OGC Standards
OGC Standards

About the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) is an international industry consortium participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available interface standards. OGC(R) Standards support interoperable solutions that "geo-enable" the Web, wireless and location-based services and mainstream IT. The standards empower technology developers to make complex spatial information and services accessible and useful with all kinds of applications.

The OGC was founded with eight charter members at the time of its first Board of Directors meeting on September 25, 1994. From 1994 to 2011, the membership has grown to more than 430 government, academic, and private sector organizations. Traditional GIS vendors are involved, along with technology integrators, data providers, and companies at the cutting edge of location services.

Through its Standards Program, Interoperability Program, Compliance Program and Marketing and Communications Program, OGC develops, releases and promotes open standards for spatial processing. There are 4 regular meetings, called Technical Committee/Planning Committee Meeting, held around the world annually, where delegates of OGC members present their thoughts and discuss the development of OGC Standards.

Download a presentation and "What is the OGC?" video that describes the OGC organization, process and standards in greater detail.

Introduction to OGC Standards

OGC(R) standards are technical documents that detail interfaces or encodings. Software developers use these documents to build open interfaces and encodings into their products and services. Ideally, if two different software engineers implement their products or online services based on OGC Standards, the resulting components can plug and play, that is, they can interoperate together without problems.

OGC standards have been developed by the membership to address specific interoperability challenges, and are the main products of the Open Geospatial Consortium. However, all OGC standards are available to the public at no cost.

OGC standards are realized in the form of Implementation Standards, which can be found in OGC Implementation Standards List. All Schemas that support Implementation Standards can be found in OGC Schema Repository.

In order to help better understand and adopt OGC standards, OGC provides several supporting documents including the following:

1.          OGC Abstract Specification: it provides a conceptual model for the development of OGC Standards as well as the foundation for most OGC specification development activities.

2.          OGC Reference Model (ORM): it describes the relationships between the OGC standards, consisting of the OGC Abstract Specification and Implementation Standards as well as OGC Best Practices Documents, to be introduced next.

3.          Best Practices Documents: they contain discussion of best practices related to the use and/or implementation of OGC Standards and for release to the public. Schemas for some of these documents can be found at the Best Practices Schema Repository.

4.          Engineering Reports (ERs): they are a primary output of OGC Interoperability Program Initiatives which consist of testbeds, pilot projects and interoperability experiments. ERs represent consensus positions of the initiative participants and sponsors only, but do not represent the official position of the OGC nor of the Technical Committee.

5.          Discussion Papers: they present technology issues being considered in the working groups of the Technical Committee. Their purpose is to create discussion in the geospatial information industry on a specific topic. They do not represent the official position of the OGC nor of the Technical Committee.

6.          White Papers: they present technology issues of interest to OGC members. They are voted on by the membership to be approved for public release, but they do not represent official positions of the OGC nor of the Technical Committee.