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Post by Ilkka Rinne, originally published in the OGC Blog on 7th Feb 2017 with a title “OGC invests in improving Quality of Service and Quality of Experience”

We live in a world stealthily powered by Web Services and APIs: nearly everything we do on our laptops and mobile devices uses background services to talk over the Internet. These services are especially important for applications providing access to small subsets of information, based on a user’s location, fed from large, remotely stored datasets. Any quality issues in the communication between the applications and their backend services quickly become critical, causing bad user experience for tens of thousands of people.

Systematic improvement of the Quality of Service (QoS) for Web Services, including factors like availability, capacity, and performance, requires using well-defined metrics in order to provide comparable QoS measurements. Defining these QoS indicators and metrics, as well as declaring the expected service levels for Spatial Data Services, have been identified as priority topics of the newly founded OGC Quality of Service and Experience Domain Working Group (QoSE DWG). OGC member activity leading into founding of the new DWG in late 2016 clearly shows that QoS and more user-oriented Quality of Experience (QoE) topics are currently of great interest within the OGC.

In addition to the QoS metrics, the initial list of tasks for the OGC QoSE Domain Working Group includes gathering and defining a list of the essential QoS and QoE terms, and collecting good community practices in evaluating and improving the user experience of OGC Web Services. As an open DWG, the group acts as a forum for discussion and sharing information in QoS and QoE related topics for OGC members. Regular online meetings will be held monthly, and the group intends to meet face-to-face in as many OGC Technical Committee meetings as possible.

Charter members of QoSE DWG include several active OGC members with critical business interests in QoSE. Tom Kralidis, Senior Systems Scientist from the Meteorological Service of Canada, Government of Canada, highlights the importance of QoSE for both the data providers and data users: “Health check monitoring of geospatial services provides value for more than just uptime, focusing on the specific functionality of a given service or API. The work of the QoSE DWG will be of value to both organizations wishing to communicate their quality of service levels as well as monitoring applications wishing to evaluate and measure service quality in an interoperable manner.”

In Europe, the EU INSPIRE Directive and e-Government development are key drivers for QoSE. Danny Vandenbroucke, Research Manager, KU Leuven (SADL): “With the development of a European wide Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) steered by the INSPIRE Directive, QoSE has been recognized as a critical factor in the successful integration and usage of INSPIRE web services in e-Government processes. KU Leuven has been involved in the assessment of SDIs throughout Europe since 2002 and the testing and validation of its components, including QoSE, are a very important part of these assessments.”

Natural Resources Canada, Government of Canada (NRCan) is eager to contribute to the QoSE DWG best practices based on their experience. Cindy Mitchell, Lead, Operational Policies and Standards, Federal Geospatial Platform Initiative: “Quality of Service and Experience is fundamental to operational Spatial Data Infrastructures by ensuring services originating from a wide variety of publishers are available, usable, and relevant to applications and their users. We lead several initiatives of interest to the QoSE DWG in OGC, including Spatial Data Infrastructure assessment methodologies and key performance indicators, automated web services harvesting approaches, Federal Geospatial Platform data and service quality assessments, standards validation, and international collaborative projects (Pan-Arctic DEM, WaterML) that ensure data interoperability via standards. NRCan is pleased to collaborate within the QoSE DWG to bring best practices for highly reliable and usable web services to the web.”

Sampo Savolainen, the Managing Director of Spatineo, is thrilled to see the growing OGC interest for QoS: “In Spatineo, our entire business model is based on leveraging standard interfaces for letting our customers measure the quality of Spatial Data Services they are providing and using, and helping them leverage spatial data on the web. OGC activities in this field will make it easier for our customers to provide and find high quality Spatial Data Services.”

Scott Simmons, the Executive Director of the OGC Standards Program, notes that “geospatial web services include some unique characteristics, especially considering that the visual nature of a map rendered to a browser does not necessarily reflect the method of service nor the user interaction with the data. We need metrics tailored to the use case of the service and fair comparisons that target the services, not the IT environment and internet bandwidth in which the services reside.”

Raising the customer awareness in QoSE issues, and harmonizing QoSE measurement where it makes sense, were primary reasons for us at Spatineo to join the OGC. I’m honoured to co-chair the group with Tom Kralidis, and looking forward to active discussion and contributions from the group members.

The next QoSE DWG face-to-face meeting will be held at the upcoming OGC TC in Delft, The Netherlands on Wednesday the 22nd of March 2017. For more up-to-date information, including the mailing lists, work programme and meeting minutes, see the QoSE DWG wiki.