GeoWorld September 2012

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OGC's Evolving International Character OPENGEOSPATIAL CONNECTION S BY STEVEN RAMAGE ince 1994, the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) has actively solicited membership of geospatial technology providers and users worldwide to collaborate in the development of international standards. It didn't take long to discover that long distances and differences in language, markets and cultures can frequently pose challenges for accomplishing such a global mission. The challenges differ from nation to nation and region to region, and those most aware of the problems typically are OGC members in those areas. First in Europe and then other places, members began to organize to articulate the utility and benefits of adopting OGC standards; promote OGC membership; coordinate participation in OGC; and promote policies, co-operative business development initiatives and public/private partnerships that support the use of OGC standards. International Forums Today, 10 national and regional OGC Forums are in operation (, and each forum is focused on different activities. The France forum, for example, regularly organizes Interoperability Days and is working with organiza- tions at national and local levels on the French implementation of INSPIRE, a pan-European Spatial Data Infrastructure ( The India Forum has worked to raise awareness Steven Ramage is executive director, Marketing and Communications, Open Geospatial Consortium; e-mail: sramage@ 30 of the need for standards to address Indian priority issues, help key Indian government users and policy makers on compliance testing and certification, and help market participants understand the difference between open source and open standards. The Iberian and Latin American Forum has arranged for Spanish translations of OGC documents. And in October 2012 in Seoul, Korea, the Asia Forum will have a summit meeting to discuss regional outreach issues. The Board and Council The OGC board of directors (www.opengeospatial. org/ogc/organization/bod) has become increasingly GEO W ORLD / SEPTEMBE R 2O12 international through the years, and, several years ago, the board created the Global Advisory Council ( as a committee of the board to advise OGC concerning its global outreach and organizational strategies. Council members are prominent in industry, govern- ment, academia and non-government organizations representing diverse national groups and regions. The council introduces diversity of ideas and a global perspective into the strategic thinking of OGC's board and membership, while affiliating many remark- able people with the OGC process who otherwise—for political or financial reasons—wouldn't participate. The council provides input from underrepresented areas and communities, and its members have encouraged forum activity in their nations and regions. A European Model Europe offers clues as to what OGC might look like in the future. OGC standards helped shape INSPIRE. Its requirements, among other factors, helped grow OGC's European membership, which now exceeds North American membership. The OGC Interoperability Program (www.opengeospatial .org/ogc/programs/ip) features interoperability initiatives (e.g., testbeds, pilot projects and interoperability experiments) that have traditionally been centered in North America, but more initiatives are being organized to focus on European interoperability challenges. European and U.S. co-funding of interoperability initia- tives will do much to stimulate cross-Atlantic and global cooperation within OGC and among OGC and other standards organizations. We can expect a similar pattern of growth in other places. OGC standards are useful anywhere, but some- times a population of users or a community of interest has specific needs that may require new standards or modifications/extensions to existing standards or best-practice documents. For example, Geonovum ( in The Netherlands created an Application Domain Extension (ADE) of the OGC CityGML Standard to provide a national 3-D standard consistent with the 2-D elements of its Spatial Data Infrastructure. In the process, Geonovum came up with a CityGML ADE modeled in Unified Modeling Language, from which OGC Geography Markup Language (GML) (and thus CityGML) application schemas can be derived automatically. The Geonovum experiences and lessons learned now are published in an OGC Discussion Paper (portal. that will likely be adopted by the membership as a Best Practice. Geonovum has shared its work because it will simplify and accelerate the work of communities needing other national, regional or domain extensions of GML.

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