Wayland, MA, USA, December 9, 2002 – The Open GIS Consortium, Inc. (OGC) announced today that it is offering new classes of associate membership for local, state and provincial governments. Government Agency State/Province and Government Agency Local/Other Associate Members are granted non-voting membership in OGC's Technical Committee and have access to all written and electronic Technical Committee communication. Membership benefits include the ability to participate in Technical Committee working groups and subcommittees as well as in OGC Interoperability Initiatives. See http://www.opengeospatial.org/info/membership.htm .For eight years, the world's geoprocessing technology providers and many research organizations, integrators and major IT firms have worked together in OGC with federal, national, provincial, state and local agencies to specify interfaces and schemas that enable interoperability among geoprocessing systems. Geoprocessing includes geographic information systems and systems for Earth imaging, facilities management, spatially enabled databases, mapping, navigation and location based services. Commercial products implementing interfaces based on OGC's OpenGIS® Specifications have become widely available in the marketplace over the past several years.The City and County of San Francisco recently joined OGC as a Local Government Associate Member. “Like many other local government organizations, San Francisco sees the need to work toward common technology specifications and standards, especially related to geospatial information. While we use GIS extensively in our day-to-day operations, service to our community and the public is our key priority. OGC's initiatives provide a great opportunity to develop corporate, intergovernmental, technical and staff resources to assist us in this endeavor. We are pleased to join OGC and look forward to working with all members to support OGC's initiatives.” explained Erich Seamon, GIS Manager for the City and County of San Francisco's Department of Telecommunications and Information Services.Two years ago, the German state of North Rhine Westphalia conceived and sponsored an OGC pilot project aimed at improved cross-governmental data sharing. Several other OGC initiatives have directly involved provincial, state and local governments. Neighboring local governments and cooperating national and federal agencies in Canada and the US are collaborating in OGC's new Critical Infrastructure Protection Initiative (CIPI). Other state, local, and provincial agencies are likely to join this initiative through OGC's recent Call for Communities ( http://ip.opengeospatial.org/cipi ).Mark Reichardt, Executive Director, OGC Outreach and Adoption Program, said, “Because many services delivered by government require cross-jurisdiction cooperation, agencies need to be able to seamlessly share and apply geographic information. Involvement in OGC helps our industry and academic members better understand government requirements and provides our government members with the tools to interact broadly with industry to get the most from their geospatial IT investment.”OGC is an international industry consortium of more than 230 companies, government agencies and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available geoprocessing specifications. OpenGIS® Specifications support interoperable solutions that “geo-enable” the Web and mainstream IT, and 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 .– end –“