OGC Announces Blockchain And Distributed Ledger Technologies DWG


The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) announces the formation of the Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies Domain Working Group (DWG).

Participants in this new OGC DWG will focus on understanding the importance of, and requirements for, geospatial standardization within these revolutionary, disruptive technologies.

At the 111th OGC Technical Committee meeting recently held in Leuven, Belgium, the Technical Committee approved the appointment of Anna Burzykowska and Dr. Andreas Matheus as the founding Co-Chairs of the DWG. Anna Burzykowska is a Projects Specialist at the European Space Agency as well as a leader of the emerging practice on Blockchain, Distributed Ledgers and Earth Observation at the ESA’s Directorate of Earth Observations Programmes (D/EOP). Dr. Matheus is the founder and Managing Director of Secure Dimensions GmbH, a geo-security company based in Munich, Germany. 

Distributed Ledgers are collections of replicated, shared, and synchronized digital records that are stored across multiple sites. The technologies used to implement such ledgers (Distributed Ledger Technologies aka DLT) include blockchains. Blockchains are a digital ledger of records arranged into linked and cryptologically-validated chunks of data called blocks. By far the most widely cited application of blockchain technology is in the finance sector where it can be used as a cryptocurrency, the two most notable examples being Bitcoin and Ethereum.

However, other applications for DLT and blockchains are now gaining popularity. There is potential use of DLT in, for example, land registration, city services, space, pan-government registries, and justice. Location can play a key role in many of these application areas.

For example:

  • The location of financial transactions can determine what taxes apply;
  • The location of the boundary of a property forms the basis of its registration and
  • ‘The location where evidence is discovered at a crime scene can have an impact on judicial proceedings.

At present, there are numerous DLT services and networks available. There is however no standard for how those DLT should encode geospatial information such as location, coordinates, and coordinate reference systems. This situation is likely to lead to a problem of limited interoperability between information held in different DLT networks.

Given the immutable nature of blockchain and DLT, the need for standardization of the information encoded within them is time-critical: any poorly encoded geographic information will remain inherent to a given ledger for as long as it is in use. 

In October 2018, OGC published the Discussion Paper Geospatial Standardization of Distributed Ledger Technologies with the purpose of improving the understanding of Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. One recommendation of the Discussion Paper was to form the OGC BDLT DWG.

OGC members and non-members alike who are actively working within the Blockchain and Distributed Ledger community are invited to participate in the Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies Domain Working Group. Visit the Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies (BDLT) DWG home page for more information on the group, including how to participate.

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