OGC® Web Services standards have guided the GIS community for many years, but the evolution of the Web will undoubtedly introduce new technology not bound by the current Web services paradigm. The Open Geospatial Consortium will be exploring a variety of topics related to the future of spatial data access at the 2015 meeting of the OGC Technical Committee, June 1-5, in Boulder, Colo. In this article, Lance McKee, senior staff writer for the OGC, gives us a taste of what to expect.
OGC® Web Services standards have helped bring geospatial technologies like GIS, remote sensing, navigation and facilities management out of their technology and vendor stovepipes and into a much larger world of users and possibilities. Over the years, the GIS community has become familiar with these Web Services standards, including the OGC Web Map Service, Web Feature Service, Web Processing Service, Catalog Services for the Web and many others.
But not all geoprocessing standards in the future will be Web services standards; information technology is constantly evolving and Web services are surely not its endpoint. During the 1980s and 1990s, IT was database-oriented, not service-oriented. The OGC's first standard, Simple Features for SQL, was database-oriented. From 1998-2010, changes in IT provided the Web services foundation that supports OGC® Web Services, which depend on HTTP and XML. Many of these services, although not all, depend on the OGC Geography Markup Language, an XML grammar for encoding geospatial information.
OGC® Web Services standards will probably be with us for a very long time, but TCP/IP and HTTP also provide a platform for newtechnology approaches not bound by the established Web services paradigm. For example, JSON, REST, Linked Data and the Semantic Web all offernew possibilities for the future. Technologies such as JSON complement OGC® Web Services standards with new approaches that can use and extend OGC® Web Services. Linked Data and the Semantic Web, in particular, will provide a quantum leap into a new level of IT-enhanced spatial awareness. The Semantic Web will, no doubt, be infused with spatial content and services.
A key feature of OGC® Web Services has been the integrated depiction of complex spatial representations of data. Polygons, grid arrays, triangulated irregular networks, 5D fluid models and more are required for many depictions of content and analysis results. However, simple point data remain important and often offer the best representation of data sources and relationships, as we see in content provided by citizen science and in the spatial depiction of the Internet of Things. Many of the new technology approaches described above provide the best access to underlying content and data relationships via very simple spatial representations.
The use of semantics on the Web — adding semantics to geoservices for better discovery or better understanding of the data — has been a recurring topic in OGC testbeds. On Thursday, June 4, 2015 at the OGC Technical Committee Meeting in Boulder, Colo., the OGC Testbed 11 demonstration will present the results of work done in the Cross-Community Interoperability Testbed to define implementation guidelines that relate to Linked Data.
If you go to the TC meeting, and if GeoSemantics is your interest, get ready for the Testbed 11 demo by attending the Wednesday summit, “GeoSemantics: Standards Intersect Ontologies.” The summit’s central topic is the application of ontologies in standards-based geo-information infrastructures. This OGC summit is focused on bringing the informal Linked Data and formal ontology worlds closer together in the geospatial standards development process. Participants will share knowledge, present examples and address issues involving geospatial ontologies.
Members of the OGC GeoSemantics Domain Working Group, Catalog DWG, and Metadata DWG have been discussing these topics for years. The recently formedjoint W3C/OGC Spatial Data on the Web Working Group provides a close collaboration between Semantic Web experts in W3C and geospatial experts in the OGC.
The OGC Technical Committee Meeting will be held June 1-5, 2015 in Boulder, Colo. The full agenda is available online. We hope to see you there!