[OSGeo-Standards] What are you doing with open spatial standards?

Bruce Bannerman bruce.bannerman.osgeo at gmail.com
Wed Sep 1 18:41:48 PDT 2021

I’ll start off.

I first became aware of the potential for open spatial standards in the late 1990’s when I saw the collaboration in the OGC led Mapping Interoperability project that in turn spawned the WMS standard.

I have always worked in an environment where I needed to share data with others, be that within the mining industry, environmental monitoring, Defence, government services, research and most notably with Climate Information. It didn’t matter if I was working in Private Enterprise, Government or Consultancies, the need is the same.

Over time, the demands for interoperability have only increased in importance and in technical challenge. The need to be able to work with Terrabytes of disparate climate data from many organisations to help understand and mitigate a global issue is an excellent example.

When each organisation is only thinking about their own internal needs, use vastly different technical approaches and store their data in vastly different data structures with different semantic concepts for data that is supposed to be the same phenomena, interoperability may seem to be an unachievable dream.

However, it is achievable and we as an industry have been progressing towards this goal. See what has been done with Hydrology data since the development of the WaterML 2 suite of standards as a case in point. I suspect that Rob Atkinson may expand on this point.

I started actively working with open spatial standards over 16 years ago as an IT Architect. Having come from organisations that were trapped in a "vendor lock-in” situation, I saw that open spatial standards would provide a way of escaping that trap. By adjusting our ‘user requirements' to ensure that they mandated the use of open spatial standards, we would have a route out of our trap.  The fact that the best open spatial standards software was also open source ;-) lead me to the OSGeo Community.

I started small using standards such as WMS and WFS and eventually towards the goal of semantic interoperability with geoscience, hydrology and climate data.

As a manager, I looked after a team that facilitated very effective spatial services that were underpinned by both open spatial standards and open source spatial software. This was for one of Australia’s most popular websites. In my opinion, the combination is unbeatable.

So I know that open spatial standards work!

So over the last 15+ years, I have been actively collaborating with people from many countries, industries and organisations to further the goal of interoperability using open spatial standards. Some examples:

In 2008/2009 while a member of the FOSS4G-2009 LOC, I initiated and found sponsorship for what came to be known as Climate Challenge Interoperability Plugfest - 2009 (CCIP-2009) [1]. This CCIP-2009 collaboration was facilitated very effectively by the OGC within the OGC Community. See [2] for an overview video. We proved conclusively that Climate Data could effectively use open spatial standards.

I was a member of the OGC Technical Committee for many years and have participated in many standards and working groups. I also voted on my organisations’ behalf on a number of standards and issues.

I participated in one ISO TC211 Technical Committee meeting when it was held in Australia about 10 years ago. We were preparing the ISO 19115 metadata standard at the time.

I was a member of the joint W3C/OGC working group that developed the Spatial Data on the Web Best Practices [3].

I have been a member, or Co-Chair of a number of the World Meteorology Organisation expert teams and ensured that the use of open spatial standards was embedded in Climate Data and Climate Services requirements. WMO also has an MOU with OGC.

So my experience is that collaboration on the development of open spatial standards works and is personally rewarding. By working together, we can improve things!

I expect that open source community members will feel at home within various standards working groups.

I look forward to reading about your experiences.

Kind regards,


[1] https://external.ogc.org/twiki_public/ClimateChallenge2009/ScenarioAusBOM <https://external.ogc.org/twiki_public/ClimateChallenge2009/ScenarioAusBOM>

[2] http://portal.opengeospatial.org/files/?artifact_id=36463 <http://portal.opengeospatial.org/files/?artifact_id=36463> 

[3] https://www.w3.org/TR/sdw-bp/ <https://www.w3.org/TR/sdw-bp/> 

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