Tech Update 2019 Q1 from OGC CTO, George Percivall

OGC CTO George Percivall (right), COO Scott Simmons (next from right), and President Bart De Lathouwer (second from left), meeting with UK Hydrographic Office visitors to OGC TC in Singapore
OGC CTO George Percivall (right), COO Scott Simmons (next from right), and President Bart De Lathouwer (second from left), meeting with UK Hydrographic Office visitors Acting Chief Executive and National Hydrographer Rear Admiral Tim Lowe CBE (left) and Cathrine Armour, Director, Customer Division (middle) at the OGC TC in Singapore


OGC’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is responsible for developing OGC’s Technology Strategy and coordinating the strategy across all programs of the Consortium. Currently the main activities of the strategy relate to the OGC Architecture Board (OAB), OGC Technology Forecasting, and the evolution of the OGC Baseline. This column provides an update on those and related activities from the past three months.


OGC Architecture Board (OAB)

The fifteen individuals of the OAB are some of the most active OGC members. The OAB meets at least every two weeks by telecon and twice during each Technical Committee week. The breadth of geospatial technical knowledge provided by OGC members is astounding and provides a strong foundation from which to conduct its role in the consortium. In its role, the OAB considers the architecture consistency and life cycle management of the OGC standards baseline; evaluates current technology issues and identifies gaps in the architecture that OGC members need to respond to; and provides guidance and recommendations to the Technical Committee (TC) and the Planning Committee (PC). In the past 3 months, the OAB has addressed the following issues:

The OAB approved the following items to move forward in the Standards Program (SP) and Innovation Program (IP) processes:

  • GroundWaterML 2 v2.3 approved to proceed to Public Request For Comment (RFC)
  • Abstract Specification Topic 0 - Overview approved to proceed to Public RFC
  • Second Environmental Linked Features Interoperability Experiment (SELFIE) approved
  • CDB Vector Data in GeoPackage IE approved

The OAB discussed the following items:

  • A review of the definition of the OGC Baseline: The OGC Baseline is OGC’s collection of Abstract Specifications, Standards including profiles and extensions, and Community Standards. The OAB emphasizes that Best Practices, Community Practices, and other OGC documents are not included in the Standards Baseline.
  • Python’s use in geospatial: Thanks to Tom Kralidis for providing a survey of how the Python scripting language is used in several geospatial projects. While the OAB discussed xarray and other relevant Python topics, it has yet to recommend any specific standards development activities in this area.
  • OWS Evolution: The OAB has had several discussions with chairs and editors of the relevant OGC Standards Working Groups about the development of OGC APIs for geospatial resources. The OAB has promoted API Guidelines, API Commons, and hackathons to support the development of API-oriented standards.


OGC Technology Forecasting

Technology Forecasting is a key element of OGC’s technology strategy. The forecasting activity identifies “ripe trends” and then takes action to foster their advancement in OGC programs. The OGC Technology Trends GitHub site provides a summary of potentially relevant technology trends as a mindmap figure; while a matrix figure summarizes the priority trends as determined based on horizon and impact. OGC’s Technology Trends forecast is updated every quarter.

OGC Technology Trends assessment as at 12 Feb 2019

For this quarter, the following changes were made:

  • Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) trend updated based on the 2019 Technology Survey & Predictions report [pdf] from ARM that included this prediction: “Within three years, we expect SLAM to be widely-used in precision (to <1 cm accuracy) location-based services indoors."
  • Digital Twin trend updated to include both the Built-Environment meaning of Digital Twin typically used in CityGML and BIM communities, but also to include the ‘dynamic’ resource management meaning of Digital Twin as used in the Internet Of Things (IoT) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) communities.
  • Machine Learning (ML) trend enhanced: ML continues to exhibit increasing effectiveness with multiple geospatial applications; additionally, policies are being developed to minimize the unintended consequences of ML technology.
  • Data Science trend enhanced: In addition to referencing Machine Learning, this topic was enhanced based on the scoping of methods to combine data science with theory-guided analytic sciences around predictive simulations.
  • Data Policies trend enhanced with emphasis on Open Data, Privacy, and AI Transparency. This topic was taken up in the OGC Planning Committee meeting in February.
  • On the priorities matrix, the Quantum Computing trend horizon was moved from way out in the “After next” quadrant toward the “Next" quadrant. This change was based on recent programs investing in the technology including Airbus’s Blue Sky new project on quantum computing.


OGC Spatial Queries for Intersects, Disjoint, etc.

Recently I was asked: "Can you point me to OGC’s vocabulary/guidance on geospatial and/or temporal query language e.g. intersects, disjoint, etc.?” When the OAB reviewed a draft response, they suggested that this information should be made more widely available. So here is that response:

OGC has developed a mature set of specifications that include consistent spatial queries, all of which are based on the foundational math known as "The 9-Intersection Model for Spatial Predicates (9IM)” [pdf]. OGC Simple Features Part 1 standard provides the most generic specification of 9IM in OGC standards. Other OGC Standards define specifications that encode the 9IM math into SQL, HTTP, XML, SPARQL, etc.

To learn more about this, the following references will be helpful:

1. Simple Features

2. Catalogue

3. In GeoSparql


Overall it's been a great start to 2019, and I'm looking forward to what the next quarter will bring.