Norms versus standardization

The GIS world has changed enormously in the last three decades. Standardization activities in the GIS environment have increased since the mid-1990s. A distinction must be made between norms (de jure standards) at national (e.g. DIN, SNV, ÖNorm), European (CEN TC 287, TC 278) and international (ISO TC 211) levels, from efforts to achieve interoperability between GIS product and application worlds (e.g. in the OGC or W3C) and the product standards (e.g. AutoCAD DXF or Esri's Shape format) which are generally accepted and used and set by market presence (de facto standards).

Norming is the unique and determined solution of a repetitive task under the given scientific, technical and economic possibilities.

Norms for spatial information description have been defined and adopted by the ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) since 1994. In contrast, abstract specifications and implementation specifications are established by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and implemented in numerous GIS products on the market. ISO and OGC have been working closely together since 1997, e.g. in the form of joint working groups such as the TOCG (TC 211 -- OGC Coordination Group). This has had a decisive influence on the GIS market and enabled the interoperability of heterogeneous systems and approaches.

International Standardisation Organisation

The Technical Committee 211 of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has been working on the ISO 191xx family of standards for geoinformation since 1994. This standardization now ensures a very high level of harmonization and interoperability in the field of geoinformatics. Currently, almost 60 standards have been adopted in the ISO 191xx family of standards.

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