Local, State, Provincial and Federal Governments Reveal the Power of Interoperability for Critical Infrastructure Protection

Mark Reichardt Executive Director, Outreach and Community Adoption Open GIS Consortium, Inc tel: +1-301-840-1361 mreichardt [at] opengeospatial.org
Release Date: 
Thursday, 8 May 2003 UTC
Wayland, MA, USA, May 9, 2003 - If you took a walk outside in your city or town, and detected a suspicious odor, perhaps caused by a leaking chemical, how would local, state or provincial, all the way up to federal responders share information to be sure there was no threat to public safety? That's the question that communities from all levels of government, on both sides of the U.S./Canada border, came together to explore in a demonstration organized as part of the Open GIS Consortium's Critical Infrastructure Protection Initiative (CIPI). In addition to developing a reference approach to uniting communities at different levels of government to share data, the demonstration highlighted new specifications involving emergency notification systems and illustrated a vision of data sharing for the future. The sponsors of this phase of the initiative include GeoConnections, led by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the US Geological Survey (USGS), and General Dynamics - Advanced Information Systems. CIPI-1 used OpenGISĀ® Specifications to establish a common understanding of an emergency situation and coordinate incident response. The sponsors, along with the City of Windsor, the Province of Ontario, NRCan's Centre for Topographic Information - Sherbrooke (CTIS), Wayne State University, Wayne County GIS/IT, and Michigan Center for Geographic Information, and data vendors Navigation Technologies and GlobeXplorer contributed mapping data. USGS, NRCan and the State of Michigan set up Internet-based mapping servers at different locations (Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Ottawa, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan) for the project. Not only could the different data be brought together, it could be brought together from different hardware platforms - from mainframes to cell phones - using software from a wide variety of vendors. Initiative participants played different roles in the demonstration, from a mapping specialist at an emergency response center with access to powerful computers, to a police officer at the scene of the leak with a PDA, to emergency managers and journalists trying to get emergency information to local residents. Participants in the initiative included ClassCo Inc. (US), Commerce One (US), Compusult Ltd. (Canada), CubeWerx (Canada), ESRI (US), Galdos Systems (Canada), Ionic Enterprise (US), PCI Geomatics (Canada), SAIC (US), Syncline (US) and York University (Canada). After the technology demonstration a panel discussion of representatives from the participating localities explored their current use of geographic information software and data for infrastructure protection and the implications of interoperability. The panelists described GIS as a key tool for infrastructure protection and confirmed that the interoperability layer that knit different organizations together was absolutely essential to data sharing. CIPI-1 met two of its key goals. First, it brought together a variety of governments to explore the implications of geographic data sharing for emergency response, and provided a framework to make interoperability possible. Second, the participants tweaked and tested draft interface specifications for emergency alert notification that may one day become standards for how geospatial software interacts with emergency alert systems. OGC Web Services will provide a vendor-neutral, evolutionary, interoperable standards framework for web-based discovery, access, integration, analysis, exploitation and visualization of multiple online geodata sources, sensor-derived information, location services and geoprocessing capabilities. OGC Web Services will allow distributed geoprocessing systems to communicate with each other using technologies such as XML and HTTP. This means that systems capable of working with XML and HTTP will be able to both advertise and use OGC Web Services. Using these systems, complex tasks will be accomplished on inexpensive PCs and network-enabled devices. Distributed geoprocessing enabled by OGC Web Services will make it possible to establish "g-commerce" architectures that dynamically connect collaborating communities of information providers, maintainers, brokers, and users to accomplish complex geoprocessing and information exploitation tasks, sharing georeferenced information resources among multiple network-accessible devices. Internet and web-based technologies will provide the common network protocols for these systems. Responses to the RFT are due no later than 5 pm EDT (2100 UTC) May 30, 2003. An OWS testbed Initiative, based on the results of this RFT, is expected to begin in September 2003. The Critical Infrastructure Protection Initiative is part of OGC's Interoperability Program, a global, collaborative, hands-on engineering and testing program that rapidly delivers proven candidate specifications into OGC's Specification Program, where they are formalized for public release. Autodesk, BAE SYSTEMS, Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions and Northrop Grumman Information Technology have committed significant resources to the overall CIPI program to help accelerate OGC's advancement toward interoperability objectives. Their leadership, dedicated resources and commitment will enrich OGC's processes related to CIPI. Questions about the OGC Interoperability Program should be addressed to Mr. Ron Fresne, Interoperability Initiatives Manager, rfresne [at] opengeospatial.org , +1 (703) 707-0261. If you would like more information on becoming a Sponsor of CIPI, please contact Mr. Jeff Harrison, OGC Executive Director, Business Development, jharrison [at] opengeospatial.org , +1 (703) 628-8655. OGC is an international industry consortium of more than 250 companies, government agencies and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available interface specifications. OpenGIS Specifications support interoperable solutions that "geo-enable" the Web, wireless and location-based services, and mainstream IT. The specifications empower technology developers to make complex spatial information and services accessible and useful with all kinds of applications. Visit the OGC website at www.opengeospatial.org . -- end --