OGC Newsletter - June 2003
News From the Dulles Meeting
Emerging Technology Summit Engages Attendees
Upcoming Interoperability Event
IP Update, New Members, OGC In The News, Events, Contact, Subscribe/Unsubscribe
Back issues of OGC News are available.
This month OGC marked a major milestone in the history of geospatial information technology. In a pilot project sponsored by the US federal government to establish a standards-based architecture on which future public-sector portal procurements are to be based, OGC members created and demonstrated an open geospatial portal architecture and a prototype standards-based, multi-vendor reference portal. Development of the portal and architecture was heavily subsidized by in-kind contributions from many software vendors and integrators. The architecture is a mainstream web-services model for the vendor-neutral geospatial portals that will soon be the key medium by which people, agencies and companies publish, find, share and use geospatial information.
Details of this highly successful project will soon be released in an OGC white paper entitled: "An OGC Guide to Implementing Standards-Based Portals." This document will enable both developers and users to build "open-as-the-Web" distribution and access points for geospatial data and geospatial Web Services and it will provide data and service providers with information on how to effectively and efficiently connect with geospatial portals. OGC's portal pilot project illustrated beyond doubt that a geospatial portal, entirely within the open spirit of the web, can be built quickly and collaboratively, using a rich variety of existing COTS products from a variety of vendors from around the world -- based on interfaces that implement existing OpenGIS Specifications.
Using a browser-based user interface, the portal brought to a distributed group of map and data servers a new level of discovery (through the OpenGIS Catalog Services Specification) and access (through the OpenGIS Web Map Server Specification, Web Coverage Service Specification, Web Feature Server Specification, Geography Markup Language and others).
OGC's reference portal and architecture also offer a rich set of tools for application developers to 1) integrate portal capabilities directly into their robust GIS applications, and 2) insert geospatial portal capabilities directly into other existing web sites and portals. These latter capabilities are ground breaking: for the first time, a standards-based architecture is effective in facilitating the integration of services across networks and computing platforms in a straightforward, understandable fashion.
There is more, too much to describe here. The important fact is that this prototype standards-based portal, depending on open interfaces for communication between many vendors' products, was shown to perform without a flaw and demonstrated more compatibility, performance and reliability than any proprietary geospatial portal has yet been able to demonstrate.
The OpenGIS Portal Architecture provides a foundation for portals that enable people to easily do useful things, things reasonable to expect in the context of the Web: fine-grained searches and varied queries, looking at maps with lots of information in them, overlaying maps, letting the computer/network do the computing. These open, scaleable, configurable geospatial portals will use best-of-breed components (and also previously stove-piped legacy systems). It will be easy for local integrators to build local, state, tribal, regional, national, international and private sector portals that connect easily and provide tailored access to each other's data services. Web sites that are not portals will give users access to portal resources, just as portals direct people (and processes) to remote resources.
One such resource was demonstrated to the US Census Bureau on June 13. The second pilot project in OGC's Critical Infrastructure Protection Initiative (CIPI-2) showed Web-based, vendor-neutral interactive collection and approval/signing of detailed boundary information, address break information and base map feature insertion and update. OpenGIS Specifications provide the foundation for updating Governmental Unit Boundaries, one of the seven US NSDI Framework Layers, and for updating and distributing TIGER/GMLä data.
Communities have developed and maintain their geodata at the local level, and they have used a variety of data models. This diversity, often unavoidable, inhibits automated data sharing. OGC is actively prototyping solutions in conjunction with US government and is working with the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) on semantic interoperability issues. OGC's near term solutions offer local, state and provincial governments significant opportunity for cost savings: They can simply map from their models to the national models which are evolving in most nations through negotiation. Any fields that can't map are then the fields that must be updated or negotiated. This is a far cry from trying to get the entire nation of thousands of communities to embrace a single data content standard!
Portals provide a vehicle for this. Imagine a pane in a portal's home page dedicated to data coordination. In that pane there are links to pages for information communities (transportation, water and sewer, public safety, etc.). Those pages are forums for reconciling community information needs. Think about e-Government and data policy as topics for listservs, blogs, chats and virtual meetings offered through links on first a few, then hundreds, then thousands of geospatial portals. Portals are the doorway to progress.
The key is open standards and interoperability. Together, we build the open Spatial Web on top of the open Web. We build a major forum for community reconciliation of data model standards and data policy on a portal platform built through community reconciliation of spatial technology interoperability issues.
David Schell, President, OGC
NEWS FROM THE DULLES MEETING
The 46th OGC meetings hosted by Northrop Grumman Information Technology were held in Dulles, Virginia from June 9th through June 12th. The following were the key votes from these meetings:
1. The Web Map Context Document (03-036r1) was approved as an Adopted OpenGIS® Implementation Specification Version 1.0. WM Context allows for "state" information about a Web Map Service session to be captured, named, stored, and shared between applications.
2. The Location Services Interface Package as detailed in the RFC submission (OGC Document 03-006r1 and 03-007r1) was approved as an adopted OpenGIS Implementation Specification version 0.0. The LS Interface Package defines interfaces including those for a Directory Service (a Yellow Pages used to "find the nearest" or a specific product or service), Gateway Service (fetches the position of a mobile device from the network), Geocoder Service (converts a location, such as a street address to a point with latitude/longitude), Presentation (Map Portrayal) Service (draws a map), Reverse Geocoder Service (transforms a given position into a description of a feature location, such as a street address), and a Route Service (creates a travel route). The Navigation Service Extension, an enhanced version of the Route Service is part of the RFC, but contained in a separate document.
3. The Critical Infrastructure Collaborative Environment (CICE) Architecture (Documents 03-055, 03-061, 03-062, 03-063) will be released as a public OGC Discussion Paper. The voluntary efforts of the CIPI Advisory Committee Architecture working group (AWG) members has culminated in a series of documents that help to describe the architecture. These are the CICE Enterprise, Information, Computational, and Engineering viewpoint specifications. AWG intends to present these at the upcoming Technical Committee meeting in hopes of turning them into discussion papers.
4. The document "Application Objects DIPR" (OGC Document 03-064r1) will be released as an OGC public Discussion Paper. By way of background, Geospatial Objects (GO) is an on-going OGC Interoperability Initiative. The states objectives for GO-1 include the ability to: a) Extend OGC's focus beyond Web-based Services; Provide for needs of future interoperability on multiple computing platforms; b) Allow developers to take advantage of components on any development platform. UML is being used to capture and express the essence of information and services.
5. The document "XML Binary Encoding" (03-002r8) will be released as an OGC public Discussion Paper. The binary-encoding method described in this document is applicable to all XML documents and not just GML and scientific-data formats, though many XML documents are not necessarily bulky enough to benefit greatly from binary encoding. The binary encoding is directly equivalent to the textual encoding and it is possible to translate any lone XML document to and from the binary representation with no loss of information. The binary stream is also parseable and generable sequentially on-the-fly, as textual XML is, but optional indexing and direct-random-access capabilities (e.g., of "ID" attributes) are also available.
EMERGING TECHNOLOGY SUMMIT ENGAGES ATTENDEES
OGC and the Geospatial Industry Technologies Association (GITA) presented the Emerging Technology Summit (ETS) June 5-6, in Vienna, Virginia. The goal of this event, part of the organizations' series of joint programs, was to present the state of the art in spatial Web Services and to stimulate dialog about related policy issues.
Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and Director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), spoke about the critical importance of spatial issues and the relationship between the emerging Spatial Web and Semantic Web. Jim Geringer, former Governor of Wyoming and Past Chair of the Western Governors' Association and the Education Commission of the States discussed the role of geospatial Web services in advancing government and citizen services. These two speakers and panels of industry experts participated in moderated discussions with attendees.
UPCOMING INTEROPERABILITY EVENT
The Institute for Defense & Government Advancement will host the 2003 Interoperability conference, a forum for the exchange of ideas on ways to address interoperability in the US military. This conference will include high-level discussions from the Services, OSD, Joint Staff, Combatant Commands, Federal Agencies and Industry on ways to manage process and systems integration across the Department of Defense and related federal departments. Sessions will address ways that interoperability in the information age can create synergy in the DoD enterprise and increased joint warfighting advantage in the operational theater.
OGC is supporting this event, scheduled for October 15 - 17, 2003 at the Doubletree Hotel Crystal Cit, Arlington, VA. For more
Critical Infrastructure Protection Initiative 2 (CIPI-2)
Two prototype applications were developed and demonstrated to the U.S. Census Bureau Geography Division recently by OGC team members Galdos Systems, Inc. (Canada), Syncline, Inc. (US), and Northrop Grumman Information Technology, TASC (US). The WebTIGER application allows those with access to a Web browser to access and download TIGER data encoded in a vendor neutral format -- Geography Markup Language (GML) -- an OGC specification for encoding geographic features in XML. The WebBAS application provides local government users with access to a Web browser an interactive standards-based capability to report changes to the boundaries of their governmental units by responding to the Boundary and Annexation Survey (BAS) online, instead of on paper survey forms and maps. Anne Satterlee of the City of Fort Pierce, Florida was the first local tester of the on-line WebBAS application. She found the system a major improvement over the paper survey and appreciated that it saves time, is more accurate, and is more responsive to local needs.
Critical Infrastructure Collaborative Environment (CICE)
The ability to share, integrate and apply information between collaborating communities for critical infrastructure protection and emergency response has been a challenge for many years. OGC members voted to release a document describing the Critical Infrastructure Collaborative Environment (CICE) Architecture, as noted above. The CICE Architecture can be downloaded at http://ip.opengeospatial.org/cip/arch.html.
The Open GIS Consortium welcomes our members who've joined us since May 2003:
BEA Government Systems, Inc.
Feng Chia University
WALIS Office (Western Australia Land Information System)
Dept. of Urban Services (Australian Capital Territory)
OGC IN THE NEWS
OGC in the Press
Lessons from Building the Spatial Web
June 1, 2003
Weaving GIS into IT: One Plus One Equals Three
May 28, 2003
Business Continuity and Security Rely on Spatial Information
Putting IT on the Map
May 15, 2003
The OGC: Its Mission to Reach Out to Professionals it Affects the Most
April 16, 2003
"Breaking the Barriers"
Discussing Issues and Trends in GI Internationally
OGC Press Releases
OGC Releases Web Map Service Cookbook
May 28, 2003
Open GIS Consortium Launches OGC User Magazine
May 12, 2003
June 30 - July 2, 2003
Information Sharing & Homeland Security Conference
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
July 20-24, 2003
GML Dev Days 2003
Conference & Exhibition
October 13-17, 2003
OGC Technical and Planning Committee Meetings
October 15 - 17, 2003
IDGA Interoperability 2003
January 12-16, 2004 (tentative)
OGC Technical and Planning Committee Meetings
For further info on events please contact gbuehler [at] opengeospatial [dot] org (Greg Buehler).
Please send comments and suggestions to:
adena [at] opengeospatial [dot] org (Adena Schutzberg)
Editor, OGC News
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Copyright 2003 by the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc.