What is the Open Geospatial Consortium?
OGC is a consortium of over 250 companies, agencies and universities working toward a world in which everyone benefits from geographic information and services made available across any network, application, or platform. Click here to view more
What does OGC do?
OGC manages a global consensus process that results in approved interface and encoding specifications that enable interoperability among and between diverse geospatial data stores, services, and applications. In the OGC, geospatial technology users work with technology providers. Our membership is international and includes universities, Federal government agencies, local government agencies, earth imaging vendors, content providers, database software vendors, integrators, computing platform vendors and other technology providers. OGC facilitates their reaching agreement on OpenGIS® Specifications for interfaces, schemas and architectures. Systems implementing OpenGIS standards can interoperate, whether those systems are running on the same computer or the same network. OGC standards provide essential infrastructure for the Spatial Web, a network of geospatial resources that is thoroughly integrated into Web.
What problem is OGC attempting to solve?
Much geospatial data is available via the Web and in off-line repositories, but most of these data are stored in different data formats, using different data models, coordinate reference systems, geometry models etc. Thus, sharing spatial data has required considerable time, expertise and special software. OGC manages a consensus process in which specifications for common software interfaces and encodings are developed to enable users to maximize the value of past and future investments in geoprocessing systems and data.
What are some difficult activities that OpenGIS Specifications will make easy?
The following points answer this question. They are extracted from the INSPIRE architecture document. (INSPIRE is a program to develop a European Spatial Data Infrastructure.)
Geospatial information should be easy to find, without regard to its physical location.
Once found, geospatial information should be easy to access or acquire.
Geospatial information from different sources should be easy to integrate, combine, or use in spatial analyses, even when sources contain dissimilar types of data (raster, vector, coverage, etc.) or data with disparate feature-name schemas.
Geospatial information from different sources should be easy to register, superimpose, and render for display.
Special displays and visualizations, for specific audiences and purposes, should be easy to generate, even when many sources and types of data are involved.
It should be easy, without expensive integration efforts, to incorporate into enterprise information systems geoprocessing resources from many software and content providers.
Why is the OGC necessary?
The OGC is necessary because cooperation is necessary to solve the difficult interoperability issues in the geospatial marketplace. Some user needs, such as the need to share and reuse geodata in order to decrease costs, get more or better information, and increase the value of data holdings, can only be addressed by cooperation among technology users and providers. The OGC brings together geoprocessing technology users and vendors and provides a formal structure for achieving consensus on our specifications. No single vendor can ``set the standard`` that enables heterogeneous systems to interoperate in an open network environment like the Web.
Does OGC promote free software and free data?
No. OGC promotes the development and use of consensus-derived publicly available and open specifications that enable different geospatial systems (commercial or public domain or open source) to interoperate. For example, OpenGIS Specifications can be used to geospatially enable interoperable Web based applications and portals. These applications or portals can provide either free or available-for-fee services and data that are widely available to Web users. (See the OpenGIS® Project Document 02-039r1, Web Pricing & Ordering Service (WPOS) XML Configuration & Pricing Format (XCPF) Specification, which describes a standard for e-commerce in geospatial information and services.)
Why does OGC often use the words ``geospatial`` instead of ``geographic,`` ``geoprocessing`` instead of ``GIS,`` and ``services`` instead of ``software?``
It is necessary in the standards setting process for OGC`s members to reach agreement on precise technical terms.
``Geographic`` is the right word for graphic presentation -- maps -- of features and phenomena on or near the Earth`s surface. ``Geospatial,`` (or ``spatial``) also refers to data about Earth features and phenomena, but the data are not necessarily graphically presented. Many geoprocessing applications do not involve a human-readable map on a display.
``GIS`` (Geographic Information System) is just one of many technologies used to create, manage, store, analyze and display geospatial data. ``Geoprocessing,`` is more inclusive, referring to GIS and also to systems for Earth imaging, navigation, facilities management, digital cartography, Location Based Services, spatial database operations, and surveying and mapping. OGC addresses all of these.
``Service`` refers to a processing task that is invoked by a client software component and executed by a server software component, usually across a network. Much of the current work in OGC involves geoprocessing via the IT industry`s Web Services standards framework. The OpenGIS Specifications that make this possible are referred to as ``OGC Web Services.``