OGC History (detailed)


By Lance McKee, Senior Staff Writer, Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) 

David Schell, founder of the OGC, was at the top of the list of recipients of geospatial leadership awards at the Geospatial World Forum 2012, held 23-27 April in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Forum organizers focused on his role in transforming the geospatial industry through a consensus standards process.

In 1986, when I was working for David in the marketing department of MASSCOMP, a small Unix workstation company, we both had our introduction to the world of GIS software. At the time the Corps of Engineers was a major user of our systems, many of which were involved in the development of GRASS, the Corps' widely used UNIX-based open-source raster GIS. GRASS was used extensively not only by the Corps, but by many other US government agencies, and it had become an internationally popular imaging tool for research in the academic community. David became convinced that the promise of GIS to address such global issue as the environment and geo-political decision-making justified development of a business plan for the company and asked me to do a market study to get us started. I had no idea that we were setting out on a long journey of great importance for us personally and for subsequent generations who would come to depend on the unhindered flow of digital spatial information.

We quickly learned that the existing GIS market was as limited as the CAD market before it by the variety of non-communicating tools the creators of GIS had had to use, and we began to see how many of the problems of data sharing could be solved by a more extensive use of a standard, open system like UNIX. This is when Professor Peter Burrough of the University of Utrecht, a user of MASSCOMP systems and author of the first GIS textbook, suggested that we get in touch with Carl Reed, president of a small, UNIX-based vector-GIS company in Fort Collins called Delta Systems. Within two weeks Carl and John Davidson had Delta-Map ported to one of our systems, and when David asked if it might be possible to overlay vectors on GRASS images it wasn't long before the first of the series of integrations was demonstrated that would lead over the next few years to the definition of "Open GIS".

At this point MASSCOMP became the victim of a leveraged buyout and was effectively taken apart. David consulted for a while at the Open Software Foundation, learning about consortia and realizing the role distributed UNIX could play in solving what had been thought to be a strictly "GIS" bottleneck problem. In 1990 I worked with David again, when he directed technical marketing for the startup OkiData Microsystems. He had free reign to develop GIS integration scenarios in the context of the company's document management and workflow architecture. This is when the Corps' GRASS development team leader Kurt Buehler got assigned to upgrade X-Windows performance on our Intel-based systems, effectively joining our team, and Bell Labs "S Statistical Software" was integrated with GRASS, as was PCI's Easy-Pace and NASA's ELAS imaging package, followed by Jim Farley of CAST at the University of Arkansas' adding the resources of the Informix database.    

Before long, with the support of the Corps of Engineers and Department of Agriculture, and with Kurt's technical leadership, David incorporated the Open GRASS Foundation and assumed responsibility for promoting GRASS as well as organizing the meetings of the Grass Users Group and developing the community process that evolved into OGC. I got involved as a consultant again, working on a newsletter, soliciting ads and promoting the user group meetings. GRASS was one of the first international open source development projects other than UNIX, and OGF became the incubator of OpenGIS and "geospatial interoperability." When the Corps made the decision to discontinue its support of GRASS, the focus of OGF shifted to the integration scenarios that had been developed, and set about the task of organizing a commercial standards consortium after the model of OMG (Object Modeling Group) to see if it were possible to create a virtual architecture, like CORBA, based on industry participation and perpetuated by a consensus standards process.

At this point OGF received its first commercial support in the form of a significant educational grant from Sun Microsystems, and it became clear to David and OGF's founding board that OGF had a future. A core team of developers was formed led by Kenn Gardels, who volunteered, and Kurt, who had now joined OGF staff as VP for development. A membership subscription was organized, which together with resources provided through a cooperative agreement with NASA, secured OGF the two years needed to refine the concept of Open GIS, organize OGC and recruit the commercial participation needed to both develop and validate the "geospatial interoperability" concept.

One of David's talents is the ability to sense where the market is going and then figure out what course correction is necessary to keep the organization relevant. Often others came up with the ideas: Carl Reed, for example, suggested that we update OGF's name and identity, and staff and board were always involved in discussions about reorganization and market focus. David's long view was to structure OGC for a lifetime of change and risk-taking, which are the hallmarks of a consensus standards organization in a changing and uncertain market environment. And above all, he sought to attract to OGC's staff unconventional and creative people capable of the innovative development he would always say surprised him by how much better it was than what he imagined.

Our survival was uncertain in the early years, but some of our early members, notably PCI, saw us through the rough spots, and our membership grew each year. David has a keen sense of the "arc of IT", as he calls it, and a keen understanding of organizations, and by these lights he steered the OGC and through almost two decades in which information technology (IT) was evolving rapidly and forcing major changes in all types of organizations. 

David emphasized in his acceptance speech that it is the contributions of many people who have made OGC a success, and that's true, and he has always been the first to point it out. One of the reasons I feel so fortunate to have been a part of the OGC over the years is the quality of the people in the OGC community – staff, members, board of directors and others. We share the feeling that creating better ways of sharing information about our home planet is a worthy goal, and I think people's better natures come to the fore when working with others who are pursuing a common and worthy goal.

David is the one, however, who is most responsible for this wonderful sandbox in which we play. I'm delighted that his contribution has been recognized. In addition to Geospatial World Forum's Lifetime Achievement Award, he has received the CIO Magazine's "CIO 20/20 Vision Award", the 2011 Esri "Making a Difference” award, and GeoTec Media's 2007 Visionary Achievement Award.

I am also delighted, and we are all fortunate, that David continues to be involved as Chairman Emeritus and Chief Strategist for the corporation.

See the video [http://youtu.be/4CfhJk9jEbc] of David accepting the award, courtesy of Geospatial Media and Communications and the Geospatial World Forum 2012.

Below is our work-in-progress historical account.

Lance McKee



OGC's existence and role in the geospatial industry are the result of many people working together over many years to make spatial information and spatial processing more useful and available. The following paragraphs provide an outline of the OGC story, but many pages of interesting detail could be added in a long book about OGC. Because interoperability has become central to the industry, most of the key contributors to geospatial technology and associated markets would be mentioned in such a book. The technologists, business people, and users of spatial technology in OGC deserve to be recognized for their successful integration of geospatial information into the larger Information Infrastructure.

Events Leading to the Formation of OGC

In the early 1980s, a spatial analysis software development group was formed at the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers' Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) in Champaign, Illinois. Under the direction of Bill Goran, a Geographer in the Environmental Division of CERL, this team focused on helping DOD implement and apply GIS technologies for military installation management and civil works applications. After reviewing commercial software available at that time, the group decided instead to develop a public domain geospatial analysis system. The resulting open source, UNIX-based software - GRASS (Geographic Resource and Analysis Support System) - soon became widely used at Corps of Engineers sites and in the Soil Conservation Service, National Park Service and other US federal agencies, as well as at many universities in the US and around the world. Having started from a nucleus of about 300 users in the mid eighties, by the early nineties the active GRASS mailing list contained more than 6000 names, most of whom represented users or managers interested in extending the use of GRASS for a growing number of applications. The GRASS community was at that time an early and very significant user of the Internet, motivated by the increasing availability of spatial data and network opportunities sponsored by the public sector and research communities.

Three organizations formed at that time as a result of the widespread interest and use of GRASS in the community:

  1. The GRASS Interagency Steering Committee (GIASC) was formed by a group of US federal agencies with a memorandum of understanding in 1990 to support and coordinate development of GRASS in the US Government. GIASC met twice a year and provided resource and direction for CERL's Office of GRASS Integration (OGI). One of the most important contributions of the OGI was to create and maintain two Internet discussion lists, one a GRASS users list and the other a GRASS developers list. Thousands of people, both in and out of the government, participated in the OGI list activity which became an active, global discussion forum where questions about the use or positioning of GRASS would in most instances be answered within minutes either by the support staff at CERL or by other members of the GRASS community. The GIASC and OGI also actively supported publication of the GRASS community magazine "GRASSCLIPPINGS" as well as the annual meetings of the growing GRASS users community. During this period, Kurt Buehler joined the CERL Spatial Analysis Team and assumed leadership of the GRASS development team.
  2. A GRASS user group organization called "GRASS: The User Forum" or "GRASS TURF" was organized in 1986 under the leadership of Kenn Gardels, its first president. A senior researcher at the Center for Environmental Design Research at University of California - Berkeley, Kenn Gardels was a prominent figure in California State GIS policy development. Under Gardels' leadership, TURF became an informal association of individual GRASS users, public and private organizations, and universities. GRASS TURF was also active in supporting both the annual GRASS Users Conference and the GRASSCLIPPINGS magazine.
  3. In 1991, in parallel with GRASS TURF, several prominent leaders of the GRASS user community formed a not-for-profit 501 (c)3 corporation, also initially called the GIASC, to provide a private sector business structure to house the main activities of the GRASS users community, including both GRASSCLIPPINGS and the annual GRASS Users Forum. GIASC was soon positioned to provide administrative support and a private sector focus for GRASS TURF activities in general.


During 1992, at an annual meeting of the GRASS TURF membership, GRASS TURF was merged with the GIASC nonprofit and a founding Board of Directors from the GRASS TURF membership was elected. These directors included David Schell, who had been active in the GRASS development community through business development activities in the computer industry. David led the new board in taking the decision that the new merged organization should be renamed the "Open GRASS Foundation" (OGF) and that its scope should be expanded to include both the implementation of a private sector development and support capability for GRASS, and the creation of a consensus-based membership process for management of GRASS community affairs. OGF's founding Board of Directors were:

David Schell, Chairman of the OGF Board, also at that time Executive Director of OGF.

Kenn Gardels, Secretary, at that time GIS Coordinator, Center for Environmental Design Research, University of California at Berkeley.

Dr. W. Frederick Limp, Treasurer, at that time the Director of the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Dr. Emil Horvath, at that time Chief, GIS and Remote Sensing Branch, US Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service.

Quentin Ellis, at that time GIS Business Development Manager, Camber Corporation.

Ed Escowitz, at that time senior research scientist at the USGS.

Dr. Scott Madry, at that time Associate Director of the Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis Center, Rutgers University.

The startup OGF was supported in all its activities by an innovative cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) implemented between OGF and USACERL that provided the administrative and technical support necessary to accomplish the purposes of the new company. In particular, the CRADA was designed to facilitate technology transfer from CERL's GRASS project to the private sector. In recognition of the success of this agreement, CERL later won an award of merit in GSA's "1993 Federal Laboratory Consortium Competition for Excellence in Technology Transfer."

Early the following year, the new organization was offered use of an office in the remote sensing center at Boston University, where it began its formal operation. David Schell was soon joined by a staff assistant who was a graduate student in the Boston University geography department.

Over the next two years, OGF recruited sponsors from government, the private sector, and academia. Bob Moses, president of PCI Geomatics, made his company OGF's first commercial sponsor. Gale TeSelle of the USDA Soil Conservation Service (SCS) led the Soil Conservation Service to support OGF with task orders, providing administrative and technical support for the government GRASS community. Bill Goran at USACERL also provided OGF with tasking designed to underwrite the public awareness and consensus process that resulted eventually in the development of OGC's consortium process. Tasking from both SCS and USACERL was facilitated greatly by the support and involvement of Dr. Fred Limp, director of the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Limp was also one of the very early contributors in developing the interoperability process. Gale TeSelle promoted the use of GRASS for distributed access to GIS capabilities in the SCS (which was renamed during this period Natural Resources Conservation Service, or NRCS).

With government’s widespread use of commercial GIS software by that time, the issue of data sharing had become important. Actual “technical interoperability” – real-time communication of data and instructions between two different systems – was an idea only a few had explored.

MOSS (Map Overlay and Statistical System), an open source vector based GIS that predates GRASS by several years, was heavily used in many Dept. of Interior and Agriculture agencies and in a number of state and local governments. MOSS provided many of the design concepts, such as a simple interactive command interface, that were used in the design and development of a GIS from Genasys called GenaMap. In 1987, Genasys showed that seamless interoperability could be achieved between two disparate geospatial systems. John Davidson from Genasys worked on a way for two independently running systems (GenaMap and GRASS), to register and display image and map layers into the same shared X Window. This required a mechanism for the two systems to notify and exchange minimum bounding rectangle and coordinate reference system information so that if one system zoomed-in, then the other knew it and would display its data in the window properly.

In addition to PCI's early sponsorship, the new direction of interoperability development received a major boost when Sun Microsystems' Academic Grants program awarded new SPARCstations worth $80,000 to support an OGF proposal that multiple product organizations work together to integrate for the first time a functionally interoperable geospatial development environment, including both raster and vector GISs, a database, and statistical software packages. The project was named at the time the "Open GIS Application Environment" or "OGAE." Under the guidance of the study group, the OGAE quickly evolved conceptually into a prototype concept for OpenGIS, and the major concern of this evolving enterprise became the integration of spatial product capabilities into the mainstream information technology environment of the network.

In 1992, Kurt Buehler worked with OGF to put together a series of industry technical meetings, and Kurt was assigned to develop the "Community Consensus" process. The first formal meeting to address this concept was hosted by the National Park Service in Lakewood, CO and attended by most of the major commercial GIS vendors. Additional meetings supported by CERL included meetings hosted by NOAA in Silver Spring, MD and in Berkeley, CA by the University of California, Berkeley. This series of meetings, animated progressively by the creative input of many people in the geospatial community, became the core of the development activity that evolved into the OpenGIS Project. Kurt Buehler continued to play a key role in advancing the technical interoperability concept, organizing and running the meetings and involving people who could contribute to its development.

Henry Tom, then chair of the X3L1 ANSI Committee on Geographic Information and also head of the US delegation to ISO/TC 211, was at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) at that time, and he became an active proponent. Henry volunteered to be OGC's formal liaison to the world standards community, and he has from that time forward provided valuable guidance and support.

Kenn Gardels wrote a groundbreaking article in the Fall, 1993 issue of GRASSCLIPPINGS on openness in the spatial domain, describing the Open GIS Application Environment (OGAE).

OGF organized the December, 1993 GRASS User Meeting in Washington, D.C. "OpenGIS" and "OGAE" were main topics for presentation and discussion. Despite a record snowfall that snarled air traffic throughout the Eastern U.S., more than 400 people attended.

OGF's articles in GIS World and other magazines were attracting attention. Kenn Gardels' paper was widely discussed in the GRASS community, and two MITRE employees wrote an article in the ACM StandardView journal about the need for an "industry architecture" in the geoprocessing industry. One of the authors, Greg Smith, who subsequently joined NGA (then called NIMA), had recently become an OGF board member.

In 1993 OGF moved into expanded facilities in Cambridge Massachusetts, sponsored by Camber Corporation, which had become significantly involved in the planning and development of the OGC organization through Camber's Executive Vice President, Bob King. Camber's support at this early stage was extremely helpful to the fledgling organization.

During these developments in the early 1990s, computing was becoming more network-centric. The Object Management Group (OMG), a membership-based industry standards organization focused on developing specifications for interoperable object-based software, was growing rapidly, and there was general progress in the software industry in the direction of shared interfaces, object-oriented programming and object modeling. The OGAE idea evolved into a vision of diverse geoprocessing systems communicating directly over networks by means of a set of open interfaces based on the "Open Geodata Interoperability Specification (OGIS)." OGF's "OGIS Project" was announced in June, 1993.

Finally, the need for open interfaces led to another organizational change, because OGF - a foundation - wasn't the right kind of organization to develop such specifications. What was needed was an industry consortium like OMG. This required forming a 501 (c)6 not-for-profit trade association to replace the 501 (c)3 not-for-profit charitable foundation. The company was incorporated as "OGIS Ltd." on August 25, 1994. An Oct 22, 1994 Board resolution changed the name to "Open GIS Consortium, Inc." and then later, in 2004, the Board changed the name to "Open Geospatial Consortium."

At the new Consortium's first Board of Directors meeting on November, 29, 1994, the directors included: David Schell (President), Gregory Smith (MITRE), Scott Madry (Rutgers University), Emil Horvath (SCS), Quentin Ellis (Camber Corp.), Kenn Gardels (University of California, Berkeley), and Fred Limp (University of Arkansas Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies). Lance McKee was the secretary of the corporation. The Board appointed two vice presidents: Lance McKee, Vice President of Corporate Communications and Jim Farley of CAST, Vice President of Technical Programs. Kurt Buehler was appointed as Technical Director of the OGIS Project Track and Chairman of the Technical Committee. In February, 1995, Kurt Buehler left the Corps of Engineers and became OGC's Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.

Significant Events in the History of OGC

---- 1994 ----

OGC was founded with eight charter members at the time of its first Board of Directors meeting on September 25, 1994. These members were Camber Corporation, University of Arkansas - CAST, Center for Environmental Design Research at the University of California - Berkeley, Intergraph Corporation, PCI Remote Sensing, QUBA, USACERL (US Army Corps of Engineers Construction Engineering Research Laboratory), and USDA Soil Conservation Service.

Intergraph was OGC's first commercial Principal Member. Intergraph's Executive VP Larry Ayers became a member of the OGC Board of Directors. Cliff Kottman, who worked at Intergraph as chief technical representative on Federal accounts, had previously arranged for Intergraph to host one of the GRASS technical group meetings. John Herring, a lead engineer at Intergraph, had participated in that meeting. Kottman and Herring soon became increasingly involved in the technical discussions.

OGC proceeded to trademark "OpenGIS." This mark is now trademarked in 28 countries. Officially protecting this "community intellectual property" was necessary to enable the Consortium to position itself and its products (OpenGIS Specifications, now known at OGC Standards) as truly open and vendor-neutral.

In 1994, the OGC process was validated further by being referenced in the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) 1994 National Spatial Data Infrastructure Plan. Over the years, cooperation between OGC and FGDC has steadily increased, to the benefit of both organizations and all of their constituencies.

OGC received funding through a NASA Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) that helped support development of a robust Technical Committee process. The period of performance began December 9, 1994. OGC had five partners: the Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Applications at Rutgers, Belcore, the California Resource Agency, NASA and Camber Corporation. Together, these were the partners of the Universal Spatial Data Access Consortium, the purpose of which was to model interoperable visual environments in order to provide a first proof of concept of some of the OpenGIS principles. NASA's support was vital during the period when OGC needed to build critical mass in the industry. The Cooperative Agreement Notice helped fund OGC to bring in enough key members to be a viable organization and to create an effective Technical Committee process.

Number of OGC members at the end of 1994: 20.

---- 1995 ----

The OGC Technical Committee began its bimonthly meetings and developed consensus on formal structure of Working Groups, Task Forces, and SIGs. The OGC Management Committee was formed to provide business planning and oversight.

Lockheed Martin Corporation joined in December, 1995, seeing the opportunity to help them help their defense and intelligence customers and also seeing the opportunity to bring some of their core competencies to new markets. Larry Fritz, Senior Staff Scientist at Lockheed Martin and then Secretary General of ISPRS, joined OGC's Board of Directors.

Jack Pellicci, US Army (retired) and then Vice President, Strategy, Solutions and Marketing, Oracle Government, led Oracle to become an early member because of his recognition of the importance of spatial information. Jack has been a strong supporter of OGC since 1994 and has been a valued member of OGC's board. Oracle joined OGC in March, 1995, establishing the fact that open interfaces shatter the old monolithic model of geoprocessing systems. Oracle recognized the opportunity to use their database software to store complex spatial information and to make that data and Oracle's database functionality available to other geoprocessing systems through OpenGIS interfaces.

Sun Microsystems became increasingly active and in April, 1995 was led into principal membership though the efforts of Carl Cargill, who later became a member of OGC's Board of Directors and Sun's director of standards. Carl was a key resource in helping OGC to become an established player in the world of IT standards.

The basic OpenGIS architecture was defined and stabilized over the course of this year, and the basic structure and process of the Technical Committee were also defined and stabilized. Many long discussions led to basic agreements and common understandings that provide a foundation for all the work that has been accomplished in the Technical Committee since then.

Directors appointed in 1995, in addition to Carl Cargill, Jack Pellicci, and Larry Fritz as mentioned above, included Jerome Kreuser, Head of the Quantitative Analysis Consulting Group, IRM Dept., World Bank; and Jim McCrystal, then Vice President, Information Systems, National Geographic Society

Number of OGC members at the end of 1995: 38

---- 1996 ----

The US Dept. of Defense National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) contracted with OGC to provide input into planning NIMA's next generation distributed geoprocessing approaches, and to organize a series of "Integrated Product Team" (IPT) meetings at which technology vendors and NIMA technologists shared their visions.

Louis G. Hecht, Jr. was appointed Vice President, Business Development, responsible for the implementation of strategic memberships, business relationships and managing business planning. Mr. Hecht has 24 years of experience in the fields of information technology, resource management and spatial data management and analysis, and he has authored numerous columns and articles.

OGC wrote and published The OpenGIS Guide - Introduction to Interoperable Geoprocessing. Hundreds of copies were sold and made available to members, and it was soon put online, free for anyone to download. "The Guide" helped educate people about the technological foundations of the OpenGIS Specification.

Microsoft joined in November, 1996. Their focus in the consortium has been to educate the other members on the opportunities and obstacles to mobile computing and location-based services, and to help OGC in its efforts to bring convergence with other standards organizations in this area.

Michael Brand, then president of European Umbrella Organisation for Geographical Information (EUROGI) and Director of the Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland, was elected to OGC's Board of Directors.

Number of OGC members at the end of 1996: 87

---- 1997 ----

OGC released the OpenGIS Simple Features Specification, which specifies the interface that enables diverse systems to communicate in terms of "simple features" which are based on 2D geometry. The supported geometry types include points, lines, linestrings, curves, and polygons. Each geometric object is associated with a Spatial Reference System, which describes the coordinate space in which the geometric object is defined.

ISO/TC 211 and OGC began to converge their approaches through a white paper, through ongoing discussion of each other's draft documents, through OGC's participation in ISO/TC 211 sessions, and through ISO/TC 211's participation in both OGC Technical Committee and OGC Management Committee meetings.

OGC and FGDC staged a successful demo of OpenGIS concepts at the GIS/LIS show in Washington, DC.

Telecommunications and Transportation Working Groups and a WWW Mapping SIG were formed in OGC's Technical Committee.

Close coordination and cross membership were established with the OMG's CORBAgis SIG.

OGC joined a partnership with NCGIA to develop an Interoperability Research Agenda.

Clifford A. Kottman, Ph.D. was appointed Vice President, Technology Development. Mr. Kottman has worked in academia (Louisiana State University, and Oregon State University), government (the Defense Mapping Agency), private industry (including Lockheed and Intergraph Corporations), and not-for-profit technology companies (MITRE and the Open Geospatial Consortium). As Vice President and Chief Scientist of the Open Geospatial Consortium, Dr. Kottman served as the Consortium's lead interface to other standards organizations and he plays a key role in establishment of OpenGIS Implementation Specifications.

Robert Corell, then Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation, Geosciences Directorate, and Marty Faga, then Senior Vice President and General Manager, Center for Integrated Intelligence Systems at The MITRE Corporation, were elected to OGC's Board of Directors.

Number of OGC members at the end of 1997: 112.

---- 1998 ----

The GIPSIE Project (GIS Interoperability Project Stimulating Industry in Europe) was funded by the European Commission to facilitate European GIS industry's contribution to OpenGIS Specifications and support development of conformant software products.

NSDIPA, the Japanese spatial data infrastructure organization, signed a memorandum of understanding with OGC in 1997. As a result, a number of Japanese geospatial companies, many of whom are NSDIPA members, have joined OGC.

Ulrich Neunfinger, then president of SICAD GEOMATICS, and Aki Yamaura, General Manager of the Satellite/Information Systems Business Unit and Deputy General Manager, Aerospace at Mitsubishi Corporation in Japan, and also Chairman of the NSDIPA Foreign Affairs Committee, were elected to OGC's Board of Directors.

The Management Committee's Government SIG was chartered to provide a forum for representatives of government agency members to discuss topics of particular concern. Meetings of the "Gov SIG" yield user organization agreements that affect the course of OpenGIS Specification development, the focus of Interoperability Initiatives, and, perhaps most importantly, the purchase of products that implement OpenGIS Specifications.

Number of OGC members at the end of 1998: 146.

---- 1999 ----

OGC released two more key OpenGIS Specifications: Grid Coverages and Catalog Services. The OpenGIS Grid Coverages Specification promotes interoperability between software implementations by data vendors and software vendors providing grid analysis and processing capabilities. The OpenGIS Catalog Service Interface Specification defines a common interface that enables diverse but conformant applications to perform discovery, browse and query operations against distributed and potentially heterogeneous catalog servers.

Beginning in 1996, OGC had begun to develop a Spiral Engineering Process for specification development. This provided part of the background for discussions in OGC's WWW Mapping SIG that gave rise to the Web Mapping Testbed Phase 1 (WMT1). This rapid prototyping initiative, which ran April through August, produced the OpenGIS Web Map Server Interface Specification.

OGC campaigned successfully to make interoperability and OpenGIS Specifications a key element of the Digital Earth Reference Model. The Digital Earth initiative had began as an Al Gore initiated, NASA-led interagency demonstration of next generation network-based geospatial applications. OGC helped the Digital Earth community to understand that the vision depended on interoperability.

ISO published "Draft Co-operative agreement between ISO/TC 211 Geographic information/Geomatics and the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC)" which formalizes ongoing cooperation between this important de jure standards organization and OGC. This relationship continues to strengthen, with procedures now in place for formal review and acceptance of OpenGIS Specifications as ISO international standards.

In memory of Kenn Gardels, who died early in 1999, and in appreciation of his remarkable dedication and contributions, the OGC Board created a special award in his name. The first Kenneth D. Gardels Award Ceremony, a private event for OGC Members and Directors, was held June 16, 1999 at Oracle Corporation in Reston, VA. The award was given to John Herring of Oracle Corporation for his outstanding technical contributions and leadership in the OGC Technical Committee.

John Cavalier, President and CEO of MapInfo, and John McLaughlin, Vice President for Research and International Cooperation at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, N. B. were elected to OGC's Board of Directors.

Number of OGC members at the end of 1999: 182.

---- 2000 ----

The OpenGIS Coordinate Transformation Services Specification and the OpenGIS Web Map Server Specification were released. OGC's OpenGIS Coordinate Transformation Services Specification provides a standard way for software to specify and access coordinate transformation services for use on specified sets of spatial data. The OpenGIS Web Map Server (WMS) Specification standardizes the way in which Web clients request maps. Clients request maps from a WMS instance in terms of named layers and provide parameters such as the size of the returned map as well as the spatial reference system to be used in drawing the map. OGC published the Geographic Markup Language (GML) 1.0 recommendation paper, leveraging the Web's XML capabilities to support ubiquitous, standards-based geoprocessing.

Based on the success of the Web Mapping Testbed, OGC organized its Innovation Program (formerly known as Interoperability Program), institutionalizing support for an ongoing series of "Interoperability Initiatives" which include testbeds, pilot programs, prototyping activities, etc., including in 2000:

  1. OGC WMT Upper-Susquehanna Lackawanna Pilot Project, which began in April, 2000 and completed successfully in June, 2000. WMT USL helped the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) assess the feasibility of implementing a multi-user, multi-vendor web-enabled mapping and planning framework in Central and Northeastern Pennsylvania.
  2. Web Mapping Testbed Phase 2 (WMT2), building on WMT1, expanding the range of interoperable web mapping services.
  3. Geospatial Fusion Services Testbed (GFST1). The open interfaces involved here enable three services that work together to integrate text with geoprocessing and web based services: a geoparser (capturing geographic references in text), a gazetteer (using a dictionary of place names and their associated location) and a geocoder (putting the location on a dynamic digital map). Together these services allow a researcher, for example, to explore a dynamic, viewable map automatically filled with details based on text from a series of news articles and other documents.

OGC participated in the Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO) Seminar.

OGC launched OGC Europe to enable the consortium to assist European government programs with vendor-neutral technology interoperability approaches.

Alan Doyle of BBN, for his technical leadership, his service as both Technical and Management Committee representative, and his visionary promotion in OGC of a standards approach for web-based distributed geoprocessing, was awarded the Kenneth D. Gardels Award at the second Kenneth D. Gardels Award Ceremony, held June 5, 2000 at ESRI in Redlands, CA.

In February, 2000, Jeff Burnett, an experienced manager with over 20 years experience in the information technology industry, joined OGC's executive staff as Vice President, Operations and Finance. He was also made secretary and treasurer of the corporation.

Number of OGC members at the end of 2000: 209.

---- 2001 ----

Eighteen candidate OpenGIS Specifications were in progress in this year, many the result of WMT2 and GFS testbeds. Twelve additional OpenGIS Specifications were in planning stages in the Technical Committee. GML 2.0 was adopted as an implementation specification.

Dr. Carl Reed joined OGC staff in May, 2001 as Executive Director of the Specification Program. Prior to joining OGC, Dr. Reed had held positions as vice president of geospatial marketing at Intergraph Corporation, chief technology officer for Genasys II, and GIS division manager at Autometric. While working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Dr. Reed was a principal developer of an interactive GIS for environmental mitigation, the Map Overlay and Statistical System (MOSS). This was the world's first full-function, interactive vector-based GIS to run on a mini computer.

The Innovation Program gained momentum and greatly expanded its agenda to support interoperability planning services, testbeds for the development of new interfaces, and pilot projects to validate, in a near operational setting, OpenGIS Specifications and the products that implement them. OGC launched the Open Location Services (OpenLS) Initiative, enlisting wireless technology providers and reaching out to other standards groups to ensure a consistent spatial framework for rapidly emerging Location Services. The OpenLS Testbed attracted a variety of international wireless, GIS and other vendor community sponsors. The Web Mapping Testbed 2 and Geospatial Fusion Services Testbed 1 Interoperability Initiatives completed successfully and added to OGC's framework of web service specifications. The Geospatial Fusion Services Pilot completed successfully. Nordrhein Westphalia (Germany) contracted with OGC for interoperability planning services. The Military Pilot Program - Phase 1 commenced to address evaluation of OGC specifications and spatial technologies in a near operational setting. The Civil Works Technology Insertion Project (CTI-1) also began in 2001. An Insertion Project expands an organization's interoperability capacity by laying the groundwork for open implementations. The CTI Project, sponsored by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), applied interoperable web mapping technology in practical applications, supporting enterprise GIS solutions for Corps Civil Works Divisions and Districts. OGC obtained sponsorship for an initial OGC Web Services thread to commence, focusing on the development of a General Services Model, Sensor Web, and additional Web Mapping Services interfaces and capabilities. CANRI, the Australian Spatial Data Infrastructure Team, joined the OGC Web Services Initiative, continuing the strong Australian involvement in OGC.

OGCNetwork was created as a resource to support Interoperability Initiatives and also to support interoperable technology developers working independently. OGC Network provides support to prototyping, demonstration, and testing of interoperable geospatial products, as well as educational materials.

At the third Kenneth D. Gardels Award Ceremony, held April 5, 2001 at Oracle Corporation in Nashua, NH, the Kenneth D. Gardels Award was given to Arliss Whiteside of BAE SYSTEMS Mission Solutions for his service as a Planning Committee representative and for his superlative work in developing OpenGIS Interface Specifications for image geometry models, accuracy metadata, coordinate reference systems and transformations, services architecture, catalog services, and image exploitation.

Jeff Burnett, Vice President of Operations and Finance, OGC; S.J. Camarata, Director of Corporate Strategies for ESRI Inc.; Dr. Mike Jackson, Head of Geospatial Systems at Hutchison3G UK Ltd (H3G); Robert King, president of MSR, Inc.; and Preetha Pulusani, Executive Vice President for Mapping/GIS and Intergraph India, Ltd. at the Intergraph Corporation were elected to OGC's Board of Directors.

OGC advanced Location Services interoperability at "GIS In Telecoms 2001," December 04, 2001.

Number of OGC members at the end of 2001: 228.

---- 2002 ----

18 candidate OpenGIS Specifications were in progress in this year, many the result of testbeds. Six additional OpenGIS Specifications were in planning stages in the Technical Committee. The Web Coverage Service draft implementation specification was approved and the OpenGIS Geography Markup Language Specification (GML 2.1) was adopted.

The Geospatial Information for Sustainable Development Initial Capability Pilot (GISD-ICP), an OGC pilot project to advance geo-interoperability for sustainable development, completed in 2002. The Open Location Services Testbed (OpenLS® Testbed) (OpenLS-1 and OpenLS-1.1) also completed. OGC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) concluded the FEMA-sponsored Multi-Hazard Mapping Initiative Phase 1 (MMI-1) with a successful demonstration of a standards-based framework for discovery, access, and distribution of multi-hazard map data. OGC began its Critical Infrastructure Protection Initiative (CIPI) with a Call for Communities (CFC) to reach out to government agencies at all levels (in Canada, the US and other countries); non-governmental organizations; academic groups; and private sector companies involved in Critical Infrastructure systems. Such organizations responded to participate in a series of hands-on, collaborative engineering efforts to test the effectiveness of new open standards. The CIPI kickoff event was held in November. Also, in November, the OWS 1.2 live demonstration of geospatial interoperability drew on three emergency response situations in a mock Emergency Operations Center. The demonstration featured the use of live sensors, the tasking of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and the integration of data, services and other elements hosted on servers worldwide. The Object Domain Modeling Support (ODMS) Initiative (ODMS); the OGC Web Services (OWS) Initiative Phase 1 Requirement Set 1 (OWS-1.1); the Military Pilot Project Testbed, Phase 1 (MPP-1); the Multi-hazard Mapping Initiative, Phase 1 (MMI-1); and the North Rhein Westphalia Pilot (NRWPP) all completed in 2002.

In February, 2002, OGC signed a memorandum of understanding with the Columbia Earth Institute (CEI), a collection of Columbia University institutes that includes Lamont Doherty, to extend our activities into the domains of science and sustainable development.

January 16, 2002. OGC was recognized for playing an important role in a joint project of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the US Geological Survey (USGS). The project focused on removing technical obstacles to sharing earth observation data. It was a direct result of the 1997 US and European Science and Technology Agreement concerning Earth Observation Technology Development and Application Research, and a subsequent 1999 cooperative arrangement between JRC and USGS.

A number of important alliances were formed in 2002. The Location Interoperability Forum (LIF) and the OGC agreed to work together on interoperability, education and market development for mobile location based services. OGC and Automotive Multimedia Interface Collaboration (AMI-C) signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at aligning OpenGIS specifications, programs and processes with the information requirements, specifications and programs of the automotive industry. OGC and the Geospatial Information Technology Association (GITA) signed an MOU to undertake a program of jointly supported educational and market development activities designed to benefit the members of both organizations and the geospatial community as a whole.

The Open Geospatial Consortium (Europe), Limited (OGCE) partnered with the European Umbrella Organisation for Geographic Information (EUROGI), the European Commission - Joint Research Centre (JRC), and the University of Sheffield in a far-reaching European geographic information project called Geographic Information Network in Europe (GINIE). GINIE is a project funded by the Information Society Technologies Programme of the European Union to support the development of a cohesive Geographic Information Strategy at the European level. Also, OGC and the Association of Geographic Information Laboratories in Europe (AGILE) signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at creating a program of jointly supported educational and market development activities designed to benefit the members of both organizations and the European geospatial community as a whole. This is in the context of European Commission Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) programs like GINIE, ETeMII, GETIS and INSPIRE, supported by organizations including EUROGI, Eurogeographics and AGILE. OGCE was one of the two major participants in the EC-funded GETIS (Geoprocessing Networks in a European Territorial Interoperability Study), working toward consensus on the geoprocessing framework to provide interoperability of geospatial information and a competitive market platform in Europe.

OGC formed a Technology Advisory Group (TAG) to support the efforts of I-Teams nationwide. I-Teams are state, regional, or thematic information consortia formed to plan and co-invest in current, standards-based spatial data. I-Teams, which include both public and private sector partners, create business plans to drive partnerships, policy, financial plans and processes necessary to realize these goals. The US Office of Management and Budget and the Federal Geographic Data Committee support I-Teams.

OGC provided support for the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) led Geospatial One-Stop initiative launched as part of the U.S. e-government program. OGC developed and tested interoperable capabilities, including (in the Geospatial One-Stop Transportation Pilot Activity) capabilities to address the semantic differences that exist between similar geospatial data sets developed and maintained by federal, state and local government, and other organizations. This involved development of Unified Modeling Language (UML) and processes to generate Geography Markup Language (GML) representation of the Transportation Framework Standard (roads, transit, rail). This work was related to OGC's support for the Modeling Advisory Teams (MAT) established by the FGDC to accelerate the nationwide consensus development of National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) Framework Data Standards.

As part of an Emerging Technology Summit Series, GITA and OGC sponsored a Location-Based Services event to feature the results of OGC's OpenLS Initiative.

OGC added an Outreach and Adoption Program (OCAP) to the existing Specification and Innovation Programs. OCAP promotes OGC's work into the larger geospatial and IT community. Mark Reichardt, Executive Director of OCAP, was chosen to manage Business Development, Marketing Communications, Field Operations, and Support Staff.

OGC and the Institute for Professional Education (IPE) agreed to collaborate on the development and delivery of OpenGIS Specification training.

OGC began a University Program, beginning with an interoperability internship bulletin board.

Ron Lake Received OGC's 2002 Gardels Award, in large part for his instrumental role in developing the Geography Markup Language (GML). In July, the company Ron Lake founded, Galdos Systems (Vancouver, B.C., Canada), hosted the first OGC-sponsored GML Developer Days.

OGC's President, David Schell, Received CIO Magazine's 20/20 Award.

OGC introduced a new membership level called Principal Plus. Designed for public and private organizations, Principal Plus members benefit by taking a more active role in shaping the direction of the Consortium's technology specification activities and in encouraging the use and acceptance of OpenGIS specifications worldwide.

OGC announced new Local, State and Provincial Membership levels.

TASC, a business unit of Northrop Grumman's Information Technology (IT) sector, upgraded its OGC membership to the Strategic level. Also, FGDC, Intergraph, and NASA each upgraded their OGC membership level from Principal to Strategic Member. Autodesk became an OGC Principal Plus Member and Natural Resources Canada became an OGC Principal Member. OGC supported the United Nations (UN) in the development of a Strategic Plan for Geographic Information (GI). The United Nations joined as a Principal Member.

Number of OGC members at the end of 2002: 238.

---- 2003 ----

OGC's Technical Committee and Planning Committee approved version 1 of the OGC Reference Model (ORM). The ORM brings together, under the rubric of ISO's RM-ODP standard, a comprehensive description of OGC's technical baseline for interoperability and framework for our adopted and emerging OpenGIS Specifications. OGC also approved the following OpenGIS Specifications in 2003: The OpenGIS Catalog Services Specification; OpenGIS Geography Markup Language v3.0 (GML 3.0); the OpenGIS Web Map Context Interface Specification; and the OpenGIS Web Map Service (WMS) 1.2 Specification and the OpenGIS Web Coverage Service Specification 1.0. WMS 1.2 was also submitted to the ISO/TC 211 as a new work item.

The following OGC Interoperability Initiatives were completed in 2003: the OGC Web Services (OWS) Initiative Phase 1 Requirement Set 2 (OWS-1.2); the Critical Infrastructure Protection Initiative 1.1 (CIPI-1.1); the Critical Infrastructure Protection Initiative (CIPI-2); the Geospatial Objects Phase 1 (GO-1); the Conformance and Interoperability Test and Evaluation (CITE) Initiative; and the Geospatial One-Stop - Portal Initiative (GOS-PI). The US Government GOS Portal for geospatial information discovery, access, and mapping in the U.S is based on the standards-based architecture and prototype developed in the GOS-PI. The OGC Web Services (OWS) Initiative Phase 2 (OWS-2) and the Kentucky Landscape Census (KLC) Project both began in Q4 2003.

The Planning Committee approved the CITE testing framework that was the final product of the CITE Initiative. CITE provides an automated set of tests for testing of software compliance with the WMS 1.1 and WFS 1.0 specifications along with a Geography Markup Language (GML) validator. The first test suites and other resources became available in 2003.

Web Map Service (WMS) Cookbook version 1.0, the first in a planned series of books detailing the implementation and use of OpenGIS Specifications, was released. The GINIE Book, GI in the Wider Europe, which OGCE helped write, was published and made available on the GINIE website: http://www.ec-gis.org/ginie.

The OGC EuropeSIG coordinated responses from industry and submitted an OGC response to the INSPIRE Call for Internet Consultation.

OGCE created the European Virtual Resource Pool (EVPool). Participants in EVPool work to increase understanding of the benefits of OpenGIS® specifications in European business and government pre-procurement settings. EVPool provides technical support for OGCE projects that involve strategic evaluation about future investments of interoperable geoprocessing.

GITA and the Open Geospatial Consortium hosted the Emerging Technology Summit II: Spatial Web Services, June 5-6, 2003, with a keynote by World Wide Web founder Tim Berners-Lee.

On June 27, 2003. Questerra joined OGC as Strategic Member.

OGC honored Edric Keighan, Peter Vretanos and Bill Lalonde, all of Canadian software developer CubeWerx, with the fifth annual Kenneth G. Gardels Award.

At a special ceremony in Washington, D.C., OGC presented the US Army Corps of Engineers with a special OGC Vision Award.

OGC-Australasia (OGC-A) was formally incorporated in July 2003. Two projects were successfully completed in 2003 and the AusIndustry grant for the Interoperability Demonstration Project was awarded to the Australian Spatial Information Business Association (ASIBA) and an OGC-A led team.

The OGC Board approved IPR Policies to further safeguard OGC's open, public Standards.

In August, 2003, when Hurricane Isabel hit the east coast of the United States, OGC Web Services from multiple member companies powered the U.S. government's Hazard Maps <http://www.hazardmaps.gov/atlas.php> website, which, as a result of the Multi-Hazard Mapping Initiative, supports 36 live map servers and 899 live map layers. In August, the website passed the one million visitor mark.

OGC, along with the Object Management Group (OMG), Simulation Interoperability Standards Organization (SISO) and Web3D Consortium, hosted the first annual Workshop on Web Enabled Modeling and Simulation (WebSim), October 27 - 30, 2003.

The Planning Committee created the Enterprise Architecture Special Interest Group (EASIG) to provide a forum for discussion on the relationship and integration of OGC's work with geospatial standards and architecture in the broader information technology environment.

The OGC began an internship program that helps match organizations looking for qualified interns with college students seeking internships that will help them become familiar with OGC's interoperability specifications.

OGC launched OGC User, a quarterly publication distributed via email. OGC User focuses on the many projects worldwide where forward looking organizations have implemented OpenGIS based solutions.

Number of OGC members at the end of 2003: 254.

---- 2004 ----


The OGC membership approved the OpenGIS Location Services (OpenLS) Specification and the OpenGIS Catalog Services Specification 2.0. ISO approved an International Standard based on the OpenGIS(R) Web Map Service (WMS) Interface Specification, ISO 19128. That work was enabled by the participation of ISO geographic information committee: ISO/TC211 Geographic Information/Geomatics.

OGC held its first "Plugfest" in conjunction with the OGC's 50th Technical Committee Meeting meetings in Southampton, UK.

Innovation Program (formerly known as Interoperability Program)

OGC kicked off the OGC Web Services 2 Initiative to develop and enhance standards that enable easy discovery, access and use of geographic data and geoprocessing services. Demonstrations of results were presented at the end of the year. The Emergency Mapping Symbology (EMS) Testbed enhanced and tested OpenGIS Specifications that enable the use of multiple symbol sets with one set of geospatial feature data. The first Interoperability Experiment (IE) tested a GML 3.0 application schema for encoding LandXML 1.0 documents (LandGML) and provided a tool to transform LandXML 1.0 documents into LandGML documents. A later phase developed tools to transform LandGML documents to LandXML 1.0 documents.


A new membership level, Small Company Commercial, was introduced to encourage participation of smaller firms, worldwide.

NAVTEQ joined OGC as a strategic member.

OGC announced a new trademark licensing fee structure that increased the value of membership for current members while making new membership more affordable.

Number of OGC members at the end of 2004: 270.

Outreach and Events

OGC staff and members participated in a number of outreach efforts including demonstrations at United Nations staffers in New York, the GeoTec event in Toronto Canada, SPATIAL-TECH in Orlando Florida and Interoperability 2004 in Washington, DC. A Canadian Interoperability Day was held in conjunction with a TC/PC meeting there, while an OGC Industry Day, hosted with NAVTEQ and Chicago Geospatial Exchange, held in Chicago, Illinois focused on the "Geospatial Requirements for Telematics."

OGC also participated in events with partners including a digital rights management workshop held in conjunction with the GeoData Alliance at the ASPRS' annual conference and the Web Enabled Modeling and Simulation conference hosted with the Object Management Group, Simulation Interoperability Standards Organization, and Web3D Consortium.

Organization and Awards

The Open GIS Consortium changed its name to the Open Geospatial Consortium. Mark Reichardt became President & Chief Operating Officer of OGC; David Schell retained his role as Chairman of the OGC Board of Directors. Dr. Carl Reed took on a new role as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and George Percivall joined the OGC as Executive Director, Interoperability Architecture.

Two new Technical Committee working groups were formed: the Geospatial Digital Rights Management Working Group (GeoDRM WG) and the University Working Group (University WG).

Martin Daly, Technical Director at Cadcorp, received the Gardels award.

---- 2005  ----

In 2005, the OWS-3 Initiative was launched to extend the OGC baseline to enable an interoperable, multi-source decision support environment. The work addressed: Common Architecture, Sensor Web Enablement (SWE), Geo-Decision Support Services (GeoDSS), Geo-Digital Rights Management (GeoDRM) and OpenLS.

SIG 3D members defined the first version of CityGML (http://www.citygml.org) and submitted CityGML as a candidate standard into the OGC standards process.

The OGC and the US NIBS (National Institute of Building Sciences) IAI-NA (North American Chapter of the International Alliance for Interoperability) Council jointly announced their formal agreement to work together.

The OGC announced the signing of a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Digital Geospatial Information Working Group (DGIWG) Secretariat and the OGC. DGIWG, established in 1983, is a standardization body now comprised of 18 nations whose first objective was to set up an effective exchange standard allowing for the transfer of data between the countries' military geospatial production agencies, to meet NATO geospatial requirements.

The OGC announced the signing of a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between GIS Development Pvt. Ltd and the OGC. GIS Development, based in Uttar Pradesh, India, strives to foster the growing global and Asian network of those interested in geo-informatics.

OGC members ran a Sensor Alert Service Interoperability Experiment to create a prototype specification of a Sensor Alert Service (SAS) as a part of the OGC Sensor Web Enablement (SWE) effort. The SAS IE addressed a missing piece of the SWE suite of standards: an alert and notification mechanism that specifies how alert or “alarm” conditions are defined, detected, and made available to interested users.

The OGC and COMCARE, a US national non-profit alliance dedicated to advancing emergency response.

OGC members at the end of 2005:     308.

---- 2006  ----

The OGC’s major testbed project in 2006 was OGC Web Services, Phase 4 (OWS-4), advancing standards for sensor webs, geoprocessing workflow and decision support, geospatial digital rights management, CAD / GIS / BIM integration, OpenLS, compliance testing, geospatial semantics and knowledge management. In the test bed scenario, a “dirty bomb” explodes at a wharf, causing injuries and releasing a plume of dangerous radioactivity. Emergency managers and first responders use a variety of Web-based geospatial information systems to help manage evacuations, find a building suitable to contain an emergency decontamination and hospital unit, and track victims.

OGC became a Participating Organization in GEO (Group on Earth Observations) and became active in the international effort to develop GEOSS (Global Earth Observing System of Systems). OGC took the lead role in facilitating the Architecture Implementation Pilot, a multiyear testbed activity central to the operation of the GEOSS.

The OGC Geolinking Service Interoperability Experiment tested methods for linking attribute data (typically records in a database) to those data records' geospatial representations (typically stored as digital maps) when both data and geospatial representations are stored at separate locations on the Internet.

OGC Australasia (OGC-A), an OGC subsidiary, sponsored the award winning Spatial Interoperability Demonstration Project (SIDP), a collaborative initiative between the public and private sectors of the Australian Spatial Information Industry. The effort received the Asia Pacific Spatial Excellence Awards (APSEA) Research and Innovation Award for 2005. The APSEA Awards celebrate the finest achievements of spatial information enterprise and professionalism in that region of the world.

The OGC signed a memorandum of understanding with the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), a not-for-profit, international consortium that drives the development, convergence, and adoption of e-business standards.

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) hosted a Workshop on Sensor Standards Harmonization, featuring OGC standards and focusing on sensor integration to support a range of information exchange, sharing, and decision support needs, including combating Chemical, Biological, Radiological/Nuclear, and Explosive (CBRNE) incidents.

The OGC and the Web3D Consortium signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to cooperatively advance standards to support web-based 3D visualization, modeling and simulation.

OGC members at the end of 2006: 337.

---- 2007  ----

The U.S. Department of Defense National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) issued a document, "Enabling A Common Vision," which outlines the overall National System for Geospatial-Intelligence (NSG) standards baseline. OGC Specifications figure prominently in this U.S. Federal and national baseline.

Northrop Grumman Corporation upgraded its OGC membership from Principal Member to Strategic Member. Strategic Membership is the highest level of membership in OGC.

The Open Geospatial Consortium® (OGC) became a member of the World Wide Web Consortium, (W3C, http://www.w3.org/) a standards organization that develops interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) to lead the Web to its full potential.

Google submitted KML into the OGC consensus process to be vetted and adopted as an OGC standard.

Onuma Inc. received an American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2007 Building Information Model Award for the company’s role in the OGC's 2006 Open Web Services 4 (OWS-4) testbed activity. The “Integrated BIM and Geospatial Data Award of Merit” award was granted May 2, 2007 at the AIA National Convention in San Antonio. The OWS-4 activity ran April to December in 2006 and culminated in a demonstration that showed interoperability among 3D geospatial models, CityGML and Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs).

OGC members at the end of 2007: 351.

---- 2008  ----

OGC members Blue Marble and 1Spatial released the results of their OGC Spatial Data Quality Survey, undertaken to provide user feedback to guide the OGC’s development of appropriate terms of quality measure and a robust spatial data quality model.

OGC France Forum chartered.

The US General Services Administration (GSA) Federal Technology Service in concert with the US Government Geospatial Line of Business (Geo LoB) made implementation of OGC standards a key requirement in an important Draft Statement of Work (SOW).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) program Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) announced that they are implementing a number of OGC standards.

OGC’s founder and Chairman of the OGC Board of Directors, David Schell, was appointed to a three-year term on the newly formed US National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC). (The OGC has continued to serve on this committee to the present day.)

Participants in the Ocean Science Interoperability Experiment (Oceans IE) delivered their findings at the conclusion of Phase 1 of Oceans IE. Oceans IE participants seek to advance standard best practices for publishing marine observations.

The OGC announced the successful completion of the “Empire Challenge 08 (EC08) OGC Pilot,” an OGC Interoperability Initiative that was conducted as part of the US Dept. of Defense Empire Challenge Demonstration, an annual “distributed common ground/surface system” (DCGS) “distributed development test enterprise” (DDTE) capstone event.

GeoConnections Canada announced the release of a video documenting the previous year’s successful interoperability demonstration, a major output of the Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure Interoperability Pilot (CGDI IP).  GeoConnections sponsored the Pilot, which concluded with a Web Conference that was witnessed live and online by more than 500 people. GeoConnections is a Canadian partnership program whose primary objective is to evolve and expand the CGDI. The CGDI IP was an OGC Interoperability Initiative.

OGC members at the end of 2008: 372.

---- 2009  ----

OGC and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) formed joint working groups for the development, application, and promotion of standards and best practices for content, metadata, and exchange of meteorological, climatological, oceanographic and hydrologic data for the benefit of the worldwide scientific and operational communities of meteorologists and hydrologists.

OGC and the International Environmental Modelling & Software Society (iEMSs) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate in standards development to promote the use of interoperable Web based geospatial technologies in environmental modeling and software tools.

The European Space Agency (ESA) implemented OGC’s geospatial interoperability standards in interfaces and encodings that are essential parts of the Heterogeneous Mission Accessibility (HMA) initiative. HMA is ESA's interoperability framework for coordinated data discovery and access set-up in collaboration with European and Canadian Space Agencies. HMA will be exploited within the Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security activity (GMES) to ensure interoperability among some 40 different Earth Observation satellite missions.

OGC and the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization (MISMO) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

The India Forum of the OGC was chartered to provide government, academic, research and industry organizations in India with opportunities to learn about and discuss issues related to interoperability of geographic information involving OGC standards.

The OGC and the Open Standards Consortium for Real Estate (OSCRE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate in standards development and to enable and promote the use of Web based geospatial technologies in real estate commerce and real property management.

Dr. Carl Reed, CTO and Executive Director of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Standards Program, was inducted into the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) GIS Hall of Fame.

OGC members at the end of 2009: 390.

---- 2010 ----

OGC began its GovFuture membership program to help local and subnational governments benefit from OGC standards and OGC networking.

A book, SANY - an open service architecture for sensor networks, became available for free at http://sany-ip.eu/publications/3317. The book provides an introduction to OGC’s Sensor Web Enablement (SWE) standards. SANY (“Sensors Anywhere”) is a major Integrated Project in the Sixth Framework Programme of the European Commission.

The OGC formed an Aviation Domain Working Group (DWG) to support the evaluation, advancement, operational use and validation of OGC standards within the Aviation domain. A key market driver for forming the Aviation DWG was that EUROCONTROL and the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) have System Wide Information Management (SWIM) initiatives under development that will result in a unified net-centric information environment. This information environment will make it possible for pilots, air traffic controllers and other aviation stakeholders to get information from multiple Web services and from linked Web services that communicate with each other. Aircraft location and route information, weather information, and most other kinds of aviation-related information include geospatial data, so these aviation authorities have included OGC’s geospatial interface and encoding standards in their shared standards platform.

The OGC issued a Request for Quotations/Call for Participation (RFQ/CFP) to solicit proposals in response to requirements for the Special Activity Airspace (SAA) Dissemination Pilot, sponsored by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The OGC Hydrology Domain Working Group launched the Surface Water Interoperability Experiment (IE) to advance the development of WaterML 2.0 and test its use with various OGC service standards.

The OGC issued a Request for Information (RFI) to solicit industry input into the second phase of a Fusion Standards Study. Phase 2 of the study focuses on Decision Fusion, which provides analysts an environment of interoperable services for situation assessment, impact assessment and decision support, based on information from multiple sensors and databases, e.g., multi-INT sources.

The US Federal Geographic Data Committee (http://www.fgdc.gov) (FGDC) Steering Committee has officially endorsed a group of OGC standards along with other standards developed externally to FGDC.  These standards play an important role in enabling interoperability as part of the Geospatial Platform for GeoOneStop, place-based initiatives, and other programs of the FGDC.

OGC members at the end of 2010: 414.

---- 2011 ----

GPC Global Information Solutions (GPC GIS) joined the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) to help drive open standards in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

The OGC and EuroGeographics signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to promote interoperability through open standards.  They will promote compatible, standards-based Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI) from the local to global level to support a broad range of European stakeholders responding to Europe's INSPIRE Directive.

The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) approved the OGC Web Feature Service (WFS) Interface standard as an International Standard. The ballot was in parallel with the Comité Européen de Normalisation (CEN), a major provider of European technical standards. CEN/TC 287, the CEN committee working closely with ISO/TC211, has adopted many of the International Standards developed by ISO/TC 211 and also those that result from the ISO/TC211 committee’s joint work with the OGC.

Number of European members exceeded number of North American members for the first time.

The first ever OGC 3DIM Award was given to the 3D Pilot NL, a network of over 65 private, public and scientific organizations who collaborated to push 3D developments in the Netherlands.

The OGC and Special Interest Group (SIG) 3D signed a Memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperate in standards development and promotion of standards for the exchange and visualization of 3D geospatial content using Web-based technologies. SIG 3D members defined the first version of CityGML (http://www.citygml.org) and in 2005 submitted CityGML as a candidate standard into the OGC standards process.

The OGC and the OpenMI Association announced signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperate in standards development and promotion of open standards related to computer modelling. They will facilitate advancement of OpenMI 2.0 as an open international consensus standard under the OGC process framework.

OGC membership exceeded 400 for the first time.

OGC members at the end of 2011: 438.

---- 2012 ----

The U.A.E. Ministry of the Interior, represented by Abu Dhabi Police GIS Center for Security, became a Principal Member of the OGC to chair a new international OGC Law Enforcement and Public Safety Working Group.

The OGC became an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecommunications Standardization Sector (ITU-T) Member, following the decision of the ITU Council 2012.

OGC members adopted a contributed standard, the OGC PUCK Protocol Standard, which defines a standard instrument protocol to retrieve metadata and other information from a sensor device itself.

A consortium that includes the OGC and OGC members was accepted as an Associate Partner of the Single European Sky ATM Research programme (SESAR Joint Undertaking).  This consortium, called Modeling Support with standards for Information and Architecture models applied to Aviation (MOSIA), plays a substantial role in the development of the technology architecture for the Single European Sky (SES), a next-generation air traffic control infrastructure in Europe.

The OGC Nordic Forum was chartered to provide government, academic, research and industry organizations in the Nordic region (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland) with opportunities to learn about and discuss issues related to interoperability of geographic information involving OGC standards.

David Schell, founder of the OGC, was at the top of the list of recipients of geospatial leadership awards at the Geospatial World Forum 2012, held 23-27 April in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Forum organizers focused on his role in transforming the geospatial industry through a consensus standards process. In addition to Geospatial World Forum's Lifetime Achievement Award, he has received the CIO Magazine's "CIO 20/20 Vision Award", the 2011 Esri "Making a Difference” award, and GeoTec Media's 2007 Visionary Achievement Award.

United Nations Geographic Information Working Group became a Principal Member of the Open Geospatial Consortium.

The OGC completed 3D Portrayal Interoperability Experiment.

The OGC membership adopted the WaterML 2.0 Hydrologic Time Series Encoding Standard.

OGC members at the end of 2012: 483.

---- 2013 ----

buildingSMART International (bSI) and the OGC renewed a formal agreement to work together to resolve interoperability issues among technologies and information applied to address the built environment and broader geographic landscape.

The OGC's Call for Participation (CFP) in the 6th annual phase of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) Architecture Implementation Pilot (AIP-6) aims to increase the use of GEOSS resources by end-users, such as farmers and urban planners.

A framework for an OGC Energy Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) Test Bed was introduced within the OGC Energy and Utilities Domain Working Group. The proposed testbed addresses the need for best practices for systematically integrating distributed location resources, whether for community energy planning, Integrated Community Energy Solutions (ICES), demand conservation or Smart Grid programs.  

The OGC issued a Request for Quotations/Call for Participation (RFQ/CFP) in response to requirements for the OGC Geo4NIEM Project. The Geo4NIEM Initiative will result in recommendations to enhance the geospatial capabilities within the US National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) related to specific Information Exchange Packages (IEPs) from Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Justice/Law Enforcement domain, and the Maritime domain.  The OGC also issued a CFP in the OGC MilOps Geospatial Interoperability Experiment (MOGIE), focused on the Command and Control (C2) Core (https://c2core.gtri.org), an emerging data exchange capability within Department of Defense. C2 Core, which is largely aligned with NIEM technical standards, will be used as the foundation for developing a Military Operations (MilOps) Domain in NIEM. 

The OWS-9 Testbed Demonstration and Exhibition showed important progress made in this 2012 activity focused on aviation, Cross-Community Interoperability, Security and Services Interoperability, and OWS innovations. OWS-9 sponsorship totaled $2.65 million USD and attracted an in-kind contribution of more than $5 million. Ten OWS-9 sponsors from the US, Canada and Europe shared the costs and contributed the requirements.

The Australian Cooperative Research Center for Spatial Information (CRCSI) joined forces with the OGC through the signing of a memorandum of understanding to support CRCSI’s Spatial Infrastructures research program focused on the next generation of spatial infrastructure in Australia and New Zealand.

Today: Over the last 18 years, OGC service interface standards and encoding standards have enabled a geospatial technology revolution. Web services communicating through open service interfaces are transforming the business models of providers of geospatial products, services and data, and the work environments of geospatial technology users. GPS, hi-resolution aerial and satellite-borne imaging devices, location-tagged sensor feeds, cell phone location technologies and RFID are creating new torrents of geospatial data. OGC service interface standards provide the framework for communicating and managing this data.


OGC Standards: Year of First Approval

(This is a work in progress. See our Standards page for a complete list of OGC standards.)

OpenGIS Location Services (OpenLS) Specification
OpenGIS Web Map Context Interface Specification
OpenGIS Web Feature Service Specification
OpenGIS Geography Markup Language Specification (GML 2.1)
OpenGIS Styled Layer Descriptor Implementation Specification
OpenGIS Coordinate Transformation Services Specification
OpenGIS Web Map Service Specification
OpenGIS Grid Coverages Specification
OpenGIS Catalog Service Interface Specification
OpenGIS Simple Features Specification