Geolocation Working Group Charter

The mission of the Geolocation Working Group, part of the Ubiquitous Web Applications Activity, is to define a secure and privacy-sensitive interface for using client-side location information in location-aware Web applications.

End date 31 July 2012
Confidentiality Proceedings are public
Initial Chairs Lars Erik Bolstad, Opera Software
Initial Team Contact Matt Womer, W3C/ERCIM (FTE %: 20)
Usual Meeting Schedule Teleconferences: as needed
Face-to-face: 2-3 per year


The number of Web enabled devices that are location-aware has increased markedly as of late. These devices are very common and include mobile phones with cell triangulation or Global Positioning System (GPS) capabilities, laptops with Wi-Fi triangulation capabilities and GPS receivers. The Geolocation WG was created in response to requests from the community for W3C to develop a standardized, secure and privacy-sensitive interface so that Web applications may gain access to location information. The Geolocation WG was created in September of 2008 and has since published the Geolocation API version 1 through Candidate Recommendation status.

The objective of this Geolocation WG charter is to continue to work on access to the user's location information via standardized interfaces. The Working Group's scope now includes a device orientation API, and the addition of civic addresses to the Geolocation API.

Under the Working Group's first charter, the group developed the first version of the Geolocation API. This new charter will allow the group to bring the API to Recommendation status as well as work on additional new deliverables.

The Working Group will continue development of Recommendation Track documents that define interfaces for making location information available within the User-Agent. These interfaces should be usable regardless of the source of location information, and should be consistent across location technologies. The interface may be specified in a language independent manner, the Recommendation will include a normative ECMAScript form.

The Working Group will determine use cases the interfaces need support and use these to derive requirements. Requirements for security and privacy protection must be included. At the time of publication of Working Drafts of Recommendation Track documents, the current use cases and requirements will be included as an Appendix.

As mentioned in the initial charter as a potential work item, the Working Group will explore exposing location information via markup or sending it via HTTP headers as non-Recommendation track work.

Each Recommendation-track deliverable will have a comprehensive test suite, with a set of documented, functional tests for each assertion in the specification, before it becomes a Recommendation.

The Geolocation Working Group may wish to continue working on additional aspects of location-aware Web applications in future charters.

Success Criteria


Recommendation Track Deliverables

The Working Group will deliver the following documents:

Other Deliverables

The Working Group may also develop a primer, tutorial or other educational materials relating to Geolocation and the Web.

In addition to adding civic addresses to the Geolocation API, the Working Group may also explore other representations of location information, such as geo: URIs, or those being worked on by the Points of Interest WG.

The Working Group may also explore non-normative alternative interfaces (e.g. markup, REST APIs) to geolocation data.

The Working Group may provide, either in the specification directly or as a Working Group Note, mappings between common address formats and the Geolocation API Level 2 address format.

The Working Group will include in all interface Recommendations an appendix that describes use cases and requirements.

The Working Group will develop a suite of tests and accompanying documentation that shall be used when determining if the implementation criteria for exiting Candidate Recommendation have been met, as mentioned above and in the W3C Process Document.


Note: The group will document significant changes from this initial schedule on the group home page. See milestone list on the Working Group homepage.
Specification FPWD LC CR PR Rec
Geolocation API Q3 2008 Q1 2009 Q3 2010 Q4 2010 Q1 2011
Device Orientation Events Q1 2011 Q1 2011 Q2 2011 Q3 2011 Q4 2011
Geolocation API Level 2 Q1 2011 Q1 2011 Q2 2011 Q2 2011 Q3 2011

Timeline View Summary

The Working Group may be involved in Workshops, the details of which will be listed on the Working Groups home page as information becomes available.

Dependencies and Liaisons

Liaisons with W3C Groups

The Geolocation Working Group will request document reviews from the following groups:

Device APIs and Policy Working Group
The DAP Working Group is responsible for other device APIs and the policies for their use. DAP should review the Geolocation API documents in order to maintain consistency between Geolocation and other device APIs.
Web Applications Working Group
The Web Applications Working Group is responsible for core Web APIs, and thus may provide valuable feedback on our documents. We also expect an overlap in members with this WG.
Internationalization Core Working Group
There are a number of internationalization issues that we expect might need review and addressing.
Technical Architecture Group
The TAG and participants in the Geolocation WG have discussed the privacy aspects of the Geolocation API v1, and will likely continue to do so going forward.
Hypertext Coordination Group
The Geolocation Working Group will participate in the Hypertext Coordination Group.
Web Accessibility Initiative
The Geolocation Working Group expects to work directly with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Working Group to ensure that any accessibility implications inherent to this work have been taken into account and addressed.
Semantic Web Interest Group
The Semantic Web Interest Group (SWIG) developed a Basic Geo Vocabulary, which was ultimately handed over to Geospatial Incubator Group.
Points of Interest Working Group
The POI WG is developing points of interest data format Recommendations, which could be used to represent the location of a user (e.g. "user is at the Taj Mahal"). If POI locations are added to the Geolocation API, then the POI WG should review the documents to ensure consistency and proper use of POI.

Liaisons with External Groups

IETF GeoPriv Working Group
The IETF GeoPriv Working Group is working on the format, security/privacy implications, and protocols for exchanging geographic location information.
OMA Location Working Group
The Open Mobile Alliance subsumed the work done in the WAP Forum and the Location Interoperability Forum. The Location WG is developing specifications that "ensure interoperability of Mobile Location Services on an end-to-end basis".
Open Mobile Terminal Platform
OMTP is working on recommendations for "Positioning Enablers".
Liberty Alliance
The Liberty Alliance is working on a standard protocol for the exchange of geolocation information.
Open Geospatial Consortium
The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) is an SDO focused on geospatial technologies, both on the Web and off. The OGC has a umber of Web related standards and specifications, including Web services for location based


To be successful, the Geolocation Working Group is expected to have 10 or more active participants for its duration. Effective participation to Geolocation Working Group is expected to consume one fifth of a full-time employee for each participant; two fifths of a full-time employee for editors. The Geolocation Working Group will allocate also the necessary resources for building Test Suites for each specification.

Participants are reminded of the Good Standing requirements of the W3C Process.


This group primarily conducts its technical work on the public mailing list at public-geolocation@w3.org (with an archive available).

There is also a member-only list to be used for administrative purposes at member-geolocation@w3.org (with an archive available). The member-only list may also be used, at the discretion of the Chair, for discussions in special cases when a member requests such a discussion.

Information about the group (deliverables, participants, face-to-face meetings, teleconferences, etc.) is available from the Geolocation Working Group home page.

Decision Policy

As explained in the Process Document (section 3.3), this group will seek to make decisions when there is consensus. When the Chair puts a question and observes dissent, after due consideration of different opinions, the Chair should record a decision (possibly after a formal vote) and any objections, and move on.

Patent Policy

This Working Group operates under the W3C Patent Policy (5 February 2004 Version). To promote the widest adoption of Web standards, W3C seeks to issue Recommendations that can be implemented, according to this policy, on a Royalty-Free basis.

For more information about disclosure obligations for this group, please see the W3C Patent Policy Implementation.

About this Charter

This charter for the Geolocation Working Group has been created according to section 6.2 of the Process Document. In the event of a conflict between this document or the provisions of any charter and the W3C Process, the W3C Process shall take precedence.

This charter was extended through 31 July 2012 on 7 February 2012.

Matt Womer, <mdw@w3.org>, Team Contact

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