Benefits of Using Open Standards for Emergency Preparedness and Response

The 2005 National Science and Technology Committee report Grand Challenges for Disaster Reduction puts this challenge first: "Provide hazard and disaster information where and when it is needed." Much of this information, critical for situational awareness and a common operational picture is presented through digital maps or location services that depend on Web-based access to a multiple servers that provide data and processing resources (services).
Fast access to diverse Web-based sources of geospatial information depends on standards developed in the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC). Emergency Management benefits from these in many ways:
  • Software that implements OGC standards cuts down on the time it takes to find crucial information, combine different information layers and change and share information on remote servers.
  • Shortening the time for these tasks and making more information available means quicker emergency response. That means more lives and property saved and a safer environment for first responders.
  • The real time ad-hoc nature of emergency response is well served by standards that enable system users to add new information. Standards enable adaptability.
  • Multiple distributed Internet-resident resources are more resilient than centralized data repositories or communications links. The Internet was designed to make it possible to route around chaos and lost connections.
  • In the old interoperability model, sharing of information was enabled by restricting participants to a single hardware and/or software platform. Such platforms can continue to be used - by users inside
How OGC Membership Benefits Emergency Response
In the OGC, technology developers and technology users are able to:
  • Develop needed standards in an industry consortium with a proven track record and experience in working with other standards organizations.
  • Work with all the major geospatial vendors, who are already engaged in the OGC consensus process.
  • Membership facilitates collaboration with other governments on geospatial issues.
  • See fast development and commercial uptake - Vendors are committed, so results appear quickly.
  • Take advantage of opportunities for business development, public relations and representing your company's and customers' needs. As a vendor, reduce R&D costs.
  • As a government or commercial user, provide requirements to shape the standards so they address risk management needs. As a user, reduce procurement costs.

To learn more about what the OGC is doing and how your organization can benefit from participation, contact:

Sam Bacharach Executive
Director, Outreach and Community Adoption Program
Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc.
Phone: (703) 352-3938
sbacharach [at]
George Percivall
Executive Director, Interoperability Architecture
Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc.
Phone: (301) 560-6439
gpercivall [at]


View A Demonstration

An online video of the Emergency Management scenario in the most recent OGC Web Services Testbed can be found at: