Marine DWG


Laughlin, Glenn (Pelagis Data Solutions) - Co-Chair,
Ponce, Rafael (Esri) - Co-Chair,
Pritchard, Jonathan (IIC Technologies Limited) - Co-Chair,
Wong, Gerald J (United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO)) - Co-Chair

Group Charter:

Download Charter document

Group Description:


This Domain Working Group charter defines the role for OGC activities within the marine geospatial community to provide an open forum for the discussion and presentation of interoperability requirements, use cases, pilots, and implementations of OGC standards in this domain. This Charter is to be presented to the OGC’s Technical and Planning Committees for consideration.

Domains are distinct Information Communities that define a user domain where:

·       A distinct market, application or business approach exists;

·       Common data definition, structure, syntax, and definitions exists;

·       Common user requirements exist; and

·       Common approach to vendors exists.


Working Group

Operation of OGC Domain Working Group follows the policies and procedures of the Technical Committee (TC). The group is by open to all organizations. Interested Parties are encouraged to subscribe to the public listserve at this link:


Purpose of this Working Group

This charter represents an acknowledgment of the gap in the current OGC baseline regarding marine geospatial data (with an emphasis on hydrography and ocean mapping) to support smart exchange methods required for interoperability with organizations such as the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) and its related data standards.  This working group is motivated by the widening use of marine data for purposes other than safe navigation, which can be captured loosely under the term Marine Spatial Data Infrastructure (MSDI). 

The DWG will also ensure that the evolving IHO standards (e.g. S-100) are brought to the attention of the OGC members and the evolving OGC standards are brought to the attention of IHO members in an effort to ensure best practices are being used and the latest technical approaches considered. Based on these considerations, this charter defines the OGC Marine Domain Working Group (DWG).

The DWG will work closely with the IHO MSDI Working Group and potentially its adjacent groups/commissions/committees under the IHO Inter-regional Coordination Committee and the IHO Hydrographic Services and Standards Committee and other related organizations.


Problem Statement

Geospatial data in the marine domain has been successfully standardized for navigational purposes by hydrographic agencies for many years. This has allowed mariners to safely navigate oceans, ports and waterways anywhere on earth. The core data that support this activity is now in demand for a much wider range of applications (e.g., environmental protection, emergency response, offshore energy and fisheries) and as such interoperability of this data is more important than ever before.

Chart data modelled in S-57 or S-101 or Int1 is a major source of information but does not lend itself automatically for wider use due to specific portrayal and attribution characteristics and lack of standard metadata. The methods and processes for extracting content from this kind of data for wider use requires investigation.

High resolution bathymetric grids and points clouds, and seafloor sediment mosaics are captured by the IHO S-102 product specification for coverage data, but may require further standardization to be interoperable with the broader geospatial community. This is further amplified with the increasing popularity of capturing water column data, HD camera mosaics of seafloor infrastructure and also the appearance of new data structures for modelling bathymetry called variable resolution grids.

The offshore oil and gas community are utilizing the IOGP Seafloor Survey Data Model increasingly. This model has a GML schema for exchange called SeabedML. In order to support a concept of “collect once use many times” it is important to understand how data can be used effectively by the Oil and Gas industry and the Hydrographic Offices and the wider community.

In addition, data volumes are increasing as more sophisticated marine sensors are being used (e.g., sonar, bathymetric LIDAR, and laser scanners). More data sources are also being exploited (e.g., survey vessels, unmanned drones (AUVs, USVs), satellite derived measurements, crowd sourced observations). To cope with the increasing data volumes and sources research is required into efficient and standardized sensor processing and management techniques.



The Marine DWG is being established to address the gap in the OGC baseline with regards to marine geospatial data and to ensure knowledge is exchanged effectively between the relevant standards organizations, the OGC membership and the broader geospatial community. Although this group will not be the platform for creating new standards, it will be the platform to discuss and understand any issues, concerns, or barriers to interoperability to ensure that marine data can be used effectively by the wider community.

Membership will be open to those with an interest in the marine geospatial data community. Active membership is defined by regular member contributions of material or participation in Marine DWG meetings and discussion.


Key Activities

The Marine DWG is being established to address interoperability challenges with marine geospatial data. This group will facilitate discussion of the requirements that define different exchange methods and formats to ensure that data used for navigation can also be used within the broader realm of MSDI for non-navigational purposes.  Specifically, the Marine DWG will pursue the following activities.

1.     Discuss the content of a conceptual model for a MSDI.

2.     Discuss the types of OGC services that might be useful in providing hydrographic and seafloor survey data e.g. chart features, high resolution bathymetric coverages through standardized interfaces.

3.     Define any areas for standardization and create necessary Standards Working Groups to address the gaps in the OGC, IHO and IOGP standards baseline.

4.     Explore the potential for an interoperability pilots and testbeds that help define the workflows for ensuring that marine geospatial data can be used for purposes other than navigation. This will include identifying potential sponsors.

5.     Determine the Big Data potential for marine data and identify relevant standardized interfaces and experiment with testbeds.

6.     Consider proposed activities for the DWG expressed at the Maritime ad hoc meetings held at the 2016 OGC Technical Committee Meetings in Washington, DC and Dublin.


Business Case

Two thirds of the earth is ocean, it is the source of our food, energy, it governs our climate, it is the main method for transporting goods around the world, yet only 5% of it has been mapped and charted at high resolution. In order to increase this meager coverage, it is important to reach a broader group of stakeholders, as it is unlikely that this percentage will increase dramatically purely for the purpose of safe navigation. By considering the wider use cases we increase the potential for additional sources of funding for this important survey work. To dramatically increase this coverage will require much technological advancement in order to create force multipliers around data collection sensors and devices, new processing and production techniques.

It is critical that the data collected in increasing volumes by an increasing number of data sources can be used effectively and in a standardized way by a much wider group of stakeholders to support a Blue Economy.


Organizational Approach and Scope of Work


Marine DWG Business Goals

The Marine DWG has the following goals.

1.     Understand implementation barriers for the broader use of marine geospatial data and document them in a way that can guide future project work.

2.     Identify interfaces and information encodings that complement the existing OGC, IHO and IOGP standards, but are tailored to the requirements for MSDI.

3.     Promote the development of OGC best practices and standards to meet the MSDI needs and objectives.

4.     Identify use cases where efforts to streamline data transfer and exchange requirements result in a net gain for the community by broadening the usefulness of marine geospatial data.

5.     Monitor the practices of domains and DWGs with similar objectives and problem sets, and recognize potential for sharing and collaboration between domains and DWGs.

6.     Define the supporting infrastructure for the community to achieve these goals.


Marine DWG: Mission and Role

The Marine DWG will concern itself with technology issues related to marine geospatial data so that it can be used effectively for more than safe navigation and the means by which those issues are appropriately factored into the OGC standards development process.

1.     The mission of the Marine DWG is to broaden the use of marine data through the understanding of the interoperability-related requirements for relevant use cases.

2.     The role of the Marine DWG is to serve as a forum within OGC for marine data issues; to present, refine and focus interoperability-related issues to the Technical Committee; and to serve where appropriate as a liaison to other industry, government, independent, research, and standards organizations active within the marine domain.


Activities planned for the Marine DWG

The Marine DWG will address interoperability challenges with marine geospatial data to ensure that data used for navigation can also be used within the broader realm of MSDI for non-navigational purposes.  Progress in this domain will be achieved as follows.

1.     Serve as OGC TC focal point for complementary organizations that are working on MSDI best practices, such as the IHO MSDI Working Group.

2.     Discuss the content of a conceptual model for MSDI

3.     Research the requirements and processes needed to use S-57 and S-101 chart data for purposes other than safe navigation.

4.     Research the requirements and processes needed to use high resolution bathymetry data for purposes other than safe navigation.

5.     Explore the potential for an interoperability testbed to carry out these research activities and find sponsors and partners.

6.     Promote the development of OGC best practices and standards to meet the technical needs of MSDI.



1.     IHO S-100

2.     Terms of Reference IHO MSDI WG

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