OGC driving interoperability by sdsdfqw21


                                     OGC driving interoperability
                                                                                                                   by Linda Nel, Data Design

     In our rapidly expanding industry, there is a growing need for standards-based geospatial data management
     solutions. These innovative solutions deploy spatial data infrastructures (SDI) and manage the lifecycle of
     enterprise data.

              hen enhanced with Open                    Users liked the power and potential of         The real measure of OGC's success
              Geospatial Consortium and                 the new mapping and spatial analysis           is that these specifications, which
              International Organisation                tools, but the expensive software's            collectively form a reference
     for Standardisation (OGC/ISO)                      limited extensibility, flexibility and         architecture for interoperability,
     interoperability, these solutions are fully        inability to share geospatial data             have been implemented in hundreds
     equipped to empower users, making                  between systems caused severe                  of commercial and open source
     systems more flexible and accessible,              frustration. Users were forced to              geoprocessing products and are being
     therefore driving ROI for the enterprise.          use inefficient, time consuming and            implemented in communities and
                                                        error-prone data transfer methods.             organisations around the world. By
     The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)
                                                                                                       using OGS standards and implementing
     is an international, voluntary consensus           The OGC was finally formed to address
                                                                                                       their services, geospatial information
     standards organisation that is leading             this problem by engaging the major
                                                                                                       can be shared freely without the need
     the development of standards for                   GIS companies and some major user
                                                                                                       for proprietary software.
     geospatial and location-based services.            agencies in a consensus process to
     Founded in 1994 as a not-for-profit trade          define and agree to the details of             These standards include:
     association with eight charter members,            the OpenGIS abstract specification.            l   WMS – Web map service
     the OGC is now an international industry           OGC has continued to make progress,
                                                                                                       l   WFS – Web feature service
     consortium consisting of 381 companies,            from the specification program's first
                                                                                                       l   WCS – Web coverage service
     government agencies and universities               approved implementation specification
     developing and establishing common                 in 1997 and the first interoperability         l   WPS – Web processing service
     interfaces that "geo-enable" the web               program testbed (Web Mapping                   l   CSW – Web catalog service
     and mainstream information technology              Testbed) in 1999 to today's broad array        Full details on OGC standards and
     (IT). Its focus is on interoperability of          of specifications and initiatives.             specifications are available on the
     geospatial systems.                                                                               OGC official website: www.opengeo
                                                        More than a dozen approved
     By the mid-1980s, geographic                       specifications are now freely available        spatial.org/standards
     information system (GIS) software was              to address the challenges identified at
                                                                                                       Practical application
     widely used in the natural resources               OGC's founding. In addition business
     and defence domains, especially within             requirements drive OGC standards               The terrible catastrophe of
     government agencies, and other                     with rapid, market-driven commercial           11 September 2001 immediately
     market sectors were seriously exploring            specification developments where               highlighted the importance of geospatial
     this technology.                                   needed and when needed.                        data and services in disaster recovery
                                                                                                       operations. It did not take long for
                                                                                                       policy-makers to understand that
                                                                                                       geospatial data and services are critical
                                                                                                       not only for recovery, but for the entire
                                                                                                       process of homeland security. Detection,
                                                                                                       prevention, planning, response and
                                                                                                       recovery activities are all premised
                                                                                                       upon the potential for disasters to occur
                                                                                                       in locations that we have no ability
                                                                                                       to pre-determine. Disasters almost
                                                                                                       by definition occur unexpectedly, in
                                                                                                       places where we are not adequately
                                                                                                       prepared. As such, most policy-makers
                                                                                                       and emergency response leaders now
                                                                                                       believe that geospatially-enabled,
                                                                                                       real-time, comprehensive situational
                                                                                                       awareness is necessary if we are to
                                                                                                       prevent another 9/11.

                                                                                                       Homeland security inherently requires
                                                                                                       a national spatial data infrastructure
     Fig. 1: Service orientated architecture and interoperability. (Illustration courtesy of Erdas.)   (SDI) that is interoperable, distributed,

40                                                                                                                      PositionIT - April/May 2009
                                                                                                   GIS             technical

secure and enterprise-class. And,            l   There is a higher level of data           geographic information and services
a national SDI should be dynamic,                integrity, with the same information      made available across any network,
provide secure access to geospatial              available to everyone                     application or platform.
data from state and local governments,       All while reducing development risk,          The OpenGIS project defines eight
critical infrastructure partners and a       saving development time, reducing the
                                                                                           levels of membership available to
range of federal authorities.                total cost of system ownership, and
                                                                                           public and private sector organisations
                                             providing total visibility into distributed
Taking advantage of the data                                                               interested in supporting the
                                             geospatial data resources.
exchange inherent in OGC web                                                               development and implementation of the
services                                     Through OGC conformance,                      OpenGIS Specification.
                                             organisations can achieve business
By merely exposing underlying geospatial                                                   Membership levels, range from
                                             goals that were previously only strategic
resources as OGC web services, a                                                           strategic membership to principal
                                             plans. Interoperable, distributed
system architect can potentially solve the                                                 membership, technical committee
                                             geo-processing is the vision driving the
combinatorial integration problem posed                                                    membership, aggregate membership,
                                             world and currently being implemented.
by the mixing and matching of many                                                         associate membership (universities,
different geospatial applications against    Homeland security architects face a           government and small companies) and
many legacy geospatial resources. This       daunting challenge when it comes to           individual membership.
ability fundamentally launches you into a    realising secure, distributed geospatial
                                                                                           South Africa has a number of
world where:                                 data exchange. The concept of a single
                                                                                           organisations with OGC membership
                                             vendor solution is tempting, but this
l   No offline data conversion is                                                          including the Council for Scientific
                                             concept is a chimera. Overcoming
    required                                                                               and Industrial Research (CSIR) at
                                             the challenges inherent in our
l   No redundancy or duplication of                                                        an associate membership level and
                                             heterogeneous national geospatial data
    geospatial data is needed                                                              the University of Pretoria, which has
                                             infrastructure can only be achieved by
l   No conflict exists between multiple                                                    recently joined the OGC at a university
                                             implementing the OGC’s interoperability
    GIS servers from multiple vendors                                                      membership level. If you think you or
l   Cross-department/organisation                                                          your organisation might benefit from
    applications are easily developed        Who can join the OGC?                         joining the OGC, please visit www.
l   Native web access to your                                                              opengeospatial.org for further details.
    geospatial resources is possible         Anyone. Individuals, organisations,
                                             governments and universities can              Contact Linda Nel, Data Design,
l   E-business enablement is possible,
    as well as secure access to your         join and work toward a world in               Tel 021 794-2840,
    geospatial resources                     which everyone benefits from                  info@datadesign.co.za 

PositionIT - April/May 2009                                                                                                          41

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