS Catalog Services Specification will enable "spatial search engines" for discovery of both online geoprocessing services and online geodata sources. Geospatial portals based on OpenGIS Specifications will serve as hubs for users and providers of geospatial information to share data much more easily than before. This describes the "Spatial Web."

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Q: What role does OGC play in the development of Location Based Services (LBS)?

A: In OGC's OpenLS activities, OGC members have cooperatively developed the “GeoMobility Server” (GMS), a set of specifications for open interfaces and schemas that support Location Based Services. These standards are necessary if there is to be communication of location (and time), route, types of service, etc. across diverse technology platforms, application domains, classes of products, carrier networks and national regions.

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Q: How does OGC facilitate e-commerce in geodata and geoprocessing services?

A: OGC members have cooperatively developed a standards framework for 1) easy Web-based geodata discovery and access and 2) geoprocessing Web Service discovery and access. This framework is consistent with the larger IT industry's evolving framework for e-commerce, which includes facilities for security, authentication, authorization and monetary transactions. The detailed requirements of e-commerce that are unique to geodata and geoprocessing services, and a proposed set of interfaces to meet these requirements, have been documented in an OGC discussion paper titled, "Web Pricing & Ordering Service."

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Q: What is Sensor Web Enablement?

A: OGC members have developed a set of specifications to support the building of "sensor webs," that is, networks of Web-connected geo-located sensors and imaging devices of all kinds. The specifications provide standard XML encodings for data describing sensors and sensor data and they specify interfaces for querying and controlling the sensors and imaging devices. The Observations & Measurements specification, which provides general models and XML encodings for sensor observations and measurements, promises to become an indispensable standard in science and engineering.

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Q: What are Geospatial Fusion Services (GFS)?

A: OGC members have developed a set of specifications to support the merging of diverse kinds of information that may usefully be organized as spatial information, even though they are not usually referenced spatially. For example, photographs, video clips, audio recordings and text documents referring to a place can be georeferenced and treated as spatial data, and they can be indexed for retrieval by queries that use earth coordinates or bounded regions.

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