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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

OGC geospatial technology issues to date

April 17th, 2013 by Susan Smith

 Interesting to know what the Open Geospatial Consortium has been discussing lately in the way of geospatial technology trends:

“All predictions are wrong, some are useful. Predictions of geospatial technology trends have been the topic of recent discussions by the OGC Board of Directors and the OGC Planning Committee. One of my roles as OGC Chief Engineer is to offer a slate of “ripe issues” as a basis of these discussions. This blog provides an overview of the ripe issues developed in March 2013 and explains how they were developed. Future blogs will discuss each issue individually.

The ripe issues of geospatial technology identified in March 2013 are:

  • The Power of Location
  • Internet of Things
  • Mobile Development
  • Indoor Frontier
  • Geographers of the future
  • Geospatial Processing
  • Smart Cities
  • Policy implementation

These issues were developed by reviewing over 200 recent articles from information technology journals from IEEE, ACM, etc. as well as from geospatial industry magazines and other publications. Geospatial World’s recent “Thought Leaders Edition” was particularly useful in identifying issues from a geospatial industry perspective.

Don’t Feel Bad if you Can’t Predict the Future,” in Communications of the ACM, September 2012, it anticipates value in technology predictions by reducing risks and missed opportunities. The ACM column cautions that if you are called on to make forecasts, do so with great humility. The ACM article identifies three approaches to making predictions: Revelation of current realities, Modeling and trend extrapolation and Scenarios of what the future might look like.  Based on the ACM article and other sources, each of the ripe issues is organized using a common outline:

  1. Revelation of current realities – overview of the issue
  2. Business Investments – trends and illustrative actions
  3. Technology Trends – trends and illustrative advancements
  4. Possible actions by the OGC

A quote routinely attributed to Yogi Berra, “It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future,”  is a wise caution. There are many many things that can invalidate the assumptions in our predictions (again see the ACM article for a good list).  And the future is becoming less predictable as it becomes more open.  The meaning of open – an official Google Blog defines open systems as having two components: open technology and open information, including open standards.  Open systems harness the intellect of the general population and spur businesses to compete, innovate, and win based on the merits of their products and not just the brilliance of their business tactics.

Open standards are a vital element of open systems.  The Ripe Issues of geospatial technology identify areas where further development of open standards can lead to great benefit.  OGC member expertise and energy collectively will advance open geospatial standards to these new areas.  In addition to focus areas for OGC standards development, the Ripe Issues serves as a basis for discussion with other groups, e.g., UNGGIM Future Trends*. The OGC is an international consortium where members participate in a consensus process to develop publicly available geospatial standards.

Next Ripe Issues Blog: The Power of Location

*UN-GGIM stands for the United Nations initiative on Global Geospatial Information Management. The document mentioned is ‘Future trends in geospatial information management’ where open standards obviously play a role:

–George Percival’s blog, Open Geospatial Consortium

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