Geospatial Interoperability for the Organization

By Jim O’Neill

OCG Jim O'Neill Government and the business community understand the need for greater integration of data and technology.Across organizations of almost any size, enterprise wide information architectures are the key to success.Our increasingly, sometimes almost randomly, interconnected and information aware society forms the basic foundation for transactions - from public policy to music downloads.This foundation is insufficiently integrated for it to deliver the value demanded by our national security, homeland security and economic interests.

This digital foundation will not support the transactional demands we place on it from both an efficiency and effectiveness standpoint without interoperability standards that allow best of breed engineering solutions from among an ever-changing field of vendors with ever-growing technology intensive products and services.

Geospatial information and technology are at the very doorstep of transforming the way governments and businesses meet their most demanding transactional requirements. It is becoming apparent to leaders in both communities that geospatial information technology is a powerful aid when transforming information from many different sources into knowledge.

Until recently, the promise of compatible spatial data infrastructures and interoperable geospatial architectures has not been realized.However, we are now seeing remarkable progress in geospatial interoperability and how geospatial intelligence and geospatial access, sharing, and analysis can be expedited through breakthroughs in open interfaces and interoperable solutions.

The activities of the Open GIS Consortium (OGC) have been a driving force behind these breakthroughs.A new baseline of geoprocessing services and computing specifications has been developed through a win-win process led by the OGC.

Along with the products of other standards organizations, such as the International Standards Organization, American National Standards Institute & Inter-National Committee for Information Technology Standards, these Open GIS Specifications will enable interoperable geospatial processing and data sharing across distributed multi-vendor computing platforms.These industry-wide advancements allow government and business to define their expectations for future geospatial systems that are interoperable, standards conformant, and integrated with enterprise-wide technology architectures - as a matter of due course.

Major systems integrators employing open standards and specifications that meet the geospatial community's needs will now be able to build coherent, consistent, affordable enterprise-wide architectures that anchor geospatial information and technology in that transactional foundation I mentioned before.

Standards for interoperability will do here what they have done for us across the information industry.Vendor neutral, information centric, and consensus-based rule-sets will enable us to implement fully interoperable geospatial enterprise architectures, regardless of platforms, networks, or product lines. Web-based standards compliant testing tools, currently in use by the OGC, are and will continue to be critical for validating the conformance of products to endorsed standards and the interoperability of platforms and data warehouses.

It is still early in this drive for interoperability among geospatial information technologies, but the progress on standards made within the geospatial community encourages us to envision further opportunities for delivering interoperable architectures that unleash a wealth of applications. These "apps" will efficiently draw upon information from sources anywhere in the world and will create government and business "effects" that increase the value proposition for all involved.

Interoperable standards-based architectures operating in a network-centric society can give anyone with access - organization or individual - the ability to work across different vendor and technology platforms; share data, information and analyses; and present decision makers with a common operating picture and a user-defined interface at the same time.

Imagine what this can mean.We can move toward a future where debate is increasingly based on the merits of the issue rather than the quality of the information.We will move toward decision superiority as our knowledge is put into a geospatial context that allows us to discover new relationships, opportunities and risks.

A future built on win-win developed community-wide standards and specifications implemented through common enterprise approaches can lead to the type of transformation that will truly allow us to achieve homeland security, national defense, and community sustainability for the benefit of all of our nation's citizens.

Published Thursday, April 8th, 2004

Written by Jim O’Neill

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