[GeoSciML] [TC-Discuss] Assessment of the Virtual TC Meeting [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

Oliver.Raymond at ga.gov.au Oliver.Raymond at ga.gov.au
Sun Jun 23 23:08:46 EDT 2013

Hi Adrian et al,

Some comments about TC meetings, physical and virtual.

The OGC TC meetings are not terribly convenient for the GeoSciML SWG.  Generally our active members only have funds for one or maybe two major overseas trips a year.  We have typically met face-to-face annually at times and places where several geoscientific events and associated meetings can be co-located to maximise the use of our limited funds.  Our meetings for GeoSciML development have usually extended over 1 to 4 days each time - much longer than the few hours generally available at a face-to-face TC meeting.  As an example, our recent SWG meeting in St Petersburg (which coincided with the OGC virtual TC by accident rather than design) was timed after much toing and froing between members to coordinate schedules, and located to encourage new particpation from the Russian Federation.  We did not really consider random remote attendance at the meeting by potential new participants, but there had been considerable effort prior to the meeting to get new participation from agencies targeted by the GeoSciML and OneGeology communities.  Your comment that "each group was left to organize itself on its own" was not an issue for us, because the GeoSciML community have been comfortable arranging its own meetings, physical and virtual, since 2003 (GeoSciML only joined the OGC this year).

Teleconference will probably be the primary mode of our participation in OGC TC meetings, and we can do that at either physical or virtual TC meetings.  We may schedule future GeoSciML SWG teleconference meetings during a TC virtual meeting period (that seems sensible), but GeoSciML's SWG member availability will generally drive our meeting schedule.  While our potentially patchy physical attendance at TC meetings does not allow for much face-to-face cross-domain exchange of ideas, we are always keeping up with OGC communications, many of us are observers or members on other SWGs, and we are always available via email through which we have discussed issues with other SWGs in the past.  The ability to submit motions and documents for TC votes at a virtual TC meeting without our physical attendance is also potentially useful.




Ollie Raymond
Senior Geologist  - Information Management  |  Continental Geology Section
Minerals and Natural Hazards Division  |  GEOSCIENCE AUSTRALIA<http://www.ga.gov.au/>

Oceania Councillor & Interoperability Working Group
IUGS Commission for the Management and Application of Geoscience Information<http://www.cgi-iugs.org/>

Chair, GeoSciML Standards Working Group
Open Geospatial Consortium<http://www.opengeospatial.org/projects/groups/geoscimlswg>

Phone:  +61 2 6249 9575    Fax:  +61 2 6249 9971
Email:  Oliver.Raymond at ga.gov.au<mailto:Oliver.Raymond at ga.gov.au>    Web:  www.ga.gov.au<http://www.ga.gov.au/>
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-----Original Message-----
From: tc-discuss-bounces+oliver.raymond=ga.gov.au at lists.opengeospatial.org [mailto:tc-discuss-bounces+oliver.raymond=ga.gov.au at lists.opengeospatial.org] On Behalf Of Adrian Custer
Sent: Wednesday, 19 June 2013 1:03 AM
To: OGC TC-Discuss
Subject: [TC-Discuss] Assessment of the Virtual TC Meeting

Hey all,

We just finished a three week long virtual TC meeting. It is wonderful that the OGC tried such a meeting since it does offer lots of

*potential* benefits. It could increase participation, provide flexibility, and improve the reach of these meetings. In the hope that any future attempt at a virtual TC benefit from the experience of this, here are some comments.

Please note that I am not *blaming* anyone, and certainly not staff. We are trying out how to make such a thing as a 'virtual TC' effective and I do not expect anyone to know before hand how such a thing can be done.

But now we have done one, I will blame us if we cannot figure out what worked, what did not, and build on that to have new *ideas* for any future attempt.




Judging from my own experience and from the size of the closing plenary slide deck, it appears that participation was very, very low. The meetings I attended had very few participants, the number of groups meeting seemed small. Personally, I got to participate in a TC meeting for the first time in a while but only in the same way I would have otherwise, remotely. On the participation front, it appears that the virtual TC was a failure.

Technical Infrastructure:

We are experts at teleconferences and getting good at using WebEx so that seemed to go well. There was apparently a restriction on the number or participants allowed at the closing plenary which must be addressed if we are to use such a technology going forwards. On the technology front, the virtual TC seemed to go well.


The organization of the TC was lacking. Usually TC are very well organized with multiple OGC Staff hanging around ready to help, a schedule that Greg won't print because it changes throughout the meeting, and a venue with pointers on how to get to the right room. The virtual TC was totally broken on that front. Each group was left to organize itself on its own. All the TC meeting pages on the web site or the portal point either to past meetings or to future meetings. There actually was a calendar for the meeting but it was hard to find, dangling off a link to the 'Closing Plenary' meeting, and was a dead end, listing the known meetings at given times but not providing any information about where they were happening (contact info). I was personally unable to attend the WCS morning because I could not find the contact information since I had not previously been on the internal mailing lists of the DWG and SWG groups. Meanwhile, staff was busy or even had scheduled vacations during the TC Meeting! On the organization front, it seems the virtual TC was weak.


TC meetings usually provide a great venue to meet and greet and talk informally among participants. This is easy when everyone is physically present and, possibly sipping a delicious beverage or eating a good meal. In a virtual TC this will be very hard to replicate. Nonetheless, other generations use IRC and twitter to provide open, shared channels for communication. On the community building and cross-SWG/DWG discussion front, the virtual TC needs to invent something new.




Virtual TC meetings should take place in a single week, just like in situ TC meetings. The meeting was scheduled for three weeks to give flexibility but this seems to have just diluted the experience. The 'virtual' gives sufficient flexibility since sessions can run concurrently without restriction. There seems no need to allow sessions across three weeks, though certainly exceptions to the 'lets all meet in the same week' can be made.


Virtual TC meetings should highly encourage or possibly require every standing group to meet. The meeting might only be for twenty minutes but it should generate a slide set for the closing plenary summarizing the current status of the group and the current state of its work. That would help keep the closing plenary slide set useful as an overview of the ongoing work at the TC.

Opening plenary:

Virtual TC meetings should start with an opening plenary. The plenary offers a chance to discuss TC wide issues and get us started all together on the week's events. It provides structure and makes the opening to closing plenary interval structure the meeting. It also might give a way to announce any big events that will occur during the meeting. It might be used to announce a 'hangout' where general discussion can take place and informal questions asked.


Virtual TC meetings should be considered as seriously as in situ TC meetings by the OGC and by staff scheduling. Virtual TC meetings should appear listed on the web site and portal just like in situ meetings.

Virtual TC meeting should have a calendar updated just like the others but the calendar should also contain contact information to join the calls. During virtual TC meetings, some staff should be 'around'

throughout the day in the same way they are during in situ meetings, to help in case of last minute changes or lost participants.

Discussion fora:

We would benefit from such a forum. That might be the place where TC Staff is offering its presence, might be TC-Discuss, or might be some other venue but we should all know where it is and be encouraged to spend a little time there so others can contact us. IRC works for such a forum providing a common channel for everyone, side channels for split off discussions, and private conversations between participants.

However, IRC is perhaps not a technology with which OGC folk are familiar.

In closing, I am glad this was attempted, I think we can learn from this meeting, and suspect it would be worth trying again sometime. If we do, the OGC should be thinking that it will be *harder* to organize an effective virtual TC than to organize an in situ TC, merely because we do not yet know how to do it.

Also, I would appreciate feedback from staff (Greg?) on the actual level of participation in the virtual TC in comparison to other recent TC meetings if that were possible. (i.e. number of sessions, number of members in the various session, that kind of thing)

I would also love to hear feedback from other participants or non-participants as to what worked and what did not for them.




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