Group to test GIS standards in military

Anticipating that military operations increasingly will be waged by nations working together, a standards organization is launching an initiative to enable varying geographic information systems within military and intelligence agencies to work together.

The Open GIS Consortium Inc. (OGC) will use the initiative, called the Web Mapping Testbed Military Pilot Project, to refine standards it develops for users of GIS technology.

This is the first such project to focus on interoperability within military agencies, said Jeff Harrison, a spokesman for OGC's Interoperability Program, which is in charge of the effort.

Essentially, the project is designed to "kick the tires" on OGC's Web-enabled geospatial standards, Harrison said. The military and intelligence agencies involved will see how well the standards work in near-operational settings — not quite real-world settings — on classified and unclassified networks. They will then report to OGC on the results.

"What we are trying to do is create and test interoperabilty infrastrucutres within the military and intelligence domains," Harrison said. "It will also provide feedback into OGC's standards process."

Many future military operations, including humanitarian and peacekeeping efforts, will be multinational in nature, he said. Geospatial technology, like other technologies that involve a variety of manufacturers and software, must be configured to work together in order for coalitions of nations to function, Harrison said.

"Interoperable technology can break down some of those divides," he said.

OGC issued an invitation this week to its more than 200 member companies, government agencies and academic institutions to help contribute to the project. Those who decide to become sponsors will help set up the project for launch in March. The first phase of the project is expected to last until August.

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