Consortium for reaching out to the unreached

Consortium for reaching out to the unreached

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Hyderabad, India: The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) at Geospatial World Forum 2011 constituted the Global Advisory Council (GAC), a blue ribbon council to understand the issues of various regions in the utility of standards and to raise the awareness levels of the same.  The session was chaired by Dr Fraser Taylor, Distinguished Research Professor and President International Steering Committee for Global Mapping, USA.

Opening the seminar, Mark Reichardt, CEO – OGC said GAC conducted a survey to identify the issues of various users.  One aspect of the survey is to identify the means to reach out to the emerging and developing regions for communicating the value of SDI and geospatial information sharing. Reporting the results of the survey, Mark pointed out that language is a huge barrier. The survey also indicated the extensive use of industry events and publications for outreach purposes.

Business Value Committee was constituted to find the right people to participate in GAC activities above and beyond technical people. It pointed out the need to have outreach activities tailored to specific regional and national requirements, which vary widely. Other key issues pointed out were politics and human resources. There is a perception that some national and regional leaders are barriers, due to lack of understanding of the value of participation. The committee suggested creation of an online booklet for public and private sector executives. Another suggestion that emerged was to adopt modern marketing techniques to engage more members of the geospatial and IT community. Mark concluded saying that there is an overriding need to educate professionals given the fact that interoperability problems are common across the world and priorities laid out in SDIs vary greatly.

Morishige Ota of Kokusai Kogyo Co Ltd and University of Tokyo discussed the Japanese experience in utilising standards. He discussed the enactment of NSDI Act by the Japanese national Diet in May 2007. He then talked about developing a body of knowledge (BoK) on the research of sustainable collaborative Web library for GI-Science to give a fillip to the demand for geospatial professionals. He opined that BoK is needed not just for GI Science but to improve the overall situation of geospatial information technology for the construction of SDI.

Giving the summary of survey on NMOs, Luis Paulo Forte, Director, Surveys and Mapping, IBGE, Brazil, pointed out that a greater effort is required to connect with NMOs and other international organisations. He said there is growing awareness of SDIs and value of interoperability, but in many places this awareness is vague, rudimentary and uncoordinated. The survey also highlighted the main barriers to the adaptation of SDI good practices and creation of a framework for interoperable sharing and dissemination of geospatial information. These include lack of political will, poor technical qualifications of advisors to politicians, corruption and lack of awareness about the need of standards.
 
Given the challenges, Luis Paulo put forward some considerations to improve the situation. He said OGC compliance should be included in tenders/RFPs issued by government agencies at all levels. This approach can attract suppliers (including integrators and resellers) to obtain compliance. It may also open new opportunities with software development companies and various issues of technical and semantic and institutional interoperability would be resolved.  He also opined that the institutional frameworks and networks already built around the NMOs should be used to promote standards.

Talking on business processes and OGC standards, Trevor Taylor, Director-Business Development, PCI Geomatics, pointed out the requirements to adjust for local and regional practices. The pointed out that standards are complex and complicated; outdated or too heavyweight; costly to implement and maintain; difficult to measure in terms of return on investment.

He then pointed out several issues around standards in many countries which include lack of or little knowledge and experience in government and private sector vis-à-vis use of standards, little or no incentive to change existing modes of operation; indifference of officials until a specific need arises. He stressed on the need to demonstrate the benefits and issue-based results before a cultural shift can be expected.

He said through the Global Advisory Council of OGC, there is an opportunity to better understand regional business practices. He said marketing and communications activities, such as outreach and strategy should note these practices; the business case for using open standards must be refined according to such business practices. A good round of discussion and debate ensued which was ably moderated by Prof Fraser Taylor.

Source: Our correspondent