Publication Date: 2020-04-27

Approval Date: 2019-11-22

Posted Date: 2019-09-09

Reference number of this document: OGC 19-051

Reference URL for this document:

Category: User Guide

Editor: Guy Schumann, Albert Kettner

Title: OGC Disasters Resilience Pilot User Guide: Interoperability to Optimize Resource Allocation Across Flood Disaster Timeline


Copyright © 2020 Open Geospatial Consortium. To obtain additional rights of use, visit


Attention is drawn to the possibility that some of the elements of this document may be the subject of patent rights. The Open Geospatial Consortium shall not be held responsible for identifying any or all such patent rights. Recipients of this document are requested to submit, with their comments, notification of any relevant patent claims or other intellectual property rights of which they may be aware that might be infringed by any implementation of the standard set forth in this document, and to provide supporting documentation.


This document is a user guide created as a deliverable in an OGC Interoperability Initiative as a user guide to the work of that initiative and is not an official position of the OGC membership. There may be additional valid approaches beyond what is described in this user guide.




Guy Schumann


Albert Kettner

Dartmouth Flood Observatory, University of Colorado, Boulder (RSS-Hydro consultant)

1. Introduction

For flood disasters, hurricanes and tropical storms in recent years have been particularly devastating globally, with rainfall and inundation footprints far exceeding records and also national response capabilities. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been increasingly stepping up to these new challenges in flood monitoring and response by harnessing the full scope of its remote sensing and modeling resources during events, either through ongoing activities at NASA centers or through NASA support of directly related projects. As these capabilities are designed and then progressively improved, there is a coupled need for sustainable mechanisms.

Several international initiatives and organizations in which NASA participates also provide relevant services and geospatial data. This information ‘firehose’ makes it difficult to coordinate all of the relevant systems during one single event. It becomes impossible with multiple simultaneous events. Thus, response activities to Hurricane Harvey (August 23-September 25, 2017) were still occurring as Hurricane Irma (September 4-October 18, 2017) caused flood damage. Although each of the response systems provides a “unique” capability, there is to date no global decision support system for flood disasters that ingests all the data from existing systems and provides real-time critical information that can guide operational reactions on the ground. Because these capabilities evolve over time, any such “interoperable” system must be able to easy incorporate changes and improvements thereof, it must be flexible, and itself robust and able to be maintained into the future.

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Disaster Resilience Pilot and the GEOSS Applications Implementation Pilot (GEOSS AIP) have been merged to form the new OGC Disaster Resilience Pilot (DRP-2019) & GEOSS Architecture Implementation Pilot (AIP-10). OGC is an international not for profit organization committed to making quality open standards for the global geospatial community. Whereas GEOSS will achieve comprehensive, coordinated and sustained observations of the Earth system, in order to improve monitoring of the state of the Earth, increase understanding of Earth processes, and enhance prediction of the behavior of the Earth system. Both initiatives have been merged because they share the same ambitions, technical principles, interoperability challenges, and goals: To develop best practices in sharing and accessing data through Spatial Data Infrastructures in specific contexts: Disaster Resilience on the one side, and general Earth Observation data driven contexts such as ecology, energy, or public health on the other.

The goal of the Disaster Resilience pilot is to develop and demonstrate user guides to build reliable and powerful data infrastructures that make all data required for decision making, analysis, and response in a flooding, hurricane, or wildfire situation available in a cost-effective way. The initiative will bring data and infrastructure experts together to exercise specific scenarios. Focus is on disaster resilience, but exercised together with additional scenarios that have similar interoperability challenges.

In this initiative, this user guide proposes to use enhanced satellite- and model-based flood information readily available from the DFO ( and elsewhere (NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), University of Maryland, etc.) to contribute to the successful implementation of Scenario 1. Flood. All key DFO flood data layers are already provided as OGC interoperable web map services and as well as through a newly launched mobile app. The system is highly appreciated by many disaster response organizations worldwide and used by many (e.g. United Nations World Food Programme(UN WFP), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Red Cross, World Bank, Latin America Development Bank (CAF)) as it provides a) historical flood events, b) near real-time flood maps and c) additional relevant flood disaster information (for example satellite gauged water discharge) globally. The system provided by DFO fits this OGC initiative perfectly and, furthermore, it is continuously maintained, augmented under and plays a major role in several ongoing NASA and other projects.

1.1. Flood Scenario: Hurricane Harvey Example

This user guide presents a flood scenario based on Hurricane Harvey that hit Texas and parts of Louisiana in August 2017. The goal is to illustrate how different geospatial datasets can be served to the right people or person at the right time to optimize operations in the field. This will be demonstrated using interoperable OGC web services standards and protocols across the Hurricane Harvey flood disaster timeline in order to optimize resource allocation. The section below briefly outlines the use case and illustrates the workflow and general workflow datasets used.

1.2. Use Case

A rescue team on the ground requests what homes are flooded and closest to them. These requests are happening across the hurricane and flood event timeline. An operations analyst at HQ serves the relevant event datasets (predicted potential, imminent, actual flooding) as WMS layers via GeoPlatform and a mobile app application as the event unfolds. This data stream at the right instances allows the rescue team in the field to optimize allocation of resources, for example which homes closest to them are flooded and to what water depth, and what is the population density in the respective neighborhood(s).

The figures below provide an overview of the workflow and illustrate the general flood timeline data layers, respectively.

Figure 1. Overview workflow