Wayland, MA, USA, August 24, 1999: Maps and map queries will become a much more important part of the Web thanks to two key interoperability standards passed by members of the Open GIS Consortium (OGC) on August 13 in Southampton, England. The standards will make it much easier for businesses, citizens, and governments to find, view, pan, zoom, overlay, and query geographical images and maps on the Worldwide Web.The new OpenGIS Grid Coverages Specification and OpenGIS Distributed Catalog Services Specification, combined with the already available OpenGIS Simple Features Specification and technology from OGC's Web Mapping Testbed, provide means for unprecedented interoperability between systems that use geospatial data. In OGC, “Grid Coverages” refers to satellite images, digital aerial photos, digital elevation data, and other kinds of data represented in a grid cell or “raster” coordinate system. “Simple Features” refers to “vector” geodata, digital map information represented in polygons and lines. “Catalog Services” refers to a common architecture for online automated directories of geodata and geoprocessing services, rather like “spatial search engines.” Software conforming to these specifications will work with any other software that also conforms. In Southampton, Cadcorp (UK) was applauded for its demonstration of a client application accessing and manipulating grid coverage data from multiple vendors' servers by means of OpenGIS Specification conformant software interfaces on the client and servers.Bob Moses, President of PCI Geomatics (Canada), the software vendor that took the lead in developing the Grid Coverages specification, said, “The simple maps and Earth images you've seen on the web up until now don't really show what's ahead. Geospatial technologies are so specialized and hard to integrate that they haven't been part of most peoples' information environment. Now that's going to change. We are adding 'where' to the kinds of questions the web can answer.”David Schell, President of OGC, said, “Various vendors are already offering products that conform to the OpenGIS Simple Features Specification, and we anticipate that many more will soon be productizing interfaces conforming to all three released specifications. Knowledgeable buyers are demanding interoperable products, and end users will be amazed at the variety and value of the geographic information and services these products make available.”– end –“