OGC Newsletter - April/May 2007
CTO's Report on the April TC and PC Meetings in Ottawa
News and Opinion From The Blogosphere
Website of the Month
New Members, OGC In The News, Events, Contact, Subscribe/Unsubscribe
Back issues of OGC News are available.
OGC in Biodiversity Science & Education
Mark Reichardt, President, OGC
For more than a decade, leading biologists and scientific organizations have stated that if present trends continue, it is highly likely that as a result of habitat destruction, pollution, invasive species, and climate change, half of all species of life on earth will be extinct in less than 100 years. If we are to avoid this ecological disaster, a critical requirement is that scientists, researchers and policy makers have good information about these trends and about the habitats and distributions of the world's millions of species of plants and animals. Not surprisingly, almost all of this information has a geospatial context.
A few months ago, I summarized the importance OGC places on alliance partnerships to help advance standards across the "standards stack". Biodiversity is no exception. An organization called Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) and the OGC recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work together. Biodiversity Information Standards is a scientific and educational association focused on development of standards for the exchange of biological and biodiversity data. The organization's Geospatial Interest Group (GIG) works to facilitate adoption and integration of standards, specifications, best practices, and technology between the biological and geospatial communities.
The GIG will work closely with the OGC's Earth Observation, Natural Resources and Environment Working Group to share standards documentation, develop profiles and schema based on OGC standards, pursue joint interoperability initiatives, and participate in joint outreach activities. This collaboration will benefit from two ongoing OGC initiatives - an OGC Architecture Implementation Pilot and the OGC Trilateral Agreement Pilot. These are being led by collaborating European, Canadian and US agencies, as well as the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), to advance a standards-based architecture based on OGC specifications.
Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) is another initiative in which the OGC plays a key standards role.
The initiatives are connected. Biodiversity Information Standards has an additional GEOSS connection through its joint initiatives with CODATA, part of the International Council for Science (ICSU). CODATA, in collaboration with the GEO, is playing a lead role in a GEOSS Task to further the practical application of the agreed GEOSS data sharing principles.
To non-scientists, the generality of the categories of data mentioned above -- oceans, land cover, atmosphere, soils, aquifers, and living species - might conceal the enormity of the task at hand. It is important to realize that the complexity of biological information may be orders of magnitude more than physical properties such as CO2, soil classification or an index of ‘greenness' (NDVI). Discussion about the name of a species alone is guaranteed to start an international debate. Linking observations about a species is therefore far from trivial. The exchange of information about species then raises significant biological and technical issues. Scientists numbering in the millions collect data that is often very specialized, though some parts of their data schemas would almost certainly be useful to other scientists. Also, some of their instruments collect enormous amounts of data. In addition to the complexity and volume of data, just as in the larger world, the data systems used by scientists have only begun to make the transition from "stovepipes" to open systems.
The task is daunting but the early indications are exciting. It doesn't take long to find on the Web wonderful examples of biologists employing OGC standards:
-- The geo-informatics blog at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa provides detailed instructions on how to implement the OpenGIS Web Map Server (WMS) Specification, as well as examples.
-- The Biodiversity & Environmental Resource Data System (BERDS) provides a WMS map service to provide developers of on-line WMS compliant mapping tools access to the BERDS map layers.
-- The Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network (IABIN) was created in 1996 as an initiative of the Santa Cruz Summit of the Americas meeting of Heads of State. Government agencies, NGOs, universities, museums, and the private sector all belong to and play important roles in IABIN. IABIN's "Nippon Report" recommends adoption of OGC standards.
A recent interoperability test workshop combined OGC and Biodiversity Information Standards to test their suitability to perform Internet-based species distribution modeling and identify associated bottlenecks. The outcome of the workshop was a web application that uses WMS/WCS/WFS together with biodiversity informatics specific schemas and protocols as a proof of concept. A presentation on this workshop is planned for an upcoming OGC meeting.
The task undertaken by the GIG and the OGC goes beyond enabling easy discovery, access and use of data through standards. Everything depends on implementation. Just as in non-scientific domains, information sharing is made far easier by open systems and open standards, but openness faces institutional obstacles. The implementation examples above show that progress has begun. But tradition in scientific institutions often discourages publishing raw data. Legacy approaches to investigation are usually reductionist, not holistic. Interdisciplinary and environmental studies demand new policies and practices. In many cases, the technical pioneers will need support from leaders in their scientific disciplines and from funding organizations with environmental mandates.
The OGC Interoperability Institute (OGCII), a separate but complementary organization to the OGC, is championing this cause. OGCII is working to support and raise the profile of standards based academic and research efforts to converge geodesy, semantics, high performance computing and modeling and simulation to address important societal issues. This unique undertaking is highly likely to succeed because of the convergence of the environmental crisis, continuing advances in information technology, and the desperate need for holistic, ecological, interdisciplinary thinking. We invite your ideas.
CTO'S REPORT ON THE APRIL TC AND PC MEETINGS IN OTTAWA
Carl Reed, Chief Technology Officer, OGC
During the week of April 16th, the 60th OGC Technical Committee meetings were hosted in Ottawa, Canada. Sponsored by GeoConnections and ESRI Canada, the meetings were very active with dozens of presentations and document motions. Many of the documents originated from the work in the OGC Web Services 4 Test Bed activity.
1) Pending various votes, edits, and reviews, seven new OpenGIS Implementation Specifications will become publicly available within the next 6 months:
- Catalogue Service ISO 19115/19119 AP (AP ISO) (07-045)
- GeoXACML (07-026)
- Geography Markup Language (GML) 3.2.1 (07-036)
- Image Geopositioning Metadata (IGM) GML 3.2 Application Schema (07-031)
- Image Geopositioning Service (IGS) (07-030)
- SensorML Version 1.0 (07-000)
- Web Processing Service (WPS) Specification 1.0.0 (05-007r6)
2) Twenty OGC Discussion Papers will be released to the public, pending, in most cases, minor editorial changes. These include:
- Cataloguing of ISO metadata Using the ebRIM Profile of CS-W (07-038)
- Catalogue Services - Web - ebRIM Modeling Guidelines (06-155)
- CUAHSI WaterML (07-041)
- Engineering Viewpoint Supporting Architecture (06-184r1)
- Feature Styling Interoperability Program Report (IPR) (06-140)
- Frame Image Geopositioning Metadata GML 3.2 Application Schema (07-032) (07-032 needs to be harmonized with ISO 19130 before it will be ready for OGC standardization.)
- GEOINT Structure Implementation Profile Schema Processing (07-028)
- GML Implementation of Some Simple Solids, Planes and Lines (07-001r2)
- Local MSD Implementation Profile for GML 3.2.1 (07-027)
- OGC Web Services Architecture for CAD GIS BIM (07-023)
- ORCHESTRA Reference Architecture (07-024)
- OWS-4 GeoDSS Mass Market IPR (07-004)
- OWS-4 IPR for Web Coverage Service (WCS) Support for JPEG 2000 (06-128)
- OWS-4 IPR for WCS-T (OGC 06-098)
- OWS-4 Topology Quality Assessment IPR (07-007)
- OWS-4 WFS/Oracle Temporal Investigation (06-154r1)
- OWS-4 Workflow IPR (06-187)
- OWS-4 WPS IPR (06-182r1)
- Sensor Planning Service Application Profile for EO Sensors (07-018)
- Trusted Geo Services IPR (06-107)
Once a preamble has been written and agreed to, the KML Reference Guide 2.1 (07-039) will be released as an OGC Best Practices Paper in May. The preamble contains a KML market positioning statement and relationship to existing OGC standards. It was agreed that the MM-Geo WG has ownership of the KML roadmap and process but that work items, such as GML harmonization, will go out to appropriate WGs. The next step is to develop the Roadmap to KML 3.0.
GML Encoding of Discrete Coverages - Interleaved Pattern (06-188r1) will also be released as an OGC Best Practices Paper.
3) New revision working groups have been formed in the TC for Context, Observations & Measurements (O&M), OWS Common, and Web Coverage Service (WCS).
To make OGC technology more accessible and widely implemented, the PC recommends promotion of OGC User Group meetings. These can be organized and implemented at any time by an OGC member, and they would open to both members and non-members. Members organizing such meetings will coordinate with OGC staff. OGC Staff will develop guidelines and OGC Network capability to allow members to brand and support these meetings.
Finally, an important result of the OGC's ongoing collaboration with other standards efforts was announced: SIP, an important text-based protocol for initiating interactive sessions involving voice, video, chat, games, and virtual reality, now has a "mandatory to implement" format for location: the GML PIDF-LO Shape Application Schema, which is an OGC Best Practice!
NEWS AND OPINION FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE
Below are some March and April 2007 discussions of OGC specifications in the blogosphere:
SpatialNews.com reported on March 1, 2007 that OGC member Cadcorp received an official visit from His Royal Highness, The Duke of York on 22 February. Following a software demonstration, "Martin Daly, Cadcorp technical director, described to The Duke of York how innovation in software development is key to the company's export activities including support for international standards and a translatable user interface, and active participation in organizations such as the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC)."
GeoBliki's blog on March 1: How can a data node make its web services discoverable to an inquiry from an aggregator (like an OGC Catalog)?
One idea might be to use OPML...
All Points Blog provides in a March 2, 2007 entry a lengthy quote from the OGC's CTO, Carl Reed. Carl replies to Mike Liebhold, who asked on the GeoRSS mailing list about "the scope and implications of Google's efforts re: OGC adoption of KML". Carl's reply ought to be required reading for anyone interested in this subject. Carl references OGC Director of Interoperability Programs Raj Singh's February 23 blog entry, "OGC is standardizing Google's KML".
Geoff Zeiss, in his March 2007 "Between the Poles" blog entry, provides an interesting report on Map Middle East 2007 in Dubai. Much of what he says concerns the convergence of AEC (architecture, engineering, construction) and geospatial. He notes that the General Services Administration (GSA) in the US has chosen IFC as their building information model (BIM) standard, and, "Apparently Norway and China will also base building information models for their building projects on the IFC standard. IFC 2x3g is one of the first outcomes of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI)."
Geoff's March 18 entry is about "GITA 2007: A Short History of GIS Moving to the Mainstream". On the subject of mainstreaming, it would be interesting to interleave OGC milestones into Peter Batty's chronology of commercial milestones, quoted in Geoff's blog entry.
Satri's post in Slashgeo on March 7 provides a useful comparison of two OGC-compliant open source map servers, MapServer and MapGuide Open Source.
And in a March 30 Slashgeo entry, Satri notes, "Our last poll about the potential standardization of Google's KML by the OGC provided interesting results: out of about 120 votes, 54% of users believe the OGC should in fact hold the standard for Google's KML. 6% believe it should be standardized but not by the OGC, while 26% believe Google should keep control over KML. 11% answered maybe or that it does not matter."
Alan Doyle has posted two comments critical of OGC policies in his blog: "OGC needs to learn about Creative Commons," March 15, 2007 and "Can standards be developed in secrecy in 2007?" April 19. 2007.
Chad at The Earth is Square blog offers a few comments on the standards strategies of NGA, NASA and government agencies in general, with references to Google and the OGC.
In Paul Ramsey's April 17, 2007 blog entry says he found the recent TC meetings boring. We're sorry he found them boring. The conversations he captured, mainly about KML in OGC, aren't boring. in that post: "The pivot on which all this turns is the idea that KML is similar to HTML, as a content encoding that will be consumed by multiple clients ("spatial browsing software"), not just Google Earth. The market already seems to be well on the way to that end state - there are lots of KML consumers (ArcGIS, FME, World Wind) and producers (ArcServer, PostGIS, Mapguide). Given such an emerging market, KML will be healthier and grow even faster under third-party control (OGC) than under corporate control (Google)."
And here's immediate evidence that ideas flow freely when it's known that there's a reliable open process, a place for ideas to be considered on their merits! Stefan at OGLE EARTH blog, April 17, 2007, also quotes Paul Ramsey's post and adds constructive comments about what might be added to KML now that it's development resides in a consensus process: "KML 3.0: Here within the year. What would you like in it?"
Raj Singh, the OGC's Director of Interoperability Programs, has been busy in his blog:
February 27: Raj praises Congressman Ed Markey (the new chair of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications) for supporting net neutrality, and calls for this principle in the wireless industry: "We have seen barely a trickle of mobile location services in the last decade for no other reason than there is no concept of net neutrality in mobile data networks. ...This is clearly stifling innovation in the mapping industry."
April 20: Raj celebrates an Urban Planning GeoRSS application that generates a feed of new construction building permits.
April 21: Raj summarizes an important discussion at the OGC meetings and argues for keeping WFS Simple separate from WFS.
Tracey Lauriault on her blog Serendipityoucity noted that she gave a talk at the OGC Preservation Working Group meeting. Her April 17, 2007 blog entry included the following:
"The discussions in the hallway between meetings are actually my favorite part of these meetings, not because I am lazy and do not like lectures, but because that is the time I get to have really interesting chats with people and at times it is where I learn the most. ... I was discussing the demographics of the meeting, the fact that OGC is really important in terms of precedent setting both in the open source geomatics world but also in terms of interoperability in general and the mapping hacks, mashup and other open source mapping communities are not part of their conversations. During this conversation it was thought that this bridging should happen particularly since KML is considered to be a disruptive technology in the field of geomatics that has a really quick uptake at it was easy to use while GML is a much more complex technology yet very significant. While talking on that topic the gentleman commented that:
Web 1.0 was write
Web 2.0 is re-write
Web 3.0 will be re-write and execute
and this is where he thinks the conversations will merge!"
WEBSITE OF THE MONTH
Many scientific communities are working to develop systems that take full advantage of the Internet and Web to enable easy discovery, access and use of geospatial data. The geoscience community, in particular, recognizes a great need for such systems. The GeoWS group (http://www.geows.org/) formed in August 2006, bringing three data centers together in a cooperative development effort to make their data sets available a standards-based mapping environment for use by educators, scientists, and students. The three data centers are:
- IRIS - a provider of global digital seismic data
- UNAVCO - a provider of geodetic, seismic, and tectonic data
- MGDS - a provider of marine geoscience data
Their standards-based approach enables them to expand the range of services they offer. As they begin to expose their data and services, the next challenge to address is data interoperability: the representation of cross-disciplinary data within a single application drawn from multiple sources.
Figure: GeoMapApp GIS client displaying results from PetDB WFS provider. User selected Juan de Fuca mid-ocean ridge study site, plotted/colored distribution of K2O versus SiO2. (http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2007GE/finalprogram/abstract_122326.htm)
The GeoWS.org website contains links to both clients and servers under active development at each data center, as well as discussions and presentations to guide others who are doing similar work
Know of a website that uses OpenGIS specifications to solve a real world problem or demonstrates an interesting use? Or of a website that enhances the use and understanding of OGC's work? Drop the lmckee [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 welcomes new members who joined us recently.
Maporama International (Associate) (France)
Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) (Research Institute / Not For Profit Institute) (India)
Sierra Systems Group Inc. (Associate) (Canada)
SRA International, Inc. (Technical) (United States)
Coastal & Marine Resources Centre (University) (Ireland)
National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science & Technology (AIST) (Research Institute / Not For Profit Institute) (Japan)
Rolta India, Ltd. (Principal) (India)
Mileridge Ltd. (Small Company) (United Kingdom)
Australian Ocean Data Centre Joint Facility (AODCJF) (Research Institute / Not For Profit Institute) (Australia)
Robert Frances Group (Associate) (United States)
National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) (Associate) (United States)
Cronos NV (Technical) (Belgium)
Province of Newfoundland & Labrador (Government - Subnational) (Canada)
OGC IN THE NEWS
- OGC in the Press
"David Schell - A new worldview," GCN Interview, Patrick Marshall, GCN Staff, GCN, April 16, 2007.
"The OGC and the World Wide Web Consortium Step Up Collaboration", Susan Smith, GIS Weekly in GISCafe.com, March 12 - 16, 2007
"An Open GeoSpatial Standards-Enabled Google Earth Application to Support Crisis Management", Scott Pezanowski, Brian Tomaszewski, Alan M. MacEachren,
The GeoVISTA Center, The Pennsylvania State University, March 2007
"Open Geospatial Consortium CAD/GIS/BIM Interoperability Testbed 4 Integrating AEC Workflows with Open Geospatial Web Services", Paul Cote, Harvard Graduate School of Design, "IAI-NA News/IAI online," March 14, 2007.
"Oracle Spatial 11g's Enhancements", Joe Francica, Location Intelligence, March 15, 2007
"OGC Joins W3C to help add Geospatial to the Web", WALIS eNews, February 2007.
"Intelligence Fusion Through TML", Don Jenkins, formerly VP, Government Systems, IRIS Corp, now conducting business development for Argon ST, USA, GIM International, January 4, 2007
- OGC Press Releases
OGC® Requests Quotations for CGDI Interoperability Pilot
April 18, 2007
Rolta Takes Principal Membership in the OGC®
April 11, 2007
May 8-11, 2007, Aalborg University, Denmark,
10th AGILE Conference on Geographic Information Science
May 30-31, 2007, London, UK,
Military Geospatial Intelligence
June 26-29, 2007, Brussels, Belgium,
Homeland Security Europe 2007
July 9-12, 2007, Paris, France,
July 2007 OGC Technical Committee Meetings
July 13, 2007, Paris, France,
July 2007 OGC Planning Committee Meeting
July 11, 2007, Paris, France,
July 2007 OGC Interoperability Day
July 23-27, 2007, Vancouver, British Columbia,
September 17-20, 2007, Boulder, Colorado,
September 2007 OGC Technical Committee Meetings
September 21, 2007, Boulder, Colorado,
September 2007 OGC Planning Committee Meeting
September 21-22, 2007, Boulder, Colorado,
GEOSS Workshop: The User and the GEOSS Architecture XVI “Local Decisions for Global Climate Change”
September 24-27, 2007, Victoria, Canada,
2007 Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G) Conference
For further info on events please contact gbuehler [at] opengeospatial [dot] org (Greg Buehler).
Please send comments and suggestions to:
lmckee [at] opengeospatial [dot] org (Lance McKee)
Editor, OGC News
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Copyright 2007 by the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc.