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Driving Interoperability in Defence

Driving Interoperability in Defence
May 24, 2023 Guy Collins

Here at Rowe, we support our customers through using well-known standards to benefit them achieving interoperability.  This may be defined as:

enabling systems, often from different platforms and nations, to seamlessly interact with each other.

This adds value to work and ensures that less time is taken to develop solutions when a standard is adhered to.

One set of standards used by Rowe customers is those provided by the Defence Geospatial Information Working Group (DGIWG). DGIWG was formed in 1983. It provides expert advice and guidance on the standardisation of geospatial information and services. It addresses interoperability challenges between different member nations. DGIWG serves 23 nations with a further 3 being classed as observer nations. They collectively contribute to the specifications and artefacts that enable interoperability for the modern defence needs.

DGIWG has several partner organisations who it cooperates with. These include specialisms in many areas but are mainly focused on the data and geographical or geospatial data. Cooperation agreements are with:

  • NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation)
  • European Union Satellite Centre (EUSC)
  • ISO (the International Organisation of Standardisation)
  • The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)
  • International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO)
  • The Multinational Geospatial Co-Production Program (MGCP)
  • TanDEM-X High Resolution Elevation Data Exchange (TREx)
  • The International Program for Human Geography (IPHG)

Experts operate in technical panels to develop standards and agree upon DGIWG profiles for those standards. There are five panels and an overarching quality control which applies across all five. The five panels include:

  • Vector data
  • Imagery and gridded data
  • Metadata
  • Portrayal
  • Web Services

The profiles created by DGIWG are subsets of the standards which have been adopted. They describe how the standard should be implemented and interpreted. Using defined profiles ensures that software will be interoperable for others, in this case it may be a data sharing agreement between nations.

Open standards are pivotal to DGIWG and much work is undertaken to ensure that the standards can be used for interoperating between nations. This enables the exchange, delivery and use of known standardised geospatial information. Consensus is needed to adopt new standards into DGIWG and the organisation operates on a democratic basis. To support understanding and improve implementation DGIWG will provide guidance and procedures wherever possible. Bespoke standards will be the last option for DGIWG as it sees the merits of using suitable open standards which are often created by partner organisations.

DGIWG also have its own Geospatial Reference Architecture (known as the DGRA) which is the core of the interoperability. This is supported by extensive testing and review processes which mean that the profiles are fit for purpose. Testing will be on an international network of independent systems.  Best practices are adopted to ensure that nations work together as easily as possible.

Keeping an eye on the future also falls under the DGIWG remit. This means that emerging trends and next generations of standards need to be followed and reviewed. There will be assessments of these to ensure that they offer value to the multiple nations and ensure that new requirements can be implemented across nations.

Cutting edge data and capabilities are at the heart of DGIWG.  Our collaboration and expertise in this area ensures that our customers will benefit from that knowledge and level of skill in delivery of solutions.