Open Geospatial Consortium standards form the foundation of many large geospatial service companies, because of the many benefits. The OGC recently interviewed Mr. K.K. Singh, chairman, Rolta Group of Companies about their commitment to this strategy, and provided the interview for publication here.
OGC: Rolta is Principal Member in the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC). What initially motivated Rolta to develop a strategy and architecture based on OGC standards?
SINGH: Rolta has recognized for a long time that data and services integration are critical for the implementation of enterprise geospatial solutions. This requirement aligns perfectly with the OGC interoperability vision and standards are the key to enable integration. As OGC has played a leading role in developing geospatial standards, it is only natural for Rolta to embrace OGC technology as we build our solutions architecture
OGC: Rolta is involved in a considerable activity in the Middle East using OGC CityGML. How does CityGML figure into Rolta’s market offerings?
SINGH: Rolta is in final discussions with a Middle Eastern municipality for a significant project to develop a 3D city model. The project will employ a CityGML data warehouse and will support a wide range of applications ranging from urban planning to public safety.
To support this wide range of applications, the client has selected open standards CityGML (OGC) and IFC (IAI) as the foundation of the logical model for the city. By enabling their departments and external stakeholders to perform a wide variety of tasks this is expected to significantly contribute to the quality and efficiency of their applications.
For example, an architect or construction firm, planning a new building, will be able to obtain the “context” for the building’s site and thus have a better understanding of how the building will appear and impact its environment. Engineers will be able to conduct simulations to determine the impact of new buildings on the cooling and lighting of surrounding buildings, and contribute to meeting environmental requirements and regulations. Emergency and security planners will be better able to plan the placement of security facilities and personnel.
While CityGML is a flexible and rich mechanism for urban infrastructure modeling, it is not designed for so much visual presentation and navigation, nor for rapid computational simulation. GML data volumes are large, and even with data compression, would not make a suitable basis for either desktop or web based viewing. Therefore, the system architecture includes desktop and web-based simulation and visualization tools that ingest CityGML data in real-time through transformer middleware.
OGC: Does CityGML also play a role in Rolta’s development of turnkey projects for power, oil, gas and petrochemical companies?
SINGH: We have not yet seen customer demand in industries such as power, oil, gas and petrochemical projects in the Middle East or elsewhere for the richness that CityGML open standards offers. However, we believe that as the use of geospatial data matures within these industries and particularly the growing need for the integration of supplementary data to support more complex economic, environmental and planning analyses, there will be a need for the increasingly rich logical models which CityGML can provide. We believe that the 3D CityGML implementation we’ve been awarded will become an example highlighting its potential.
OGC: Do OGC’s global standards help Rolta do business in other international arenas?
SINGH: As the question states, OGC standards are global. Thus adherence to OGC standards enables Rolta to quickly adapt solutions for deployment around the world thus opening international markets.
OGC: Rolta is a provider of geospatial business intelligence (GeoBI) solutions for enterprises. How do OGC standards help Rolta here? What’s your view on GeoBI?
SINGH: Business Intelligence (BI) is a technology that enables operational efficiency resulting in huge cost savings for enterprises. GeoBI is the marriage between conventional BI and Geospatial technology. The geospatial component permits enterprises to evaluate and visualize performance indicators based on geography. Data and services integration are critical to enable GeoBI and therefore OGC interoperability standards play a crucial role in helping GeoBI implementation.
GeoBI opens new exciting avenues for decision-making based on previously unknown facts and metrics. Over time we see our GeoBI solutions opening the door for GIS to be even more strategic to organizations, as well as being adopted by more “non traditional” GIS organizations such as those in Financial Services or Oil and Gas.
OGC: Have OGC standards helped Rolta deliver a higher level of service to customers?
SINGH: OGC standards provide a solid technology foundation to build interoperable geospatial services. Thus customer integration requirements can be addressed using OGC standards and avoiding the cost of design service interfaces from scratch.
OGC: How does Rolta envision its business changing as customers begin relying more on remotely hosted web services and less on software packages installed on users’ computers?
SINGH: Cloud computing is a new technology that Rolta is aggressively pursuing. Enterprises see cloud computing as a way to optimize utilization of IT resources. From a technology standpoint, Rolta solutions are enabled to operate on public and private clouds. From a business standpoint, new business models are emerging and Rolta will offer solutions consistent with new IT requirements and practices
OGC: Rolta has been very supportive of the OGC’s GovFuture membership program directed at local and subnational governments. Why is this market segment important to Rolta?
SINGH: The local and subnational governments market is very important for Rolta around the world. This program offers a practical path and vehicle for many local and subnational governments to participate in OGC. Thus they will bring to OGC their unique experience and requirements which will be valuable to enhance OGC acceptance in those markets
OGC: What are your thoughts about OpenStreetMap and other Volunteered Geographic Information activities?
SINGH: Just like Wikipedia, VGI has run into resistance from traditional thinking about information. However, we have seen that VGI can make a real contribution and in particular with regard to accelerating map updating. We expect that VGI will continue to grow and both governments and private companies will leverage on this contribution
OGC: How does Rolta take advantage of participation in both the OGC Technical and Planning Committees?
SINGH: The OGC Technical and Planning Committees gather world-leading experts in geospatial technology. Participation in these meetings benefits Rolta by direct exposure to new ideas and trends that will shape the market place. Furthermore it offers Rolta an opportunity to exchange ideas and benefit from sharing experiences with the top geospatial organizations in the world.
OGC: Rolta has voted consistently on OGC standards over the years. What are the main standards that are important to your organization?
SINGH: Rolta has focused on the set of standards that comprise the “SDI 1.0” Suite (as proposed by Nebert et al). As we see business developing in the 3D arena, we see CityGML as a very important standard. New solutions for critical infrastructure protection, disaster management and homeland security will rely on the Sensor Web Enablement Suite (SWE). Rolta sees this as an important growth area.
OGC: How important is it that Indian requirements or Asian requirements be taken into consideration in the development of OGC standards?
SINGH: We recognize the value of OGC as an international organization. In order to be truly international there needs to be a balance of requirements from all regions. For this reason it is important that the many Indian organizations participating in the OGC bring their coordinated requirements into the OGC international process for consideration and action.
OGC: Finally, how do you see OGC standards supporting the Indian National Spatial Data Infrastructure and the government programs that depend on it?
SINGH: India NSDI, like other SDI initiatives around the world, will leverage OGC standards for interoperability. NSDI cannot exist without standards and OGC is at the forefront of standards development for geospatial technology.