OGC standards for Defense and Intelligence


Almost every Defense and Intelligence (D&I) information technology application – planning, intelligence, logistics, etc. – involves geospatial information. Almost every asset and every threat, human and material, has a location or an area. D&I systems are diverse and networked, so if D&I personnel are to effectively develop and share awareness of assets and threats, geospatial information and geospatial processing instructions need to be easily and seamlessly accessed and moved freely between many different information systems. For this reason, D&I organizations and contractors have played an important role in developing OGC standards, and OGC standards play an important role in D&I worldwide.

Why use open standards for secured networks?

Defense organizations around the world are moving in the direction of Internet and Web-based information system designed to use open commercial standards, including OGC standards, because a custom or proprietary approach cannot affordably provide interoperability across the broad spectrum of defense and intelligence business processes and domains. The use of open standards reduces risk, maximizes return on investment, and future-proofs critical applications. It increases the ease and likelihood of interoperability with coalition forces and other national, subnational and local agencies who partner with national defense organizations in planning for and responding to regional emergencies and natural disasters.  Another advantage of standards is competition: Competition among providers of standards-based commercial off-the-shelf (SCOTS) products improves the quality and diversity of commercial offerings available for defense and intelligence applications.

“Industry is a partner to mission success, and the commercial applications of GEOINT make it a win-win situation. Our industry partners are attuned to our evolving missions and offer solutions addressing a range of needs: from standards to ensuring communitywide interoperability of data and systems, and from integrated tools providing seamless knowledge transfer and transparency of resources and requirements, to enhanced tradecraft techniques leveraging the capabilities of current and new sensors.”

Letitia Long, Director, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. (From an interview by Geospatial Intelligence Forum 7 October 2010)

Defense and Intelligence in the OGC Interoperability Program

The OGC Interoperability Program (IP) is a global, hands-on and collaborative prototyping program that rapidly develops, tests and delivers proven candidate specifications. These specifications are brought into the OGC’s Standards Program, where they are formalized for public release as OGC standards. IP initiatives include test beds, pilot projects, and interoperability experiments. Technology user organizations provide requirements and funding for these initiatives to engage technology providers in prototyping and demonstrating candidate standards and best practices.

D&I interoperability requirements have been primary or secondary drivers for OGC interoperability initiatives since 1998. A few of these are:

OGC Defense and Intelligence Domain Working Group

In more that 25 OGC domain working groups (DWGs), members discuss requirements, standards and technologies; present and review commercial software solutions; produce requirements documents and review compliance test procedures. They also discuss and organize the formation of OGC Interoperability Program test beds, pilot projects and interoperability experiments. OGC members, both technology providers and technology users, derive many benefits from working together to resolve interoperability issues.

OGC Standards Working Groups (SWGs) each have a charter to work on a specific candidate standard prior to approval as an OGC standard or to work on revisions to an existing OGC standard.

The US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the European Satellite Centre (EUSC) serve as co-chairs of the OGC Defense and Intelligence Domain Working Group. Both the NGA and the EUSC work on geospatial standards issues with many other government agencies and international organizations such as the NATO-sanctioned multi-national Defense Geospatial Information Working Group (DGIWG) and the Australian Department of Defence (DoD). Many other OGC working groups address issues relevant to D&I.

D&I and OGC’s Alliance Partnerships

The OGC maintains alliance partnerships with many standards development organizations and industry associations to ensure that OGC standards work well with other standards and to ensure that OGC standards meet user requirements across a broad spectrum of domains and applications. OGC Alliance Partners that are particularly relevant to D&I include:

OGC Membership

Around the world, D&I agencies are embracing open standards as a foundation for their networked information systems. The increased value and liquidity of data and applications that result from the use of the OGC’s geospatial interface and encoding standards has become clear to IT providers, buyers, and users. OGC membership has grown year over year partly because membership enables organizations to influence the development of geospatial standards. Membership is also the best way to gain market insight and understanding about how to make the best use of the standards, and membership offers other advantages:

  • Support given to the OGC is a highly leveraged investment that makes it possible to procure secure but decentralized “systems of systems” with integral geospatial capabilities. The D&I “need-to-share” information culture gets the tools it needs so that users across jurisdictions and industries are able to rapidly share, integrate and apply data for D&I purposes.
  • Participation in Working Groups provides insight into trends and OGC members’ offerings and requirements.
  • The OGC is a center of excellence for advancing “broad spectrum” data fusion: text, diverse sensors and video become part of geospatial searches and geospatial analyses.
  • The OGC is a center of excellence for advancing geospatial digital rights and secure access management.
  • Geospatial standards cooperation with other organisations from the D&I community supports cooperation on other geospatial and technology issues.

Read more about the benefits of OGC membership…

The Key Role of Geospatial Technology Standards

The integration points that enable seamless communication involving geospatial resources are interfaces and encodings that implement OGC standards. These standards enhance interoperability in geographic information systems (GIS) and systems for Earth imaging, navigation, tracking, facilities management, cartography, location services and surveying and mapping. The end result is that location information flows freely to meet information needs in use cases that involve diverse functions such as planning and intelligence gathering and diverse communities such as intelligence, defense, and civil government.

Scope of OGC Standards

Some of the OGC standards relevant to D&I are described below:

OGC Web Services (OWS): 
OGC Web Services enable real time multi-source integration across the Web and across D&I networks. They greatly improve the ability to discover, access, integrate and apply geospatial data to support planning and operations. OWS encompasses image exploitation as well as raster and vector Web mapping, location services and other technology areas. (See OGC Web Coverage Service, Web Feature Service, Web Map Context, Web Map Service, Web Map Tile Service, Web Processing Service and Web Service Common standards at http://www.opengeospatial.org/standards.)

  • Information Interoperability and Semantics: 
The diversity of geospatial information available to the D&I community results in semantic non-interoperability. OGC members are addressing the problem by using OGC’s Geography Markup Language (GMLTM) schemas to support “on the fly” translation to and from a common model. (See 2010 OGC Geosemantics Summit.)
  • Sensor Web Enablement: 
The Web is increasingly being used to access, control, and read dynamic and in-situ sensors and imaging devices. The OGC’s Sensor Web Enablement standards show the value of standard schemas for sensor description and standard interfaces for sensor control.
  • Geospatial Fusion Services (GFS):
 Automated methods of integrating multimedia references into a geospatial framework introduce unprecedented efficiencies and capabilities into intelligence analysis. OGC members have advanced GFS specifications, in concert with OGC’s adopted standards baseline, to effectively enable analysts to integrate/link textual documents, imagery, and Web content into an application.
  • Location Services (OpenLS):
 The OGC OpenLS Standard specifies interfaces for location utility, gateway, directory, presentation, and routing services. GeoRSS can easily be combined with OpenLS and other location-based protocols and proposed standards for the Internet including location enabled DHCP, OASIS CAP, and web notification services. See an OGC position paper relating OGC OpenLS standard to Augmented Reality.)
  • Open GeoSMS v1.0: The Taiwan Chinese Taipei Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) contributed Open GeoSMS as a candidate OGC standard. Open GeoSMS allows applications to location-enable Short Message Service (SMS). SMS is the text communication service component of phone, web and mobile communication systems, and Open GeoSMS has begun to play an important role in emergency and disaster management as well as defense and intelligence field operations.
  • Geosynchronization Service v1.0: Implementations of the candidate Geosynchronization Service Interface standard (not yet an approved OGC standard) will provide the D&I community with a means of keeping spatial data up-to-date when additions and changes are being made asynchronously by diverse players in disconnected working environments.

Why is the OGC Involved?

The OGC is an international industry consortium of more than 420 companies, government agencies, research organizations, and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available interface standards. The OGC is involved in the D&I standards effort because geospatial standards are an important part of the international D&I picture, and because D&I requirements parallel a wide ranging set of critical real world information interoperability demands of the D&I organizations worldwide. What drives the OGC process is the desire to solve the real world challenges encountered by government and business organizations when they attempt to integrate information to meet critical needs.


See the OGC’s Requests Page for information about candidate standards for which the OGC seeks public input and interoperability initiatives for which the OGC seeks quotations and participation. OGC membership provides a cost-effective way for technology users and providers to influence and track the progress toward 21st century D&I infrastructures that support seamless communication of spatial content.

Join the OGC

To learn more about what the OGC is doing and how your organization can benefit from participation, contact: http://www.opengeospatial.org/contact.

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