The OGC web coverage processing service (WCPS) standard


Imagery is more and more becoming integral part of geo services. More generally, an increasing variety of sensors is generating massive amounts of data whose quantized nature frequently leads to rasterized data structures. Examples include 1-D time series, 2-D imagery, 3-D image time series and x/y/z spatial cubes, and 4-D x/y/z/t spatio-temporal cubes. The massive proliferation of such raster data through a rapidly growing number of services make open, standardized service interfaces increasingly important. Geo service standardization is undertaken by the Open GeoSpatial Consortium (OGC). The core raster service standard is the Web Coverage Service (WCS) which specifies retrieval based on subsetting, scaling, and reprojection. In 2008, OGC has issued a companion standard which adds flexible, open-ended coverage processing capabilities. This Web Coverage Processing Service (WCPS) specifies a coverage processing language allowing clients to send requests of arbitrary complexity for evaluation by the server. This contribution reports on the WCPS standard by giving an introduction to its coverage model and processing language. Further, design rationales are discussed, as well as background and relation to other OGC standards. 1-D to 4-D use case scenarios illustrate intended use and benefits for different communities. Although the paper focuses on conceptual issues, the WCPS reference implementation, PetaScope, is briefly addressed. The author is co-chair of the coverage-related working groups in OGC.

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    Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, not necessarily official OGC position.

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    Maybe the most prominent example of a safe and declarative language is SQL.

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    The WPS specification already mentions that it requires specific profiles to achieve fully-automated interoperability.

  4. 4.

    The latter feature is recognized as being relatively complex to implement and handle; hence, it is optional now and is likely to be factored out into a bespoke extension in the next WCS version.

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    Prefixing variables with a “$” character is not mandatory, but used here to resemble a more XQuery-style syntax.

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    See [2], Section 7.2.5.


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The author gratefully acknowledges is indebted to Arliss Whiteside, with whom he co-chairs the WCS.SWG. Steven Keens, with whom the author co-chairs the WCS.SWG, and Arliss Whiteside have contributed substantial suggestions for improvement during their proofreading of the WCPS draft. Ben Domenico continuously provides invaluable input, discussion, and insight as initiator and leader of the GALEON network. A big “thank you” goes to the rasdaFolks for their great work in implementing rasdaman, PetaScope, and EarthLook. The reviewers’ insightful comments have allowed to significantly improve the paper.

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Baumann, P. The OGC web coverage processing service (WCPS) standard. Geoinformatica 14, 447–479 (2010).

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  • Geo services
  • Raster services
  • Sensor services
  • Standardization
  • OGC
  • WCPS
  • WCS