1. Introduction

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC®) is releasing this Call for Participation ("CFP") to solicit proposals for the OGC Disaster Pilot 2021 (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 and multi-hazard risk analysis.


Government agencies worldwide are producing huge streams of observation data, industry is innovating with remarkable analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, and yet common disasters like disease, flooding and wildfires are still creating almost unimaginable social and economic impacts. What is missing? A critical component is that these amazing systems still don’t talk to each other as parts of a common Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI). The whole is less than, not greater than the sum of the parts. With the OGC Disaster Pilot 2021, the response community has the opportunity to bridge this divide, bringing together the Disaster SDI puzzle pieces that connect the right players from the data providers all the way to the first responders and the decision makers and everyone in between, forming a pattern that can adapt to any disaster, any region, any combination of data sources and tools.

The challenge is more urgent than ever as climate trends worsen the frequency and effects of a range of disasters, from storms and floods to drought, wildfire, 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.

What OGC and its industry, government and academic members do is to make it easier and faster to fit those puzzle pieces to the pattern when needed, because the immense array of complex combinations of technological, architectural, standardization and operational requirements have been rigorously tested and documented in initiatives like the Disaster Pilot. It is both essential and central to the OGC mission of making geospatial information FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable).

1.1. Background

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

  • Key components in the value chain,

  • Stakeholder-identified value chain gaps,

  • Optimal workflows and services necessary to produce both analysis ready data (ARD) and decision ready information (DRI) products and services so as to support timely decision making.

By some estimates, 80% of response time is spent procuring and preparing data, so that 20% can be spent learning from it.

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 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 crisis situations. Preparation and coordination of scalable response capacity can, however, 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. Hybrid scalable cloud-based systems bring advanced AI processing, machine learning algorithms, and simulation models right to where earth observation (EO) and other data are already uplinked, prepared, and curated, generating ARD products with the characteristics, scale and speed that the complex situation demands. Convenience Application Programming Interfaces (API’s), as well as edge computing devices and download-and-go GeoPackage containers and viewers, bring DRI directly to field workers' mobile devices even in resource-constrained, low-connectivity areas.

Meanwhile, Web publication of "structured data" that link well-known content with up-to-the-minute situation details enables search engines to push disaster-relevant information up in search results and help the public to stay on top of fast-moving events. All of this is possible through the preparation of technologies, geospatial standards, and data sharing arrangements that bring the right information at the right time to the right people in the right place.

The Scope

The technical scope of the Pilot will revolve around a key set of significant technology trends and related standards:

  1. Integrating and Transforming Provider Data: 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 ARD standards, then integrating both space-based and local data sources on demand, providing targeted information products to local analysts and field responders through modern convenience API’s, optimized hybrid-cloud services, and mobile-ready online-offline Geopackage tools.

  3. Web Search Optimization for Disasters: Web publication of linked "structured data" that connects well-known local geography with up-to-date conditions, observations, and predictions.

The Mission

The Pilot mission is to develop capabilities and practices that are able to address the full cycle of disaster management across a wide range of hazards, including but not limited to:

  1. Landslides

  2. Flooding and Inundation

  3. Pandemics

  4. Droughts

  5. Wildfires

  6. Hurricanes

  7. Maritime Domain Oil Spills

The Focus

In order to successfully implement and test critical technical and organizational aspects of the envisioned ecosystem, this CFP focuses on initial scenarios that address hazard early warning, monitoring, vulnerability assessment, disaster detection, impact awareness, and disaster response related to:

  1. Landslide / flooding hazards and pandemic impacts within the Rímac and Piura river basins in Peru.

  2. Flooding hazards and pandemic impacts within the Red River basin in Manitoba, Canada

  3. Integration of Health and EO data and services for pandemic response in a region of the United States.

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

Components and solutions implementing these initial scenarios are anticipated to be portable and scalable for testing and application by the sponsors and identified stakeholders in other geographic locations. Additional focus areas and natural hazards types (e.g. Droughts, Wildfires, Oil Spills) may be selected for follow-on scenarios by Pilot sponsors subject to availability of additional funding. Respondents to this CFP may address additional focus areas of interest in their responses, in order to inform potential development of follow-on Pilot activities.

(It’s) The People

While the objectives of an OGC Pilot are primarily technical, it is true that effective organizational and personal collaborations 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 as well as other outreach activities intended to involve initiative stakeholders — sponsors, participants, and other collaborators — in designing and evaluating the technical capabilities that the Pilot will prototype. These activities will also be designed to model approaches to reproducing the impact of physical synthesis centers in a distributed environment by leveraging the sorts of 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 Innovation Program. The OGC Innovation Program 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 IP Team, each initiative has the goal to stepwise increase Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) for geospatial 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


21 April 2021

Release of Call for Participation (CFP)


21 May 2021

Responses due


4 June 2021

Participant selection and agreements


9-10 June 2021

 Virtual kick-off meeting


14-15 July 2021

Workshop #1: critical indicators and data flow coordination


22 September 2021

Workshop #2: guidance for disaster readiness


30 October 2021

Draft Pilot Report and Guides


18 November 2021

Final Pilot Report and Guide


08 December 2021

Final Pilot Demonstration


23 December 2021

Pilot Report, Guide & 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 goal of this Pilot is to explore and advance geospatial standards-based solutions for improving disaster management, by developing prototypical components and services that utilize modern cloud architecture and next generation technologies to optimize collaborative workflows that are able to rapidly and scalably provision ARD and DRI products, services, and applications. The sponsors of this activity anticipate opportunities to seamlessly and efficiently transition from these prototypical capabilities into operational ones following the conclusion of the Pilot effort. The activity will address the following key components of a geospatial information flow for disaster management operations:

  • Reduced Time to Discover, Access and Transform Data: Near-real-time cloud-based discovery, processing, and access of analysis ready geospatial data (ARD) from diverse sources.

  • Analysis and Decision Ready Services: Analysis, visualization, and collaboration processes enabling generation of situation-appropriate , decision-ready information and indicators (DRI).

  • Decision Support: On-demand and event-driven dissemination of DRI to responders, decision makers, and other disasters stakeholders.

  • Mobile Devices: Usage of offline data containers to work with DRI in the field under connected-disconnected conditions.

  • Work the Web: Enhancements to data services to optimize discoverability by mainstream search engines and potential of linked data approaches to improve public awareness.

2.1. Problem Statement and Research Questions

The Pilot will address these challenges:

Disaster management frequently encounters key data sharing challenges that make present solutions more difficult, slower, and less effective than they could be:

  • Data, particularly EO data, can be hard to find, complicated to share, difficult to access, and slow (or unable) to be processed into common forms that are suitable for analysis and integration.

  • Integration of diverse data sources into end-user information products can in turn be both arduous and slow to adapt to the needs of particular disaster situations and user / responders.

  • End-user information products in their volume and frequency often overwhelm the connectivity available to responders and relief organizations in impacted regions.

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

  • Up-to-date and actionable event information, even when openly available, can be difficult for the affected public to find and stay on top of.

The Pilot will explore solutions to these challenges in consideration of the following research questions:
  • How can space-based EO data most efficiently be staged to cloud-based storage for fast, scalable processing?

  • What is the best definition of and approach to ARD for disaster management applications?

  • Can new file-based approaches such as SpatioTemporal Asset Catalog (STAC) replace or compliment existing registry and catalog solutions? What are the pros and cons?

  • How feasible and useful is ad hoc definition and generation of decision ready information? What documentation of provenance and workflow is needed for efficient operation?

  • How much processing needs to sit with the data? When do we combine processing with data, data with processing? In the same cloud, different clouds?

  • What are the challenges of integrating spatial data of different types from different sources (weather and climate, federal, statistical and socio-economic, provincial and local data); possibly stored in separate cloud environments?

  • What role should models, whether primarily functional or machine learning based, play in decision ready information products for disaster management. What special treatment do they require?

  • How can we make applications and data available where needed for multiple stakeholders, including the public?

  • How can the insights and solutions created by in-person geospatial fusion and analysis centers be replicated virtually with distributed collaboration and computing tools?

  • How can field workers and the public discover current and actionable information in poorly connected, sometimes poorly resourced environments?

  • How to handle security (privacy, propriety, authenticity, integrity), particularly in emergency situations?

  • How can field data and observations (e.g. health) be collected and funneled back into analysis environments to support up-to-date awareness?

  • What is a simple but effective model for public and population health information?

2.2. Aim

Explore and advance geospatial standards-based solutions for improving disaster management by rapid prototyping and experimentation with Web APIs. Exercise discovery, virtual collaboration, dynamic integration of data from various sources, and connected-disconnected dissemination. Understand how structured data can help with search engine optimization and develop GeoPackage viewers that effectively support field operations in disaster management situations.

2.4. Scenario & Requirements

Pilot Scenario

Previous work inside and outside of OGC has delineated 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.

Figure 1. Emergency management and incident response phases

Within the longer term emergency management cycle are shorter term incident response phases for which the ability to move fast and adapt are particularly important. The implementation and testing of complete emergency management lifecycles is beyond the scope and timeframe of the current initiative; this Pilot will focus on a core set of short-fuse tasks leading up to and into incident response activities:

  • Risk and vulnerability assessment and preparation.

  • Hazard monitoring and threat prediction.

  • Disaster detection and tracking.

  • Impact awareness and reporting.

  • Disaster response and mitigation activities.

Support for these activities in the pilot will target landslide and/or flooding hazards affecting three river basins in two geographic regions:

  1. Landslide and flooding hazards within the Rímac and Piura river basins in Peru, in collaboration with the Peruvian Space Agency (CONIDA) as well as other Peruvian government and non-governmental organizations.

    • Example data sources

      • PeruSAT-1

      • LandSAT

      • Sentinel-1

      • National Water Authority ANA hydrological meteorological stations

      • Geophysical Institute of Peru IGP seismic network

  2. Flooding hazards within the Red River basin in Manitoba, Canada, in collaboration with Natural Resources Canada as well as other Canadian federal, provincial, and non-governmental organizations. Depending on funding arrangements, the study area may be extended into U.S. portions of the Red River basin.

    • Example data sources

      • RADARSAT Constellation Mission available through NRCan’s Earth Observation Data Management System

      • Worldview (MAXAR)

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

      • Federal data – e.g., NRCan’s Canadian Geospatial Platform/Open Maps, Statistics Canada socio-economic data.

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

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

  3. Pandemic impact and response in an additional region of the United States, focusing on health SDI and EO datasets to be provided by Pilot sponsors.

Work in each target region will incorporate reporting and assessment of COVID-19 pandemic impacts on affected populations. This information will be used to influence the scope and nature of supported disaster response activities.

Pilot requirements
  • Req 1 Visualization of the right information at the right time using GeoPackage data containers and GeoPackage viewers, with generation of GeoPackage offline containers to allow taking all relevant information into the field even given connectivity issues. Map Markup Language (MapML) technology shall also be explored in the context of visualization.

  • Req 2 Access by disaster relief forces to data from multiple sources that can be integrated and analyzed quickly, applying AI, simulation models, and other analytical tools to distill the relevant information.

  • Req 3 Evaluation of the maturity of Applications-to-the-Data (A2D) specifications that provide the necessary interfaces to support ad-hoc deployment, execution, and result provisioning for the applications and allow the provisioning of Earth observation data processing applications to data and processing platforms in an interoperable way.

  • Req 4 Enforcement of access controls across platform boundaries (federated/delegated access) and identity management.

  • Req 5 Demonstration of how the OGC-API suite can be integrated with JSON-LD and aligned with schema.org to enhance the semantic definition of the OGC- API schemas and give a clear path for OGC-API generated content to be incorporated into web search engine indexes.

  • 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., Canadian Geospatial Platform, USGS GeoPlatform, AmeriGEO GeoPlatform).

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

2.5. Architectural Viewpoints

Pivotal Points of Interoperability

The following figure illustrates the pivotal points of interoperability (PPI’s) and user feedback loops that determine whether EO data can be effectively deployed to support disaster management and response.