OGC Newsletter - April 2001
All About OpenLS
OGC and ISO: How We Work Together
News From the Liege Meeting
OGC In The News
Back issues of OGC News are available.
One way to look at the history of geoprocessing is to focus on the tasks involved in each time period. The earliest "pre-GIS" work focused on making the hardware and software do simple tasks. The next phase involved database building - there was a great deal of digitizing, scanning, updating and correcting of spatial and tabular information. The third phase, characterized by full desktop GIS and later "Internet GIS", revolves around publishing data and services to those who need them. I would now like to suggest that an emerging "fourth phase" addresses location-based services, and that as an industry, our goal is now to use a person's location (or a car's or an asset's location) as the key data for solving spatial questions.
This "fourth phase" presents us with a whole new set of challenges. These include a variety of devices, software platforms, wireless protocols, privacy issues and, of course, user expectations. While out at work or play, users may, for example, want access to a form of "yellow pages" based on their location; or they may want to locate a specific business or the closest gas station. Or a traveler might want to get access to specific route directions either presented in text or on a map starting with a current position.
Making all this happen within the technology environment of a single wireless carrier, a single device type and a single data source might be a reasonable exercise. However, attempting to provide such services to a variety of platforms (handhelds, mobile phones, in-car computers, etc.), using different carriers, different data sources, a variety of location determination capabilities and service providers...all this is certain to be a nightmare... unless we build appropriate standards as soon as possible.
And, of course, in addition to consumer demand, there are business expectations as well! The Kelsey Group predicts that the location-based service (LBS) market is expected to exceed $11 billion in revenue with as many as $1B Internet-enabled handsets in use by the year 2005. For any one of the many players (carriers, data vendors, software developers...) to get their share of such a rapidly growing market, they will need to be able to work with as many of the related technology providers as possible.
User demands and vendor community needs drive OGC's Open Location Services Initiative. OGC believes that without interoperability standards neither end-users nor vendors will be satisfied with the LBS industry offerings or resultant revenue.
David Schell, President, Open GIS Consortium
The planning for an OpenLS OGC Interoperability Initiative is well underway, and heading for a testbed kickoff this summer. It has taken some time to prepare; groundwork for a new initiative can take six to nine months before technical work begins. Here's some of what's gone on behind the scenes to prepare for the upcoming testbed.
The OpenLS website (www.openls.org) was launched on October 30, 2000 coinciding with release of the Request for Technology (RFT). The RFT solicited technical input on a proposed architecture and demonstration requirements for a testbed, basically asking companies involved in or interested in developing standards what they have to offer. The scope of interest warranted moving the deadline forward a full month. In the end, a dozen organizations came forward with technology.
A Call for Sponsors (CFS) was issued to solicit organizations having location-based requirements that can be met with open specifications. Sponsor requirements direct the testbeds so that the resulting specifications address "real world" solutions. A Sponsor meeting was held at the end of January 2001 to work through the various interests. Sponsors are still being finalized at this time.
The planning phase of the testbed continues until the Request for Quotations (RFQ) is released later this year. At that time organizations that wish to participate can come forward with their ideas on how to proceed. Participants selected from the responses to the RFQ should be selected by mid-summer. The kick-off for the testbed is slated for August 2001.
For more information on OpenLS participation please contact Louis Hecht, VP Business Development, lhecht [at] opengeospatial.org.
OGC is not a de jure standards organization, carrying the authority of government. Instead, it is a de facto organization, whose product is implementation-level interface specifications that carry the consensus of its members. OGC recognizes the value of the "stamp" of conformance from de jure organizations, like the International Standards Organization (ISO), on its adopted specifications. Such a "stamp" implies much broader consensus and usually clears the path for international use.
There are several de jure bodies whose scope overlaps that of OGC. One stands out as especially well-aligned with the mission of OGC: the ISO Technical Committee 211, whose title is Geographic Information / Geomatics.
As a rule of thumb, ISO/TC211's standards are written at a relatively abstract level, leaving room for many possible interpretations. OGC's procedures provide for the addition of implementation detail in a consensus-building process, and require that working demonstrations of interoperability be demonstrated before a specification is adopted as an OpenGIS Implementation Specification.
When this procedure is carefully followed, the result is an Implementation Specification that can be resubmitted to ISO for certification as an International Standard. This typically requires a good measure of coordination between ISO/TC211 and OGC. The TC211/OGC Coordinating Group (TOCG) operates under a Cooperative Agreement written in 1999 between the two groups and manages that coordination.
The whole process has been effective and successful, and several OpenGIS Implementation Specifications are about to be "double branded" as both OpenGIS Implementation Specifications and ISO International Standards. These include ISO 19125-1 and -2 (the Simple Feature Access Common Part, and the SQL Implementation.) The ISO 19125-3 (OLE/COM Implementation) is in line, as is ISO 19128 (Web Map Server Interface). OGC intends to submit all of its OpenGIS Implementation Specifications for approval as ISO International Standards.
Cliff Kottman, VP Technology, OGC
International Organization for Standardization http://www.iso.ch/
The April OGC meeting was held in Liege, Belgium and hosted by IONIC Software. The big news out of Liege was the passage of GML 2.0 as an Interoperability Specification. The highlight of the meeting was the presentation by Mr. Philippe Busquin, Member of the European Commission at the Wednesday evening reception.
Much of Mr. Busquin's talk focused on the role of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) within the EC. He pointed out that these companies, numbering nearly 18 million, are Europe's main competitive asset. They also provide 60% of the employment. Further, he explained, the high tech SMEs are the real future for Europe and its role within the world.
He pointed to Galileo, a constellation of GPS satellites in the works for Europe, as one of the EC's main technology goals and highlighted the role it will play in developing new applications. He concluded by highlighting an interoperability success in Europe: "We would never have developed a global success story like the GSM mobile phone in Europe if the relevant standard during the '80s (eighties) had not been produced."
<>GML 2.0 passed just prior to the Liege meeting. It is now an Open GIS Implementation Specification.
Details of the specifications http://www.opengeospatial.org/specs/specs.htm
con terra GmbH has implemented the Catalog Services Specification for CORBA in its con terra Catalog Server 1.0.
c-plan has implemented the Simple Features Specification for SQL in its TOPOBASE Geodataserver based on ORACLE.
These products have not been submitted for conformance testing at this time.
If you would like to add a product with an implementation of an OGC specification to our register, please contact Greg Buehler, gbuehler [at] opengeospatial.org.
Conformant Product Listing http://www.opengeospatial.org/techno/conformance.htm#products
The Interoperability Program (IP) is a global, collaborative, hands-on engineering and testing program designed to deliver proven candidate specifications into OGC's Specification Development Program.
The Geospatial Fusion Services Pilot Project is nearing completion this month. OGC recently conducted a demo of the world's first Geospatial Fusion Services system at sponsor In-Q- Tel's facility. Evaluation and feedback are expected in the coming months. This project aims to test a technology for a Location Organizer Folder (LOF), a way to organize a variety of data with a spatial component (documents, maps and other types).
The Military Pilot Project (MPP) kicked off April 3, sponsored by In-Q-Tel and US Army ERDC. Participants include Cubewerx, Intergraph, Skyline Software, Syncline, Lockheed Martin, Compusult, University of Alabama at Huntsville, 3i, Ionic Software, Polexis and Laser-Scan. The emphasis of work is visualization, discovery, and value adding to spatial data. This pilot project is expected to impact several specs.
The OGC Network Initiative is just underway with two sponsors. The goal is to build, with member support, a reusable testing framework for use in and outside OGC.
The Civil Works Technology Insertion Project is underway with sponsorship of US Army ERDC. The goal here is to lay the groundwork for interoperability - data sharing in this case - for several existing Army offices and universities.
OGC Web Services (OWS) Initiative has a Request for Technology outstanding with comments due by May 14. This initiative focuses on open interfaces for Sensor Web Enablement, 4D, Web-based Exploitation services, Geospatial Decision Support services, and Information Community Enablement.
"The USGS serves a wide variety of users by providing reliable scientific information and understanding to help resolve complex natural resource problems across the Nation and around the world. Open standards and interoperable spatial technologies are valuable tools that support our efforts to provide improved access and usability of our natural science information."
Barbara Ryan Associate Director of Geography US Geological Survey
If you'd like to share your thoughts on what the Open GIS Consortium means to your organization, please contact the editor, editor [at] opengeospatial.org.
The Open GIS Consortium welcomes our members who've joined us since March 2001.
3i (Information Interoperability Institute)
Associate - Commercial
Core Software Technology
Associate - Commercial
George Mason University
Associate - University
Technical University of Munich
Associate - University
-OGC in the Press
John Hughes examines the role of interoperability in spatial data availability in his editorial this month.
Interoperability Bolsters Geospatial Data Availability - John Hughes, GeoWorld, April 2001 http://www.geoplace.com/gw/2001/0401/0401ed.asp
Cliff Kottman, OGC VP of Technology Development, was quoted in the April 5, 2001, New York Times article about using location in Internet searching.
What's Next: Location is the New Rule for Net Searches, Catherine Greenman, New York Times, Apr 5, 2001 (free, but you will need to register) http://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/05/technology/05NEXT.html
-OGC Press Releases
Apr 16, 2001 OGC Announces Technology Insertion Project
Apr 4, 2001 OGC Issues RFP for Feature Geometry http://www.opengeospatial.org/press/?page=pressrelease&year=0&prid=48
Apr 4, 2001 Shell International Exploration And Production Joins OGC
Apr 4, 2001 OpenGIS (OGC) Reaches Key Milestone in
Development of a Geography Markup Language Specification to Enable
Interoperable Web Mapping
Mar 28, 2001 OGC Releases a Request for Technology for a Major Web Services Initiative
Press releases and other press information can be found in our Press Room.
June 4-8, 2001 Nashua, NH, USA OGC Technical and Planning Committee Meetings
September 10-14, 2001 Alexandria, VA, USA OGC Technical and Planning Committee Meetings
December 3-7, 2001 Vancouver, BC, Canada OGC Technical and Planning Committee Meetings
OGC Events Calendar http://www.opengeospatial.org/ogcEvents.htm
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Copyright 2001 by the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc.