Hot Town, Geo in the City! - OGC's June 2019 TC Meeting in Leuven


The recent 111th OGC Technical Committee (TC) Meeting was one of our biggest, with more than 280 people attending, including key standards leaders and regional experts from industry, academia, and government. The Meeting was held at the House of the Province of Vlaams-Brabant in Leuven, Belgium from 24–27 June 2019, and was sponsored by KU Leuven, Hexagon, Informatie Vlaanderen, and Merkator. In addition to the many Working Group meetings, this TC Meeting featured an Earth Observation (EO) Summit, a special Sharing Data in Agriculture Session, as well as special sessions on Innovation Program activities in Europe.


The Opening Plenary series of presentations highlighted current and historical geospatial activities across the Leuven area: Prof. Dr. Gerard Govers, Vice-rector of KU Leuven, described the research and commercial spin-off activities at KU Leuven; Danny Vandenbroucke of KU Leuven presented a retrospective of geospatial information innovation in Leuven dating back to 1982; Marc Melviez, the Chief Strategy Officer at Hexagon Geospatial, summarized the origins and eventual acquisition of the company Luciad as well as some of its innovations that impacted industries outside of the geospatial market. Additionally, the plenary attendees saw a presentation from Sai Ramesh and Ravi Nishesh Srivastava of Cyient that described Enforcing Interoperability in Smart City Solutions. Wrapping up the session was OGC’s Gobe Hobona, who gave a summary of outcomes of the OGC API Hackathon, which was held at the end of the previous week.


The first day is always particularly thirsty work, and it would have been remiss of OGC not to take advantage of Belgium’s long tradition of excellent brewing, so Monday evening saw an ‘ice breaker’ session held at the beautiful gothic Leuven Town Hall, where participants could enjoy some excellent cold local beers and learn about Leuven’s history. Similarly, on Wednesday night was a dinner reception at the amazing neoclassical Palais des Colonies in Tervuren, a dependency of the Royal Museum of Africa.


The ice breaker session held at the Leuven Town Hall during OGC's June 2019 TC Meeting
Thirsts quenched and conversations had during the ice breaker session held at the beautiful gothic Leuven Town Hall


And despite the heatwave that crossed Belgium during the TC, there was of course the focus on getting things done: members completed the Borehole Interoperability Experiment. The joint OGC-W3C Spatial Data on the Web Subcommittee met over two afternoons, and ad hoc meetings were held to consider creating Standards Working Groups (SWGs) for ‘OGC API – Catalogue’ as well as a Geopose standard.


The Sharing Data in Agriculture session [agenda and presentations] was held on Monday afternoon and featured presenters and participants from across the world in both the agricultural sciences and geospatial domains. The session was organized by Plan4All with topics ranging from the use of cloud computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in agricultural-centric analysis of data, to discussions on interoperability challenges with the diverse data needed by the industry.


The 2.5-day long Earth Observation (EO) Summit, organized by the EO4GEO initiative highlighted skills development and capacity building in the EO sector in Europe. The summit included panel discussions, break-out sessions and featured speakers from a variety of OGC members as well as numerous European organizations. An overview of the EO Summit is available on the OGC Blog.


Being in Europe, we saw some sessions with a focus on European activities. Following ideas from the last Europe Forum meeting during the TC meeting in Stuttgart, we organised together with members two sessions on EU-funded projects and how European agencies benefit from OGC’s Innovation Program.


Thought leaders, including speakers from the European Commission, demonstrated potential ways to influence international standards development, plus how to outsource R&D work, by sponsoring an OGC initiative reflecting their requirements. The session also highlighted the funding mechanism, opportunities, and benefits of OGC IP Initiatives. We received very positive feedback on the session, so keep your eyes out for similar sessions in the November TC in Toulouse, France.


Pre-dinner drinks at the Palais des Colonies
Pre-dinner drinks at the Palais des Colonies


Future Directions

This TC’s ‘Future Directions’ plenary session was organized around the theme of Edge and Fog Computing. The topics have been touched upon in previous Future Directions sessions dealing with Autonomy (March 2018) and Cloud-Native Computing (June 2018), but discussion of the interaction between edge devices and the cloud was the main focus of this session.


After some introductory remarks by OGC’s Gobe Hobona, Jeremy Morley of Ordnance Survey UK presented on e-CAV: Connected and Autonomous Vehicles. Dr. Morley highlighted the fundamental requirements of true autonomy (including working without Global Navigation Satellite Systems [GNSS]) and navigating in an environment of low-latency edge devices and networks. The presentation also included a thought-provoking review of work done to assess the implications of security and location privacy in connected autonomous vehicles.


Mike Edwards with IBM, and representing ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 41, presented Edge Computing and Location where he proposed that the term “fog” may not accurately reflect how edge devices interact with the cloud. From this perspective, Edge Computing is divided into three tiers: the device tier (Internet of Things [IoT], mobile devices, etc,); the edge tier (IoT gateways and control nodes); and the central tier (data centers with broad connectivity). Location and time are important considerations for edge computing as more complex compute and storage resources must be provisioned as close to the devices as possible to ensure low latency.


Steve Liang with SensorUp and the University of Calgary gave a focused presentation of the relevance of the OGC SensorThings API Standards in edge computing. His presentation highlighted the efficiency data transport in the standard protocols and the requirement to both pull and push data between devices and the cloud. Dr. Liang also presented use cases from an exercise performed for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security using SensorThings in a first responder scenario.


Moderated by Dr. Hobona, the session finished with a panel of the three speakers, discussing the wider implications of their work in the OGC standards environment.

The crowd during a session at the OGC June 2019 TC in Leuven, Belgium


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 OGC Technology Trends evaluation process and to seek input from TC Members on that effort.


In Leuven, the Open OAB covered two important issues considered by the OAB over the last quarter: the plan for registering a MIME type for the upcoming GeoTIFF standard; and Part 2 of the Abstract Specification Topic 1 for Features and Geometries dealing with metrics for calculating geometric parameters on a spheroid.


George Percivall covered an update of the Tech Trends forecasting process run by the OGC’s CTO Office, with assistance from a presentation from Roger Brackin regarding increasing automation in trend analysis. Now well into its second year of formal tracking and discussion in the TC, the Technology Trends forecasting effort is spawning regular reporting of varying degrees of thoroughness through the Open OAB and a new document type referred to as Tech Notes.


The TC Meeting also saw exciting progress on the ongoing work surrounding the OGC API family of standards. Recent events have allowed OGC Standards Working Groups to negotiate much of a common core for these standards and the first instance, OGC API-Features, was approved for ‘start of vote’ in Leuven. The Processing, Map Tiles, and Coverages efforts were already maturing, and now new efforts are in the works for Catalogues and OpenSearch. It is clear that the use of web APIs is being widely embraced in OGC and that SWGs have a spirit to cooperate to build a suite of standards with maximum interoperability. Stay tuned to this blog for more exciting developments concerning the future of OGC standards!


Unfortunately this blog post can only highlight a few examples of the interesting work done by our members and the great conversations and discussions had in Leuven. Once again, it was a great week, where we all - members, guests, and staff - experienced what OGC means: connecting people, technologies, communities and industries using location.

Have a great summer! And hopefully I’ll see you at one of the upcoming OGC TC meetings!


If you want to learn more about the happenings and outcomes of the Leuven TC, OGC members can access many meeting recordings and presentations via the Leuven TC Meeting page on the OGC Portal. Non-members can download a public version of the 2019 Leuven OGC TC Meeting Closing Plenary Slides. Tweets from the week can be found at #OGC19BE, and the week’s agenda can be viewed at the 2019 Leuven 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 9-13 September 2019 at The Banff Centre in Banff, Alberta, Canada. More information on the upcoming TC, including registration details, is available on


Crowd interaction between meetings at the OGC June 2019 TC Meeting


(Finally: apologies to The Lovin’ Spoonful for the title of this post)