OGC Newsletter - June 2006
News and Opinion From The Blogosphere
Books of Note
Website of the Month
IP Update, New Members, OGC In The News, Events, Contact, Subscribe/Unsubscribe
Back issues of OGC News are available.
The OGC's members work diligently and effectively to reconcile diverse digital representations of spatial and temporal reality. Arguably, no standards consortium ever had to deal with such a witch's brew of technical and semantic complexity as we deal with in the OGC.
We do a good job of hiding this complexity on behalf of geospatial technology users. We are hiding complexity, not eliminating it. We are engaged in a collaborative engineering project to make life easier for programmers by enabling "loose coupling" of diverse and complex systems. Among other benefits, this enables programmers to introduce easy-to-use geospatial capabilities into their users' information environments.
But as we work to hide the complexity of our representations of reality, the world itself is becoming more complex:
- We are witnessing and benefiting from ever-faster, ever-cheaper bandwidth, processing, and data storage, with no end in sight.
- We are working in a revolutionary distributed information services environment that is "net-centric" and without a center -- a post-industrial, post-modern environment of asynchronous process interactions between a rapidly growing and increasingly diverse set of Web-resident resources and resource users. (In a curiously parallel fashion, not ruled by any central authority, the OGC and other loosely affiliated international standards consortia employ non-hierarchical but also non-anarchic methods to produce the many standards that make this environment possible.)
- GPS, hi-resolution aerial and satellite-borne imaging devices, location-tagged sensor feeds, cell phone location technologies, webcams and RFID are creating new torrents of geospatial data, much of it real-time.
- The real world our geospatial technologies model grows more complex. At the very least, this is true in the sense that new knowledge uncovers new complexity. It also seems obvious that the human real world - commercial, political, cultural, sociological, organizational ? is growing more complex.
Fueled by all this, geospatial capabilities are becoming more widely deployed, just as other compute-intensive capabilities like digital signal processing and digital animation are becoming more widely deployed.
Considering the steady increase in technical and real-world complexity, it seems likely that human factors, or ergonomics, will increasingly drive what happens in our industry.
Successful information systems encapsulate complexity in ways that make the systems cheaper and easier to use than their alternatives. The complexity of the cell phone system is necessary to overcome the limitations of walkie-talkies and citizens band radios. And the complexity of the walkie-talkies and citizens band radios, of course, was necessary to overcome the limitations of our voices and ears, and our wired telephones.
We need to design around our limitations. As humans, we often tire easily, we don't know quite where we are or what's around us, we don't know how to do things, we have trouble paying attention, we're forgetful, clumsy and error-prone, we have grossly different learning styles and abilities, we adapt poorly to all kinds of stresses, and we have trouble making up our minds. How then do we deal with the complexities of an environment characterized by the increasing urgency of decisions, increasing demands on our attention, and the steadily increasing sea of information now at our fingertips?
Through open standards and technology providers' attention to customer needs, our information environments are beginning to have integral geospatial capabilities, just as cell phones have integral graphics capabilities. Before long, no one will give it a thought. But the geospatial information will need to be simply presented, filtered for relevancy, predictable, and symbolized in a familiar way.
Ergonomics is about making our altered and synthetic environments function in a way that seems natural. Every geospatial function from "friend finder" to climate modeling will evolve as we learn more about hiding complexity to make up for our physical and mental limitations.
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 follow.
Paul writing at the GIS in The Public Interest blog gives his quick and dirty lesson on distinguishing open source and open standards.
"Don't confuse the Open Source Geospatial Foundation with the already established Open Geospatial Consortium or 'OGC' - I mean those names are soooooo different it would be hard to confuse the two, right? For clarification; the OGC focuses on standards for geodata and related location-based services and they write confusing papers that make us sleepy. Just remember, OGC is standards (sleepy) and the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (we'll call them 'OSGeo' on this site) has downloadable software that can eliminate the dreaded 'annual maintenance fee'(fun)."
Nat writing at O'Reilly Radar explores GeoRSS, the relationship between Keyhole Markup Language (KML) and Geography Markup Language (GML) and other standards issues.
"GeoRSS and KML are data interchange file formats. The Open Geospatial Consortium standard defines the GML format, which KML bears some resemblance to. [GML] is notorious for being a superset of features of the products whose companies worked together to define the format. This means that it's complex and quite scary--KML is more accessible, and GeoRSS even more so."
Randall Newton at AECNews.com explores GeoRSS.
"The open source geospatial community is working on a way to embed location data into RSS, the 'news feed' technology now in common use on the Web. The goal is to make it simple for any RSS news feed to send geo-coded information that could automatically generate a map."
BOOKS OF NOTE
Krzysztof Kolodziej and Johan Hjelm's Local Positioning Systems: LBS Applications and Services includes a preface from OGC President Mark Reichardt. It reads in part:
"Many technical textbooks neglect the importance of standards. Kris Kolodziej, who has had experience with geospatial standards development, doesn't make that mistake. Today's location services depend on a set of standard open interfaces and encodings that support plug and play integration and that create market opportunities for the diverse businesses who provide the links in the location services value chain."
WEBSITE OF THE MONTH
A technical document details the architecture and use of Web Map Service, Styled Layer Descriptor, Web Map Context Documents and other OGC specifications.
Of particular interest, RésEau implements OGC Sensor Web Enablement (SWE) approaches including Sensor Markup Language (SensorML) to access monitoring station information. Additional work is proceeding to enable OGC Sensor Observation Service (SOS) functionality for downloading and charting observations.
Given the distributed nature of Canadian water information, open and publicly adopted specifications were an ideal approach for RésEau. Canadian waters are monitored by the federal government, provincial governments, municipalities, universities, conservation authorities, volunteers and many others. The open specifications upon which ResEau was built allow discovery, access and visualization across and between organizations directly from the authoritative sources. The RésEau maps allow users to dynamically discover and explore data from a selection of different monitoring programs across Canada.
OGC Web Service, Phase 4 (OWS-4)
Twenty-eight participants have been selected for cost-share funding for OWS-4 and thus far, ten other companies are participating with in-kind contributions. The kickoff will be June 13-16 at Oracle in Reston.
The application of OGC Web Services (OWS) as applied to the Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS) architecture were demonstrated May 22-23 at a pre-conference workshop held in association with the 2006 International Symposium on Future Intelligent Earth Observing Satellites (FIEOS'06) in Beijing, China. The demonstration showed the role of the OGC's consensus standards in the open architecture that underpins the "system of systems." Eighteen organizations from six countries participated in the demo.
The team included Jinsoo You, Mike Jackson and Konstantin Nurutdinov of the University of Nottingham, who lead the effort, along with many organizations that provided OWS servers. Several new servers were established that will provide benefits beyond the Beijing demo, including those from NOAA, Environment Canada and GeoConnections, Washington University, NASA-ESG. IEEE's Jay Pearlman and Leung Tsang provided leadership in organizing the workshop and support of the demo. The Charlotte wind energy community of practice provided support in developing the scenario for the demo, which used 4D wind data and online meteorological processing services to explore the viability of wind energy solutions.
Further details on the demonstration will be shared at the OGC Technical Committee meeting in Edinburgh later this month.
For more information about the Interoperability Program, contact percivall [at] opengeospatial.org (George Percivall).
OGC welcomes new members who joined us recently.
ADI Limited, subsidiary of Thales GeoSolutions Group Limited (Australia)
American Red Cross
Research Institute / Not For Profit Institute
Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto, FEUP (Portugal)
National Institute of Aerospace Technology from Spain, INTA (Spain)
Polish Association for Spatial Information, PASI (Poland)
Research Institute/Not for Profit institute
The Open Planning Project, TOPP (U.S.)
Research Institute/Not for Profit institute
Vightel Corporation (U.S.)
OGC IN THE NEWS
- OGC in the Press
Intergraph Speeds Delivery of Accurate Geospatial Information for Czech Land Survey Office
June 1, 2006
Disaster Planning Scenario at GITA Conference Showcases Safe Software's Web-Based Spatial ETL Technology
May 8, 2006
Farallon Geographics integrates City of San Mateo's GIS with Google Earth
May 3, 2006
Open Source and Open Standards in Geospatial Technologies
- OGC Press Releases
The OGC® Releases Basic Profile for Geography Markup Language (GML?)
June 5, 2006
The OGC Introduces New ''OGC Network'' and ''OGC User''
June 1, 2006
GeoRSS Buzz Permeates Location Intelligence Conference
May 3, 2006
June 11-15, 2006
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
ISO/TC 211 23th Plenary
June 21-23, 2006
12th EC GI & GIS Workshop
For further info on events please contact gbuehler [at] opengeospatial.org (Greg Buehler).
Please send comments and suggestions to:
adena [at] opengeospatial.org (Adena Schutzberg)
Editor, OGC News
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Copyright 2006 by the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc.