The OGC forms a Spatial Law and Policy Committee

Sam Bacharach Executive Director, Outreach and Community Adoption Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc tel: +1-703-352-3938 sbacharach [at]
Wednesday, 25 February 2009 UTC

February 25, 2009, Wayland, Massachusetts. The Board of Directors of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC®) has chartered a committee of the Board to specifically address the "spatial law and policy issues" which will influence development requirements of the Consortium's technology process. The Spatial Law and Policy Committee (SLPC) will be chaired by OGC director and Executive Committee member, Kevin Pomfret, and will be organized under board leadership as an educational forum to include both select member and community participation.

In the past, legal issues associated with spatial data and technology were primarily a concern for lawyers that worked with or for the government. Now, both public sector and private sector users and providers of geospatial data and technologies face a wide range of legal issues associated with growth in consumer and business applications for spatial technology. Such applications include Earth browsers, satellite navigation devices in cars and PDA's, location-based services associated with cell phones, business intelligence, social networking and satellite tracking of vehicles and equipment. All of these applications raise issues that involve intellectual property rights, liability, privacy, and national security. In many cases, the existing legal and policy framework is inadequate to provide governments, businesses and consumers clear guidance on these issues.

David Schell, OGC Chairman, said, "The OGC plays an expanding role in addressing society's increasing dependence on geospatial information services. The advent of information interoperability in this technology domain raises the profile of geospatial information for policy makers, managers and scientists around the world. The Board's creation at this time of a Spatial Law and Policy Committee reflects the increasing need of leaders to understand the challenges they face in this area, and the Board's commitment to meeting their related information requirements."

Kevin Pomfret added, "I am looking forward to working with the OGC and its members on these important issues. Due in large part to their collective vision and hard work, spatial technology and applications using spatial data are increasingly being utilized in a wide range of important activities. In order for this growth to continue, a solid legal and policy framework must exist. The OGC's Spatial Law and Policy Committee can play a critical role in the development of such a framework."

The SLPC, in particular, will provide an open forum for OGC members' legal and policy advisors to discuss the unique legal and policy issues associated with spatial data and technology. The Committee will also work with relevant legal groups, such as the ABA, to raise awareness of these issues within the broader legal community. The SLPC will not provide legal advice to the OGC or its Members and will not take a position on any legal or policy matter on behalf of the OGC or its membership. It will rather focus on clarification of the legal and policy environment of the Consortium and work to ensure that Consortium standards reflect related best practices and the societal requirements that shape institutional uptake of interoperable geoprocessing.

Kevin Pomfret is a Richmond, Virginia based attorney well known for the work he has done on assorted legal issues associated with spatial data and technology, including intellectual property rights, licensing, liability, privacy and national security. Prior to entering the law, he served as a satellite imagery analyst with the U.S. government where he specialized in the development of imagery collection strategies to monitor critical arms control agreements. He also served in various U.S. government positions responsible for developing Intelligence community satellite imagery collections and exploitation requirements. Over the years he has written and spoken extensively on spatial law and technology.

The OGC® is an international consortium of more than 370 companies, government agencies, research organizations, and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available geospatial standards. The OGC's OpenGIS(TM) standards support interoperable solutions that "geo-enable" the Web, wireless and location-based services, and mainstream IT. These 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