Knitting the Geospatial Community Quilt - OGC's September 2019 TC Meeting in Banff, Canada

For a handy infographic summarizing the event, click here or scroll to the end of the post.

Another memorable Technical Committee (TC) Meeting (our 112th) was held in September, this time at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Banff, Canada. The setting was, to say the least, spectacular. The meeting saw 130 attendees with key standards leaders and regional experts from industry, academia, and government getting together to exchange ideas, share expertise, and, of course, get to know each other a little better.

The meeting received Strategic Member support from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and was further sponsored by SensorUp, the University of Calgary, and Esri Canada

Special sessions were held for Sharing Data in Agriculture, the Canada Forum and the Business Value Committee. There was also a SensorThings and Internet of Things (IoT) Summit (presentations here). Ad hoc meetings were held to consider creating Standards Working Groups (SWGs) for OGC API – Catalogue as well as an Environmental Data Pattern Retrieval API standard. There was also the usual ice breaker session on Sunday night, as well as the dinner reception on Wednesday night.

The Opening Plenary was initiated by Daryl Kootenay of the Stoney Nakoda Nation. Daryl provided a history of the Banff region and its importance to the indigenous community and provided a prayer song to open the participants to be receptive to ideas and each other, inspired by their surroundings - an appropriate set up for the week.

Afterwards, Cameron Wilson of NRCan presented Tackling Complex Challenges: Canada’s Collaborative Approach, which highlighted not only the invention of GIS in Canada, but also how geospatial understanding is critical to addressing emerging issues, including climate change, through ‘knitting the quilt’ to help better connect the various communities of practice.

Following Cameron was Steve Liang of SensorUp and the University of Calgary, who shared his experience of SensorUp’s adoption of the OGC SensorThings standard and highlighted considerations for OGC’s use of OpenAPI with an event-driven paradigm in that standard.

Next up, Alex Miller of Esri Canada provided a thought-provoking presentation on Beyond Data Models: Mapping the Flows. 

The final speaker in the opening plenary session was Stormy Martin, the Director of the USA’s National Coordination Office for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing, who provided an overview of the capabilities and requirements for cyber resilience improvements needed for Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers. 

Steve Liang presenting on SensorUp during the opening plenary

The Sharing Data in Agriculture session [presentations available here] was held on Monday afternoon and featured presenters and participants from across the agricultural sciences and geospatial domains. The session was organized by Plan4All and was a follow-up to a similar session held at OGC’s Leuven TC Meeting in June, 2019. The session in Banff included topics ranging from standardization efforts in other organizations to several facets of the use of remotely sensed data in agriculture. The session also included preparation for a Precision Farming Pilot in OGC (subscribe to OGC’s press release list for info on that as it arises).

The Canada Forum [agenda] included a mix of speakers and break-out sessions to discuss “What should the Canadian geospatial community do next?” The conversation was augmented with a graphic recorder who created a poster highlighting the meeting discussions and outcomes.

Outcomes of the Canada Forum were documented in graphic form (click to download a full size version)

The Business Value Committee (BVC), last active in 2014, met and began with a series of lightning talks on the value of OGC, presented by members. This was followed by an open discussion with a wide variety of points made by representatives from all types of organisations. The group decided that while the BVC as a separate Domain Working Group was not required, that sessions at one or two TC meetings per year should be held to advance how the value is communicated. The next session will be held during the November Toulouse TC meetings, as a direct follow up action.

The SensorThings API Standards Working Group (SWG), along with SensorUp and the University of Calgary, organized a SensorThings and IoT Summit on Wednesday. The Summit featured 13 keynote presentations on broad topics around IoT and the specific application of the SensorThings standard. Presentations are available at the previous link.

Future Directions
Now a regular at OGC TC meetings, the Future Directions session at Banff was organized around the theme of Indoor Positioning, Models, and Navigation. After some introductory remarks from OGC’s Gobe Hobona and Luis Bermudez, Jeb Benson from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) presented the results of the OGC Indoor Mapping and Navigation Pilot. The Pilot focused on the “digital transformation of public safety” with an end-to-end series of tests of data capture through data delivery. Mobile mapping systems using LiDAR and optical sensors were used to generate 3D point clouds of indoor spaces. These point cloud datasets were transformed into CityGML and IndoorGML for consumption by first responders. The Pilot identified successful workflows as well as deficiencies in standards and processes.

Dean Hintz of Safe Software then presented Challenges, Trends and Opportunities for Data Integration using Open Standards Related to Indoor Mapping, 3D and BIM in Built Environments. This presentation highlighted workflows used in the OGC Indoor Mapping and Navigation Pilot and other projects as examples to be considered in data integration efforts. Many challenges exist in data transformation, not just between formats, but also with respect to geometry adjustment, for example wall ‘thinning’ and creating openings at doors and windows.

The final presentation was from Carsten Rönsdorf of the Ordnance Survey on Generating Floorplans from IFC where he highlighted a workflow from native Building Information Modeling (BIM) data to the buildingSMART BIM standard Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) to the OGC CityGML standard. Particularly challenging is the process of simplifying the complex BIM data to create uncluttered floorplans that are useful in a geospatial context.

The session finished with the three speakers joining in on a discussion panel moderated by Dr. Hobona to discuss the wider implications of their work in the OGC standards environment.

The Future Directions panel, moderated by Gobe Hobona, and featuring (L-R) Carsten Rönsdorf, Dean Hintz, and Luis Bermudez.

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 Banff, the Open OAB concentrated on three topics. First, Josh Lieberman of OGC provided background material for an in-work White Paper on PubSub (publication and subscription models in geospatial use cases). Josh referenced the existing work in the OGC PubSub Interface standard and how the model is also realized in event-driven standards, such as SensorThings. Further related work is occurring in the W3C and the emerging AsyncAPI related to OpenAPI. Consideration is also underway for a PubSub Abstract Specification Topic to form a basis for what is expected to be multiple publication and subscription models in coming standards.

The second topic was presented by Keith Ryden of Esri to update the TC on the new Policy Directive for the use of Well Known Text Representation of Coordinate Reference Systems standard (CRS WKT2) in all new standards requiring WKT representation of Coordinate Reference Systems (CRSs). This Policy Directive ensures that new standards are aligned with modernization of CRSs, particularly dynamic CRSs.

This segued nicely to the last topic of the session: Misaligned Maps and Data Issues with dynamic CRS, presented by Joel Haasdyk, the GDA 2020 Program Manager for New South Wales, Australia and Roger Lott of the International Oil and Gas Producers Association (IOGP). Their presentation focused on the major issues that will soon be faced by all users of geospatial data as nations move toward Dynamic CRSs, which account for plate tectonics and other crustal deformations of the Earth. Proper consideration of the change in reference needs to occur both in standards and in the practices of acquiring and maintaining metadata. We covered this recently on the OGC Blog in the post Misaligned maps? High-accuracy data must become time-dependent. This discussion kicked-off further conversations throughout the week, concluding with the Closing Plenary (which was opened by a bag-piper!) where actions were proposed to enhance ISO 19115 (Metadata Standard) as well as add further direction in the OGC Policy Directive on the use of CRS WKT2 - the first of the dynamic CRSs rolls-out in Australia in 2020. Software developers and data providers must both be ready to accommodate a new way of looking at geospatial positional references as we recognize that the ground under our feet is actually moving. OGC will be publishing more resources to assist the geospatial community with respect to standards, best practices, and examples of solutions.

OGC API – Features: Part 1 – Core is now officially an OGC standard! Other efforts are in work for Map Tiles, Processes, Coverages, and Catalogues as well as a Common standard for those elements to be shared by all standards. OGC members are encouraged to participate in the relevant SWGs and help identify and prioritize which extensions to these standards should be developed. OGC will be setting up a website dedicated to the standards and related efforts in the coming weeks - so stay tuned on our Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages to here about it as it happens.

Overall, the meeting had a harmonious and balanced feel (maybe it was the setting!) which helped strengthen and connect the communities of practice and advance partnerships all under OGC’s respected process for Standards and Innovation - all of which are part of the geospatial community quilt.


If you want to learn more about the happenings and outcomes of the Banff TC, OGC members can access many meeting recordings and presentations via the Banff TC Meeting page on the OGC Portal. Non-members can download a public version of the 2019 Banff OGC TC Meeting Closing Plenary Slides. Tweets from the week can be found at #OGC19CA, and the week’s agenda can be viewed at the 2019 Banff 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 18-21 November, 2019, at Toulouse Evénements Centre de Congrès Pierre Baudis in Toulouse, France. More information on the upcoming TC, including registration details, is available on