1. Introduction

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC®) is releasing this Call for Participation ("CFP") to solicit proposals for the OGC Disaster Pilot 2023 (also called "Pilot"). The goal of this Pilot is to further improve the ability of key decision makers and responders to discover, manage, access, qualify, share, and exploit location-based information in support of disaster preparedness and response as well as the full cycle of multi-hazard disaster management.


Government agencies and private organizations worldwide are producing huge streams of observation data. Industry is innovating with remarkable analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools. Yet common hazards and disasters like disease, drought, and wildfires are daily creating severe and growing social and economic impacts. What is missing? A critical factor is that these amazing systems still do not connect the people engaged in addressing these challenges with each other where they live and work. They do not provide that common, integrated, targeted view of information that enables good decisions and practical, effective actions. With the OGC Disaster Pilot 2023, the disaster management stakeholder community, as well as the public, has the opportunity to bridge the divide between data and decisions, bringing together the spatial data infrastructure (SDI), data sharing, and collaboration puzzle pieces that connect people and organizations, from the data providers to (and from) the first responders, the decision makers, and everyone in between. The goal is a coordinated information ecosystem that is ready to adapt to any disaster, any region, any combination of data sources and tools, any expert insight, and any dire need.

The challenge we address is more urgent than ever as climate trends worsen the frequency and effects of combined and consequent disasters, from storms and floods to drought, wildland fire, and crop failure. These effects are further complicated by health impacts in stressed communities. It is increasingly clear that there is neither time nor space to wait for the puzzle pieces to somehow fall into place, or for busy practitioners on the ground to seek out potentially valuable innovations on their own time and resources.

What OGC and its industry, government and academic members do is to make it easier and faster to fit those puzzle pieces to a functional and agile pattern. In an initiative such as Disaster Pilot 2023 the immense array of complex combinations of technological, architectural, standardization, operational requirements and community perspectives can be rigorously prototyped, flight-tested, shared, and documented. It is both an essential contribution to the challenges of disaster management and central to the OGC mission of making geospatial information FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable).

1.1. Background

Building on the success and outcomes of Disaster Pilot 2021 and other Collaborative Solutions and Innovation Program (COSI) initiatives, OGC is now preparing to execute Disaster Pilot 2023. A key output from previous efforts has been recognition and acknowledgement of the need to address:

  • Stakeholder collaboration on data-to-decision workflows,

  • Readiness, resilience, and timeliness of data collection and processing to support critical disaster management decisions,

  • Flexible and scalable deployment of workflows and applications necessary to support disaster practitioners in their day-to-day and minute-to-minute responsibilities.

  • Publication and visualization tools to promote a broader understanding of the wide range of scales in both geography and time over which coordinated actions are needed for disaster resilience.

Disaster management efforts can be ineffective when collaborative workflows are not put into place well before disaster has already struck. The result is reactive rather than proactive decision making that is less than fully informed.

The vision of this initiative revolves around bringing the technological pieces together and increasing stakeholder engagement, in order to reduce the preparation time we can no longer afford, and accelerate our ability to transform data from observation into decision. This will require bridging the divides between providers, responders and other stakeholders, forming a connected ecosystem of data and technologies, and developing the capacity to produce Decision Ready Indicator (DRI) products that answer decision makers' questions almost as fast as they can be posed.

A disaster can be overwhelming, expected in some fashion but still unique in its details and progression, often piling on to or cascading into additional crises. It can also be subtle, slowly advancing in cases such as drought and changing climate. Preparation and coordination of adaptive, scalable collaboration capacity has the potential to meet this challenge. Envisage that disaster relief forces from supporting jurisdictions quickly integrate and analyze vast streams of real-time data from multiple sources to monitor the evolving situation and plan their responses. They can do this partly because they have already been doing this, to maintain awareness of months-long and years-long challenges such as drought, wildland fire fuel build-up, and changing climate.

From anywhere in the world, scalable cloud-based systems bring advanced AI processing, machine learning algorithms, and simulation models to where Analysis Ready Data (ARD) earth observation (EO) and other data products are already uplinked, prepared, and curated. Convenience Application Programming Interfaces (API’s), as well as elastically deployable cloud-backed applications, make available customized DRI products with the characteristics, scale and speed that the situation complexity and scope demands, targeted directly to field workers' mobile devices even in resource-constrained, low-connectivity areas. Simultaneously, observations, reports, and decision-making needs contributed by those same workers as well as the public complete a real-time collaboration loop, continuously improving the quality and relevance of the information provided to them on which to decide and act.

The Scope

The Pilot’s technical scope involves a key set of stakeholder collaborations, distributed information technologies, EO advancements, and related standards:

  1. Data to Decision Workflow Collaboration and Realization: Hybrid applications-to-the-data EO cloud exploitation platforms that seamlessly bring analysis-ready imagery, in situ, social, economic, environmental, health, and other data streams into scalable cloud environments where advanced processing, modeling, and algorithms can be directly and flexibly applied to them.

  2. ARD and DRI Services: assessing and validating analysis readiness, then integrating remote, local, and framework data sources on demand, with the goal of providing targeted information products to local analysts and field responders through modern convenience API’s, optimized hybrid-cloud services, and scaleable mobile-ready applications.

  3. Immersive visualization of Key Indicators in Time, Space, and What If Scenarios: Immersive and interactive visualizations of 3D-4D disaster and related indicators in contextual environments that overcome conceptual and perceptual barriers to understanding disaster risks, vulnerabilities, and impacts, particularly over longer time scales.

The Mission

The Disaster Pilot’s on-going mission is to develop capabilities and practices to address the full cycle of disaster management across a wide range of individual and combined hazards, including but not limited to:

  1. Landslides and Mudflows

  2. Flooding and Inundation

  3. Pandemics

  4. Drought

  5. Wildland Fires

  6. Storms and Extreme Weather

  7. Extreme Heat

  8. Earthquakes

  9. Volcanic Eruptions

The Focus

In order to successfully implement and test critical technical and organizational aspects of the envisioned ecosystem, this CFP focuses on initial limited-complexity scenarios that address collaborative hazard preparation, mitigation, monitoring, vulnerability assessment, disaster detection, impact assessment, and disaster response related to:

  1. Drought, impacts, and consequential disasters (e.g. wildland fires) in Manitoba, Canada

  2. Wildland fires, impacts, and contributing factors (e.g. drought) in the Western United States.

Initial scenarios will integrate EO, social, economic, health, environmental, and other information to address key indicators of risk, vulnerability, and impact identified by the sponsors and stakeholders. This information will directly influence the scope and nature of disaster response activities.

Drought with its resulting low moisture levels in soils, vegetation, and the atmosphere, is a disaster in its own right. Recurring or prolonged drought is also a significant factor in other hazards from crop failure to loss of drinking water. As a slowly developing and diffuse disaster, though, it presents different challenges for awareness, resilience, and response even as some of its consequences such as wildland fires are much faster moving. The proposed Wildfire + Drought Pilot program will seek to prototype sharing of ARD and model workflow outputs that connect drought trends in time and space with patterns of wildland fires and other risks and consequences across the province of Manitoba as well as the western United States from the Denver area to California, Texas, North Dakota, and so on. It will also look at communicating, in the form of collaboratively developed DRI, those combinations of risk and vulnerability where the right emergency management personnel need to take the right action in time for effective wildland fire resilience.

The proposed pilot program will leverage partnerships developed within the OGC Disaster Stakeholder Coordination Group as well as with other national and local organizations. Partners will be brought into collaborations with data providers, analysts, and modeler participants to define and build data sharing workflows through two workshop events and the development of a collaboration environment for national engagement. The workflow "recipes" will combine EO-derived input variables with drought and wildfire risk tracking models to produce indicator products able to guide practitioners toward greater wildfire and drought awareness and more effective decision making. A cloud-based information ecosystem will be developed and demonstrated that leverages OGC Environmental Data Retrieval (EDR), API Processes, and other standardized interfaces to facilitate discovery and access for both ARD and DRI products, realizing a prototypical digital ecosystem for evidence-based decision making.

The impact of these information products rests on several factors including accuracy, timeliness, and relevance to disaster management, but above all on the insights that they provide. To this end, the pilot will develop an initial 3D/4D spatial data framework (including water related features such as high-resolution hydrography and topography) along with an immersive 4D visualization environment, in order to provide a compelling context within which ARD and DRI products can be experienced and interpreted. The Pilot will deliver documentary outputs in the form of engineering reports, guides, and change requests to OGC standards, a persistent demonstrator capability in the form of documented data-driven indicator workflows, and 4D immersive visualization capabilities.

This project will explore and demonstrate how geospatial standards can improve geospatial drought and wildland fire information interoperability. While improvement of disaster management outcomes will be central to the Pilot, as an OGC activity it will concurrently explore the refinement and adoption of geospatial standards and demonstrate a complete standards-based information flow solution from data creation to consumable product delivery. Outcomes from this project will improve our ability to understand the disastrous consequences of drought, such as wildland fires, and the geospatial data required for better decision-making, collaboration, and policy development to manage drought. This will include evaluating gaps within current policy and providing recommendations for how policies relating to drought and wildland fire management can be implemented to leverage geospatial standards-based interoperability frameworks.

(It’s) The People

While many of the objectives of an OGC Pilot are technical, effective organizational and personal collaborations, as well as social, economic, and political context, are just as important. In disaster management and response situations, physical analysis and synthesis centers have often been shown to foster critical exchanges of knowledge and effective plans for action, providing the rapid feedback loops required for timely decisions. The Pilot will include a series of workshops and other outreach activities intended to involve initiative stakeholders — sponsors, participants, practitioners, and other collaborators — in designing, exercising, and evaluating the technical capabilities that the Pilot will prototype. These activities will also examine approaches to reproducing the effectiveness of physical synthesis centers in a distributed environment by leveraging virtual collaboration tools that have become both necessary and remarkably effective in recent times.

1.2. OGC Innovation Program Initiative

This Pilot is being conducted under the OGC Collaborative Solutions and Innovation Program. OGC Innovation provides a collaborative, agile process for solving geospatial challenges. Organizations (sponsors and technology implementers) come together to solve problems, produce prototypes, develop demonstrations, provide best practices, and advance the future of standards. Since 1999 more than 120 initiatives have been conducted. Coordinated and managed by the OGC Innovation Team, each initiative aims to stepwise increase Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) for geospatial Information Technology (IT) solutions, including software architecture, interface design, information and data models, as well as related standards and specifications. Run globally, the Innovation Program further validates and tests geospatial technology based on OGC standards, identifies future OGC standardization work items, and builds know-how in applying existing standards to real world spatial data sharing challenges.

1.3. Benefits of Participation

This Initiative provides a unique opportunity to work jointly with a full range of stakeholders, from EO data providers and relief organizations to field responders, towards the goal of applying standards-based geospatial IT solutions to real problems of marshaling coordinated, effective responses to complex disaster scenarios.

The outcomes are expected to shape the future of disaster management ecosystems through user-centric interoperability arrangements, identification of critical data sharing challenges and the delivery of cloud computing scale and agility to field personnel and relief organizations when and where they need it. Pilot sponsorship supports this vision with cost-sharing funds to largely offset the costs associated with development, engineering, and demonstration of these outcomes. This offers selected Participants a unique opportunity to recoup a significant portion of their initiative expenses.

1.4. Master Schedule

The following table details the major Initiative milestones and events.

Table 1. Master schedule
Milestone Date Activity


19 January 2023

Release of Call for Participation (CFP)


1 February 2023

Question & Answer Session (Recording is available)


17 February 2023

Responses due


3 March 2023

Participant selection and agreements


15-16 March 2023

Pilot kick-off meeting


26-27 April 2023

Workshop #1: Stakeholder workflow collaboration


28-29 June 2023

Workshop #2: Decision Ready operations (Manitoba)


18 August 2023

Draft Pilot Report and Demonstrators


8 September 2023

Final Pilot Report and Demonstrators


27 September 2023

Final Pilot Demonstration


14-15 November 2023

Pilot Report, Demonstrators & Video Public Release

2. Technical Architecture

This section provides the initial draft technical architecture and identifies all requirements and corresponding work items. It references the OGC Standards Baseline, i.e., the complete set of member approved Abstract Specifications, Standards including Profiles and Extensions, and Community Standards. Further information on the OGC standards baseline can be found online.

The Pilot aims to explore and advance geospatial standards-based awareness and collaboration solutions for improving disaster management. This is to be accomplished through prototypical implementation of components and services that utilize modern cloud architecture and next generation technologies to optimize collaborative workflows that can rapidly and scalably provision ARD and DRI products, services, and applications. The sponsors of this activity anticipate there will be opportunities to seamlessly and efficiently transition from such prototypical capabilities into operational ones following the conclusion of the Pilot effort. The activity will address the following critical components of a geospatial information flow for disaster management operations:

  • Timely, Directed Data-to-Decision Workflows: Instantly cloud-deployable, adaptable, and scalable discovery, access and processing of geospatial ARD from diverse sources through standardized API’s and orchestration.

  • Decision Ready Indicators : Analysis, visualization, and collaboration development processes enabling transformation of a range of observational ARD into situation-appropriate DRI.

  • Decision Support: On-demand and event-driven dissemination of DRI to responders, decision makers, and other disasters stakeholders through cloud-supported, quickly configurable mobile applications.

  • Volunteered and Crowd-sourced Observation: Collection, validation, curation, and integration of situation-specific information reported by local sources and gleaned from local activities.

  • Shared Perspective: effective visualization and communication of indicator products through implementation of an initial 4D spatial data framework and immersive visualization environment within which indicator products can be shared with practitioners.

2.1. Problem Statement

The Pilot will address these challenges:

Disaster management frequently encounters key challenges in sharing and collaborating over data that make present awareness solutions more complex, slower, and less effective than they could be:

  • Data, particularly timely EO-derived variables, can be unavailable, hard to find, complicated to share, challenging to access, and slow to be processed into common forms that are suitable for analysis and integration.

  • Integration of diverse data sources into end-user information products can be unavailable when needed and/or unresponsive to the needs of particular disaster situations and users / responders.

  • Integration of spatial data of different types from different sources (e.g. weather and climate, statistical and socio-economic, national, regional, and local) poses technical and logistical challenges; data may be stored in isolated systems or separate cloud environments.

  • Many data sources are derived from models, whether primarily predictive or interpretive, functional or machine learning based, and may require special treatment to correctly represent their uncertainties, sensitivities, biases, dependencies, and domains of validity in end-user information products.

  • Information products, even when available, often overwhelm in volume and frequency the connectivity and tools available to responders and relief organizations in impacted regions, as well as the time and attention these stakeholder can apply to ingesting that information.

  • The valuable insights and solutions enabled by in-person geospatial fusion and analysis centers are challenging to replicate virtually when resources and stakeholders are or have to be physically remote and geographically distributed.

  • Even when some physical co-location is possible, it is difficult for multiple levels of government to share, retain, and archive information collectively and to align on information management strategies.

  • Local data such as in situ sensor observations, status reports, and volunteered information, are often challenging to collect and even more difficult to incorporate back into provided information products.

  • The complexity, scope, and diverse timescales of entwined, consequent, or cascading disasters are difficult for practitioners and the public to grasp without better, more visually capable user interfaces for interacting with indicators of situation trends.

2.3. Scenario & Requirements

Pilot Scenario

Previous work inside and outside of OGC has delineated multiple cycles of activity phases involved in disaster management, all of which depend on getting the right information to the right people at the right time …​ about the right times and places.

Figure 1. Emergency management and incident response phases

Within the longer-term risk management and emergency management cycles are shorter term incident response phases for which the ability to move fast and adapt is particularly important. DP21 focused on supporting these shorter-term activities such as:

  • Risk and vulnerability assessment and preparation

  • Threat prediction from hazards

  • Severity assessment of disaster occurrences

  • Impact awareness

  • Response and mitigation

Disaster Pilot 2023 will expand its focus to activities across a wider range of timescales, such as adaptation and planning, both because drought and wildland fires occur on very different timescales, and to support the balancing of resources between immediate and longer-term needs which is also relevant to resilience in the face of broader climate change effects.

Solutions developed through Disaster Pilot 2023 will address ways in which many different organizations (e.g. governments at all levels, industry) with diverse skill sets, data, and offerings can come together together to support a disaster response, over both short (e.g. days to months) and long-term (e.g. years) periods. How can emergency management organizations clearly understand organizational expertise, toolsets, data and product offerings, etc. to determine their roles in a disaster event, and determine how to best deploy them?

Support for these activities in the pilot will target drought and wildland fire hazards affecting two geographic regions:

  1. Drought and consequences including wildland fires in Manitoba, Canada. Participants are welcome to explore these aspects across broader Canadian geographies as well (e.g. the prairie region including the Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan).

    • Example data sources

      • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada station-based climate data services - includes multiple Canadian agricultural climate-related datasets (e.g. Crop Heat Units, Moisture Anomaly Index, Palmer Hydrologic Drought Index, etc.).

      • Canadian Drought Monitor

      • Canadian Drought Outlook

      • Canadian Extreme Weather Indicators - includes multiple Canadian datasets that provide indicators of extreme weather (e.g. precipitation, heat, etc.).

      • RADARSAT Constellation Mission[1] (RCM) data available through Natural Resources Canada’s Earth Observation Data Management System (EODMS)

      • RADARSAT-2 data available through the European Space Agency archive.

      • RADARSAT-1 data available through Amazon Web Services (AWS) and EODMS.

      • Landsat

      • Sentinel-1 & 2

      • Weather and climate data - e.g., Environment and Climate Change Canada’s GeoMet Weather Service, climatedata.ca.

      • GeoGLoWS streamflow

      • Federal data – e.g.,Geo.ca/Open Maps, Statistics Canada socio-economic data.

      • Socio-economic Data - e.g., NASA’s Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center

      • Provincial data – e.g., Manitoba Open Government Portal (Open MB)

      • Local data – e.g., Municipal information, field observations

  2. Wildland fires and contributing factors including drought in an area of the Western United States

    • Example data sources

      • NASA SMAP, AMSR2

      • Worldview imagery (MAXAR)

      • Planet imagery


      • Weather and climate data - e.g., NWS, National Water Model

      • Federal data – e.g., National Map, HIFLD

      • State data – e.g., State GIS, relief and monitoring status

      • Local data – e.g., Municipal information, field observations

      • U.S. Drought Monitor

Pilot requirements
  • Req 1 Rapid, scalable design, implementation, deployment, and discoverability of decision-ready indicator workflows.

  • Req 2 Provision of tools and practices that support collaborative development and approval of DRI recipes by multiple stakeholders including data providers, analysts, emergency managers, responders, and other end users.

  • Req 3 Demonstration of practices for configuration and documentation of workflows so that they can be quickly deployed to common cloud environments in support of specific disaster situations.

  • Req 4 Demonstration of timely end-to-end data collections and ARD→DRI workflows to effectively support critical disaster management decisions.

  • Req 5 Analysis of the geospatial information usage and sharing requirements for each stakeholder and how they can or cannot be met by a given workflow and its elements to determine gaps in existing stakeholder policies.

  • Req 6 User interface compliance to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1.

  • Req 7 Access and use of metadata to enable geospatial dataset discovery and access considering multilingual requirements for metadata (English, French, Spanish).

  • Req 8 Support for notifying stakeholders that new/updated disaster products are available (e.g., push notifications).

  • Req 9 Support for national-level dissemination platforms/solutions enabled by Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) and Open Source spatial data infrastructure technology (e.g., Geo.ca/Open Maps, USGS GeoPlatform, AmeriGEO GeoPlatform).

  • Req 10 Facilitation of two workshops to present intermediate Pilot outcomes and receive feedback from Pilot collaborators and disaster stakeholders.

2.4. Architectural Viewpoints

The following are brief descriptions of specific architectural viewpoints that embody Pilot objectives and provide guidance for the design of proposed workflows, components, and applications, as well as interactions between components, stakeholders, and other workflow components.

Pivotal Points of Interoperability

Given limited time and resources, it is important to focus efforts on improving interoperability on critical connections where a lack of interoperability is particularly likely to derail data sharing. The following figure illustrates several pivotal points of interoperability (PPI’s, orange arrows pointing to red starred interfaces) and user feedback loops (blue arrows) that determine whether EO-derived variables and other data can be effectively deployed to support disaster management and response.