NOAA becomes a principal member of Open Geospatial Consortium

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has upgraded its membership in the Open Geospatial Consortium Inc., (OGC) an international standards body that develops specifications for interoperable geospatial information systems.

The enhanced membership gives NOAA a seat on the OGC Planning Committee and allow the agency a greater voice in the development of standards and the overall focus of the organization.

“Within NOAA we have a lot of programs that deal with geospatial data,” said Ken McDonald, data management architect in NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service. “Our intent is that they be interoperable,” and a lot of agency programs have been using OGC specifications. “Seeing the success of OGC and the breadth of the interest across NOAA was the impetus for it.”

OGC membership includes more than 370 companies, government agencies, research organizations and universities developing OpenGIS standards to "geo-enable" the Web and other online applications. Standards allow developers to embed geospatial information in applications and to make services available across a variety of platforms.

In NOAA, the National Weather Service, National Ocean Service and National Marine Fisheries Service are developing GIS tools for using data being collected. The Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), for example, makes data available to a variety of tools and applications. IOOS is the U.S component of the Global Ocean Observing System, which gathers data to improve weather forecasting and climate predictions. Tools used or developed by IOOS include intensity modeling, tracking harmful algae blooms, mapping ecosystems and modeling coastal inundation.

NOAA has had a membership on the OGC Technical Committee. Moving to the Planning Committee will give the agency approval authority for OGC policies and procedures, as well as the development, release and adoption of OpenGIS Specifications.

“Plus, it elevates OGC awareness within the agency,” McDonald said. He called the upgraded OGC membership “a natural progression, by virtue of the utility of the specifications and the number of NOAA programs using them.”

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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