OGC’s Charlotte TC Meeting: as it was, not just as it seemed*


Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) North Carolina
The TC was hosted at Electric Power Research Institute's (EPRI) North Carolina office.


Braving heavy snowfall, and overcoming subsequent flight delays, more than 140 key standards leaders from industry, academia, and government attended last week’s Technical Committee (TC) Meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. The meeting was hosted by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). The meeting started with the first two hours of Monday being virtual due to road and facility closures, but was able to proceed as normal by the middle of Monday morning.


The Opening Plenary featured a welcome from the host, EPRI. John Simmins, Technical Executive, presented an overview of the mission of, and projects undertaken by, EPRI and the importance of location in EPRI’s work. The session then included a presentation from Johnny Jensen of Trimble, who updated the Technical Committee on the activities in buildingSMART International (bSI), an alliance partner of OGC. Johnny highlighted the ongoing cooperation between bSI and OGC in the Integrated Digital Built Environment (IDBE) Subcommittee. Finally, OGC’s Terry Idol presented a summary of ongoing and upcoming activities in the OGC Innovation Program.


Ad hoc meetings were held to discuss the use of Distributed Ledger (more popularly known as Blockchain) technology, Non-Authoritative Data, and Portrayal of spatial information. A follow-on session from the Stuttgart TC Meeting in September was held to more concretely identify next steps for OGC and partner work in Augmented Reality, including potential Innovation Program activities.


Indeed, the past two TC Meetings have included ad hoc sessions to collect insight from OGC members as to where in the OGC AR topics should arise or standardization occur. The recent Testbed-14 undertook work on the use of CityGML in AR, as well as presentations in Charlotte from EPRI and Brainwaive regarding AR use in the energy and utilities marketplace, are leading to new activities for both the Standards and Innovation Programs in the coming year. Clearly, location is critical for augmenting reality.


This TC Meeting also featured an Energy Summit, a special IndoorGML-hosted open session, and a wrap-up of the Environmental Linked Features Interoperability Experiment (ELFIE).


Eddie Oldfield silhouetted at the Second OGC Energy Summit
Eddie Oldfield chairing the Second OGC Energy Summit.


The Energy Summit was chaired by Eddie Oldfield of QUEST and John Simmins of EPRI. The Summit was divided into four sections: Setting the Stage; Building Smart Energy Utilities of Today and Tomorrow; The Road to Smart Energy Communities, and; Approaches to Network Models and Interoperability.


Presentations at the Energy Summit were made by both OGC domain and standards leads as well as utility industry experts. As was the case with the last OGC Energy Summit in June 2017 [PDF Report], the chairs organized an event that would lead to concrete actions for the OGC Energy and Utilities Domain Working Group (DWG). The Energy Summit agenda is available online, and OGC Members can view the presentations given at the Summit via the OGC Portal.


The IndoorGML Standards Working Group (SWG) coordinated a half-day open session on Thursday that highlighted indoor mapping and navigation use cases, technologies, and projects. Topics included OGC activities in indoor space models, indoor content in OpenStreetMap, a joint National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)-OGC Indoor Pilot Project, an overview from Apple of their Indoor Mapping Data Format (IMDF), and data modeling best practices from SAFE Software.


OGC has long addressed the requirements for exchanging and providing geospatial content at all scales, but often from the perspective of more traditional mapping requirements. The OGC IndoorGML standard allows for depiction of indoor spaces and establishment of models representing navigable pathways in those spaces, as well as overlays of additional information such as sensor observations, radio wave strength, etc. Now, with joint work between OGC and NIST to better establish the means to mapping indoor spaces for the express purpose of navigation, plus discussions of point cloud data handling, as well as new specifications from the hardware and software community, indoor spatial data is finally becoming increasingly integrated into our daily lives.


Friday saw the wrap-up for the ELFIE project, and included planning for the Second Environmental Linked Features Interoperability Experiment (the wonderfully titled ‘SELFIE’ project), which will kick off at the February TC Meeting in Singapore.


Future Directions

The ever-popular Future Directions session focused on the work and outputs of the recently completed Testbed-14 and how those outputs intersect the activities of the TC. OGC staff have made a concerted effort over the past few years to more directly link the activities of the Innovation Program to the ongoing standardization work in the Standards Program, and this was demonstrated in this session. Specifically, each Testbed Engineering Report is presented to one or more OGC Working Groups (WGs) and reviewed by those WGs prior to final approval by the Technical Committee for publication, with the intent that the WG sees the relevance of the Testbed work in the WG’s activities.


OGC's Gobe Hobona presents at the Future Directions session.


As part of the Future Directions session, Dr. Luis Bermudez, the Executive Director of the Innovation Program, presented a summary of select activities from Testbed-14. Testbed 14 was organizing into four threads, as follows.

  • Earth Observation and Clouds – including work on use of Swath Coverage data and workflow and provisioning of Earth Observation applications in the cloud.
  • Modeling, Portrayal, and Quality of Service – a focus on semantic enablement of information resources, in part through understanding the relationships between UML schemas and OWL ontologies. This thread also included research on machine learning, modernizing portrayal standards, and establishing a workflow for quantifying the quality of service and experience for OGC web service standards.
  • Next Generation Services – practical experimentation and testing of evolving API approached in OGC standards, largely as exemplified by the Web Feature Service (WFS) 3.0 OpenAPI effort. The thread also covered the use of such services in a federated cloud environment and the security implications of the service model. The ability to leverage CityGML in Augmented Reality environments was exercised in a portion of this thread.
  • Compliance – given the Next Generation Services efforts underway in a number of SWGs, it is increasingly important to develop a consistent methodology for testing resource-oriented services. This thread established practices and initial requirements for development of such tests.


On a side note, OGC will be holding an ‘Innovation Program and Testbed-14 demo day’ on the 24th January at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy. Attendees will have an opportunity to learn about OGC’s Innovation Program as well as view results from Testbed-14. Testbed-14 featured fifteen tasks in total, but the main focus of the event will be on the ESA sponsored ‘Earth Observation Exploitation Platform’ task, which addressed the Big Data cloud processing challenge of deploying and executing applications close to the physical location of satellite data. The challenge included the exploration of quoting and billing mechanisms for geospatial products to improve commercialization of satellite data and data processing products. You can learn more about the event, including how to register, on the OGC Innovation Program and Testbed-14 demo event page.


Open OAB

The Open OAB provides the general TC membership an opportunity to discuss topics addressed in the OGC Architecture Board (OAB) over the preceding months. At this TC, the Open OAB session also served to highlight the current state of the Technology Trends evaluation process and to seek input from TC Members on that effort. The Open OAB covered a number of issues considered by the OAB over the last quarter, such as: Python implementations for geospatial; the Spatial Data on the Web Interest Group (SDWIG - a joint OGC and World Wide Web Consortium group) Geospatial Roadmap and OGC standards, Baseline Consistency, and Innovation; and the SpatioTemporal Asset Catalog (STAC) effort and its relationship with WFS 3.0.


However, most of the discussion time was dedicated to the evolution of OGC web services standards and what elements should be common to the next generation of these standards (also see the Next Generation Services work in Testbed 14 highlighted above). Efforts with some degree of harmonization are already underway with both WFS 3.0 and the Web Processing Service (WPS) 3.0 candidate standards. These same concepts are also under consideration for Web Map Service (WMS) and Web Map Tile Service (WMTS) evolution and in conceiving a new OGC Web Services Common (OWS Common) standard as well as a new Catalogue service. As a means to develop a basic approach to web API use in OGC standards, the OAB is building OGC Web API Guidelines in GitHub.


OGC Technical Committee Meetings are held so that attendees can not only advance the development of open geospatial standards, but also for them to network, knowledge share, and generally catch up with their colleagues and friends from across the industry. So of course, no TC Meeting is complete without its social aspects. On the evening of the first night of the meetings, there was held an informal ‘ice breaker’ event - although this was perhaps a poorly chosen term, given the snowfall in the area.

And on Wednesday, a group dinner was held at the Speedway Club, where OGC’s outgoing President and CEO was awarded a special edition of the OGC Gardels Award for his years of service to the company and the industry as a whole. OGC’s Chief Financial Officer, Jeff Burnett, was the MC for an entertaining series of appreciations and good-humored stories about Mark and his love for music and quoting movies.


All in all, our 109th TC Meeting was a great success, despite inclement weather, and we look forward to welcoming you to our 110th. And of course, wishing you all the best for 2019.


If you want to learn more about the happenings and outcomes of the Charlotte TC, OGC members can access many meeting recordings and presentations via the Charlotte TC Meeting page on the OGC Portal. Non-members can download a public version of the 2018 Charlotte OGC TC Meeting Closing Plenary Slides. Tweets from the week can be found at #OGC18NC.


Readers are also encouraged to visit OGC’s GitHub page to participate in OGC related discussions, such as ideas for Testbed 15 and other Innovation Program Initiatives and future OGC TC meeting topics, or to see our evolving OGC Technology Trends.


The next OGC TC Meeting will be held at at the National University of Singapore from 25 February to 1 March 2019. More information on the upcoming TC, including registration details, will be posted to ogcmeet.org soon.

*See North Carolina’s state motto: “Esse Quam Videri” or: “To be rather than to seem [to be].”