Posted in OGC News, March 2009, as This Month's Staff Message -- It's a bit dated now, but reflects some of the history of geosciences' growing influence in OGC...
Today's global need to mitigate and prepare for climate change adds urgency to the longstanding need for hydrologists, oceanographers, meteorologists and climatologists to share information. The physical interconnectedness of large-scale natural phenomena—such as the water cycle and weather—demands that scientists be able to easily share data and processing resources.
Researchers in many of the sciences that use geoprocessing are using OGC standards, but the current versions of these standards are not always adequate in terms of handling the complex data types required. Meteorologists, for example, want to extend OGC's Web Mapping Service and Web Coverage Service interface standards to better support meteorologists' weather analysis and forecasting software and data products.
To support such domain-specific needs, OGC members who have had success in harmonizing OGC standards with netCDF (a key standard for scientific data arrays such as those used by the meteorology community) and WaterML (an XML schema serving the hydrology community) will be launching a Meteorology Working Group (WG) and a Hydrology WG at the OGC's Athens meetings in April. The OGC already has the Earth Systems Sciences WG serving as the nexus for coordinating and integrating requirements, specifications and best practices across various existing Working Groups.
OGC is also establishing a relationship with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The WMO (originally the International Meteorological Organization, founded in 1873) was chartered in 1951 as a specialized agency of the United Nations to serve the world community's need to share weather information to support global weather forecasting. The WMO has departments and commissions devoted to meteorology, hydrology, and oceans, and thus it has a natural interest in working to help these communities share information. The WMO has a membership of 188 Member States and Territories. Both the WMO and the OGC are closely associated with ISO, so once the two organizations have member approval of standards, those standards will very likely gain ISO approval.
The new WGs and the relationship with WMO are closely tied to past, present, and future initiatives in the OGC Interoperability Program (IP). The IP provides organizational structure and processes to conduct rapid development projects such as the ongoing Oceans IE (Ocean Science Interoperability Experiment http://www.opengeospatial.org/projects/initiatives/oceansieii), and the GALEON IE (Geo-interface for Atmosphere, Land, Earth, and Ocean netCDF Interoperability Experiment, see http://www.opengeospatial.org/projects/initiatives/galeonie). Possible initiatives under discussion include another Interoperability Experiment to adapt the WMS specification to better support weather analysis and forecasting products and a Europe-wide OGC Pilot Study to develop a service-oriented architecture for collecting and aggregating water quality information across 39 EU member states.
At the direction of the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) Architecture and Data Committee (ADC), George Percivall, OGC Chief Architect, leads the development of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS, see http://www.earthobservations.org) Architecture Implementation Pilot (AIP), now in its second year. The upcoming third phase of the AIP is likely to have a strong focus on water availability and quality.
OGC members use the OGC consensus framework to develop and promote standards and best practices that are domain and content neutral as well as extensions to existing standards and best practices that are tailored for very specific domains, such as hydrology. The work being done in the OGC by the water, oceans, or meteorological communities is immediately accessible to all OGC members and often to non-members. By providing an environment in which parallel standards activities proceed under one roof, the OGC helps interacting communities develop efficient means of technical coordination and many opportunities to share costs and reduce the cost of software development and acquisition. I can think of no public/private partnership that offers Science a better bargain.
-- David Arctur
Director, Interoperability Programs