10 Ways the 116th OGC Member Meeting Advanced Location Information and the Geospatial Community


The OGC 116th Member Meeting was held virtually from 14–18 September, 2020. Every quarter, OGC Member Meetings highlight all things location, including standards development, innovation initiatives, and new technologies and domains that are powered by geospatial data.

This Member Meeting hosted dozens of individual standards updates, innovation initiative highlights, and special sessions all advancing location technologies. With so many things happening, here are ten ways the OGC Member Meeting Advanced Location Information and Standards across the Geospatial Community.

Focused sessions in key areas such as Agriculture and Defense

Recent Member Meetings have included sessions focused on the application of geospatial technology across numerous domains. At the 116th Member Meeting, technologies powering Agricultural Digital Twins were highlighted, with ten presentations on topics including the use of remote-sensed imagery and data cubes as well as several interoperability challenges solved by OGC standards. OGC Members can access the presentations from the Agriculture Digital Twins session on the OGC Portal.

Excerpt from Inter-Connection Geospatial and Agricultural Sectors Presentation

OGC’s Defense and Intelligence Domain Working Group (DWG) has been working with member organizations and partners such as the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) to identify requirements and use cases to create a reference architecture for geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) data. This work is leading toward a prospective Community Practice describing the GEOINTEROP reference architecture. OGC Members can find more information on this initiative on the OGC Portal.

A discussion of geospatial technologies in the insurance industry

Geospatial technologies hold incredible potential for unlocking value for the insurance industry. Predictive analytics, risk assessment, and post-assessment intelligence can all benefit from location-based, analysis-ready data made available through open standards. As a follow-up to two previous Insurance special sessions held at previous OGC Member Meetings, a GeoInsurance ad hoc session was presented. For the uninitiated, an OGC ‘ad hoc’ session is where OGC members discuss the feasibility of standards work in a given space. They are a requirement before a new Domain or Standards Working Group can be formed – so keep an eye on this space for further developments of interest to the insurance industry!

AAIS risk Awareness Tool
AAIS's Risk Awareness Tool- Hurricane

Topics discussed during the ad hoc included hurricane risk awareness tools for insurers, weather and climate technologies, risk monitoring for supply chains, and more. OGC Members can find presentations from the GeoInsurance ad hoc on the OGC Portal.

Advances in Australia’s Spatial Data

A key topic of the meeting’s Opening Plenary was ‘Australia’s Spatial Data on the Web,’ presented by Jonathan Yu of Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO.  The plenary also featured updates concerning OGC activities as presented by OGC’s CEO, Dr. Nadine Alameh, OGC CTO, George Percivall, OGC Innovation Program lead, Dr. Ingo Simonis, and OGC Director of Member Services, Trevor Taylor.

Exploring Emerging Technologies Crucial to Location

OGC proactively assesses emerging technologies as they apply to the geospatial community. Some technologies will directly impact geospatial standards and interoperability, others lead to new operational environments that will drive requirements and use cases.  OGC’s assessments of future technologies are presented to the membership during dedicated ‘Future Directions’ sessions at our quarterly Members Meetings.  

A similar forward looking technological outlook is discussed during the regular Open OGC Architecture Board (Open OAB) sessions. This majority of this session consisted of a panel discussing “Linked Geo Data: Moving forward on the vision” moderated by Dave Blodgett of USGS. OGC Members can access the entire Open OAB session via the OGC Portal.

Discussions to align the ecosystem of Cloud-native specifications with the OGC Baseline

The OGC Community standards and STAC special session was held to discuss the ecosystem of emerging specifications for cloud-native use/analysis/delivery of geospatial data and how some of these specifications may fit into the OGC Standards Baseline.

OGC and STAC community timeline
Timeline of OGC and STAC Community Collaboration

The session used STAC (SpatioTemporal Asset Catalog) and the proposal to enter STAC into the OGC process as a Community standard as the basis for discussion. OGC Members can access presentations from this session on the OGC Portal.

Advancing GeoIT Ethics became a Core Topic of Discussion for Health Solutions Research and Google

Ajay Gupta and Dr. Ram Peruvemba of Health Solutions Research highlighted the long-standing topics of ethics regularly discussed in the health community framed by the inadequacy of the “Do No Harm” credo when facing difficult choices. They then provided more detail on the ethical issues concerning the sharing of location data in association with health records or information. The presentation recommended that the community document the ethical challenges and trade-offs to form a basis for discussion on ethics.

OGC COVID resources

Ed Parsons of Google spoke to the “responsible use of Geo in the post COVID-19 world.” Ed highlighted the uses for ambient (always on) location services to both report information from a mobile device and to send that device information related to its location… information that may be critical for the health of the person holding the phone. Sometimes in times of emergency, there are only “least worst options.”

A panel then followed up on topics raised by the introductory speakers, above, to include Dr. Steve Liang (SensorUp/Calgary), Dr. Anneley Hadland (Helyx SIS Ltd), Dr. Christopher Tucker (AGS), and Emily Daemen and Frank Verschoor (Geonovum) and was moderated by the OGC CEO, Dr. Nadine Alameh. A recording of the session is available for OGC Members here.

A blog post detailing the session is available on the OGC Blog under the title ‘OGC addresses the Ethics of Geo as part of its Future Directions September Programming.’  

OGC APIs, the next generation of location information sharing, brought new capabilities

The OGC API suite of standards continue to be of great interest to both members and the general geospatial community. In the interest of highlighting the capabilities and utility of the existing and emerging OGC API standards, a series of demonstrations were held in the OGC APIs Show and Tell. Review the materials presented in this meeting from the OGC Portal (account required) here.  

OGC shone a light on Startup members that are shaping tomorrow’s world of location

As a means to inform OGC Members of the capabilities and amazing work of numerous small companies in our membership, a special event to “Meet the Startup companies of OGC” was held on Thursday. Presentations were made by Anno.AI, BetterGIS, HSR.health, Mediciland, Minerva Intelligence, Pangaea Innovations, Ribose, SensorUp, Skymantics, and Spatineo. Each firm provided a short overview of their capabilities, generally linked to the use of OGC Standards. Attendees were asked to grade the quality of each presentation, inspiring successive speakers to ever-more exciting content. A recording of the session is available from the OGC Webinars list here.

Multiple Key Activities ‘to watch’ in location were identified

The OGC is always introducing new work, domains of expertise, and partners to the larger membership. 

Insurance: with sessions at the last two OGC Member meetings discussing a wide variety of insurance topics, including data modeling and management, risk analysis, disaster mitigation and recovery, and use of artificial intelligence in risk/recovery planning, there is momentum in OGC to engage more deeply with the insurance community. OGC members are encouraged to work with OGC staff to identify the optimum means for further support of this industry.

Discrete Global Grid Systems (DGGS): DGGS schemes and solutions are increasingly visible to OGC members and the broader geospatial and scientific communities. The use of DGGS for commercial purposes is also evident. OGC held a very successful webinar on DGGS  and is working with advanced uses for DGGS in the ongoing OGC Testbed 16, a collaborative initiative focused on how open location information directly benefits multiple domains and organizations. Expect more details from the Testbed work to be presented at the December OGC Member Meeting.