OGC Interoperability Program


User-driven. Innovative. Fast. Effective. Inclusive. OGC’s unique Interoperability Program (IP) tests and demonstrates interoperability amongst geospatial standards. The IP also identifies new requirements that lead to new or revised standards.

The IP conducts forward-thinking initiatives that build and exercise public-private partnerships. The initiatives accelerate the development of emerging concepts and drive global trends in interoperability through rapid prototyping of new capabilities. The IP is a mechanism to align users and technology providers in a process of testing, prototyping, validating and demonstrating candidate approaches to new standards and standards-based best practices. This process allows OGC members to validate work in a practical, user community-based context before fully documenting and advancing a standard to adoption.


Reduced Risk – Lower Cost – More Innovation – Agile Process


Benefits of initiatives

IP initiatives include testbeds, pilots, support services, interoperability experiments, and concept development.

The IP allows initiative sponsors to pick specific interoperability problems for treatment by OGC member participants in test beds and pilot projects. Sponsors contribute financial resources and also drive the requirements, technical scope, agenda, demonstration form, and content of an initiative.

Initiative participants provide in-kind funding and also contribute to the definition of interfaces, prototypical implementations, and other engineering support.

Initiatives benefit everyone involved and the industry at large:

  • Reduce technology risk through accelerating development, testing and acceptance of interoperability standards with the refinement of standards and best practices
  • Expand the market and improve choice by encouraging industry adoption of new standards and best practices, ensuring market availability of interoperable solutions
  • Mobilize new technologies through providing participants with real world experience and a platform to innovate while driving early adoption of standards
  • Provide cost effective method for sponsors and participants to share expertise and development while gaining early marketplace insight and advantage

In no other setting can major users of geospatial technology share the costs of developing well-crafted interfaces and encodings that provide a concrete foundation for future enterprise architectures. Not only is the cost lower, but also sponsors and participants gain unprecedented insight into these evolving standards that provide technical interoperability across IT enterprises.


Governed by a set of proven policies, processes and procedures, the OGC IP initiatives fall under one of the following categories

  • Test beds are fast-paced, multi-vendor collaborative efforts to define, design, develop, and test candidate interface and encoding specifications. These draft specifications then move into the OGC Standards Program where they are reviewed, revised and potentially approved as new international standards.
  • Pilot Projects apply and test OGC standards in real world applications using Standards Based Commercial Off-The-Shelf (SCOTS) products that implement OGC standards. Pilot projects are an opportunity for users to understand how to best address their requirements using standards-based architectures.
  • Interoperability Support Services are designed to help organizations with open, standards-based architectures.
  • Interoperability Experiments are brief, low-overhead, formally structured and approved initiatives led and executed by OGC members to achieve specific technical objectives that further the OGC Technical Baseline.
  • Concept Development studies assess emerging technologies and architectures capable of supporting eventual Interoperability Initiatives and Standards activities. They may examine alternative mechanisms that enable commercial technology to interoperate to meet sponsor requirements.
  • OGC Network™ is a window onto the dynamic, constantly changing geospatial web as described by the OGC Reference Model (ORM). Multiple communities of interest for research in geospatial interoperability are supported, and persistent demonstration capability is provided.

IP Pool

To best support the technical architecture and management of these initiatives, the OGC Interoperability Program maintains an IP Pool - a set of organizations and independent consultants who have pre-qualified to support future OGC IP initiatives. The OGC Interoperability Program conducts its mission by selecting expertise from the IP Pool to form project teams that conduct IP Initiatives. 


If you have an idea for an initiative, are interested in participating or simply have a question or comment, contact Terry IdolOGC Interoperability Director at tidol@opengeospatial.org.