Point Cloud DWG


van Oosterom, Peter (Delft University of Technology)
Tillman, Stan (Intergraph Corporation)
Boehm, Jan (University College London)

Group Charter:

Download Charter document

Group Description:

Join the Point Cloud DWG listserve.


1.    Introduction

This Domain Working Group charter defines the role for OGC activities within the point cloud community to provide an open forum for the discussion and presentation of interoperability requirements, use cases, pilots, and implementations of OGC standards in this domain. This Charter is to be presented to the OGC’s Technical and Planning Committees for consideration.

Domains are distinct Information Communities that defines a user domain where:

·      A distinct market, application or business approach exists

·      Common data definition, structure, syntax, and definitions exists

·      Common user requirements exist

·      Common approach to vendors exists

1.1        Working Group

Operation of OGC Domain Working Group follows the policies and procedures of the Technical Committee .  The following definitions from the Technical Policies and Procedures apply to this DWG Charter template.

Definition of a Domain Working Group: A group (organizationally, a subgroup of the TC) of individuals composed of members of the TC and invited guests, with the specific intent of solving some particular interoperability problem or problems in a particular technology domain for recommendation to the Technical Committee.

Functions of a Domain Working Group:

·      Provide a forum for discussion and documentation of interoperability requirements for a given information or user community;

·      Provide a forum to discuss and recommend document actions related to Interoperability Program Reports.

·      Develop Change Requests Proposals (CRPs) for existing OGC Standards.

·      Develop engineering reports with the intent seeking approval by the TC for release of these documents as OGC White Papers, Discussion Papers or Best Practices Papers.

·      Informational presentations and discussions about the market use of adopted OGC Standards.

§  Have a formal approved charter that defines the DWGs Scope of Work and estimated timeline for completion of the work.

§  have all-member voting policies (unless otherwise stated).

§  Have missions and goals defined by the TC.


A DWG Does Not work on RFC submissions, candidate standards, or revisions to existing OGC Standards. However, a DWG can develop change requests as document interoperability requirements that can then be submitted as work items to a SWG.

A DWG may determine that they wish to have public collaboration, such as in teleconference, email discussions, or a public twiki. In this case, the DWG shall make a motion to the TC to approve public participation in the DWG. Voting in DWGs is by simple majority of OGC Members present at the WG meeting, not just Voting TC Members, with the caveat that no OGC Member organization may cast more than one vote in a WG vote


2.    Purpose of Working Group

This charter represents an acknowledgment of the gap in the current OGC baseline regarding standardization of point cloud data and service formats.  This working group is motivated by the fast growing popularity and use of point cloud technology.   This includes a number of formats and types such as: laser scans from aerial and terrestrial platforms (e.g., LiDAR), triangulated elevation points, dense observations from the meteorological community, and others.  Based on these considerations this charter defines the OGC Point Cloud Domain Working Group (DWG). 

Proposers will describe the purpose of the Domain Working Group and its overall mission in relation to OGC processes and OGC’s business plan.

3.    Problem Statement

OGC has a number of Working Groups to discuss issues relating to services, domain communities, and various data formats.  However, point cloud data has often been overlooked or treated in the same buckets as images or terrain. Today the use of point clouds is growing at a rapid rate and can be found in a variety of domains including utilities, mining, 3D modeling, etc. Point cloud data is currently stored in many formats, some now de facto standards, defined for many domains such as Multi-dimensional Scientific data, LiDAR data, Elevation data, Seismic data, Bathymetric data, Meteorological data, and Fixed/Mobile consumer sensors (IoT).  With so many uses of point cloud data but little standardization, a variety of different formats exist.  OGC membership has registered a concern that without development of Best Practices or consensus standards, divergence will continue in the community and interoperability will be inhibited.

As an example, LiDAR data is most commonly exchanged using an ASPRS standard format known as LAS. However, end-user consumption of LAS content for analysis or display requires indexing, optimization and/or compression of the content, with multiple methods available ranging from vendor-specific indexing schemes to commercial and free optimization and compression toolsets.  Further, more capable LiDAR encoding formats are being developed in specialized communities, such as the Sensor Independent Point Cloud (SIPC) based on HDF5.

OGC membership is not necessarily advocating creation of a single point cloud encoding standard, rather the members have expressed interest in ensuring greater interoperability between point cloud datasets and identifying methods to integrate such data to interoperate with other OGC standards.

4.    Charter

The Point Cloud DWG is being established to address the gap in the OGC standards baseline with regards to point cloud data.  Although this group will not be the platform for creating new standards, it will be the platform to discuss and understand any issues, concerns, or barriers to interoperability for the point cloud community.

4.1        Charter Members.

The initial membership of the Point Cloud DWG will be open to both OGC members and those outside of OGC in order to learn about the requirements from the entire community.  It is being chartered by the following members and individuals with extensive education and experience in point cloud issues, namely:



Stan Tillman


Dave Danko


Jason Smith


John Herring


Don Sullivan


Roger Brackin


Keith Ryden


Peter Baumann


Karl Heidemann


Jean-Baptiste Henry



4.2        Key Activities.

The Point Cloud DWG is being established to address interoperability challenges with point clouds. This group will facilitate discussion of the requirements that define different point cloud encoding and/or optimization formats and how interoperability between content can be better achieved.  Specifically, the Point Cloud DWG will pursue the following activities.

1.     Consider proposed activities for the DWG expressed at the Point Cloud ad hoc meeting held at the OGC Boulder Technical Committee meetings on 1 June 2015.

2.     Discuss different point cloud encoding and optimization formats to understand the pros and cons for each.

3.     Discuss the types of OGC services that might useful in providing point cloud data through a standardized interface.

4.     Define best practices for managing, processing and sharing point cloud data.

5.     Define areas for standardization and create necessary Standards Working Groups to address the gaps in the OGC standards baseline.


4.3        Business Case

As the proliferation of point cloud data becomes increasingly popular among many domains, it is important to begin defining best practices and standards to improve the interoperability of the user community.  Examples of issues that might be discussed include:

1.     The Point Cloud DWG is focused on defining best practices for the point cloud community in order to promote increasing capabilities and business opportunities based on a commercial ecosystem that uses open standards for point based information.

2.     Many diverging activities are currently occurring in the point cloud community.  This DWG will provide a forum to allow both OGC members and those outside of the OGC to bring requirements and discussions into a collaborative environment where the community can learn from each other.  Bringing discussions about point cloud data into the Point Cloud DWG will benefit the existing community by providing guidance and best practices that can be used to improve interoperability.


5.    Organizational Approach and Scope of Work

5.1        Point Cloud DWG Business Goals

This working group has these broad goals.

1.     Understand implementation barriers for point cloud communities and document them in a format that can guide future technology design.

2.     Identify interfaces and information encodings that complement the existing OGC standards, but are directly tailored to the requirements discovered in understanding the needs of the point cloud user community.

3.     Promote the development of OGC best practices and standards to meet the point cloud objectives.  Candidate standards may come from external, market-established standards or from anticipatory standards developed in OGC initiatives.

4.     Efforts should focus on working Point Cloud issues and problems that result in a net gain for the community.

5.     Define the supporting infrastructure for the community to achieve these goals.

5.2        Point Cloud DWG: Mission and Role

The Point Cloud DWG will concern itself with technology and policy issues, focusing on geodata information and technology interests as related to point cloud applications and services as they relate to location and the means by which those issues are appropriately factored into the OGC standards development process.

1.     The mission of the Point Cloud DWG is to broaden the understanding of point cloud data interoperability requirements and use cases and to help drive activities to improve interoperability in the point cloud user community.

2.     The role of the Point Cloud DWG is to serve as a forum within OGC for point based data; to present, refine and focus interoperability-related point cloud issues to the Technical Committee; and to serve where appropriate as a liaison to other industry, government, independent, research, and standards organizations active within the point cloud domain

5.3        Activities planned for the Point Cloud DWG

Point Cloud DWG is a working group to discuss issues and barriers to achieving improved interoperability.  Progress in this domain will be achieved as follows:

1.     Discuss the variety of point cloud encoding formats to better understand the requirements for encoding and sharing point cloud datasets.

2.     Serve as OGC TC focal point for complementary organizations that are working on Point Cloud best practices and standards, such as the ASPRS.

3.     Evaluate the possibility of using a service interface to abstract the point cloud format types.  This will involve evaluating existing OGC services as well as potentially creating a new service standard. 

4.     Make recommendations for adoption of best practices and standards for use by the point cloud community.  This will include the evaluation of LAS and optimized/compressed LAS point cloud formats.

5.     Additional discussions related to point cloud data will also take place within this group.  Some of these topics include:


b.Databases, GeoPackage support

c.Indexing, tiling, hierarchical decomposition

d.Web services, streaming

e.Simple metadata models


6.    References

1.     HDF5: http://www.hdfgroup.org/

2.     LAS:http://www.asprs.org/Committee-General/LASer-LAS-File-Format-Exchange-Activities.html