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The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) is an international industry consortium of 510 companies, government agencies and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available interface standards. OGC® Standards support interoperable solutions that "geo-enable" the Web, wireless and location-based services and mainstream IT. The standards empower technology developers to make complex spatial information and services accessible and useful with all kinds of applications.

GeoPackage guidance

info [at] opengeospatial.org

Original author: Anonymous
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Leveraging the OGC Innovation Program to Advance Big Data Spokes

Big Data aids in Health

The National Science Foundation (NSF) currently has an open program solicitation that seeks to establish more ‘Big Data Spokes’ to advance Big Data Applications. Like the BD Hubs, the BD Spokes will provide a regional coordinating role but they will focus on narrower topic areas, such as applications concerning the acquisition and use of health data, or data science in agriculture, among others. In addition to its topic area, spokes will be driven by three themes: 1) advance solutions towards a grand challenge, 2) automate the Big Data lifecycle, and 3) improve and incentivise access to critical data.

Using the Open Geospatial Consortium’s (OGC) Innovation Process could help Big Data Spokes advance a solution to better integrate and run analytics on data sets using technologies that are not only freely available and ‘open’, but that are also maintained by an established Standards Development Organization (SDO). OGC also has various domain working groups currently advancing solutions that would complement the work done in Big Data Hubs.

The OGC is an international voluntary SDO that provides a broad interface with over 500 industry, government, academia, and research organizations engaged in advancing standards to improve geospatial interoperability. OGC’s standards are implemented in hundreds of products to improve the discovery, sharing, access, fusion, and application of location-based information. In addition to its proven consensus process for advancing open standards, OGC - via its Innovation Program - provides a venue in which to prototype in an agile, collaborative environment. It has developed more than 90 initiatives in the last 17 years.

OGC’s Innovation Program Initiatives have helped advance technology solutions that deal with important challenges, such as those rising from continued population increase. Most recently, OGC’s Future City Pilot Initiative created technologies that aid in the provision of adult health services using multi-source data analytics (you can learn more in this 5 minute video on OGC’s Future City Pilot).

An OGC initiative could help prototype and design a solution for Big Data Spokes, based on open standards, that could be further implemented in a Data Hub. An OGC initiative has five phases:

Phase 1 - Concept Development: OGC gathers requirements and proposes an initial systems architecture. Phase 2 - Call for Participation (CFP): OGC publicly invites industry and non-industry organizations worldwide to participate in the Initiative to develop the components of the architecture. Phase 3 - Team Formation and Kick-off: The OGC evaluation team selects participants. Selected participants meet face to face at the initiative kick-off meeting to coordinate on the development, testing, and demonstration process. Phase 4 - Execution: Participants engage virtually through frequent teleconferences, net meetings, and email exchanges to discuss progress and to identify and resolve issues. Phase 5 - Reporting, Demonstration and Outreach: Technology demonstrations occur at the end of the Initiative to showcase the major accomplishments. Engineering reports and other artifacts are written that identify and summarize the resulting technologies.

The completion of such an initiative would result in a proven solution that can be implemented in a Big Data Hub to help automate Big Data lifecycles, and support, for example, Smart Cities or Health related challenges.

If you want to learn more about how to partner with OGC for the NSF Big Data Spokes, or other solicitations, please contact Luis Bermudez, Executive Director of the OGC Innovation Program (lbermudez at opengeosptial.org).

Original author: Luis Bermudez
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Our newest OGC staff member: Marie-Françoise Voidrot

Marie-Françoise Voidrot

Today I am honored to join the staff of OGC Europe as Europe Director of the Innovation Program, and to contribute more intensively to the development of OGC activities.

Prior to joining OGCE staff I worked with Meteo-France, the French national weather service. While working there, I was a project manager of weather information systems for meteorological forecasters, with major customers like the CNES, the French Armed Forces, Air France, etc., and, more recently, for mass market consumption via the Internet and mobile apps.

As an OGC member, I have contributed to the definition of the MetOcean Domain Working Group that I have co-chaired with Chris Little since 2009. Together, we have helped the definition of common terms of reference for a relationship with the World Meteorological Organization that supports both hydrological and meteorological standards development.

I have been involved in the organisation of several annual workshops within the Met Community to gather the issues identified by the developers, while providing Met Ocean data with OGC standards to several spatial data infrastructures, including INSPIRE and SESAR. Met Ocean data is complex, inherently spatial, temporal, and constantly changing. It is big, heterogeneous, and multi dimensional - including multiple time attributes. Another source of complexity is the very demanding level of service, as these data are used for critical safety purposes, and are essential for major business activities.

The MetOcean DWG provides an open forum to work on meteorological data interoperability, and a route to publication through OGC's standards ladder (Discussion paper -> Best Practice -> Standard -> [and if appropriate] ISO status), and giving a route for submission to WMO CBS for adoption. Since 2009, the DWG has produced several Best Practice documents (available on the MetOcean DWG wiki) and multiple presentations to further knowledge and understanding of the complexity of these environmental data.

As further background, I have a Master’s Degree in Computer Sciences from Ecole Centrale Paris, and a Master’s Degree in meteorology from the Ecole Nationale de la Meteorologie (French National School of Meteorology). I am trilingual (French, Spanish, and English), and am located in Toulouse, France.

As a new OGCE staff member, my first focus will be on the NextGEOSS, which fits perfectly with my experience. NextGEOSS aims to develop GEOSS into a next-generation data hub, and increase the use of Earth Observation data to better support decision making.

If you would like to get in contact with Marie-Françoise to offer congratulations or discuss the MetOcean DWG, NextGEOSS, or other OGC activities, she can be reached at mvoidrot [at] opengeospatial.org, or on Twitter @twitt_mfv.

Original author: Marie-Francoise Voidrot
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Innovation Principles

The OGC Innovation Program provides a collaborative agile process for advancing new technologies. Since 1999, 95 initiatives have taken place, from multi-million dollar testbeds (such as Testbed 12) to in-kind interoperability experiments. During these initiatives, sponsors and technology implementers come together to solve problems, produce prototypes, develop demonstrations, provide best practices, and advance the future of standards.

The first Innovation Program initiative was in 1999, when the Web Mapping Testbed took place and helped to develop the most popular OGC standard: the Web Map Service (WMS). Today, hundreds of thousands of data layers are available via WMS, and more than ten thousand articles are available related to this subject.

OGC Testbed 12 Video

Testbed 12 (2017) was a US $ 3.6 Million initiative that brought together 30 organizations and 210 individuals from around the world. 82 components (e.g. servers, clients) were developed, and 51 documents were produced.

Recent OGC initiatives helped advance the Geopackage encoding format, which allows users to store terabytes of data, including features and tiles, and synchronize that data with mobile devices for use in offline environments. This new OGC standard is based on modern databases, like SQLite, and is currently supported by more than 20 tools:

GDAL SpatialLite OpenJUMP PLUS
QGIS GeoServer TerraExplorer for Mobile
Luciad FME Safe Software Compusult Go Mobile
Esri GeoTools INTERLIS ili2gpkg
NGA Geopackage Mobile TerraGo Carmenta Engine
Envita ERDC RGI Library PB MapInfo and Map Extreme

Driving Innovation at OGC

After I became the Executive Director of OGC’s recently renamed ‘Innovation Program’ in March 2017, I delved into its history and processes to better understand the success of this program: how do Innovation Program initiatives help advance innovation; and what makes OGC succeed in developing, say, a standard to share maps over the Web, or an encoding that can be used in any mobile application?

Peter Diamandis, one the biggest innovators of our time, founder of the XPRIZE Foundation and best selling author, summarized 8 innovation principles inspired by Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube at Google. These are a practical set of principles that, I think, apply to OGC and can help answer the question of why the Innovation Program works so well:

Focus on the user: The users for the innovation program are the sponsors who ultimately care for their constituents and the customers using their data. NGA, for example, cares about providing the best geospatial intelligence information. NASA cares about the use of Earth Observation data. FAA and Eurocontrol want to improve the interoperability of data used in air transportation. OGC brings sponsors’ requirements and distills them into open architectures and open standards. We make sure we develop solutions where the user is getting data in the proper way in the proper format.

Open will win: OGC has always taken an ‘open’ approach to everything it does: all of its Standards are open and free to use; its initiatives are open; the software used by the validation tools is open source. The calls for participation of sponsors or funded participants are advertised to the world. The results of OGC initiatives (e.g. videos and reports) are open: anybody can use this material without paying any cost or being concerned about intellectual property rights. OGC is using GitHub for writing standards and reports, as well as making available the tests and validation tools.

Think big, but start small: We believe in a world in which everyone benefits from the use of geospatial information and supporting technologies across different domains. We break initiatives down into concrete themes that represent their applications and/or domains. For example, the Future City Pilot used 3D open standards to demonstrate how they can aid in supporting responses to urban flooding, and in land development planning, as well as provide better adult social care based on conditions provided by environmental data.

Spark with imagination, fuel with data: Sponsors and participants in OGC initiatives come together to provide innovative ideas. Getting a sense of what is a popular standard is important. OGC provides a self-registration implementation database that can serve as a proxy for the level of maturity of a standard. This data helps sponsors think about what should come next: address the gaps or make improvements?

Never fail to fail: Rapid iteration is key. OGC initiatives provide the environment to test, fail, and improve. During an initiative, solutions are tested and discussed in weekly telecons. Integration experiments are frequently run to make sure that clients and servers can communicate.

Be a platform: OGC provides the process for using standards as a baseline for innovation (see George Percivall’s recent blog post about Innovations and Standards), but OGC is more than a standards organization. The Innovation Program provides the process to run initiatives in a manner unseen in other organizations. We are continuously improving the process so it can be replicated all over the world (for example, OGC’s Indian Plugfest). We are the platform that brings together experts from around the world to solve challenging problems in an agile prototyping environment and to advance open architectures and standards.

Have a mission that matters. The OGC mission is the reason why staff, members, and those involved in initiatives like to be part of OGC. Advancing geospatial interoperability makes our world more sustainable and enjoyable, and helps first responders save more lives. Sponsors of, and participants in, initiatives make a genuine contribution to the well-being of our planet, and the people that live on it.

I’m more than excited to lead this program and be part of such an important mission. If you want to advance innovation in the geospatial domain, want to become a sponsor or to sign-up for future funding opportunities, please send me an email: lbermudez [at] opengeospatial.org.

 

Original author: Luis Bermudez
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Innovations and Standards

OGC, as a standards developing organization, provides a stable baseline for innovation. It could be perceived that innovation and standards are opposing ideas; in reality, the two ideas work together to prevent the extremes of stagnation and chaos: standards bring order to chaotic implementations of new ideas, additionally providing a baseline for new innovation to flourish. That innovation, in turn, feeds the creation of new and updated standards. One of the first computer scientists, Herbert Simon, in The Architecture of Complexity coined the heuristic that “complex systems will evolve much more rapidly if there are stable intermediate forms than if there are not.” Standards are those stable intermediate forms necessary for innovation and evolution.

This blog highlights several recent innovations in OGC processes: Changes in the OGC Innovation Program; Community Standards in the OGC Standards Program; and Geospatial Trends Tracking by the OGC Architecture Board. Further discussion of innovation in an agile environment will be the topic of a blog in the very near future by Dr. Luis Bermudez, the new Executive Director of OGC’s Innovation Program.

In 2014, the OGC Planning Committee adopted an ‘Innovation Statement’ that laid out how OGC must maintain its current standards while simultaneously addressing the evolution in technology and markets. While ensuring harmonization in OGC standards, OGC must simultaneously respond to the Christensen’s ‘Innovators Dilemma.’ The OGC identified several actions to implement its Innovation Statement:

Extend or adapt the present baseline of OGC standards; Recognize that new standards may overlap with or diverge from existing standards, along with guidance to evaluate among options; Develop harmonization techniques (brokers, facades) for interoperability.

To frame a discussion about innovation and standards, consider this view of open standards development as developed by Mark Reichardt, OGC President:

Open Standards Development

Based on competition in the marketplace, over time a specification emerges as a de facto standard in the market. The specification may be publicly available but it is owned and controlled by an entity as a ‘proprietary standard’ (e.g. Microsoft’s Word .doc). As the market develops, the owner of a proprietary standard may see value in ‘opening up’ their specification by assigning the intellectual property to a Standards Developing Organization (SDO). KML, as licensed to OGC by Google, is an example of what OGC now calls the Community Standards process. As an alternative to development by a single organization, a group of organizations may collectively identify the need for a standard and develop a specification in anticipation of its widespread use. The OGC WMS as developed in the OGC Innovation Program is an example of an ‘anticipatory standard’

Based on this framework, examples of the OGC process for innovation are described next.

The OGC Innovation Program, previously known as the Interoperability Program, provides a collaborative agile process for advancing new anticipatory standards. The first Innovation Program initiative was in 1999, when the Web Mapping Testbed took place and helped to develop the most popular OGC standard: the Web Map Service (WMS). Since 1999, another 95 initiatives have brought together sponsors and technology implementers to solve problems, produce prototypes, develop demonstrations, and write engineering reports that anticipate the needs of the sponsors and the marketplace.

The OGC Standards Program is now processing the first OGC Community Standards. This new process welcomes innovative specifications developed outside of the OGC. The process allows for a commonly-used specification, along with its intellectual property, to come in to OGC as a snapshot of that specification. The snapshot is then voted to become an OGC Community Standard. The process not only recognizes that innovation occurs in many communities, but also provides the visibility for future evolution of standards and provides a stable baseline of externally-developed standards for use in the OGC process.

To anticipate innovation, the OGC Architecture Board (OAB) has taken on a part of the OGC Innovation Statement by defining a process to track geospatial technology trends. The OAB monitors trends to identify technology gaps or issues related to the OGC baseline. The OAB Technology Trends process is used to establish innovation topics for several OGC activities: Future Directions sessions in the Technical Committee; Location Powers emerging technology summits; and prospective topics for initiatives in the OGC Innovation Program.

OGC has been developing innovative standards for over 20 years, but we have more to learn. Several excerpts from The Innovators book by Walter Isaacson provide a historical perspective on technology innovation on which OGC can build:

The digital age may seem revolutionary, but it was based on expanding ideas handed down from previous generations. Innovation comes from teams more often than from lightbulb moments of lone geniuses. Most of the successful innovators and entrepreneurs had one thing in common: they were product people. They cared about, and deeply understood, the engineering and design.

We invite you to participate in the advancement of geospatial technologies based on open standards. Your contribution to OGC Innovation Initiatives by sponsoring new ideas or helping develop solutions and prototypes will save lives and make this world a better place.

If you have a question or comment on OGC’s approach to innovation, contact George Percivall, OGC CTO and Chief Engineer. gpercivall at opengeospatial dot org.

Co-authors of this blog post include: Luis Bermudez, Scott Simmons and Terry Idol.

Original author: George Percivall
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