A recap of the 124th OGC Member Meeting, Singapore

Banner text overlaying image of the Lifelong Learning Institute, Singapore

From October 3-7 ‘22 (and a little bit beforehand), more than 100 experts from across industry, government, and academia converged on the Lifelong Learning Institute in Singapore (with 150 more joining virtually) to strengthen global collaboration and attend OGC’s 124th Member Meeting. A big “thank you” goes out to our dedicated members that either attended in-person, or juggled lives across multiple timezones to attend virtually.

The meeting was sponsored by OGC Principal Member, Singapore Land Authority (SLA), and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA). The meeting carried the theme “Digital Twins: Land and Sea,” and was held in conjunction with the Singapore Geospatial Festival operated by GeoWorks.

Being our second “return to in-person” meeting really drove home how much more powerful they are compared to virtual, with a palpable energy across the many meetings, sessions, and events. Indeed, in the 8 years I’ve been the OGC Technical Committee Chair, I haven’t seen a meeting that generated more votes to approve Standards than the most recent one in Singapore. It’s great to be back in person!

Alongside the usual assortment of Standards Working Group (SWG) and Domain Working Group (DWG) meetings, the Member Meeting also saw several special sessions, such as: an Analysis Ready Data ad hoc; Digital Twins and the Marine Domain Special Session; the next Metaverse Special Session; an Urban Digital Twins Summit and ad hoc; a Land Administration Workshop; an OGC Start-ups and Scale-Up Special Session; and a meeting of the OGC Asia Forum. Throughout the various meetings and events, there was clear recognition that geospatial and “location” is everywhere – and not only that, but that it’s foundational to Digital Twins and related technologies.

Social events during the week included the usual welcome reception and ice-breaker on Monday evening, a networking dinner held at the delicious Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant on Wednesday, and a Diversity Luncheon sponsored by OGC Principal Member AWS on Thursday.

Two areas of focus during the Member Meeting included OGC APIs and OGC’s ongoing work in Climate Resilience.

OGC APIs: The pace of release of our new OGC API Standards continues to increase. Multiple parts of OGC API – Features are now in final stages, OGC API – Tiles has its first part approved, and OGC API – Processes and OGC API – Environmental Data Retrieval have both been in use for over a year. All of these Standards are being developed and released with multiple implementations in the marketplace. Several other APIs are soon to be out for public comment and OGC is arriving at a model for documentation and governance of the building blocks upon which these APIs are constructed. The building block approach to developing implementations will be a new paradigm for Standardization – and one that we’re very excited about.

Climate Resilience: The Climate Resilience DWG is now active (and open to the public: join the mailing list here) and the Call For Participation in the Climate Resilience Pilot closes soon (don’t miss the Q&A Session on Nov 8 – join the mailing list for more info). These efforts will consider real-world use cases and investigate the role of location technology in addressing climate-related impacts on society. Numerous other OGC Working Groups also consider elements that contribute to climate science, so a forum in which these groups can collaborate will be very valuable.

A Joint Opening

The opening of the Member Meeting was held jointly with the Singapore Geospatial Festival, and included:

Welcoming remarks from Colin Low, Chief Executive of the Singapore Land Authority; Captain M. Segar, Assistant Chief Executive of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore; and Dr. Nadine Alameh, CEO of OGC.

Following this, Dr. Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment & Transport of Singapore, provided an Opening Address that highlighted the use of geospatial information and technology as critical components that have enabled Singapore’s economy and quality of life.

Trevor Taylor, Senior Director, Member Success and Development at OGC, then revealed the next Phase of the Federated Marine Spatial Data Infrastructure Pilot to undertake an Innovation Challenge for integration of terrestrial, maritime, and cadastral geospatial information (more informally, “land-sea interfaces”) as demonstrated in the context of Singapore.

Videos of Nadine’s opening remarks on ‘What OGC does’ and my overview of ‘How OGC does it’ are publicly available via OGC’s YouTube channel. OGC Members can access the rest of the presentations and recordings on this page in the OGC Portal.

Attendees of the 124th OGC Member Meeting, Singapore
Attendees of the 124th OGC Member Meeting, Singapore (click to enlarge)

Special Sessions

The Analysis Ready Data ad hoc session explored the interest in OGC members for developing a multi-part Standard to address the framework and domain-specific parameters for generating analysis-ready data from Earth Observations. The work is intended to be jointly undertaken with ISO/TC 211. OGC Members can access the presentations and a recording on this page in the OGC Portal.

Digital Twins and the Marine Domain Special Session: Per the overall theme of this Member Meeting, the Marine Domain Working Group (DWG) held a half-day session on Digital Twins and the Marine Domain. The session began with a summary of the technological and policy environments in which marine digital twins must be framed, then included more detailed highlights of past and ongoing initiatives being operated under OGC’s Innovation Program. A Digital Twin Challenge is being proposed to be focused in Singapore. Participants then engaged in a discussion of future activities to be undertaken by the Marine DWG, including some in concert with partner organizations. OGC Members can access the presentations and a recording on this page in the OGC Portal.

Metaverse Special Session: The Metaverse discussions in OGC are converging on a proposal to create a new DWG to address the various OGC activities in the Metaverse and coordinate with affiliated organizations, such as the Metaverse Standards Forum, of which OGC is a founding member. OGC members are already working actively in metaverse services now, such as were demonstrated in the session by Hexagon, Esri, and Cesium. Clearly, the Metaverse must include digital twins, and the OGC CDB Standard has relevant capabilities. OGC Members can access the presentations and a recording on this page in the OGC Portal.

Urban Digital Twins Summit: The past two OGC Member Meetings have been building interest and focusing the landscape for further work on Urban Digital Twins. The Smart Cities DWG is rechartering to address the topic. The DWG held an Urban Digital Twins Summit to highlight perspectives from members’ organizations on what type of work is occurring or is forecast to happen in the domain as well as to identify where OGC can best contribute to common enablement of Urban Digital Twin infrastructure for a variety of use cases. The Summit was linked to further exploration in the 3DIM DWG and MUDDI SWG. OGC Members can access the presentations and a recording on this page in the OGC Portal.

Land Administration Workshop: The Land Administration DWG hosted an Interoperability Workshop to detail real examples of implementations of the ISO Standards for Land Administration and to discuss the encodings and links necessary to enable replicable land administration practices. The two blocks of content provided presentations on implementations of the Standards followed by discussion of successes and remaining work.  OGC Members can access the presentations and a recording on this page in the OGC Portal.

OGC Start-ups and Scale-Up Special Session: OGC continues to attract new start-up companies and those scaling to more significant market presence. Five OGC small business members highlighted their capabilities: ALTZ Technologies, i-bitz, Duality Robotics, XYZT, and KorrAI. OGC Members can access the presentations and a recording on this page in the OGC Portal

Most OGC Member Meetings include a session dedicated to the local regional forum. The OGC Asia Forum met on Friday with a wide variety of presentation topics from throughout the region. OGC Members can access the presentations and a recording on this page in the OGC Portal.

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

Due to its broad applicability, the popular Future Directions session runs unopposed on the schedule so that all meeting participants can attend. At this meeting the session focused on Reference Architectures. Dr. Gobe Hobona of OGC introduced the session and was then followed by interactive presentations to gauge member interest in advancing Reference Architectures.

Dr. Sam Meek (Helyx), Dr. Ingo Simonis (OGC), and Rob Atkinson (OGC) jointly presented the considerations made to date on establishing a Reference Architecture or references to architectural elements that can be used in Standards and Standards-based architectures. The topics included the following:

  • Modernization of the OGC Reference Model (ORM) in the light of its original purpose and how a new ORM might be better used for assisting in architectural guidance. A discussion with members highlighted that OGC Standards fit within a larger Information Technology (IT) ecosystem and should not necessarily be described fully independent of that ecosystem.
  • A brief summary of ongoing discussions in the OGC Architecture Board (OAB) about the future of the OGC Abstract Specification, specifically whether some Topics should be retired and new Topics added that underlie newer OGC Standards and reflect modern IT practice.
  • The question was raised whether the ORM should document architectural elements and patterns or whether the ORM should drive architectural decisions in developing Standards and implementations. The ORM is forecast to become more prescriptive.
  • Finally, Rob Atkinson discussed the practical approach to describing and relating architectural components via a knowledge graph. Such an approach is prototyped using OGC’s Definitions Server. Some further information about the OGC Definition Server is available here.

OGC Members can access the presentations and a recording on this page in the OGC Portal.

Closing Plenary

For this meeting, and from here on out, the Closing Plenary has been restructured to fall across two sessions – Important Things and the traditional Closing Plenary.

Important Things: this session started with a rapid, 15-minute summary of the entire meeting week by Scott Simmons. Slides and content from a large number of Working Group sessions were included. OGC Members can access the presentation on this page in the OGC Portal.

The Important Things session then featured a discussion around the question of “what is the difference between the metaverse and a digital twin?” There was a lively conversation amongst members to define each term and what was included in the scope of the term. The general consensus is that digital twins represent items that can be found in the real world (imagined or not) and that the metaverse is the environment in which actions might occur on or around digital twins. There were far more subtleties in the conversation than can be summarized in this blog post, but notes from the session are posted publicly on the OGC Member Meeting Topics GitHub Repo.

Closing Plenary: Two new Principal members to OGC, the General Authority for Survey and Geospatial Information (GASGI), Saudi Arabia and the National Department of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development, South Africa, each presented their duties and use of Standards. These presentations were followed by reports from the Working Groups that covered the outcomes of the last few days.

Thank you to our community

All in all, our 124th Member Meeting was a big success. It was wonderful seeing members interacting, collaborating, and driving technology and standards development forward. It’s especially exciting as it comes at a time when geospatial is truly everywhere. Once again, thank you to our members for their time and energy, as well as their dedication to making OGC the world’s leading and most comprehensive community of location experts.

Be sure to join us for the 125th Member Meeting, happening late February, 2023. Registration and further info will be available soon on ogcmeet.org. Sponsorship opportunities are also available – contact us for more info. Subscribe to the OGC Update Newsletter to stay up to date on all things OGC including when registration goes live for our Member Meetings.