Remembering Cliff Kottman

As we celebrate OGC’s 20 year anniversary, with great sadness we learned that Cliff Kottman passed on Wednesday 26 March 2014 after a long illness. Cliff was brilliant, creative, deeply analytic and just as wise and sensitive to others as he was smart. He was a great teacher. Even before the OGC came into existence, he contributed to the development of the OGC vision, and he had the ability to put the rather complex vision of geospatial interoperability in easy to understand terms.  Those who remember Cliff may recall his many white papers on the subject and his famous “I want a pizza” story from the late 1990’s – his depiction of geospatial standards and interoperability as part of a future in which everyone benefits from ubiquitous mobile location services.

Cliff Kottman Pizza Story figure

In 1997, Cliff’s “Pizza story” picture was beginning to shape OGC’s understanding of a future with ubiquitous location services.

Cliff served as OGC's Vice President for Technology Development and Chief Scientist from 1997 until 2003. He was the editor and main author of most of the original OpenGIS Abstract Specification documents, which provide the foundation for today's OGC standardsBefore working at OGC, Cliff served in executive manager and senior principal staff positions at Intergraph and then MITRE. He served Intergraph for over five years, and was their expert in spatial information standards, representing the company to ANSI X3L1, Open GIS Consortium, ISO TC 211 and the NIBS CADD Council. He chaired the ACSM Standards Committee.  Before working at Intergraph, Cliff was a valued technical leader at the Defense Mapping Agency, one of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's predecessor organizations. After serving on OGC's staff, he served as NGA's Senior Standards Advisor, guiding the stand-up of the National Center for Geospatial Intelligence Standards (NCGIS) and the Geospatial Intelligence Standards Working Group (GWG) in 2005.

Cliff's vision and wisdom contributed to the success of OGC as well as to the broader community – advancing a successful strategy for keeping up with and efficiently using commercially driven digital geospatial technologies. Without Cliff’s commitment and vision to the early work of the OGC, the OGC would not be celebrating the amazing level of success we have achieved on the occasion of our 20th anniversary.

The things that are most memorable about Cliff, however, for me and for many I have spoken to recently, are his character, his patience, compassion and sense of humor. He was the very best kind of person, and he will be sorely missed. 


We on OGC staff have received many messages from people who are deeply saddened by this news. If you would like to share with his family and others who knew him your condolences and your memories and thoughts about Doug, we invite you to leave a comment to this blog.

Mark E. Reichardt
President & CEO
Open Geospatial Consortium