Wayland, MA, USA, June 20, 2002 – The Open GIS Consortium, Inc. (OGC) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, New York, have signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at advancing the global information infrastructure and supporting multidisciplinary research in the Earth sciences and sustainability.OGC and the Earth Institute will work together to develop a Columbia-OGC Interoperability Laboratory, which will become a node on the OGC Network and provide a neutral, controlled framework for collaborative interoperability testing, training, demonstrations and development for the benefit of scientists and OGC members. Other areas designated for potential exploration include Earth and environmental data management and dissemination. To kick off the new relationship the Earth Institute hosted OGC's Technical and Planning Committee Meetings earlier this year at Columbia. The Earth Institute has previously participated in OGC activities to address geoprocessing interoperability issues and was involved in the Web Services Initiative, which focused on post-September 11 emergency response issues in conjunction with agencies of both the federal government and the City of New York. It is also involved in the Geospatial Information for Sustainable Development (GISD) initiative currently underway in preparation for the September 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa.David Schell, OGC President believes that Columbia University's work complements that of OGC. “The Earth Institute is a major center for linking new understandings of Earth, derived from the physical sciences, to research on natural ecological and human systems and the policy process. OGC's promotion of interoperability focuses increasingly on collaborating communities and institutional interactions. Because the Institute is an important catalyst for collaboration and change in the US and international research communities, its participation in OGC makes sense for both organizations, with benefits ultimately accruing to a very broad set of stakeholders.”John Mutter, Associate Vice Provost, Columbia University, said, “The Earth Institute brings together a unique suite of scientific research in climate science, hazards and risk research, human dimensions of global change, biodiversity, Earth engineering, and Earth and environmental policy that provides a real world opportunity to explore the scientific benefits of interoperability. We anticipate that this collaboration with the OpenGIS Consortium will bring concrete benefits to both science and society.”OGC is an international industry consortium of more than 230 companies, government agencies and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available interface specifications. OpenGIS® Specifications support interoperable solutions that “geo-enable” the Web, wireless and location-based services, and mainstream IT. The specifications empower technology developers to make complex spatial information and services accessible and useful with all kinds of applications. Visit the OGC website at www.opengeospatial.org .Since its inception in 1996, the Earth Institute at Columbia University has been a leader in understanding Earth processes to enhance sustainability through the teaching, research and application of Earth systems science to benefit society. For more information, visit www.earth.columbia.edu .– end –“