Geospatial information is a cross-cutting requirement critical to many different domains. Therefore the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) has entered into alliances with standards organizations in many different sectors from buildings to transportation to utilities and real estate. Many of these organizations collaborate with the OGC on standards development, particularly when an interoperability solution depends on consistency between standards from different standards development organizations.
The OGC collaborates with over twenty different standards organizations including the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Open Mobile Alliance (OMA), International Augmented Reality Standards Coordination group, IEEE Technical Committee 9 (Sensor Web), Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), ISO Technical Committee 211 (ISO TC/211) - Geographic information/Geomatics, National Institute for Building Standards (NIBS), Organization for Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), buildingSMART alliance, and World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to name just a few.
Standards for the Internet of Things
As an example, the OGC and International Telecommunications Union Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) are jointly collaborating on the advancement of standards for the Internet of Things (IoT). As part of this effort the OGC has submitted the OGC Open GeoSMS standard for adoption through the ITU. In addition the ITU-T has just published a ITU-T Technology Watch Report: Location matters: Spatial standards for the Internet of Things, written by staff and members of the OGC in collaboration with the ITU Secretariat. The objective of the ITU-T Technology Watch publications are to survey the ICT landscape to capture new topics for standardization activities. The objective of this report is to help stakeholders understand spatial standards for Social-Local-Mobile markets and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Wireless mobile devices are not only consumers of data; but are also producers of data. Different kinds of data such as text, imagery, video, and spatial data require different sets of standards. The Pew Research Center’s “Internet & American Life Project” reported that by February 2012 74% of smartphone owners were using their devices to get directions and other location-related information. And this seems to be increasing. A previous survey in May 2011, found that 55% were using their phones for location-related infirmation. Today all new smartphones are location-enabled with built-in GPS chips.
Location-enabled applications are being used in many sectors including transportation, emergency response, disaster management, environmental sampling, meteorological and oceanographic research, municipal and utility maintenance operations, and location marketing.
Spatial standards enable interoperability through the exchange of spatial data between software systems. The spatial standards community is concerned with the consistent encoding of location data and the use of well-defined, consistent service interfaces for finding, accessing and invoking spatial and associated data.
Communicating simple latitude-longitude coordinates requires a standard. The point data type of the Geography Markup Language (GML) or the coordinate parameter of Open GeoSMS, is a standard that has been submitted to ITU for adoption as an ITU-T Recommendation. There are many Earth coordinate reference systems or projections (CRS) in use today, so specification of the CRS is critical. GML is a joint OGC/ISO standard that defines an XML grammar for encoding and transporting geospatial content including coordinate system. GML is vendor and technology neutral and is designed so that any kind of geospatial information can be encoded. The standard enables cities and countries to provide vendor-neutral public access to data about elevation, water bodies, transportation infrastructure, population density, land cover, vegetation, geology and other data layers that comprise spatial data infrastructure. GML is embedded in international encoding standards for domains such as weather, aviation, hydrology, geology, augmented reality, and emergency response.
Geospatial standards must meet interoperability requirements beyond defining a standard way to express a lat-long coordinate. Standards define and provide consistent ways to exchange and process Earth referenced data that may be encoded using grid cells, vectors, polygons or other methods of representing Earth features. Interoperability is essential because in today's web environment these operations are more commonly performed on distributed systems than in a GIS running on a single computer.
While GML and related standards give smartphone app developers access to geospatial resources that enable interoperability, critical gaps remain.
While outdoor location systems are well defined and widely used, the same is not true for indoor navigation.. Users expect a seamless transition when entering a building, but this is not currently possible. There is no single technology that provides for uniform coverage of positioning information indoors.
Things in the Internet of Things all have location and many of these things are inside buildings. The location of a sensing device such as a digital thermometer in a building is highly relevant to applications that use data from that sensor. Access to accurate information about buildings including the location of sensors is becoming increasingly important. Building Information (BIM)-based standards are needed to provide building information, such as the location of devices, throughout a building’s lifecycle.
BIM standards and other built environment standards also require open standards for communicating information about spatial data provenance and rights of ownership and access. Data provenance involves tracking not only rights and the lineage of data through many operations, but also information about uncertainty and quality.
Systems for design (BIM, CAD and Civil Engineering software) and systems for observation and management (sensors, imaging and geospatial processing) were created by different professional communities to solve different kinds of problems. Despite these differences, progress toward interoperation is accelerating as the concept of intelligent citiesi becomes more compelling for both government and business.
Spatial standards affect many sectors
Spatial standards enable people to communicate about features and phenomena that have a particular location on the Earth. Open spatial standards offer extraordinary socio-economic value, and evidence of this can be found in several application domains including emergency and disaster management and response, smart Infrastructure for transportation; public works; electricity, natural gas, water and sewage utilities where there is pressure to become more efficient and to address issues such as fossil fuel depletion, water shortages, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the sanitation needs of growing cities.
Surveying/civil/geospatial interoperability is part of a longstanding set of challenges that includes BIM interoperability and 3D modeling interoperability. The OGC CityGML Encoding Standard for 3D modeling provides a foundational part of the solution. The Netherlands has made CityGML-encoded 3D data a key part of their National Spatial Data Infrastructure. One major BIM standards effort is the conversion of buildingSMART International's Industry Foundation Classes to service interfaces and encodings that are consistent with CityGML and with service-oriented computing in general. Standards organizations working on intelligent cities and smart infrastructure need to consider open spatial standards to enable interoperability between the many different domains comprising modern cities.
The OGC has been working with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) since mid-2009 to improve water management by improving the discoverability, accessibility and usability of water information. Part of this effort is WaterML 2.0, a standard for encoding water observation time series enables linking local, regional, national and global water information sources into connected water information networks.
Spatial standards efforts underway
The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) contributed its Open GeoSMS specification to the OGC in 2009. Open GeoSMS facilitates the communication of location content in Short Message Service (SMS) transmissions. SMS is a feature in every mobile phone; all mobile phones therefore have the potential to communicate location information in a standard way.
Augmented Reality (AR)
AR allows the user to see the real world with virtual objects superimposed upon or composited with the real world. Kocation based services used with smartphones and other types of mobile technology are a major driving force behind AR’s entering the mainstream. To further development of AR standards in 2010 the OGC became an active participant in an International Augmented Reality Standards Coordination group.
Indoor location is getting a lot of attention primarily because of the commercial opportunities it enables. Beyond locating a mobile device in an indoor environment, the indoor environment presents a number of standardization challenges, such as how navigation directions are supplied (take the elevator to the 3rd floor and turn right); semantics (my first floor is not your first floor); special zones (heating, security, Wi-Fi, etc.); and the lack of a standard for modeling and encoding floor plans. In addition, indoor navigation must necessarily be 3D. The objective of the OGC's IndoorGML initiative is to enable the representation and exchange of the geo-information required to build and operate indoor navigation systems.
Sensor Interface for Internet of Things
The OGC has recongnized the growing importance of the IoT for some time. In 2001 the OGC took on the task of standardizing sensor communication because every sensor has a location, whether in situ (such as a rain gauge) or remote (such as an Earth imaging device), and the location of a sensor is highly significant for many applications. The resulting suite of SWE standards – now being implemented worldwide – enables developers to make networked sensors, transducers and sensor-data repositories discoverable, accessible and useable via the Web or other networks. The OGC created a standards working group (SWG) for a “Sensor Interface for IoT/WoT”. The scope of work for this SWG is to develop a candidate standard for access to sensors in an IoT/WoT environment.