OIEau in France: Spreading the word about OGC standards in the water world

Contributed by: 
Sylvain Grellet, Office International de l'Eau (OIEau)

Office International de l'Eau (OIEau) has been setting up open information systems and data exchange standards in water related domains for years. OIEau's main standardization activity is the support it provides to the French water community via the Sandre secretariat. OIEau teams support other initiatives such as Water Information System for Europe (WISE) and the INSPIRE data specification process. As an OGC member, OIEau is also involved in the Hydrology Domain Working Group, which is co-chaired by the OGC and the World Meteorology Organization's Commission on Hydrology.

Over time we have seen OGC standards evolve from the “pure” geographic world to one involving observations & measurements and sensor webs. This evolution is a breakthrough for all domains concerned with geolocated sensors.

Previous OGC standards gave us the ability to exchange geographic information in a seamless way. This, plus strong drivers such as INSPIRE, make mindsets evolve and barriers fall. Hence, daily activity within a Spatial Data Infrastructure is now easier than before when it comes to sharing geographic information.

Within the observations & measurements world, we are in the same situation we were 10 years ago with the first geographic web services. We now have to prove to decision makers and information system architects that the shift from their current ad-hoc observation data models and services to these new standards provides many benefits.

Ensuring the health of the environment requires monitoring across borders, which makes it impractical to embed a monitoring system completely within a single responsible party's jurisdiction. Parties with similar monitoring responsibilities in neighboring jurisdictions have much to gain from sharing observations that are gathered using open standards. Leading these parties to realize the amount of (public) money they could save by basing their systems on open standards is a challenging but rewarding activity.

Once you have understood how much open standards can underpin environmental policies, you keep trying to convince others. This is exactly what we at OIEau have been doing for years now in France and in other nations. I really enjoy taking part in this movement and will continue planting open standards seeds wherever I can.

See my 24 June 2012 presentation, OGC Water/Hydro related activities, presented at the OGC Standards & Environmental Policy Workshop at the INSPIRE Conference 2012.