Bringing the Heat in Madrid: a recap of our 123rd Member Meeting

A busy pedestrianized street in Madrid, Spain

OGC’s 123rd Member Meeting – our long awaited return to in-person(!) – was held in Madrid, Spain, from June 13-16, 2022. And even with the heatwave temperatures approaching 40°C (104°F), it was truly wonderful to be there among our members and broader community once again. We’re all grateful for the connections that teleconferencing and video calls were able to maintain during the pandemic lockdowns, but I don’t think I’m alone when I say that they’re no substitute for seeing people in real life.

The meeting was sponsored by the EU Satellite Center (SatCen) and recognized the 30th anniversary of SatCen as an organization. More than 150 people attended the OGC Member Meeting in person, with another 200+ virtual. Attendees included key standards leaders and regional experts from industry, academia, and government.

The Member Meeting featured the usual assortment of Standards Working Group (SWG) and Domain Working Group (DWG) meetings, as well as special sessions, social events, and all the impromptu conversations, break-aways, sight-seeing, and general interaction that comes with (finally) being in-person again.

The social events included a lively networking reception and ice-breaker on Monday evening, an inspiring Women in Geospatial Breakfast on Wednesday morning, and the OGC Member and VIP Dinner, held at the delicious Restaurante Amicis La Terraza in central Madrid - with a most welcome large courtyard to stay cool(ish..) as the hot day turned into a warm evening.

Two strong areas of focus during the Member Meeting included The Metaverse/Digital Twins and Marine.

Metaverse & Digital Twins: These topics are intrinsically related, and during the Member Meeting there was a Metaverse Special Session (see below) as well as a Digital Twins Coordination Session on top of the Digital Twins DWG meeting. OGC will continue its strong focus on the Metaverse & Digital Twins – especially with an Urban Digital Twins Summit in Singapore at the 124th OGC Member Meeting in October. Industry alignment around core elements of the Metaverse continues, and OGC is an important part of these coordination activities. Expect to see linkages to other work in OGC and other organizations (such as the newly launched Metaverse Standards Forum, of which we are a founding member) as we identify the next steps to achieve interoperability in the Metaverse.

Marine: OGC’s Federated Marine Spatial Data Infrastructure Pilot continues to be successful and to add new phases of work with additional sponsors and topics. The Marine DWG is coordinating closely with the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO) and the United Nations Working Group on Marine Geospatial Information to develop partnerships to test against real-world use-cases in this pilot and other projects. The next Member Meeting will include a special session or workshop on marine data integration.

OGC CEO Dr. Nadine Alameh presenting at the Opening Plenary
OGC CEO Dr. Nadine Alameh presenting at the Opening Plenary

The Kick Off

To start the week, the Kick-Off Session opened with a welcome from OGC’s CEO, Dr. Nadine Alameh. Nadine provided “OGC by the numbers” to highlight the Consortium’s success over the past few years and mapped where we will be going. She also encouraged engagement from the meeting participants, a large number of which were first-time attendees.

Next up, a keynote presentation from Lucio Colaiacomo of SatCen highlighted SatCen’s work and use of OGC Standards – as well as celebrating 30 years of activity.

Following this, our regular “fireside chat” featured Dr. Sofie Haesevoets, Senior Product Manager at OGC Principal Member, Hexagon, and Dr. Nadine Alameh highlighting Hexagon’s use of open Standards and the business value gained from their use.

Trevor Taylor, OGC Senior Director of Member Success and Development, welcomed the newest members in OGC and gave an overview of the success in recruiting and retaining members in a difficult year.

Finally, Dr. Ingo Simonis, OGC Chief Technology Innovation Officer, provided a tour of cloud-native innovation activities that have been  – and continue to be – performed by OGC and its members under a number of Innovation Initiatives. Ingo described how OGC is now working on Function as a Service (FaaS) to cap all of the other service-centric cloud businesses. OGC Members can access Ingo’s presentation on the OGC Portal here. If you haven't already, you should also check out OGC Chief Standards Officer Scott Simmons' recent blog that provides an overview of The Latest on Cloud-Native Geospatial Standards in OGC.

OGC Chief Technology Innovation Officer Dr. Ingo Simonis presenting on Cloud Native Geospatial
OGC Chief Technology Innovation Officer Dr. Ingo Simonis discusses some of the benefits of Cloud Native Geospatial

Special Sessions

The week also saw several Special Sessions, including the Metaverse is Geospatial, Startups, Integrated Technologies for Climate Resilience, a Digital Twins coordination session, a Developer Workshop, and both the Europe Forum and the Iberian and Latin American Forum. Let’s go through each.

The Metaverse is Geospatial: It is impossible to represent a virtual rendition of our (or any) world without considering the importance of location. Those location/geospatial components include digital twins and semantic relationships between modeled objects and other data. The session offered presentations on the digital twin aspect of the linkage offered by geosemantics and continued OGC’s push toward anchoring the real world in the virtual. Some of the session presentations and a recording are available to OGC Members on the OGC Portal here. For more about the relationship between OGC, the Metaverse, and broader geospatial, be sure to check out our recent blog post with the same name: The Metaverse is Geospatial.

OGC Startup members are helping in “Setting the Standards.” Seven OGC small business members highlighted some of their work and were joined by industry veterans from HuaWei, SpaceTec Partners, the Location Based Marketing Association, and SparkGeo. OGC Members can access the presentations from the session on the OGC Portal here.

Climate Resilience: OGC is preparing to launch a Climate Resilience Domain Working Group (DWG). Dr. Nils Hempelmann of OGC brought together six speakers to discuss topics such as the workflow chain from the provenance of climate data to creating decision-ready data, and the use of artificial intelligence. OGC Members can access the presentations from the session on the OGC Portal here.

Digital Twins Coordination Session: OGC has a number of working groups discussing digital twins for their specific domains. The general landscape of digital twins was discussed in the Future Directions session (see below), so the Digital Twins Coordination Session focused on urban digital twins and the coordination necessary between working groups to work toward a common set of practices and Standards. OGC’s Dr. Josh Lieberman introduced the participants to the Urban Digital Twins Location Powers event outcomes and then each relevant working group presented their aspects of digital twin conception and modeling. The meeting concluded with plans to hold a more substantive summit in October at the next OGC Member Meeting. OGC Members can access the presentations from the session on the OGC Portal here.

OGC now operates a Developer Workshop at each Member Meeting. In Madrid, the workshop was held on Friday at the offices of OGC Technical Member Carto. The theme of this workshop was “Cloud-Native Geospatial” with tutorials and discussions on GeoParquet, Earth Observation application packages, STAC, COG, and more. Details on the program are available on OGC’s GitHub

The Europe Forum held a session with a diverse assembly of speakers addressing topics including the OGC Disaster Pilot, the UK Geospatial Standards Register, imagery-derived digital twins, and space technology. OGC Members can access the presentations from the session on the OGC Portal here.

The Iberian and Latin American Forum met on Friday with a program focused on the interoperability enabled by the OGC API Standards. The majority of the meeting was held in Spanish to accommodate local participants. OGC Members can access the presentations from the session on the OGC Portal here. The session is also available to view on YouTube.

OGC's Director of Product Management, Standards, Dr. Gobe Hobona opens the Future Directions session
OGC's Director of Product Management, Standards, Dr. Gobe Hobona opens the always fascinating Future Directions session

Today’s Innovation, Tomorrow’s Technologies, and Future Directions

Tuesday morning’s Future Directions session ran unopposed on the schedule so that all meeting participants can attend this always fascinating session. This meeting’s session focused on “Digital Twins of the Environment.” Dr. Gobe Hobona of OGC introduced the session and was followed by several speakers and a panel.

Dr. Ingo Simonis and Rob Atkinson of OGC described reference architecture aspects of digital twins. Understanding that reference architectures quickly lose value if they become stale, the speakers previewed some concepts of an underlying knowledge base from which architectures could be defined and described.

Louis-Martin Losier of OGC Technical Member Bentley Systems highlighted recent success stories around the integration of built and natural environment digital twins in a common platform. These examples included water management, geothermal power optimization, and air pollution modeling.

James Carey of OGC Strategic Member the UK Hydrographic Office presented the use of hydrographic data to represent digital twins of the ocean with examples showing how data are integrated for offshore wind farm development and the need for detailed data to more accurately model storm effects on tides.

A panel of the presenters then discussed questions from meeting participants and elaborated on some of the topics covered by other presenters. 

Following the panel was three more presentations:

Piotr Zaborowski of OGC and Arne Berre of SINTEF described the ILIAD project, which is developing a model for digital twins for the ocean, with sector-specific local twins. OGC is a partner in this project, which builds upon other European Initiatives to develop digital twin architectures for the ocean.

Rashmit Singh Sukhmani of OGC Member SatSure highlighted his company’s use of remote sensed data and artificial intelligence in processing data to develop soil moisture models at high-resolution for use in agriculture, wildland fire mitigation, and more.

Tien Yen Chou of OGC Principal Member Feng Chia University presented “The Present and Future of Digital Twins in the Lifecycle Management of Disaster Early Warning” illustrating the benefit of integrating digital twins of the landscape with real-time sensor data as a practical means to mitigate the effects of disasters.

OGC Members can access the presentations from the session on the OGC Portal here.

Closing Plenary

Closing out (most of) the Member Meeting was the Closing Plenary, which began with a Keynote presentation from Philippe Cases, the CEO of OGC Associate Member Topio Networks. Philippe shared Topio’s research on the scope and scale of the Geospatial Landscape, factoring the work of more than 600 companies and a market that is projected to grow in value from USD 59.5 billion in 2021 to USD 209 billion in 2027. He highlighted four trends of particular interest: explosion of data, emergence of digital terrains, explosion of applications/platforms, and making the geospatial ecosystem FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable). Don’t forget to check out Topio Networks’ Location Information News Aggregator hosted on ogc.org, which is designed to help decision-makers, industry analysts, and technology developers keep pace with the accelerating pace of innovation.

A second Keynote was provided by Asif Khan, the founder of the Location Based Marketing Association and GroundLevel Insights. Asif illustrated the importance of location in business through several examples and videos. He highlighted interesting business opportunities offered by improved real-time location information and artificial intelligence in image recognition.

All in all, our return to an in-person Member Meeting was a wild success, showcasing the state of the location industry, highlighting the latest innovations coming from OGC, conducting important Standardization work, and creating and strengthening connections across the diverse OGC community. 

Be sure to join us for the 124th Member Meeting, happening October 3-7, 2022, in Singapore with the theme “Digital Twins: Land & Sea.” Registration is open now. 
Sponsorship opportunities are still available.

Attendees enjoy the courtyard of Restaurante Amicis at the OGC Member and VIP Dinner
Attendees of the OGC Member and VIP Dinner enjoying the courtyard of Restaurante Amicis.