Wayland, MA, USA, June 28, 1999: The OpenGIS Consortium, Inc. (OGC) today issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for open interfaces that enable software to first discover the coordinate reference systems of geospatial data held in network-accessible systems and then to transform coordinates from one coordinate reference system to another. OGC seeks proposals that conform to CORBA, DCOM, SQL, or emerging internet standards such as JAVA. Details of the RFP are available at http://www.opengeospatial.org/info/techno/request.htm .

Currently, lack of a coordinate transformation interface standard prevents users, for example, from easily accessing on the web and then overlaying maps or earth images that have been created and referenced to the earth using different datums, ellipsoids, and units. Coordinate reference systems are complex and diverse, which is one of the reasons that geographic information systems (GIS) and earth imaging systems have required too much expertise to become part of mainstream computing.

OGC's OpenGIS Simple Features Specifications, issued last year, were the first step toward full integration of georeferenced data and sophisticated geoprocessing into general purpose information systems. The Simple Features specification contained only rudimentary coordinate reference system capabilities, to be extended by the pending OpenGIS Coordinate Reference System Specification. Subsequent OpenGIS Specifications will address catalog services (to enable “spatial search engines,” for example), image exploitation services (to enable interoperability between earth imaging systems), and other technology standards related to geoprocessing.

Two vendors, Oracle and ESRI, currently offer server products that have passed OpenGIS Simple Features Specification conformance tests. As client products become available and as the suite of OpenGIS Specifications addresses other geoprocessing interoperability issues, information systems of all kinds will get something they now lack: spatial capabilities. Such capabilities include: web sites that offer or find maps that overlay and combine easily; displays that show “where”; location-based queries (“Where is this near that?”); and internet-based car navigation away from traffic jams and toward location-referenced products and services.

OGC is a not for profit, open membership organization founded in 1994 to help providers of geoprocessing software achieve interoperability between their products. OGC's 184 members – vendors, integrators, government agencies, and universities – engage in an active, formal process to achieve that technical goal and to develop the world market for geospatial software, data, and services.– end —