OGC’s 115th Member Meeting: Engaging a global location community virtually

Virtual attendees of the closing plenary for OGC's 115th Member Meeting
Virtual attendees of the Closing Plenary. Image courtesy of Ed Parsons (@edparsons).

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

Like almost every event in 2020, due to the COVID-19 crisis, OGC’s 115th Member Meeting was completely virtual. Yet despite the change, more than 400 people (over double the usual amount of attendees!) from across the world logged on between 15–22 June 2020 (with three Working Groups meeting on June 10 & 11) to attend the meeting. Using a combination of GoToMeeting and Gitter, participants joined in on community discussions, presentations, panels, casual ‘lunch break’ chats, and even a virtual ice breaker session.

Despite the limitations inherent with moving a face-to-face meeting online, the Member Meeting was a success - thanks in large part to OGC members and staff having previous experience in augmenting physical meetings with virtual attendees, and a “rolling jetlag” style of scheduling that meant that no region of the world was unfairly disadvantaged by the scheduling.

With the Member Meeting originally planned to be hosted by CAE in Montreal, Canada, the Opening Plenary began with a presentation from CAE’s David Graham, in which David highlighted some of the lesser known simulation environments built by CAE; specifically, those for medical treatment. CAE used this expertise to rapidly develop and begin building ventilators to support COVID-19 patient treatment.

The remainder of the Opening Plenary included a call from the new OGC Director of Marketing and Promotions (MAP - get it!), Jonathan Fath, for member ‘Impact Stories’ (on that note, if you would like to tell the world about the impact that OGC Standards have had on your product, service, or organization, please get in touch). Gobe Hobona, OGC Director of Product Management, then presented his plans for maximizing the success of the upcoming OGC APIs, and, wrapping up the session, Ingo Simonis OGC Director, Innovation Program & Science, highlighted the many activities currently occurring under OGC’s Innovation Program (IP).

Special Sessions

During the Member Meeting, several special sessions were held, including a session on the Health Domain Working Group (DWG), a Planning Committee Q&A session, an Interoperable Simulation & Gaming Summit, a summary of the ISO / TC 211 meeting held the previous week, a Smart Roads Summit, insurance-focused meetings of the 3D Information Management and Emergency & Disaster Management DWGs, and a Strategic Member Advisory Committee Panel. 

OGC and the Health Domain

The special session organized by the Health DWG highlighted the value of location in dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Presentations (available on the Member Portal here) covered topics like dashboards and tracking apps, as well as regional responses and prediction of resource use. There are numerous OGC standards being used across the world to provide information about, or to support responses to, the current COVID-19 pandemic. Spatial-enablement of various types of health-related data is playing an important role in the response to outbreaks and knowing when it’s safe to relax restrictions. More material related to this important domain will be presented at upcoming OGC Member Meetings.

A Q&A with the OGC Planning Committee

The Planning Committee (PC) Q&A session provided OGC members and guests the opportunity to pose questions to the committee responsible for determining the strategy behind OGC standards development. The session focussed largely on what developments in OGC and in the larger IT community are judged to be of the greatest importance to government and commercial organizations leading the geospatial technology field.

When games and simulations converge

OGC remains very active in standardization activities for the Modeling & Simulation domain. The Interoperable Simulation and Gaming (ISG) DWG organized a summit covering emerging capabilities, use of the OGC CDB standard and the plans for its latest version, and information on upcoming OGC Innovation Program (IP) initiatives including those being organized by SOFWERX. OGC Members can access the presentations from the ISG Summit here. Be sure to keep your eye out on the OGC Sprint page for news of the upcoming Interoperable Simulation & Gaming Sprint, coming soon. 

OGC and ISO

A close relationship exists between OGC and ISO / TC 211 (Geographic Information / Geomatics): not only were the two organizations formed in the same year (1994), but several individuals are involved directly in both groups. Several OGC standards have become ISO Standards and vice-versa. The Chair (Ms. Agneta Engberg), Committee Manager (Mats Åhlin), and the convenors of the ISO / TC 211 Working Groups, provided a summary of their most recent meeting, which was held the two weeks prior to the OGC Member Meeting. OGC Members can find the presentations here.

Roads as smart as the vehicles upon them

The Smart Roads Summit followed up on the many special sessions and presentations held in OGC over the past three years that have discussed Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs), precise mapping of transportation infrastructure, exchange of relevant road and road conditions information, and the use of such standards as CityGML and OpenDrive in simulating real-world road transportation scenarios. OGC Members can access presentations from the Smart Roads Summit here

3D data, risk analysis, and insurance

Two insurance-themed special sessions were organized back-to-back by the 3D Information Management and Emergency & Disaster Management DWGs, respectively. Presenters focused on the relevance and use of 3D data in risk analysis, resilience modeling, and reinsurance in the first session. The second session included a heavy emphasis on improving operations, particularly within fire response. OGC Members can access the presentations from the two sessions here: Session 1, and Session 2.

OGC Strategic Members on “Why OGC?”

After the Working Group sessions, and as the end of the week approached, OGC’s Strategic Member Advisory Committee - comprising the European Space Agency (ESA), U.S. Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), Ordnance Survey United Kingdom (OS), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) - formed a panel to inform attendees of the nature of their work in OGC and the relevance of OGC activities to their respective organizations. This was a really informative panel that spoke of how OGC Membership, involvement with the OGC Community, and use of our Innovation Program and standards has benefitted these organizations. View the informative recording of the session here (members and non-members alike can register to receive a link).

Future Directions

As usual, the Member Meeting also featured our ever popular ‘Future Directions’ session. This edition focused on the topic of Immersive Geo: xR (xR being the catch-all term for Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality, etc.). The session featured three presentations followed by a panel discussion:

Christine Perey, Perey Research & Consulting, presented “AR Experience Content and Standards for AR Discovery” in which she focused on four key take-aways:

  1. Existing tools for authoring AR experiences are suboptimal;
  2. Availability of AR content hasn’t reached threshold;
  3. There is a dramatic rise in the amount/availability of AR-enabled content; and
  4. This trend presents new problems and new opportunities for standards.

The presentation also included a brief overview of the spectrum of augmented to virtual reality and more detail on the specific expectations of an AR user.

Fuhu Ren, Peking University, offered a presentation on “3D Global Grid Encoding: a new way for structuring dynamic digital twin city models.” In this presentation, Dr. Ren described the use of a 3D instance of the OGC Global Discrete Grid Systems (DGGS) standard to model a digital twin of a city. This approach allows for efficient computations against the model, a unified platform for all types of information, and variable level of model detail.

Finally, Chris Budas, dstl, gave a presentation on “Geospatial and Simulation – a Point of Convergence.” Both the geospatial and modeling & simulation communities have been advancing capabilities for 3D modeling, and these approaches commonly use the same data and techniques. As the communities work more closely together, standards are evolving to support greater interoperability between systems and databases, to the benefit of all involved in this exciting domain.

Open OAB

The Open OAB session provides Technical Committee members an opportunity to discuss topics addressed in the OGC Architecture Board (OAB) over the preceding months. This meeting’s Open OAB session also served to highlight the current state of the OGC Technology Trends evaluation process and to seek input from Technical Committee Members on that effort.

The Open OAB material concentrated on the suite of upcoming OGC API standards. First, Gobe Hobona presented the plan for the Product Management of the OGC APIs. As a member of OGC staff, Dr. Hobona works with the chairs and editors of all of the OGC API standards to ensure that the roadmap for development is accurate and that it properly considers interdependencies between the standards. He also provides logistical and communications support for the efforts so that a broad collection of stakeholders are informed of current activities and are able to effectively participate in the design, testing, and refinement of these revolutionary standards.

The session then included four short presentations on design topics for the OGC APIs:

OGC Members can download the Open OAB presentations here.

The 115th OGC Member Meeting was not like our usual Member Meetings, but despite the significant changes, OGC Staff and Members were able to create the virtual spaces necessary for our community to come together - in huge numbers! - to advance the future of location technologies. A massive thank you to everyone that participated, particularly those people that tuned in to sessions during times when they probably should have been sleeping. OGC has always been about community, and it was wonderful to see that we were able to come together even during this current global crisis. Our next Member Meeting is scheduled for September 14–18, 2020. For information on how to attend (and if it will be fully virtual or just partly), stay tuned to ogcmeet.org, or sign up to the OGC Newsletter.

If you want to learn more about the happenings and outcomes of the June 2020 Virtual Member Meeting, OGC members can access the many meeting recordings and presentations via the June 2020 OGC MM page on the OGC Portal. Non-members can download a public version of the June 2020 OGC MM Closing Plenary Slides, which consolidates most of the outcomes from the meetings. Tweets from the week can be found at #OGC20June, and the agenda can be viewed at the 2020 June OGC MM Page on OGC Meet.

(click image to view full-size version)

Infographic describing OGC's 115th Member Meeting