OGC Tech Trends Update, 2019 Q4

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Q4 2020 Mind Map of OGC Technology Trends
The Q4 2020 OGC Tech Trends Mindmap

OGC provides a quarterly Technology Forecast report to its Principal and Strategic members. This blog post, as well as the content on the OGC Tech Trends GitHub page, provides a brief summary of some of the information provided in the report. If you would like the full report but aren't currently a Principal or Strategic Member, the report is also available for purchase. Please contact me at cto-office [at] ogc.org if you are interested in purchasing a copy.

Back in August I published a Q2 2019 update on OGC’s Tech Trends status. This post serves to update what’s changed in the months since its publication. 

The OGC innovation strategy includes maintaining the OGC Standards Baseline while simultaneously addressing trends in technology and markets. The OGC Tech Trends activity surveys and characterizes trends across information and communication technology as well as the science and technologies that support the collection, processing, and understanding of geospatial information. The Tech Trends approach was developed based on a survey of technology forecasting methods, e.g., Persistent Forecasting of Disruptive Technologies, US National Academies. The products of the Tech Trends activity are updated and posted on a public Github page every quarter

The quarterly Tech Trends update process includes revisions of the OGC Tech Trends Mindmap (as shown above) and characterizations of current ‘emerging trends.’ For the final quarter of 2019, the following emerging trends were the focus of more attention:
  • Commodity remote sensing and Smallsats
  • 3D Model Creation
  • Precise Positioning
  • Spatial Analytics in Python & R

Further, the Tech Trends update process also revises the Priority Tech Trends Hex Chart (previously a quad chart), as well as the roadmaps for priority trends.

A subset of the Tech Trends identified as "Ripe Trends" are assessed as highest and second priority through an analysis

To identify trends that warrant further investigation, a Priority Tech Trends Hex Chart (seen above) is created. The graphic displays an assessment of the trends considering two criteria: Impact and Horizon. Impact is either Sustaining or Disruptive. Horizon is either Now, Next, or After Next. Those Trends that are assessed to be both Disruptive and Next are deemed to be of the highest priority.

“Sustaining” trends come from listening to the needs of customers in the existing market and creating products that satisfy their predicted needs for the future.
“Disruptive” trends create new markets separate to the mainstream; markets that are unknowable at the time of the technology’s conception.

Those trends that are already being addressed by OGC and leading to a mature product (TRL6+) are given a horizon of “Now.” Trends planned to be addressed in the next OGC Testbed or a Standards Working Group in the coming year are given a horizon of “Next.” Remaining trends are given a horizon of “After Next.”

Using the above assessment criteria, the following trends were identified as ‘highest’ and ‘second’ priorities for Q4 2019:

Highest Priority
Second Priority

For Priority Trends (and sometimes groups of trends), ‘Roadmapping’ is performed and Tech Notes are developed. The Perspective for Roadmapping and Tech Notes focuses on anticipating actions to be taken by OGC, Members, alliances.

Previous Tech Notes (including Roadmaps) have included:
  • Smart Cities
  • Geospatial Big Data
  • Edge and Fog Computing
  • Open Geospatial APIs
The Roadmapping Methods are built on several existing best practices with these desirable traits:
  • Helps predict market’s future technology
  • Guides Research and Development (R&D) decisions
  • Increases collaboration, shared knowledge and new partnerships
  • Reduces risk of costly investment in technology

Tech Trends at the Open OAB in Toulouse
At the Open OAB session during our recent OGC Technical Committee Meetings in Toulouse, France, the current state of the Tech Trends evaluation process was highlighted, and input from TC Members was sought.

OGC CTO George Percivall presenting during the Open OAB session at the November 2019 OGC TC Meeting in Toulouse, France
OGC CTO George Percivall presenting during the Open OAB session at the November 2019 OGC TC Meeting in Toulouse, France.

During the Open OAB I, along with Tobias Lindaaker from Neo4j, examined the priority Technology Trend centered on Property Query Graph languages (part of the Data Science and Analytics priority). This trend is of particular importance at this time because recent work in W3C has added geospatial and temporal properties to graph query languages, and also emerging is the Graph Query Language (GQL) Standard from ISO/IEC JTC1 / SC 32. Given the emergence of so many OGC standardization efforts to better support web-native and linked data, GQL and other graph query methods will be of increasing importance and should include the current state-of-the-art in geospatial and temporal capabilities.

To learn more about the recent TC Meetings in Toulouse, read the ‘Toulouse or not Toulouse? An insight for those who missed the November 2019 OGC TC meeting’ blog post written by Athina Trakas, OGC’s Director of Regional Services, Europe, Central Asia & Africa.

Further detail on OGC’s current Tech Trends is documented in the OGC Technology Forecast: 2019Q4 report. The report is provided to OGC Strategic and Principal members, but is available to other organizations upon request. Strategic and Principal members not only receive the quarterly Tech Trends report early, but are also given the opportunity to engage in its development, learning about ‘what’s next’ months before the report is made more widely available.

To learn more about OGC’s membership levels, or how to become a member, visit the OGC Membership Levels page on ogc.org.

Note: If you found this report useful or have any feedback, please contact cto-office [at] ogc.org (OGC > CTO)