OGC Spatial Law and Policy Committee (SLPC)

In 2009, the OGC Board of Directors chartered a committee of the board to specifically address "spatial law and policy issues" that will influence development requirements of the Consortium's technology process. The Spatial Law and Policy Committee (SLPC) is chaired by OGC director and Executive Committee member, Kevin Pomfret, and will be organized under board leadership as an educational forum to include both select member and community participation. (See Kevin Pomfret's blog.)

In the past, legal issues associated with spatial data and technology were primarily a concern for lawyers that worked with or for the government. Now, both public sector and private sector users and providers of geospatial data and technologies face a wide range of legal issues associated with growth in consumer and business applications for spatial technology. Such applications include Earth browsers, satellite navigation devices in cars and PDAs, location-based services associated with cell phones, business intelligence, social networking and satellite tracking of vehicles and equipment. All of these applications raise issues that involve intellectual property rights, liability, privacy, and national security. In many cases, the existing legal and policy framework is inadequate to provide governments, businesses and consumers clear guidance on these issues.

The OGC plays an expanding role in addressing society's increasing dependence on geospatial information services. The advent of information interoperability in this technology domain raises the profile of geospatial information for policy makers, managers and scientists around the world. Technical professionals are frequently confronted with spatial law and policy issues in various OGC forums, such as the OGC Data Preservation Domain Working Group, Data Quality Domain Working Group, Decision Support Domain Working Group, Geo Rights Management Domain Working Group, Mass Market Geo Domain Working Group and Workflow Domain Working Group, and these dialogs provide a useful requirements discovery function. The OGC board's creation of a Spatial Law and Policy Committee reflects the increasing need of leaders to understand the challenges they face in this area, and the board's commitment to meeting their related information requirements.

The SLPC provides an open forum for OGC members' legal and policy advisors to discuss the unique legal and policy issues associated with spatial data and technology. The Committee also works with relevant legal groups, such as the American Bar Association, to raise awareness of these issues within the broader legal community. The SLPC does not provide legal advice to the OGC or its Members and does not take a position on any legal or policy matter on behalf of the OGC or its membership. It rather focuses on clarification of the legal and policy environment of the Consortium and works to ensure that Consortium standards reflect related best practices and the societal requirements that shape institutional uptake of interoperable geoprocessing.