OGC Standards Are the “Bedrock” of Global Geology Mapping Project

Sam Bacharach Executive Director, Outreach and Community Adoption Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc tel: +1-703-352-3938 sbacharach [at] opengeospatial.org
Tuesday, 28 October 2008 UTC

Wayland, Mass., October 28, 2008 - Standards developed by the members of the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC®) play a key role in OneGeology (www.onegeology.org ), a global project to produce the first digital geological map of the world. OneGeology is supported by UNESCO and six other international umbrella bodies. It is the flagship project for the UN International Year of Planet Earth 2008.

OneGeology is made possible by standards. For example, GeoSciML (http://www.geosciml.org/ ), is a Web-based geoscience encoding standard developed by the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) (www.iugs.org/ ) Interoperability Working Group. GeoSciML is an "application schema" of GML (http://www.opengeospatial.org/standards/gml ), the OGC's OpenGIS(R) Geography Markup Language Encoding Standard (GML - ISO DIS 19136) for representation of geospatial features and geometry, and GeoSciML also uses the OpenGIS Observations and Measurements (O&M) Encoding standard (http://www.opengeospatial.org/standards/om). In addition to GeoSciML, OneGeology uses the OpenGIS Web Map Service Interface Standard (http://www.opengeospatial.org/standards/wms) and other OGC standards. Without such standards, geology data clients and servers around the world would not be able to interoperate across the Web as OneGeology nodes.

Ian Jackson, Chief of Operations at the British Geological Survey, is coordinating OneGeology. He explained the significance of the project: "Geological maps are essential tools in finding natural resources such as water, hydrocarbons and minerals, and when planning to mitigate geohazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes and radon. Natural resources are a crucial source of wealth for all nations, especially those that need to develop and build their economies. Identifying geohazards is often a matter of life or death. Other challenges facing all nations in the 21st century include rising sea levels, management of waste (nuclear or domestic) and storage of carbon. Knowledge of the rocks that we all live on has become increasingly important and sharing that knowledge at a time of global environmental change is crucial."

Unfortunately, information about the Earth's rocks isn't always up-to-date or usable with other data, and in some parts of the world it is not available at all. Earth and computer scientists from 79 nations set out to tackle this problem several years ago and these scientists unveiled the result of their work at the 33rd International Geological Congress in Oslo, Norway, in August 2008.

Three key results of the OneGeology project have been identified:

  1. Geological maps from around the globe are accessible on the World Wide Web.
  2. A new web language has been written for geology which allows nations to share data with each other and the public.
  3. The know-how to do this is being exchanged so that all nations around the world, regardless of their development status, can take part and benefit.

François Robida, Deputy Head of Division, Information Systems and Technologies at the Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières, France, explained; "Today you can go to the OneGeology website and get geological maps from across the globe - from an overview of our entire planet, to larger scale maps of the rocks of individual nations. You also have the ability to hop from this web site to higher resolution applied maps and data on linked national web sites. Participating nations are contributing to a legacy for humankind; by acting locally they are thinking globally."

The standards used by OneGeology provide a critical foundation for "open science" and the sharing of geospatial scientific data among disciplines and professions. As explained by Dr. Andrew Woolf, Leader, Environmental Informatics at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Lab e-Science Centre, Oxfordshire (UK): "Increasingly, a ‘whole Earth systems' approach to the natural environment requires data to be integrated across discipline boundaries, requiring a new approach to data management based on emerging ‘horizontal' (non-domain-specific) standards, and taking advantage of developments in internet-based information architectures."

OneGeology has 94 national participant geological surveys who provide data. Interested stakeholders also include members of the natural resources industry and several standards organizations. The OGC Interoperability Institute (OGCii) (http://www.ogcii.org/ ), a not-for-profit subsidiary of the OGC, plays an advisory role in OneGeology.

The OGC® is an international consortium of more than 365 companies, government agencies, research organizations, and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available geospatial standards. OpenGIS® Standards support interoperable solutions that "geo-enable" the Web, wireless and location-based services, and mainstream IT. OGC Standards empower technology developers to make geospatial information and services accessible and useful with any application that needs to be geospatially enabled. Visit the OGC website at http://www.opengeospatial.org/.