Advancing standards for marine data

Bathymetric Map courtesy of NRCan


The OGC has long maintained standards that are used in the marine domain. These standards have been applied to studies of bathymetry, ocean science, navigation, logistics, and more. Long-standing Domain Working Groups (DWGs) in the OGC provide expertise in ocean science (Meteorology and Oceanography DWG) and safety of navigation (Defense and Intelligence DWG). However, only a small subset of the diverse disciplines that work in the marine environment have representatives in OGC’s membership. Thus, in 2016 the Marine DWG was established to provide a forum for discussion across marine topics and to link the OGC with other organizations in the field.


As the Marine DWG was being established, the OGC also formed an alliance with the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO -, a body dedicated to ensuring that the world’s navigable waterways are surveyed and charted, and that the data are accessible to all stakeholders through the use of international standards. The OGC and IHO now regularly support each other through attendance at each others’ events, and together they jointly chair the OGC Marine DWG. The Marine DWG is already promoting a future Concept Development Study for a Marine Spatial Data Infrastructure (MSDI) and is considering various whitepaper topics to illustrate the advantages of standards and data accessibility to the marine community.


The OGC and the IHO are also key participants in the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM - The UN-GGIM has a broad mission to develop global geospatial data and associated infrastructure, primarily in support of the UN Sustainable Development goals. Now, with the support of IHO and OGC, the UN-GGIM has established a Working Group on Marine Geospatial Information (MGIWG) in recognition that marine data are a critical part of a global geospatial data infrastructure. For an excellent summary of the UN-GGIM work in this area, please see IHO Circular Letter 47/2017.


So, how can you get involved? The Marine DWG is open to all. Subscribe to the mailing list and visit the public wiki. Consider joining the OGC or working with your national representatives to the IHO to have your opinion heard. And finally, take advantage of the output of these efforts: discoverable and interoperable data are of benefit to all of us.


Image courtesy of NRCan: