Spatial Data on the Web WG launched

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It was 10 months ago today, 6th March 2014, that the Linking Geospatial Data workshop in London came to an end with Bart De Lathouwer of the OGC and I standing side by side announcing that our two organizations would work together to come up with some common standards. This was in response to the clear conclusions of the workshop that the two standards bodies needed to come together if the Web and GIS communities were to benefit from each other's expertise, methods and data.

That was an easy thing for Bart and me to say but it proved rather more difficult to pull off. The two standards bodies are of the same age and have roughly the same number of members and more or less analogous missions – but we serve different communities and there are minor differences in the way we work. Thankfully the commitment to royalty free standards is mutual or we'd never have achieved anything. Both OGC and W3C are driven by our members and it has been tricky to ensure that membership privileges of both organizations have not been weakened by this collaboration. Still, we're done: as of today, work begins on standards that will be published by both OGC and W3C. This quote from today's joint press release sums up the ambition:

Spatial data is integral to many of our human endeavors and so there is a high value in making it easier to integrate that data into Web based datasets and services. For example, one can use a GIS system to find "the nearest restaurant" but today it is difficult to associate that restaurant with reviewer comments available on the Web in a scalable way. Likewise, concepts used widely on the Web such as "the United Kingdom" do not match the geographic concepts defined in a GIS system, meaning Web developers are missing out on valuable information available in GIS systems. Bridging GIS systems and the Web will create a network effect that enriches both worlds.

These are exactly the kind of issues being faced in the EU-funded SmartOpenData project that was behind the workshop originally.

I would personally like to record my thanks to OGC's Denise McKenzie (@SpatialRed) for all her work in making this happen. It's been a real privilege. Now we hand over to CSIRO's Kerry Taylor and Google's Ed Parsons as co-chairs of both the W3C and OGC instances of the Working Group to drive the work forward. Ingo Simonis (OGC) and I will act as Team Contacts but, as with all working groups, it's the chairs, the editors, the participants and the community that do the real work.

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