OGC Update - 52nd Technical Committee and Planning Committee Meetings

February 28, 2005

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The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) held its 52nd Technical Committee and Planning Committee Meetings during the week of January 17, 2005 in New York City.The United Nations hosted the Technical Committee meeting and Parsons Brinckerhoff hosted the Planning Committee meeting.Over 150 OGC members collaborated throughout a week that was extremely productive in terms of agreements on a range of standards for enabling interoperability.

Technical Documents

A record number of votes were taken at both the Technical Committee (TC) and Planning Committee (PC) meetings, representing an extraordinary amount of work.Scanning the following three paragraphs, even if you are not a computer programmer, provides a sense of the work of the OGC: removing barriers for geospatial data sharing, improving interoperability of geoprocessing services, and enabling the geospatial web.Almost all of these documents are about "Web Services." We invite readers to visit the OGC web site to review the documents.

OGC members voted to release three documents as official OGC recommendation papers.These documents discuss advancing standards work in the areas of XML (eXtensible Markup Language) encoding of common coordinate reference system definitions, XML encoding of image coordinate reference system definitions, and a document defining best practices for all OGC Web Services related interface specifications.

Nine documents were approved for public release as discussion papers.Topics include: discussion of an interface for a web-accessible coordinate transformation service; using the OASIS Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) for service chaining of image handling functions for decision support; a web accessible 3D portrayal service, a web accessible image classification service, and a draft definition for imagery metadata.

Seven OpenGIS Specifications moved into the final approval process and will likely be available to the public soon.Topics include: a new common specification that provides a basic set of rules for OGC Web Services; an ISO19115/19119 (metadata) profile for catalog services; a "Web Map Context Documents" specification that describes how context information can be defined in XML and saved so that web maps created by users can be reconstructed and augmented by the user or other users in the future; new versions of the specifications for GML (Geography Markup Language), Open Location Services, WFS (Web Feature Server), and Filter Encoding (Filter Encoding defines a standard encoding for queries that retrieve objects that lie in a particular region.or that delete object instances that lie in a particular region); and a new GO (Geospatial Objects) specification that defines an open set of common, lightweight, language-independent abstractions for describing, managing, rendering, and manipulating geometric and geographic objects within an application programming environment (which might not be the web).Regarding the GO specification, the PC unanimously agreed that work on APIs (application programming interfaces) or interfaces for tightly coupled architectures (as opposed to loosely coupled architectures like the web) is germane and valuable in terms of the work of the consortium and the PC fully endorses and supports such work.

Standards Organization Cooperation
The TC recommended that New Work Item Proposals for the Catalog 2.0 specification and for the Web Feature Server and Filter Encoding specifications be submitted to ISO TC 211 for discussion and, hopefully, subsequent approval as ISO standards.

The TC also recommended that OGC pursue a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with IEEE 1451, the IEEE working group that deals with sensor networks.

Since the meetings, OGC has signed an MOU with the NIBS (National Institute of Building Sciences) IAI-NA (North American Chapter of the International Alliance for Interoperability) Council.David A.Harris, FAIA, NIBS President explained, "As digital technologies become increasingly important in design and construction, city planning, disaster response, security, transportation and environmental management, so does the need for interoperability among systems used in these activities.Design technologies, such as CADD, and geospatial technologies need to efficiently transition between their separate environments.The technical barriers that have kept them apart are seriously hampering productivity and efficiency.We look forward to advancing the standards framework necessary to bring these disciplines closer together."

The work with IAI will involve coordination with other groups, such as the LandXML organization.OGC's outreach to these other standards organizations reflects, as David Harris suggests, both the needs of users and the opportunities that arise as Web-based distributed computing advances.It is now well understood that the progress of Web-based computing is the result of consensus-derived open standards. OGC is committed to ensuring that geospatial capabilities become fully integrated into the new, Web-based computing environment that enterprises are embracing.OGC's growth in membership - there are now more than 270 members - reflects the growing awareness in the larger IT industry that OGC is a great place to both learn what's happening and to influence what's happening in the expanding world of geospatial technology.


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