OGC Newsletter - January 2003
OGC Interoperability Program Readies for Active 2003
OGC In The News
Back issues of OGC News are available.
OWS Policy Dialog
Like W3C and IETF, we are a global organization successful in evolving "open systems" practice. Around the world, there is now widespread agreement that OWS should be the foundation for services-based spatial information integration projects. A large and rapidly growing body of commercial products featuring implementations of OpenGIS Specifications (R) (http://www.opengeospatial.org/testing/product/index.php) provides one measure of acceptance. Recommendations of OpenGIS Specifications as an enabling technology by Europe's INSPIRE program, the US Federal Geographic Data Committee, the Australian Spatial Information Council and other national and sub-national agencies provide another measure of acceptance.
Though W3C, IETF and OGC are not public policy bodies, our members frequently discuss how open systems information technology affects, and is affected by, public policy. Such organizations do not create public policy, but because the inescapable realities imposed by technology frequently intersect with the inescapable realities imposed by public policy, we can't help being a forum for public policy discussion.
As the managers of OGC we take seriously our responsibilities as de facto stewards of such a forum. Though our main task is running a process for specification development, we encourage our members and the public to consider the portentous push and pull of technology and policy in areas such as:
- Patents: Patents can reward and motivate innovation or stifle innovation, depending on various conditions such as the rate of technology change, degree of dissemination, and the mix of "implementation" vs. "process" content.
- Copyrights: Similar issues apply with respect to copyrighted data. Data ownership implies the "right to use". Here again, with respect to the development of a robust spatial data infrastructure, such rights can be restrictive or liberating. Usage policy is a powerful force in shaping the commercial and public elements of spatial data infrastructures.
- Rules attached to funding: Data mandates (and what other regulations?) should be structured to overcome data sharing obstacles.
- Security: Security is a continuing concern for web services. There is yet no agreed on set of standards for secure web services. What are the policy implications in the spatial domain?
- Semantics and ontology: If vocabulary and grammar shape the world, how do schemas shape the world? Whose schemas rule?
There are other issues. We have faith that all can be resolved through informed development of a technical and legal infrastructure that supports business models in tune with a shared vision of a good future for humankind. What does it mean to develop and govern a truly open and constructive information infrastructure in which many commercial marketplaces flourish within a flourishing culture? What do we call progress?
OGC has so far been instrumental in encouraging a spirit of openness in the geospatial community, a spirit which is indeed consonant with the creativity that gave rise to the internet and the World Wide Web. As OGC's specifications and reference model become an integral part of the web environment, it is our fond hope that the values that drive OGC, W3C and IETF will stay in convergence and that these values will influence policy in a positive way for all stakeholders.
In the next few months, OGC will be launching its new web site, which will include a page, eventually perhaps a portal, devoted to a deepening dialog on policy issues. We invite your participation.
David Schell, President, OGC
OGC INTEROPERABILITY PROGRAM READIES FOR ACTIVE 2003
In 1998, the OGC created an innovative new approach to specification development: the Interoperability Program (IP). IP was designed to accelerate the development of new draft implementation specifications for consideration by the Technical Committee (TC). From this perspective, IP has been quite successful.
Today a new challenge has arisen: OGC needs to stabilize its adopted technology baseline (present, short-term, and long-term), so that implementers will have an OGC technology baseline to use when deciding which OGC specifications to implement and at what time. Users will also find a documented baseline useful because a more complete and detailed "view of the future" or roadmap will be available. We envision a process where future work can build on a stabilized foundation of past work and where new functionality (and corresponding specifications) will be identified and subsequently entered into the technical baseline. In the near term, IP will focus activity. on stabilizing the baseline. Once the baseline of specifications is considered mature and harmonized, the focus will then shift to new specifications rather than existing ones.
To achieve this vision IP is working closely with the Specification Program (SP) to establish three technical baseline plans:
- Adopted Technical Baseline (ATB)
- In-Progress Technical Baseline (ITB)
- Geospatial Interoperability Research (GIR)
ATB includes documents that are viewed by the membership as being relatively stable and are targeted for adoption or revision in the current year. These documents include member approved Implementation Specifications, member submitted Requests for Comment (RFC) and publicly released Discussion Papers that are likely to be submitted as RFCs in the near future. The ATB also focuses on identifying work for the current year. For example, the following set of specifications may become part of the 2003 ATB (pending OGC Technical and Planning Committee review):
Web Map Service 1.2, Styled Layer Descriptor 1.1, Web Map Service Context 1.0, Web Coverage Service 1.0, Web Feature Service, Catalog Service 2.0, Geography Markup Language 3.0, and the XML for Location Services (including, Presentation Service, Location Utility Service, Directory Service, Route Determination Service, Navigation Service, and Gateway Service).
ITB includes draft specifications that are not yet considered to be mature or harmonized with existing adopted specifications. These draft specifications are worked as Interoperability Program Reports (IPR) in IP or as draft specifications in SP Work Groups. In either case, they have not been released by the TC as Discussion Papers or, in the case of certain IPRs, IP considers them to still require significant work prior to their submission as RFCs to the
GIR includes new areas of research and development in geospatial interoperability. These topics may not have not been significantly researched in an IP initiative. Most likely, these research topics have not been considered in any prior initiative.
To be successful in defining and maintaining a technology baseline and implementing the approach described above, we need an agreed upon process. For example, ATB specification work in 2003 will primarily focus on conformance test development, bug fixes to existing adopted specifications, and critical design, testing and operational validation activities necessary to mature the ATB. ITB draft specification work will consider new functionality, improve stability of a given draft specification, or both. When these draft specifications are stabilized, and based on member approval, they will migrate to ATB status. GIR will be in a state of flux. New requirements will be identified and the applicability of those topics would be examined. As the GIR requirements stabilize these will migrate into ITB status.
During 2003, expect to see these changes implemented. We expect them to accelerate the adoption of OGC specifications, to increase their uptake and use, and most of all, to keep you better informed as to the focus of OGC in any given year.
Jeff Harrison, Executive Director, Interoperability Program
Question: What's the difference between a specification and a standard?
Answer: There are several similarities.
From an OGC point of view, both specifications and standards are documents written for software engineers and are designed to convey the consensus of their proponents. Both types of documents address issues such as formats, protocols, encodings, schema, file transfer, access, quality, and other aspects of information and process sharing, and provide guidance to the engineer on software design and behavior.
There are several differences.
The authority of a specification rests on its inherent technical excellence and on the breadth of its acceptance in the marketplace. On the other hand, the authority of a standard derives from the authority of the standard setting organization (SSO) sponsoring it. This may be a professional organization (e.g., the American Institute of Architects) or a political one (e.g., the United Nations).
From an OGC point of view, many standards are written at an "abstract" level. That is, they are open to some interpretation, and two different software engineers would probably implement them in two significantly different ways, leading to loss of interoperability. OpenGIS(R) specifications are focused not just on the interfaces between components of a common GIS-enabled environment, but also upon providing sufficiently detailed models, structures, and behaviors to the software engineer so that his/her implementation interoperates with those from other implementers.
Finally, OpenGIS specifications are conceived, written, and approved with the consensus of the primary players in the marketplace for geospatial goods and services. It is this "head start" in the global market that is the primary distinguishing feature of OpenGIS specifications.
Cliff Kottman, Chief Scientist
The Open GIS Consortium welcomes our members who've joined us since December 2002:
DIGO, Dept. of Defence (Australia)
Naval Research Lab
Oklahoma State University
Smart Data Strategies
In the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT we see interoperability as the key to a new era of geographic information systems. Our society continues to become more sophisticated in its demand for and consumption of information, and no one university, company or government agency can hope to 'go it alone' in assembling, cross-referencing, and analyzing all the information that is relevant to urban issues. The mission of the Open GIS Consortium complements our efforts to understand how we can share spatial data and harness modern technologies to better manage and improve our urban environments. Issues ranging from more efficient government operations to informing public debate around planning and policy will be better served by the technology the members of the OGC strive to create.
While our participation in OGC activities is intellectually stimulating from a software engineering perspective, we feel that the most important role we can fill is in representing local governments, non-profits and other community-based organizations in the process. These groups are not likely to have the resources or technical sophistication to participate directly, yet they stand to benefit greatly from the results. We feel uniquely suited to help give voice to these groups' needs by testing the ideas of the OGC in classes, research projects, and real communities.
Joseph Ferreira, Jr.
Professor of Urban Studies and Operations Research
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
OGC IN THE NEWS
- OGC in the Press
Enable Your Enterprise with Open Web Services
Christopher Tucker and Vincent Dessard
GeoNorge: Moving Fast, Moving Smooth
Census Will Count County Lines via Web
Government Computer News
Susan M. Menke
Jan 10, 2003
IONIC Raises the Standard
A Brief History of LBS and How OpenLS Fits Into the New Value Chain (PDF)
- OGC Press Releases
OGC Approves Important Spatial Catalog Specification
January 22, 2003
Ron Fresne Joins OGC as Initiatives Manager
January 21, 2003
OGC OGC Demonstrates the Future of Interoperable Web Services
January 17, 2003
OGC Critical Infrastructure Protection Initiative Moves Forward With Strong Industry Commitments
January 17, 2003
OGC Launches OpenGIS Conformance Testing Initiative
January 10, 2003
OGC Announces Critical Infrastructure Protection Initiative Phase 2 Kickoff
January 09, 2003
February 4, 2003
Reston, VA, USGS Facility
February 10-14, 2003
OGCTechnical and Planning Committee Meetings
March 2-5, 2003
San Antonio, Texas
GITA's 26th Annual Conference
March 16-19, 2003
Vancouver, BC, Canada
The GeoTec Event
April 7-11, 2003
OGC Technical and Planning Committee Meetings
For further info on events please contact Greg Buehler,
gbuehler [at] opengeospatial.org.
Please send comments and suggestions to:
Editor, OGC News
adena [at] opengeospatial.org
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Copyright 2003 by the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc.