Topic: Open OGC Processes

The OGC has been criticized for being too closed, both internally and to the outside world.

Internally, the processes of the OGC and the decisions of various bodies are hard to follow. Also, the work of the Standards Working Groups with closed meetings, closed mailing lists, and closed wiki spaces block collaboration even with other groups at the OGC.

This topic therefore tackles how the OGC could further open its processes to broader / earlier community participation and involvement, including ideas such as:
  • provide greater public access to SWG activities, mailing lists to get earlier input,
  • allow greater outside participation all while managing patent concerns adequately to protect standards from containing potential submarine patents,
  • better position our public comment process to be more effective,
  • allow the use of external resources, such as GITHUB.

At a first level, opening up the process involves only better communication of the process, and to that extent should be covered by TopicImproveCommunication. A second level would be to see how to pull in the participation of others into work of the OGC and those issues belong here.

Relations to other topics

  • Related to TopicImproveCommunication since communication is at the core of opening up the OGC process both internally and to outside view, and because the patent discussion there relates here.
  • Related to TopicSimplifyVoting since clearer rules make it easier for everyone to understand the voting process.



I was not aware that SWGs could charter themselves to be (partially?) public. I realize there are legal reasons for wanting (at least some) SWG discussions to be private, but in an ideal world, the best ideas should float to the top and incorrect / unworkable ideas should sink out of sight. The credo of the IETF is "Rough consensus and running code", which I think is pretty good, and could suit the OGC well too, when you consider test beds, interoperability experiments etc. Non-members shouldn't have a vote, I suppose, but they should be able to help SWG members analyze a problem, if they have an interest in a subject. Maybe make the chartering of a SWG more of a guarantee of success (production of an endorsed standard), but make the chartering of a SWG a bit more of a challenge. IOW the vote to create a SWG should almost mean for sure you're going to come out of that with an approved standard, BUT the initial vote to charter a SWG would have stricter requirements. -- PeterRushforth - 11 Jul 2013

I see and understand the IPR issue. OTOH, this effectively prevents liaising with community, shuts out valuable resources, and may lead to distrust even. So a suitable balance should be found. NB: I am anyway publishing the concepts of specs in scientific conferences before adoption, so there is "prior art" prohibiting quickly filed patents. So, I'm all for open discussion (and have started that already 2 months ago for coverages), of course without delaying the decision process. So nothing like "whenever I will find to read the spec I will surely come up with comments, so stay tuned". -- PeterBaumann - 30 Jun 2013

HM, I'm not a lawyer, but: doesn't an early publishing constitute "prior art" effectively hindering patents? In patent sues OGC certainly could be heard (with internal support by spec editors) to demonstrate this. [p/] The value proposition issue is a tough one indeed: why should a company pay (and in cases pay a lot). I like the branding scheme with paid conformance certificates - makes sense. Maybe prices could get increased. -- PeterBaumann - 30 Jun 2013

The standards process has been segregated into special standards working groups which are not allowed, absent an affirmative vote from the whole group, to discuss issues with other participants at the OGC or outside the OGC. This structure has no visible benefit from my point of view but does have constant, low grade, annoying costs. The approach might have made sense or even been necessary to get the OGC started; such a closed mode of operation no longer seems reasonable. Today, an open standards organization should be working out in the open, with constant exposure to the outside world.

=> ACTION: The Board or President should direct some group to undertake a review of the impact on the restrictions on communication of SWGs on the work of those SWGs. The review should include a measure of the number of times the current restrictions have allowed the participation of actors who would not otherwise have been able to participate due to fears over the exposure of their patent rights, copyrights, or trade secrets.

=> ACTION: To the maximum extent possible SWG activity should be open, with a closed approach allowed in the exceptional cases where it might be needed.

-- AdrianCuster - 26 Jul 2013

On behalf of Jeff DLB

Suggested Process:

* Draft announcement/press release about new work, to get agreement on high-level details. Don't issue the announcement yet, just agree on the vision. * CHECKPOINT 1: TC vote on whether to form SWG.

* Draft informational documentation for users and implementers. * Prototype software that implements all, and only, what is covered in the documentation. + Keep log of agreements/decisions that will form basis of standard. * Prototype conformance test tools for all functionality. + Keep log of agreements/decisions that will form basis of standard. * Iterate as needed. * Include 6-12 month period of testing, evaluation, and refinement. * CHECKPOINT 2: TC vote on whether to proceed to writing formal Standard.

* Draft Standard based on agreements/decisions. + All functionality must by covered by documentation, reference implementations, and conformance tests -- no more optional pieces for rare Use Cases that nobody implements. * Iterate as needed. * Circulate full package for public comment: draft announcement, documentation, software, specification. * Revise as needed. * CHECKPOINT 3: TC vote to adopt standard.

* PC vote to approve * Issue press release.

Regards, Jeff DLB, NOAA OGC TC/PC representative

-- TrevorTaylor - 27 Aug 2013
Topic revision: r9 - 27 Aug 2013, TrevorTaylor

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