OGC Newsletter - February 2006
News and Opinion From The Blogosphere
An Open European Soil Portal
Website of the Month
IP Update, New Members, OGC In The News, Events, Contact, Subscribe/Unsubscribe
Back issues of OGC News are available.
Challenges Ahead in 2006
OGC® is advancing a comprehensive framework of interoperability via its adopted standards, and more are on the way. As I mentioned in my message last month, we had a very successful 2005. But our rapid progress on a number of fronts brings us up against important challenges for 2006. I'd like to share the "challenge areas" that I have identified in my dialog with OGC members and individuals in the global community.
From a process standpoint, there is growing recognition by OGC members and the OGC Board that we need to evolve a more formalized member process to better manage OGC's growing open standards framework. From a standards life cycle standpoint, we must continue to assure that standards advance smartly, in harmony with other adopted and in-work OGC standards, and with consideration of relevant standards being approved by other consortia. There is a growing realization that more attention must be placed on advancing standards so that developers and their product life cycles can keep up.
Interoperability is increasingly dependent on the interaction between standards setting bodies. Look to OGC staff to leverage these standards alliances this year to better address harmonization issues. An excellent example of a new key alliance deals with the integration of building information models, as well as other "as built" information with a geospatial component. Integration of building infrastructure with surrounding geospatial information is incredibly important to support a range of needs, from homeland security and emergency management/response, to supplying efficient government and support services, to rapidly identifying retail locations of interest.
We need to make our standards easier to implement. For instance, GML is a versatile encoding being used by many information communities to help them share and manage data within their communities and with other communities. Never has data coordination benefited from such an extraordinary technology boost. But to help developers implement solutions more quickly, I believe we need to increase the emphasis on development and use of GML profiles and GML application schemas.
Additionally, we should continue to emphasize to our members and the broader community the need for more publicly available reference implementations to accelerate understanding and implementation of our standards.
Similarly, we need to work together to raise awareness and advance the completion of maturing OGC standards such as the Sensor Web Enablement specifications. These maturing standards are incredibly important to a range of user communities, and it is essential that they become adopted and deployed as soon as possible to avoid proliferation of non-interoperable solutions.
Finally, it is important to maintain our focus on development and delivery of training resources to better inform decision makers of the value of OGC standards in systems and enterprise solutions, and we need to provide the tools and documents necessary for efficient use of our specifications by developers.
All of these challenges present great opportunities for our members, whether they are technology users or technology providers. All of us on OGC's staff look forward to working with our members, standards organization partners and other stakeholders this year to maximize the benefits that everyone derives from OGC's work.
NEWS AND OPINION 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.
Carsten Kessler and Theodor Foerster at GISBlog have three questions this month.
"As you might know, there is a open request for public comment for the Web Processing Service Specification 0.4.0 (WPS) of the OGC. This session closes in about less than 2 weeks and I hear nothing about it. Nobody submitted something [to the blog] until now. I am really wondering, why."
"Google has become a principal member of the Open Geospatial Consortium. I wonder what this might mean for Google Earth and Google Maps "
"Is there an OGC standard for map annotations?"
OGC CTO Carl Reed responds: There is a public discussion paper that describes a draft standard for map annotations. The draft is called XML for Imagery and Map Annotation (XIMA) (pdf). This is an early document. However, the XIMA work is also reflected in the GML 3.1.1 schemas as well as other OGC standards.
Ed Parsons at EdParsons.com was very pleased with meetings he and other had with OGC staff in January to explore the needs of UK members and explore outreach opportunities.
"Today I attended a meeting of around 30 UK based members of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), called by David Schell and Mark Reichardt who are in the UK to canvas the opinions of OGC members. This example of the OGC wanting to understand the point of view of members based this side of the pond is clearly commendable, many in our industry still see the OGC as a US-centric rather than a global organisation."
"'What does this mean for me.. ' is a core message to define in marketing any product or idea to potential customers and I guess we can all be guilty of concentrating on the technical details, leaving the poor customer behind. Are OGC guilty of this - well as somebody pointed out today, imagine if you were new to geographic information and you visited the OGC website would you be any wiser - I'm afraid not."
OGC Staff responds: We appreciate Ed's and others' input and are taking it to heart. Look for changes to the OGC website in the future.
Jeff Thurston, writing at Vector One, offered his take on how to "market" interoperability.
"My point was that interoperability has been presented as 'connection' and that alone.
"People are drowning in a sea of both connected and dis-connected data. Drowning in it does not make it a better business value.
"Knowing what to do with it, what is possible and posing the questions it could address and where else it can lead to - now that's where the value is."
AN OPEN EUROPEAN SOIL PORTAL
By Lance McKee with marc [dot] van-liedekerke [at] jrc [dot] it (Marc Van Liedekerke) and panos [dot] panagos [at] jrc [dot] it (Panos Panagos) of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, TP 280 I-21020 Ispra (VA) - Italy
The characteristics of the soil beneath our feet are important not just for farmers, gardeners, landscapers and foresters, but also for builders, civil engineers, hydrologists, geographers, archeologists, environmental managers, conservation groups, ecologists, and, of course, soils scientists. The European Soil Portal, implementing the OpenGIS(R) Web Map Server (WMS) Specification, came online recently to serve a wide variety of professional, business and academic users.
One problem that WMS helped solve was that there were previously a number of important soils databases on computers in Europe, but most were not being made available to the public because some of the data is copyrighted. WMS, which provides views of data without providing the data itself, offered the perfect way to make data viewable online while protecting copyright. Visitors to the site can examine the data, and, if they want to buy it, they can order it online for delivery via the internet or on CD-ROM.
Figure 1: SOMIS map showing Topsoil Organic Carbon Content data.
Currently, the SOMIS (Soil database attribute), PESERA (Soil Erosion), OCTOP (Organic Carbon), and MEUSIS (Multiscape European soil Information System) layers can be viewed through any WMS Client. Other databases are scheduled to come online in the future, including databases of soil profiles and groundwater resources.
Using WMS on the European Soil Portal provided a useful test case for the European Commission's INSPIRE program. INSPIRE, the "Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe." is working to develop an improved, internet-based Geographic Information (GI) framework for environmental policy support in Europe. It made sense to develop an online soil portal as part of INSPIRE, partly to show what could be done with the OGC and ISO standards that are being evaluated for use within the INSPIRE context.
The Soil Portal is the contribution of the Soil & Waste Unit (Institute of Environment and Sustainability of the European Commission) to the building of a thematic spatial data infrastructure on soils. This INSPIRE-inspired initiative aims to promote organizational development and cooperation as well as implementation of new technical capabilities. The Portal hosts a virtual library in which researchers and practitioners can collect all the relevant information regarding soils in Europe, and it also gives the European Soil Bureau Network a place to exchange information and promote various Soil Bureau activities. Some of these activities involve harmonizing different spatial databases and various sources of soil information.
WEBSITE OF THE MONTH
When trying to make sense of technical standards, it sometimes helps to have someone outside the organization that created them explain the details. Wikipedia, the free communal encyclopedia has clear, complete coverage of many OGC topics including OGC itself, WMS, WFS, GML and understandable definitions of standards, specifications, profiles, schema, etc.
OGC members and others knowledgeable about its work are encouraged to check and enhance entries for accuracy and provide additional links, as appropriate.
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 4 (OWS-4)
The call for sponsors for the OGC Web Services, Phase 4 (OWS-4) Interoperability Initiative was issued January 6. The testbed will advance OGC's open interoperability framework for geospatial capabilities. Twenty people representing nearly as many companies joined OGC staffers for the January 24 Sponsor Meeting held at the OGC office in Herndon, Virginia (agenda). Two more meetings are planned for interested sponsors. Dates are to be announced.
Topics were discussed at the first OWS-4 sponsor meeting included:
- Sensor Web Enablement (SWE)
- GeoProcessing Workflow/SOAP
- GeoDecision Support Services (GeoDSS)
- GeoDigitalRights Management (GeoDRM)
- Mass Market Geo (Spatial Media)
- Compliance Testing (CITE)
- Integrated Demonstration
OGC Web Service 3 (OWS-3)
The OWS-3 multimedia products are nearly complete. A movie and flash demo developed at Thirteen/WNET illustrating the OWS-3 wildfire demonstration is in final production. DVDs containing the movie and flash demo will be finalized in February. OGC anticipates delivery of a DVD to each OGC member organization.
OGC welcomes new members who joined us recently.
GIM Geographic Information Management NV (Belgium)
Google, Inc. (United States)
TechniGraphics, Inc. (United States)
University of Nevada-Reno (United States)
OGC IN THE NEWS
- OGC in the Press
Carbon Project Releases OGC Extension for ArcGIS
Jan. 30, 2006
Generic Software Design Enables International Interoperability
January 20, 2006
Safe Software Announces the Availability of FME 2006
January 12, 2006
Microsoft and GeoTango
January 11, 2006
Market Map 2006: Industry Leaders Envision the Year Ahead
January 1, 2006
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
June 18-21, 2006
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 2006 by the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc.