Thursday 27 June 2013

Open Geospatial Consortium - Reloaded

One of the valuable qualities I've observed of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) during the past decade, is the extent to which they embrace feedback and constructive criticism and search out innovated ways to improve themselves. We are currently seeing another example of this following heated debate which resulted in the withdrawal of the "GeoServices REST API" as a proposed standard. The debate highlighted divided opinions around the primary purposes of standards, what should constitute a standard, and whether OGC and sponsors should be placing a greater emphasis on quality over quantity.
This has been the first time that there has been so much contention around a proposed standard, and I'd argue that it is an indication that the OGC has reached a threshold moment. Spatial Data Infrastructures around the world have been moving from pilots and non-core systems into central mission critical infrastructure. This in turn has impacted government policy, business models, and requirements of OGC standards.
In response, the OGC has reached out to OGC membership to help re-define the OGC. Mark Reichardt , President and CEO of the OGC, called on OGC membership to help redefine and strengthen the OGC:
... I have asked Geoff Zeiss and Jack Pellicci from our board to join me in establishing a leadership group to solicit your ideas and concerns, and to produce a slate of recommendations for action within 90 days. If you have an interest in working with us as part of this group to represent the interests of the OGC membership please contact me as soon as possible. An online forum will also be created to provide an open and accessible environment for members and the public to participate. We will be setting up a series of online meetings in the coming weeks, with a first meeting scheduled on 2 July for OGC members only. Registration details can be found here. A meeting open to the public will be scheduled for 11 July with several follow-up sessions for members and the public planned for late July and early September. We’ve also set up a wiki and email address to receive your feedback. My commitment is to have resulting recommendations brought to OGC membership, staff and the OGC Board of Directors for action as part of our upcoming September TC/PC meetings in Frascati, Italy. ...
So what should be on the OGC agenda? I suggest:
  • Consider redirecting OGC sponsorship to provide a greater emphasis on Quality over Quantity. In particular, improve criteria for understandability through better documentation, improve testing frameworks, ensure robust implementations are in place before declaring a standard production ready.
  • As governments around the world start embracing Open Government principles, they will find they need to take greater responsibility for protecting the principles of Open Government, and be empowered and confident enough to write something like this statement, and help take a leadership role within the OGC.
  • Revisit the definition of an Open Standard, and ensure it meets the goals of SDI champions (primarily governments).

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