OGC’s 110th Technical Committee Meeting: Onwards, Standards!*

The famous Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. (photo © Ingo Simonis)


More than 140 key standards leaders from industry, academia, and government attended OGC’s recent 110th Technical Committee (TC) Meeting at the National University of Singapore (NUS) from 25 February – 1 March 2019.

The meeting was hosted by NUS, sponsored by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and the Maritime and Ports Authority of Singapore (MPA), and included a special Monday evening reception sponsored by the UK Ordnance Survey. In addition to the many Working Group meetings, this TC Meeting featured OGC's First Marine Summit and an Integrated Digital Built Environment (IDBE) Summit, as well as a meeting of the OGC Asia Forum.


The Opening Plenary featured a series of presentations by the meeting partners. Professor Lam Khee Poh, the Dean of the School of Design and Environment at NUS highlighted the research activities at NUS contributing to Singapore’s high quality of life. Mr. Tan Boon Khai, Chief Executive of SLA described the role and mission in SLA with respect to the limited land area of Singapore and highlighted the GeoWorks incubator. Dr. Parry Oei, Director (Port Services) / Chief Hydrographer of MPA noted the important relationship between OGC and the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO) and the shift in the maritime charting world from sheet-based mapping to seamless geospatial data. Attendees also saw a presentation from Dr. Chen Guang of the Chongqing Survey Institute entitled “Towards a 3D+ Spatial Data Infrastructure: Case of Chongqing, China.” Finally, OGC’s Ingo Simonis presented a preview of the work planned for Testbed 15.


During the TC, an informal meeting was held to discuss the Vision and Mission statements of OGC and assess if any update of either statement is needed. Additionally, the Artificial Intelligence in Geoinformatics (GeoAI) community held an ad hoc meeting in advance of requesting a vote to approve the formation of a GeoAI Domain Working Group (DWG). A draft charter for the group was released for public comment last year.


OGC's Trevor Taylor opening the First OGC Marine Summit.


The Marine Summit was held on Wednesday and featured presenters and participants from across the global maritime domain. The Summit was organized by the OGC Marine Domain Working Group in close cooperation with the IHO and MPA. This Summit focused on four main topics: Marine Spatial Data Infrastructure; Marine Geospatial Standards; Bathymetry; and Innovations. Participants particularly benefited from the on-hand expertise from Singapore, representing one of the world’s major ports and a significant maritime trading nation. You can learn more about the Marine Summit in an upcoming blog post.


On Thursday morning there was an IDBE Summit organized by the UK Ordnance Survey and NUS. The Summit included three parts: Improving Digital Collaboration; Expertise Round-up and Knowledge Share; and Interactive Ideas Generation. The last part included open discussion and breakout groups to discuss what’s required to successfully address the current poor interoperability of data concerning the built environment. The IDBE Summit agenda and presentations are available to OGC Members via the OGC Portal.


The OGC Asia Forum was held and included a wide variety of talks from representatives in the region, including a special presentation given on behalf of Dr. M.K. Munshi, Chair of the OGC India Forum.


Future Directions

The regular Future Directions session returned to the topic of Modeling and Simulation, last discussed at the December 2017 TC Meeting. With growing OGC work in this domain and new members bringing more breadth of experience in the Modeling and Simulation field, the topic remains of heightened interest.


After some introductory remarks by OGC’s Gobe Hobona, David Graham of Eagle Cap Systems provided a forecast of where modeling and simulation from the training perspective is headed, particularly with advanced gaming engines available. The presentation illustrated the transformation of flight simulators over the past few decades, but cautioned that human factors sometimes override technical capabilities with the example that Virtual Reality headsets do not necessarily offer a more immersive experience than a physical aircraft cockpit with simulated visual elements.


Not all modeling and simulation discussed in OGC deals with training and rehearsal. Clemens Portele of Interactive Instruments presented some observations on developments in information modeling. Of particular interest was a diagram illustrating the continuum of data modeling approaches for the same data, but varying in complexity based on the intended use of the data. Strong business rules lead to complex data structures while broad sharing may necessitate highly redundant but simple data structures.


Another important facet of modeling is predictive analysis. Chris Little of the UK Met Office gave a brief history of numerical weather prediction in meteorology, highlighting the need for increasing calculation (and eventually computation) time required to solve equations that grew more complex as meteorologists better understood the physics underlying weather phenomena.


Gobe Hobona finished the session with a presentation and discussion of how emerging OGC standards for web APIs will be used in predictive modeling frameworks, highlighting experiments from Testbeds 13 and 14 and machine learning technologies applied to analytical problems.



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. 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.


In Singapore, the Open OAB covered a number of issues considered by the OAB over the last quarter (OWS evolution and what is ‘common,’ upcoming planned hackathons, and discussion of the OGC Standards Baseline). George Percivall presented the revised scope of the revision to the Abstract Specification, with new parts proposed to be phased in over the coming years. Scott Simmons proposed a definition for “Conceptual Model” and differentiated between the Abstract Specification and Conceptual models tied to domains or specialized topics in the OGC.


OpenAPI and common core

The Open OAB session included a lengthy discussion on the OpenAPI-based web standards evolving in the OGC and how a common core might be identified that could be reused by all of these standards. This discussion was reinforced in several Standards Working Group (SWG) sessions and the final hour of the Closing Plenary. After a week of such conversations, the OGC members arrived at the approach to pattern the naming of these new standards as “OGC API – [type]” with “type” being Feature, Map, Processing, etc. This discussion marks major progress in the OGC work over the past two years to modernize web-based availability of geospatial data and processing.


OGC’s CTO George Percivall recently published his OGC Tech Update 2019 Q1 blog post, which contains more info on the OAB among other topics.


Overall, it was another exciting TC meeting, and it was particularly great to spend time with our growing Asian membership and other global members in beautiful Singapore.


If you want to learn more about the happenings and outcomes of the Singapore TC, OGC members can access many meeting recordings and presentations via the Singapore TC Meeting page on the OGC Portal. Non-members can download a public version of the 2019 Singapore OGC TC Meeting Closing Plenary Slides. Tweets from the week can be found at #OGC19SG, and the week’s agenda can be viewed at the 2019 Singapore TC Page on OGC Meet.


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


The next OGC TC Meeting will be held at at The House Of The Province Of Flemish Brabant in Leuven, Belgium during June 2019. More information on the upcoming TC, including registration details, will be posted to ogcmeet.org soon.


*this edition’s headline pun is a riff on Singapore’s motto: Onwards, Singapore!