OGC Newsletter - January 2006
News From The Blogosphere
GSDI Cookbook Wins Award
Katrina Maps and Photos Delivered Using OGC Web Service Interface Standards
Website of the Month
IP Update, New Members, OGC In The News, Events, Contact, Subscribe/Unsubscribe
Back issues of OGC News are available.
In January 2001 I became editor of OGC News. The goal then was to provide a "regular person" update on what was going on in the organization. That first issue spoke of the seven approved specifications and the handful of implementations. The organization and this publication have come a long way in those five years. As always, we want your feedback on how we can best serve those who read this document each month.
Editor, OGC News
adena [at] opengeospatial [dot] org
Looking Forward to Another Productive Year
By every measure, 2005 was a very good year for OGC, and there is every reason to believe that 2006 will be even better.
We ended the 2005 calendar year with 310 members in good standing. This represents our largest annual jump in total membership since 1999. What's fueling this growth?
While our members continue to do the necessary work on core technologies, they are also advancing new, promising types of standards to support improved interoperability in the ever expanding domain of applications that benefit from the power of location. Organizations representing new communities of interest are inquiring about OGC standards and programs and are realizing the value of taking an active role in the OGC process. Businesses and institutions involved in civil and environmental engineering, search engines, insurance, CAD/AEC, law, research and other domains represent the range of organizations actively inquiring about and joining the OGC membership family. We also have expanded global representation, with new members from the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Asia. This multidimensional broadening of scope adds momentum and strength that benefits all our members and stakeholder groups.
The feedback I have received throughout the year from members indicates that we have improved our level of member service and process transparency. Our TC/PC meetings continue to be well attended and we have an expanding set of Working Groups actively advancing new standards. We have an abundance of candidate standards moving into and through the Specification Program process. Our recent OWS-3 testbed concluded with a very successful demonstration, and for the first time we are poised to release a professionally developed and innovative multimedia summary of the testbed, which will make it easier for us to communicate the essence and value of our testbed process to prospective sponsors and members.
Product and user implementations continue to build (we topped 300 registered products this year, with many more implementations in use that have not been registered at our site). Regional, national, local and organizational policies favoring OGC-based solutions continue to grow. In particular, 2005 announcements from the European Union (INSPIRE), NATO, the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and other government agencies, programs and businesses worldwide have noted that our standards are fundamental components of successful ICT architectures .
This multidimensional broadening of scope adds momentum and strength that benefits all our members and stakeholder groups.
As more user communities are mandating use of our specifications, OGC's Board of Directors and Planning Committee have asked for improved compliance testing and certification processes, along with process recommendations to support better specification lifecycle management, that is, making our release cycles and the timing and positioning of new standard releases more predictable. We are also witnessing a growing demand for additional training, tools, reference material and schema to help make standards like the Geography Markup Language easier to implement. These are just a few of the challenges that lay ahead for 2006.
In next month's OGC News, I'll talk in more detail about some of the key challenges and opportunities that face us in this New Year. In the meantime, please send me your thoughts and ideas for the New Year. Input from members and the broader global community are critical!
OGC exists to serve as a global forum for the collaboration of developers and users of spatial data products and services, and to advance the development of common standards to bring the value of "e.location" and the geospatial web to users worldwide. As we begin a new year of work to address the challenges ahead, I want to thank OGC members, Board and staff for their superb effort in the last twelve months. I look forward with great excitement to the challenges and successes of the coming year.
NEWS FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE
Discussions of OGC specifications and interfaces are popping up all over the blogosphere (the world of blogs). A few posts worthy of note, along with input from OGC staff, follow.
Andrew Hallam, chief geek at Digital Earth Pty Ltd, writes in the Digital Earth WebBlog (part 1, part 2) about his thoughts on making GetFeatureInfo in WMS better.
"Part one will explain why I think GetFeatureInfo needs improving. Part two will suggest a mandatory GetFeatureInfo response format (as a straw man)."
Hallam notes, too, that "Digital Earth Pty Ltd is not a member of the Open Geospatial Consortium. Technical Committee membership costs USD11k, and that's not in the budget."
OGC staff responds: OGC Membership is available at a variety of levels. The membership fee for Associate membership ranges from USD$500-$4400 and is based on the organization's size and type (commercial, government, university, etc). The new membership levels can be found online.
OGC welcomes input on all topics from members and non-members alike and appreciates Mr. Hallam's interest and suggestions. Chief Technical Officer Carl Reeds notes that anyone, member or not, can submit a note on any spec to 1.) the OGC Public Forum or to 2.) requests [at] opengeospatial [dot] org. Thoughts on enhancements are welcomed and encouraged and will be passed onto the appropriate specification editor.
Brian Noyle, writing at the new ArcDeveloper.net blog touts Carbon Tools. Thanks to Jeff Harrison, CEO of Carbon Tools, for pointing out the post.
"For those of you interested in the OGC realm without writing your own XML parser/serializer for higher end OGC work, you really owe it to yourself to check out what Nuke Goldstein has done with his CarbonTools library for .NET."
Carsten Kessler at GISBlog addressed the time required for ISO approval of WMS.
"It is really amazing how long institutions like ISO need to come up with standards - especially for a spec like WMS, which has been around for years, which is widely used and has proved to be useful in hundreds of cases."
OGC staff responds: OGC has worked with ISO for many years. The OGC members agreed to release WMS to ISO to be approved as an ISO standard. The OGC and ISO had a joint edit team that worked on WMS resulting in IS19128:2005 which is identical to WMS 1.3. Each organization has its own vision and process. While we understand that some documents seem to take quite a while to be approved, we also believe that input from ISO to OGC and from OGC to ISO has been most valuable in creating the best standards possible.
Also at GISblog was this note from Theodor Foerster on OGC News and blogs.
"I just read the newsletter of the OGC for December and was really excited about it, because it contains an article about the blogosphere and the ongoing discussions about GML vs. KML. So blogs are playing an important role in the sense of formation of opinion in the web and standardization community."
The editor notes that there's still quite a lot of confusion, in the blogosphere and elsewhere, between open source and open standards.
OGC staff responds: "Open source" refers to software products where source code is made available freely for all to use and change. "Open standards" refer to interfaces and encodings that enable interoperability between various software applications and data. In the OGC, open standards are developed using an open, consensus process, are non-discriminatory in their use, are royalty free, and are publicly available for anyone to implement anywhere at anytime. OpenGIS standards are implemented broadly in all kinds of commercial and open source software solutions.
GSDI COOKBOOK WINS AWARD
The GSDI Cookbook received the Carlos A. Carvallo Yanez award from the Pan American Institute of Geography and History. The award was presented at the 20th Meeting of the Commission of Cartography in Caracas, Venezuela on November 18, 2005. The award is presented "to the author (a person or an institution) of an original work related to the areas included within the Cartography Commission and that constitutes an important contribution for the development of the discipline at a continental level. The prize consists of a diploma and medal." It is awarded every four years.
The citation refers to "Developing Spatial Data Infrastructures: The SDI Cookbook."
Version 2.0, 25 January 2004, Editor: Douglas D. Nebert, Technical Working Group Chair, GSDI, published by the GSDI Association
KATRINA MAPS AND PHOTOS DELIVERED USING OGC WEB SERVICE INTERFACE STANDARDS
(This OGC User story borrows from an article by Tyler Mitchell in his Weblog on Sep. 19, 2005 and from an article in GIS Monitor, "Imagery For the Katrina Relief Effort," by Matteo Luccio.)
by Lance McKee
OGC User editor
The Katrina website at Telascience
Many people, organizations, agencies and companies in the geospatial community collaborated to help survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Their work reflects the growing importance of interoperability based on open, consensus standards for emergency response and preparedness.
You can see some of the fruits of this collaboration in the data portal and map viewing application. Soon after Katrina hit New Orleans, a small group of individuals working in government, academia, and industry implemented an initial emergency mapping portal based on open standards and open source software. The portal provides access to a diverse and distributed collection of data provided by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), US Geological Survey (USGS), US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), and other agencies, companies and organizations. The American Red Cross, the National Institute of Urban Search and Rescue (NIUSR) and other relief agencies have been using the data portal and map viewing application in their efforts.
Figure 1: Map provided by the Telascience Katrina portal showing carcinogen sites map layer from the US National Institute of Health's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
At the second MapServer Users Meeting and the first ever North American Open Source GIS Conference that was held June 9th to 11th 2004 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Norman Vine, a software developer working with the University of New Hampshire and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, demonstrated a prototype Google Earth-like planetary viewer using multiple datasets. Norman was looking for others who might be interested in turning this into an OGC compliant widget that could use servers implementing the OpenGIS Web Map Server (WMS) Specification as data sources, in addition to "pre-cooked" locally stored files.
This widget attracted quite a bit of attention. Mark Lucas of L3-Titan, project leader for the Open Source Software Image Map (OSSIM, pronounced "awesome") toolset, saw the potential in this widget and volunteered his team to assist in developing it. This project is now known as osgPlanet. It is a cross platform Open Source project, and has been rewritten on top of the OSSIM library.
Norman was invited to present osgPlanet as one of the kickoff talks at this year's Mapserver Users meeting and it was very well received, but he said that its release was somewhat overshadowed by Google releasing Google Earth a few weeks later.
The katrina.telascience.org project is a direct result of the vision of using WMS as a data source for osgPlanet or similar "web enabled seamless mosaic viewers" based on open standards, and the expertise osgPlanet's development team acquired in preparing datasets for osgPlanet prepared them for the Katrina effort.
Background ? World Wind
NASA's World Wind project is a 3D planetary visualization system that overlays satellite imagery with weather, political, and topological map data. Users can zoom in from outer space and "fly around," much as they can with Google Earth. But unlike Google Earth, World Wind is open source. The World Wind site provides access to some data sets that are hosted at San Diego State University's Visualization Center and other data sets that are hosted on TerraServer.
One of the first add-ons developed by third-party programmers for World Wind was a plug-in that enables clients to request data from any map server that implements OGC's WMS specification. A featured World Wind base map is NASA's WMS-accessible Global Mosaic, which serves full resolution (15m), pan-sharpened Landsat for any land spot on the globe - higher geo-coverage than Google Earth. It does false-color rendering of any band combination using the OpenGIS® Styled Layer Descriptor (SLD) Specification, a specification that extends WMS to allow user-defined symbolization of feature data. Global Mosaic was funded by NASA's Geospatial Interoperability Program and implemented by Lucian Plesea of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
After the storm
Immediately after Hurricane Katrina passed over New Orleans, the US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) used an airborne camera to acquire a set of 1,500 JPEG images of the storm-damaged Gulf Coast. A NOAA systems administrator posted a note on the World Wind IRC channel that NOAA would be making the post-storm over-flight imagery available and suggested that perhaps someone could make a World Wind add-on from it. Norman Vine responded that he could get it into geotiff form so it could be served by a server through a WMS interface.
Vine worked with Garrett Potts of L3-Titan to prepare and mosaic the data using OSSIM. Working with the NOAA data and with assistance from NOAA staff, Vine and Potts created a useful product in half a day, which was an extraordinary feat, given the size of the data set. This is a testament both to their commitment and to the capabilities of OSSIM.
A World Wind Developer provided Norman with a utility that he used to turn the geotiffs into a World Wind data pack that was made available on the World Wind site.
Most users of this data wouldn't have an image processing package to use with downloaded data files, so Vine and Potts assembled a set of web mapping servers based on WMS. John Graham, from San Diego State University's Visualization Center, arranged for the Visualization Center to provide the high bandwidth and massive storage required to serve up the map images. John Graham had stood up Telascience.org at the Visualization Center several years earlier to provide free hosting and support for research and educational projects from NASA, National Science Foundation, World Resources Institute, WorldLink Media, Caltech, Naval Postgraduate School, Planetwalk.org (UN Goodwill Ambassador to the Environment), the US Navy, and many other agencies and organizations. The Visualization Center maintains a number of powerful multiprocessor servers on the University's OptIPuter 10 gigabit network, which enabled much faster processing of the images.
The Katrina maps were served up using a variety of methods prepared by Vine, Graham and others. The server that implements WMS is implemented with the University of Minnesota's open source web mapping toolkit, MapServer. The WMS interface enables a wide variety of applications to access the data on the Visualization Center's server.
For visitors who want to access the website and pan and zoom using only a web browser, the developers set up an HTML/CGI application that allows interactive viewing, again leveraging the local server's WMS interface. This web application is an implementation of the open source Chameleon map interface, an advanced WMS client that allows users to add to the map other layers from other servers on the Web that implement WMS.
Howard Butler brought in the ability to do geocoding, using Schuyler Erle's open source "geocoder.us" TIGER database query technology based on the US Census Bureau's TIGER street data. On the main page on http://katrina.telascience.org there is a portlet called "Check my house" that enables a user to enter an address and see the imagery for that location.
This geocoding capability was quickly put to use by the US Navy, who used it to geographically locate military personnel as well as civilian employees and their extended family who were located in the disaster area. Residential addresses were processed through the geocoder and plotted in two and three dimensional geographical displays for Navy decision makers.
Basic web maps in which users could overlay data layers such as highways and political boundaries on the imagery were available to website visitors within 48 hours after Vine and Potts received the imagery, and development has continued.
One important addition to Telascience's Katrina spatial data clearinghouse was a collection of datasets from the US National Institute of Health's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). The Telascience-hosted NIEHS map site gives direct access to the server described above, and the site is also reachable from a link on the NIEHS website. With the addition of NIEHS map layers such as Hazardous Air Pollutants; Metals and Metal Compounds; Chemicals Industry Facilities; OSHA Carcinogens; and Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic Chemicals, the Telascience server now provides 46 Katrina-related data layers through the open WMS interface and through the browser application.
Looking to the future
Much of the work that was done to provide maps and images for the Katrina relief effort can be reused in future relief efforts. The volunteer effort has produced not only software and data, but organizational connections that will be helpful when (not if) other hurricanes cause devastation along the Gulf Coast.
These lessons learned about best practices are apparent: Any data that might be useful in disaster management ought to be available on a server or servers that have open interfaces, At a minimum, these should be interfaces that implement the WMS specification for access to map images. Also, the data and its server should be discoverable by means of standards-based, XML-encoded metadata registered in a catalog that conforms to the OpenGIS Catalog Services Specification. Geospatial One-Stop and USGS's The National Map provide such catalogs. When critical data is accessible via open interfaces and is discoverable through a catalog that anyone can use, the data has much more value in efforts to save lives, property, and ecosystems. Expert volunteer geospatial technologists will still be needed, but their time will be applied more productively if they can use this relatively simple infrastructure. The technology for this life-saving, money-saving disaster mitigation infrastructure is already available. It just needs to be deployed at local, state and federal levels.
WEBSITE OF THE MONTH
From the Czech Republic comes this clever free (General Public License) command line tool, MapGrab, which will grab an image from a Web Map Service and deliver it complete with georeferencing information.
The website notes that it is "Especially intended for personal or educational use" and warns that one should be aware of "possible legal restrictions when using data created from public map servers!"
Mapgrab will turn imagery from a WMS into a single georeferenced downloadable file.
Know of a website that uses OpenGIS specifications to solve a real world problem or demonstrates an interesting use? Drop the adena [at] opengeospatial [dot] org (editor) an e-mail with the details including the URL, organization behind the website, specifications used, technology used and the goal of the website.
OGC Web Services 3 (OWS-3)
The OWS-3 collaboration will extend the OGC baseline to enable an interoperable, multi-source decision support environment. The effort to date has produced nearly 25 Interoperability Program Reports (IPRs), several of which were considered by the Specification Program at the Bonn meeting in November. Others are expected to be considered at future meetings.
These documents are currently available to the public: SensorML as an OGC Best Practices document, Sensor Observation Service, Sensor Planning Service, and TransducerML as Discussion Papers.
Based on the results of OWS-3 and other inputs, we have begun to plan
OWS-4 for 2006. (See press release below.)
Kentucky Landscape Census (KLC)
The system development is winding down for the Kentucky Landscape Census. The team expects to deploy an operational system in Spring.
The Kentucky Watershed Modeling Information Portal (KWMIP) Request for Quotations / Proposals to build the KWMIP reference portal will be released later this month. The User Needs Assessment document and input from several Technical Advisory Group (TAG) meetings have been synthesized into a Use Case document that will form the key part of that request. RFQ/P notification will be via usual OGC sources (press release, etc.) and respondents will have 30 days to reply.
OGC welcomes new members who joined us recently.
GIM Geographic Information Management NV (Belgium)
Iintegrate Systems (Australia)
Institut Geographique National (France)
Institute for Scientific Research (United States)
LuraTech Imaging GmbH (Germany)
NATO C3 Agency (Belgium)
National Institute of Building Sciences (United States)
Overwatch Systems (United States)
SiRF Technology (United States)
UN Environment Programme (Kenya)
University of Wisconsin-Madison/State Cartographer's Office (United States)
OGC IN THE NEWS
- OGC in the Press
On Point ? The New Sense of Place
National Public Radio show explores the geospatial Web.
January 3, 2006
OGC and Complementary Standards now Required (PDF)
December 22, 2005
Upgrade to CarbonTools Open-Geospatial .NET Toolkit
December 15, 2005
Open Spatial Web Improves Decision Support
December 14, 2005
Geographic Exploration Systems Lead the Way
December 14, 2005
Consortia Collaborate with AEC and Geospatial Worlds
December 14, 2005
- OGC Press Releases
OGC(R) Announces Call for Sponsors for Spatial Web Services Initiative
January 6, 2006
OGC Requests Public Comment on Geospatial Web Processing Service Specification
January 5, 2006
The Open Geospatial Consortium's Web Map Service (WMS) Approved as International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Standard
December 8, 2005
January 23-26, 2006
DGI Europe 2006 - London
March 6-10, 2006
OGC Technical and Planning Committee Meetings
April 3-5, 2006
San Francisco, CA
Location Intelligence Conference 2006
April 23-26, 2006
GITA's Annual Conference 29
May 25-56, 2006
ISO/TC 211 22th Plenary
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
Open Geospatial Consortium
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Wayland MA 01778-5037
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Fax: +1 508 655 2237
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Copyright 2006 by the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc.