NSGIC Blog Archives

May 2012 - August 2016


Assessing the Next Gen 911 Funding Gap

Posted by Karen Rogers on August 3, 2016

This is an excellent article that summarizes where most states are with funding NG911 and how much it may cost to get it fully deployed across the country.

As a Heat Wave Builds, Obama Wisely Presses for Community Cohesion - The New York Times

Posted by Phil Worrall on July 27, 2016

With a heat wave building, President Obama uses Twitter to press communities to check for vulnerable neighbors.

Source: As a Heat Wave Builds, Obama Wisely Presses for Community Cohesion – The New York Times

As Storms Erode California's Cliffs, Buried Village Could Get Washed Away : NPR

Posted by Phil Worrall on July 27, 2016

Contributed By:  Leland Pierce

NM Geospatial Advisory Committee

Thought this might be of interest and wanted to pass it along: the big storms off the California coast in recent years are threatening Native American archaeological sites due to consistent erosion.  In the audio portion of the story is a great quote about not being able to do anything without their maps and GIS-and geospatial technology is huge out west in terms of cultural resources.

Until now, the archaeological philosophy at Redwood National Park has been “keep it in the ground.” But for one Native American site, climate change may force the park to reconsider that approach.

Source: As Storms Erode California’s Cliffs, Buried Village Could Get Washed Away : NPR

NSGIC Online Mapping Platform

Posted by Phil Worrall on July 11, 2016

NSGIC has launched a new Online Mapping Platform based on Esri ArcGIS Technology. Our Continuum of Natural Disasters project is our first official use of this site, but more projects are being planned. If you would like to suggest ideas and or contribute maps / apps / data to this platform please let us know. To access the NSGIC Online Mapping Platform click HERE

Open Data Leader Waldo Jaquith Heads to 18F

Posted by Karen Rogers on July 8, 2016

Some of you who attended the 2015 midyear may remember Waldo Jaquith as our keynote speaker.  It appears he’s moving up in the world!

Article on Waldo Jaquith

GovTech Article on New Government Uses for GIS

Posted by Karen Rogers on June 16, 2016

This article talks about the innovative ways GIS is being used to engage citizens by their local governments and to improve government services.  It’s a good read. 

Introducing Molly Schar as NSGIC Executive Director

Posted by Chris Diller on June 15, 2016

On behalf of the NSGIC Board of Directors, it is with great delight that I announce the hiring of Molly Schar as NSGIC’s first executive director.

During the search process, Molly impressed the search committee with not only her extensive background working with government and nonprofit organizations in advocacy, management, and communications roles but also with the creative ideas and enthusiasm she brought to our discussions about NSGIC’s future. I am confident that as you meet Molly in the coming weeks and months, you will also appreciate her warmth and candor, as well as the distinct perspective she brings to our organization.

Nearly two years ago NSGIC embarked on a journey to find our first executive director when I sat down with former NSGIC presidents Kenny Miller and Shelby Johnson by the fireplace at Kenny’s house in Maryland contemplating NSGIC’s future. I recall that during those early discussions we identified the need to better serve our membership, diversify our base by finding ways to grow it and develop a strategy that complements our volunteers’ commitment to NSGIC rather than asking members to do more than they can offer.

In 25 years of NSGIC, our organization has had plenty of success. However, the paradigm has shifted and so we must shift as well. Instead of trying to convince the people we work for that GIS is an essential element to decision making, we are now asked to do more with GIS than ever before. As a result, we have less time to collaborate amongst ourselves and therefore, NSGIC needs a bit more help than our membership can offer.

Not too long ago I was provided a Directions Magazine interview of Past President Bill Johnson from 2004. During that interview, Bill predicted that NSGIC would have an Executive Director within five years.

“Our hope as an organization is that we can continue to expand our financial base to the point where we can afford a full-time Executive Director, and I really believe it will be possible to reach that goal within five years, or perhaps sooner.” Bill Johnson, 2004

Bill was off about seven years but his vision was on point.

Molly began her government career with the National Credit Union Administration in Alexandria, Va., as a public affairs specialist. As a member of the public and congressional affairs office, Molly represented the federal agency and its priorities to a number of different audiences, including national and regional media. From there, Molly moved to the World Council of Credit Unions, where she directed its Washington advocacy efforts before federal agencies and the U.S. Congress. In that role, she served actively as part of the Washington-based Microenterprise Coalition and U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council as legislative committee co-chair.

Molly also worked in Washington as the head of the stewardship team for the development office of the national headquarters of the American Red Cross. There, she directed the execution of advanced strategy for donor retention and growth, focusing on effective donor communications in the complex and fast-paced disaster relief organization.

During a stint on the West Coast, Molly was campaign director of the million-dollar-donation-at-a-time “Women Moving Millions” campaign by the Women’s Funding Network, based in San Francisco. She also served for more than five years as the executive director of a medical association focused on leadership development.

Molly makes her home in New Orleans, La., on the “third coast.” A water lover, Molly has lived on boats in Washington, DC, as well as the Northern California coast. Currently living in a camelback shotgun house in New Orleans’ historic Esplanade Ridge neighborhood, Molly says she doesn’t own a boat on the Gulf Coast … yet.

Please join me in welcoming Molly to NSGIC as she hits the ground running.


• Molly Schar on LinkedIn

• Molly Schar on Twitter

Chris Diller, WI

NSGIC President 

NSGIC's Continuum of Natural Disasters Project Launch

Posted by Phil Worrall on June 15, 2016

NSGIC is pleased to announce its Continuum of Natural Disasters project which was designed to raise awareness of the nature, type and frequency of federally-declared natural disasters and how geospatial data can improve government efforts to plan for, mitigate and respond to these events.

Project Deliverables:  Three basic products were completed as part of this effort, including a report stressing the value of sharing geospatial data to effectively respond to disasters, a data matrix indicating sources of publicly available geospatial data, and a set of online maps and apps using FEMA’s federally-declared natural disaster data published on the new NSGIC Online Mapping Platform hosted on ArcGIS.

Project Funding:  This material was prepared by the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) with funding assistance from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NSGIC served as a professional services subcontractor to Woolpert, Inc. to develop this content and NSGIC is solely responsible for its content.

Project Resources:  All products may be reached by clicking on the ‘Natural Disasters’ button on the NSGIC Home Page or by going directly to the landing page for this project at https://www.nsgic.org/natural-disasters.  The report has been endorsed by the Association of State Flood Plain Managers (ASFPM), National Association of Counties (NACo), and the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation (NAPSG).  We encourage other organizations to forward these links to their members.

The project deliverables include a written report, data matrix and interactive web map. 

Most Dangerous Place to Live in America: Natural Disasters

Posted by Phil Worrall on June 15, 2016

See how safe you are from natural disasters

Source: Most Dangerous Place to Live in America: Natural Disasters

June 28-29 State of Resilience Leadership Forum and Community Workshop

Posted by Phil Worrall on June 15, 2016

Source: June 28-29 State of Resilience Leadership Forum and Community Workshop

Our Friend Jim Knudson

Posted by admin on June 4, 2016

James Knudson passed away at the home he shared with his wife Kimberly on Wednesday, June 1, 2016. Jim was born and raised in Charleston, West Virginia. He studied geology and computer science at West Virginia University earning degrees in both fields. Jim built a career in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) working with private firms and with Pennsylvania government as the Commonwealth’s first Geospatial Coordinator. He also served as the Deputy State Chief Information Officer within the Office of Administration.

NSGIC members knew Jim as both the Pennsylvania State Representative and as a private sector partner. He is shown in the photograph below giving a presentation at the October 2006 Annual Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas. Jim was always a step ahead and willing to share his work with others. He embodied the NSGIC spirit, and he will be missed. 

DHS S&T Collaboration Community - by IdeaScale

Posted by Phil Worrall on May 18, 2016

A Crowdsourced Feedback Community hosted by IdeaScale.com

Source: DHS S&T Collaboration Community – by IdeaScale | Recent

Community Resilience

Posted by Phil Worrall on May 18, 2016

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) manages a multi-faceted program, assisting communities and stakeholders on issues related to buildings and the inter-dependencies of physical infrastructure systems. The Community Resilience Program, part of NIST’s broader disaster resilience work, complements efforts by others in the public and private sectors. NIST focuses on research, community planning and guidance, and stakeholder engagement.

Source: Community Resilience

Bill Burgess Steps Down as Washington Liaison for NSGIC

Posted by Chris Diller on May 13, 2016

NSGIC has been in existence for twenty-five years, and Bill Burgess has been a part of the organization for twenty-three of those years.  Earlier this week Bill informed the Board of Directors that he will be stepping down as Washington Liaison for NSGIC.

Bill joined NSGIC in 1993 and served three terms on the NSGIC Board of Directors while employed by the State of Maryland.  After 28 years of proud service, he retired as Director of the Watershed Services Unit in the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in 2003.  Shortly after retiring, he then joined NSGIC as Washington Liaison and has been with NSGIC ever since.

My first NSGIC experience was in 2006 when I attended the annual conference in Little Rock, AR, and I quickly came to understand the value of Bill Burgess.  Over the years, I have been enormously impressed with Bills’ drive and determination to carry the NSGIC mission forward. Bill has always been there for NSGIC and often worked long days and late nights.  Whether it was finalizing a contract, working on a report or coordinating some activity Bill was usually at the center of that activity.

With Bill seemingly able to do it all, his shoes will be hard to fill.  Bill has been a central figure on every major NSGIC initiative such as the ‘Fifty States Initiative’, ‘Imagery for the Nation’ and the ‘Digital Coast Partnership’ just to name a few.  There are just too many things to list. If you ever crossed paths with NSGIC, either at a meeting or some publication, it is safe to say Bill had something to do with it. Bill knows so many people.  He has contacts in just about every national geospatial organization, federal agency and in every state.

In Bill’s letter to the Board, he stated, “I am enormously proud of NSGIC’s accomplishments and appreciate the opportunities that the organization has provided to me over the past 23 years as both a volunteer and contractor. I value many of the relationships I’ve made over that period and still firmly believe in NSGIC’s mission.”

The feeling is mutual Bill.  NSGIC wishes you all the best in the next chapter of your life.

Chris Diller

NSGIC President 

Controlling the Rising Cost of Federal Responses to Disaster

Posted by Phil Worrall on May 13, 2016

RECORDING: House Committee on Transportation

This is a hearing of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management.

Witness List:

  • The Honorable Carlos Curbelo, U.S. Representative, 26th District, Florida

  • The Honorable Joseph L. Nimmich, Deputy Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency

  • Ms. Sallie Clark, Commissioner, El Paso County, Colorado; President, National Association of Counties, International Association of Emergency Managers

  • Mr. Brian Koon, Director, Florida Division of Emergency Management; President, National Emergency Management Association

  • Mr. Eric Nelson, Senior Vice President of Catastrophe Risk Management, Travelers Insurance, Build Strong Coalition

  • Mr. Kevin Mickey, GISP, CTT+, Chair, Multihazard Mitigation Council, National Institute of Building Sciences 

Resiliency Task Force Meeting Notes 04-16-2015

Posted by Phil Worrall on April 16, 2015


Jon Gottsegen, Kathy Demarco, Phil Worrall, Iain Hyde (Guest Speaker), Susan Fox, Miki Schmidt, Krysia Sepita, Mariam Pomilio, Leland Pierce, Jim Scott, Nathan Lowry, Pat Cummens, Richard Betgereit, Zsolt Nagy.

Special Presentation:

Iain Hyde, Deputy Chief Recovery Officer, State of Colorado Governor’s Office

In 2013 Colorado was hit by the most catastrophic flooding since 1976.  Flood event estimated at nearly $4 billion dollar impact of this event. Immediately after this event a resiliency workgroup was formed.  First year was mostly focused on recovering from the flood events, but also how to build back better, stronger and to become more resilient, and this is our current focus of our Colorado resiliency project.

The resiliency workgroup is working toward formalizing and developing a Colorado Resiliency Framework.  Colorado Resiliency Framework is currently under development March – May, 2015. Why?

  • Colorado has experienced four major presidential declared disasters in the last 5 years, but even more [smaller non-declared] disaster events impacted local communities during the same time period.

  • We anticipate more frequent events in the future due to changing climate patterns.


For recovery and current resiliency efforts from:

  • Federal Disaster Funds from declared flood disaster (320 million)

We hope to fund ongoing resiliency efforts through:

  • Creating a Community Resiliency Partnership Fund

  • HUD Resiliency Grant Competition award

  • Sweat equity (We will proceed with this effort statewide regardless of competition / grant awards)

How do we define vulnerability and resiliency? What are the different sectors in a community (Economic, Government, Community, Housing, Social, Infrastructure, etc…), and what resiliency actually means to each sector, how do we respond, and how do we prioritize these? (See slides)

This summer the plan is to:

  • Use the framework to pilot the development of Local Resiliency Strategies

  • Develop a GIS-based Risk and vulnerability assessment tool

  • Start building a stable funding source.  The Community Resiliency Partnership Fund (Existing disaster funds and potential HUD grant competition funds to seed this fund, but also build out permanent funding by building local and private funding partnerships.)

For More Information:

Resiliency Task Force (News and Announcement):

  1. Zsolt Nagy, AECOM

  • Would be interested in knowing more how this work in Colorado is it being informed from a national /international resiliency efforts.

  • UN has just released a scorecard on resilient cities, co-developed by AECOM and IBM.  This could be of interest to NSGIC members on how scoring can be used to evaluate Counties and States.*

  1. Miki Schmidt, NOAA

  • National Sea Grant Resilient competition.**  FY15 budget included a $5 million resilience coastal grant opportunity [coastal watersheds in 34 states].  Is currently delayed, but hope to be able to spend in near future.

  • NSGIC should consider playing a role in putting together a geospatial data sharing plan for local, statewide and regional resiliency applications.  Tim DeTroy presented recently on lessons learned from Sandy in his state – this could be a good source to start with.

  • States and NSGIC would definitely be in a good position to support these grant proposals by distilling down a short list of minimum essential GIS data sets.

  • This could help kick start the work of this task force.

  • Have talked to Bill Burgess about this grant and can follow up with him more.

  1. Jon Gottsegen, Co GIO

NSGIC could define the common Geospatial data, technology and resource threads between these different initiatives:

  • HUD Resiliency Grant Competition

  • Climate Data Initiative

  • 100 Resilient Cities Competition

  • National Sea Grant Competition

  • 3DEP LiDAR program funds

  1. Pat Cummens, Esri

  • There are a number of organizations like IMCA, National League of Cities, the Urban Sustainability Network, with substantial resiliency activities under way.  We do not need to reinvent the wheel, but partner with these other groups

  • Esri whiteboard discussions with customers on resiliency #1 is flooding, but #2 is Extreme Heat events

  • Recommend states [NSGIC] put together a list of “must have / minimum essential” geospatial data to support resiliency.

  • Esri is putting together another Resiliency App. Challenge on “Climate and Public Health” to support the President’s Climate Data Initiative.  These are open sourced and publically available through hacker league site and Esri site.***

Footnotes & References:

*From Zsolt Nagy, AECOM:  UN Score Card. UNISDR – 10 point checklist –


View Score Card:  UNScorecard-1pager

**From Susan Fox, NOAA:  The Sea Grant resilience index that we mentioned today was developed through the MS-AL Sea Grant Consortium. This is something that we highlight during our trainings, such as the Coastal Community Planning and Development training.

MS-AL Sea Grant’s Coastal Resilience Index: http://masgc.org/assets/uploads/publications/662/coastal_community_resilience_index.pdf

General info here: http://masgc.org/coastal-storms-program/resilience-index

There is also a grant program with project descriptions.

***From Pat Cummens, Esri: Some links we talked about below

Rockefeller 100 resilient communities http://downloads.esri.com/agol/pub/resilientcities/index.html

Minneapolis resilience story map – be sure to drive into to data on the extreme heat event one: http://cityoflakes.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapTour/index.html?appid=ef216fd128dc44cdbe7bc17c2ec06668&webmap=c6433f1f2346487fb0331c91b64bfbca

Esri Resilient Communities: http://www.esri.com/industries/government/resilient-communities

Jon Gottsegen, CO GIO:  This is a link to the Community Inclusion mapping site that came up in Iain’s presentation today:  http://coloradosilc.org/resources/community-inclusion-in-colorado-aka-mapping-project/


How well do you know the American landscape?

Posted by Karen Rogers on April 15, 2015

This is an intriguing quiz…I got 7/7.


GIS in new territory?

Posted by Karen Rogers on April 14, 2015

The image in the article says it all:


National Address Database Summit Recap

Posted by admin on April 13, 2015

Realizing the development of a publicly accessible National Address Point Database (NAPD) with X and Y coordinates, is a very high priority for the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) and many others. Nearly all government service delivery requires a NAPD, and creating one will significantly reduce government duplication of effort and waste.

We saw the beginning of the process at the National Address Database Summit that was held last week at the Maritime Institute facilities in Linthicum, Maryland. It was sponsored by the USDOT with input from the U.S. Census Bureau during the planning stages. Participants from every sector were invited to attend this event and to engage in the facilitated discussions designed to identify the business case; governance and partnership issues; outreach and communication; and the technology that will be required to effectively develop and maintain a NAPD. Facilitation was provided by a team of expert facilitators provided by Applied Geographics and the Lead Alliance. They will also be drafting reports to detail the outcomes of the discussions.

The composition of the attendees was critical to the success of this meeting, because it represented the range of stakeholders that must be at the table. In addition to the 25 observers to the process, there were 10 Federal, 16 state, 17 local, and 2 tribal government representatives. They were joined by 8 private companies and 5 nonprofit/trade organizations that all have a vested interest in the development of a NAPD.

The event started with welcoming comments from Steve Lewis (USDOT GIO), Richard McKinney (USDOT CIO), Rolf Schmitt (Dep. Director, USDOT Bureau of Transportation Statistics), and Ivan Deloatch (Staff Director, FGDC). They each provided their thoughts on the value of a NAPD and the status of current efforts, ranging from the state of the current bureaucracy, to the highly personal experience of McKinney who, as a young man had to walk out into a foggy night to flag down a lost ambulance responding to his father’s heart attack. McKinney’s level of commitment was clearly demonstrated when he said that “if the participants of the Summit can figure out the identified issues, he would use the authority of his office to make it happen.”

Before the breakout sessions began, the participants were exposed to many of the diverse business requirements for a NAPD ranging from the reporting requirements for mortgage banks, to the services provided by the public safety answering points (PSAPs or 9-1-1 Call Centers) that send police, fire and ambulance crews to your front door as quickly as possible. The messages were clear. We all need a National Address Point Database to sustain business requirements and to ensure the safety of our loved ones.

It was noted that the end goal is clearly achievable, because it has already been accomplished in the United Kingdom and Denmark. Open Addresses was cited as a successful example, while noting that it may not be a sustainable model and that government must provide the appropriate leadership. We also know that several state address programs are in-place to coordinate the development of statewide address point databases.

Now we must come together to sustain this effort, and then finish the job in the U.S. Based on initial reports from the participants, we are well underway. The draft report from the Summit is expected by May 8th. The organizers of this event will provide their comments and the report will be finalized ten days later. 

Has spring sprung?

Posted by Karen Rogers on April 10, 2015

This is certainly pertinent this time of year!


APA - Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery: Next Generation

Posted by Phil Worrall on April 2, 2015

Post-Disaster Recovery: Next Generation – A new publication from the American Planning Association.

Over the past four years, the APA Hazards Planning Center worked under an agreement with FEMA to develop Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery: Next Generation (PAS 576). This updated manual offers a no-nonsense explanation of the benefits — and limitations — of planning for unpredictable events.

pas576What’s also interesting about this new publication is that the authors address planning for disaster resiliency and community sustainability as an integral part of the recovery process, looking at issues like:

  • What becomes of these communities and regions afterwards?

  • How long does it take to rebuild?

  • Is there anything communities can do to speed the process, to reduce the losses, to become more resilient?

The report outlines the Vision and Next Steps in creating resilient and sustainable communities and concludes that “In the end, the opportunity to combine aspects of community economic revitalization with environmental restoration and serious considerations of social equity draws upon some of the most powerful, creative, and visionary skill sets that planners can offer to a community. The planning profession must rise to this opportunity while realizing that disasters are sobering reminders of all that society may not have gotten right in the way it has chosen to build in the past. It is not enough merely to repeat those mistakes.”

Go to the APA website to read more and download a copy of the report HERE. 

Maine Names Young as GIS Administrator

Posted by Shelby Johnson on April 2, 2015

On Monday Brian Guerrette, the OIT Information Technology Manager for the State of Maine announced Joe Young as the new GIS Administrator.   Guerrette said, “We have finished the interviews for GIS Administrator position within the MEGIS group and I’m happy to announce that Joe Young has accepted the position. Joe will start his new role effective today, Monday, March 30, 2015.

Joe has been a member of the MEGIS team since November of 2013 as the Executive Director of the GeoLibrary Board. Prior to that he worked in the Maine Floodplain Management Program coordinating flood mapping activities and advocating for improved imagery and elevation data acquisition. In both roles, Joe has spent much of his time collaborating with various entities (private, local, State and Federal) to promote the use and need for continuous updating of geospatial data. Joe will continue his work with the GeoLibrary Board.

OIT has begun a restructuring of the MEGIS team and this appointment is the first step in that restructuring. OIT management recognizes the need for additional technical services to support data processing, database management and agency technical support. These services will be filled by posting a GIS technical position as soon as possible.”

Joe has been actively participating in NSGIC during his time as the Director of the Geolibrary and so we are enthusiastic that he will be playing a lead role in Maine’s state spatial data infrastructure.  Congratulations Joe! 

NSGIC Mid-Year Conference Summary

Posted by Shelby Johnson on March 30, 2015

Shelby Johnson,  Arkansas GIO & NSGIC President

Shelby Johnson, Arkansas GIO & NSGIC President

Before I get too far I’d like to thank Karen Rogers from Wyoming, and Nathan Lowry from Colorado.  They did most of the writing for this update and I’m just the publisher.

Can you believe it has already been a month since the 2015 Mid-Year NSGIC conference?  The dust has settled now and for those who couldn’t make it, we offer this short summary to get you up to date.  These are just a few highlights from the event and filtered through our perspective. From federal address efforts to local outreach initiatives, many GIS projects were reported on as ideas and inspiration flourished.

NSGIC as an organization started the week off with an intense strategic planning session.  The Board of Directors discussed strategies to expand its membership and increase participation from the local level.  We hope to develop a marketing strategy to recruit new members with fresh ideas and strengthen our organization.

The keynote speaker, Waldo Jaquith, from U.S. Open Data, kicked things off with an intriguing presentation explaining his experience opening up state data to be visualized in GIS.  As the director of the U.S. Open Data, his mission is to build the capacity of governments to open up their data, and enabling that data to be plotted on a map makes it that much more meaningful and valuable.  He described how he scrubbed data on licensed businesses in the state of Virginia and with a few lines of coding was able to put geospatially enabled data in the hands of locals to help identify businesses that haven’t paid their business license fees.  This simple use case should find traction in every one of our states. Waldo went on to point out.

  • Presume (assume) that all governments provide data to the public for free. When you hear of jurisdictions that charge for access to data they provide, “change your posture to aghast“.  “Really, …. you do that?  How is that working out for you?”, etc.

  • Make your data known and usable beyond GIS folks:

    • Publish machine-readable data

    • Host data on a repo and syndicate that data

    • Make sure all data is easily discovered via Google

  • And specifically for state address point data aggregators:

    • Publish in GeoJSON

    • Provide a .csv-based bulk geocoder

    • Provide a geocoding API that is RESTful, uses JSON, and doesn’t require authentication

Finally, he challenged NSGIC specifically to make a national address database and not wait for the someone else to do it.

The report card the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) recently released on NSDI data took center stage as former Governor Jim Geringer (WY) and John Moeller described the process and outcome of their efforts.  Overall, the nation has earned a C- on its efforts to maintain the framework data layers as identified in 1994. Gov. Geringer was very clear that the blame is not to be placed on any one federal agency or program, but that it should be a wake up call that things should be done differently.  Specifically, there needs to be some oversight and accountability for federal agencies and how they acquire, maintain, and share geospatial data.

Riding the coattails of that discussion came information on the recently introduced Geospatial Data Act (GDA).  Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is the primary sponsor of this bill, and his staffer Ed Cox presented information regarding what the legislation is intended to do.  The GDA would codify the OMB A-16 circular that identified the NSDI framework data layers in the first place, and it would provide Congressional oversight to federal agency activities that generate or maintain those data.  It would restructure the governance related to geospatial data management, among many other things. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) is the co-sponsor of the bill. In our opinion this legislation is the most significant policy event since President Clinton’s Executive Order 12906 in 1994.  Twenty years later, that order is partly realized but we have so much more to achieve. NSGIC is firmly supporting this Act.

Tony LaVoi of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) presented an update on their geospatial activities.  Mr. LaVoi’s presentation remarked that “Geospatial technologies provide the framework to collect, store, analyze, and disseminate ‘NOAA’s Environmental Intelligence” and expanded on the catalog of authoritative geodata generated by NOAA programs. Supporting the COGO Report Card on NSDI, Tony addressed the NSDI Data Themes that received grades and that are supported by NOAA operations.  The presentation noted efforts for enhancing discovery, access, collaboration and value of data and services with a goal of “enterprise-scale IT services infrastructure to meet operational GIS requirements”. They plan to support both OGC and ArcGIS rest services. “Of the 20 terabytes of data NOAA gathers each day –twice the data of the entire printed collection of the United States Library of Congress –only a small percentage is easily accessible to the public.” Next steps include increasing access through “The NOAA Big Data Partnership”. New datums both vertical and horizontal are scheduled to be released in 2022.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) provided an update on their latest efforts.  In April they will host the National Address Database Summit. This effort is geared toward bringing together numerous entities interested in generating a national address database (NAD) that is based off local data aggregated at the state level.  They will discuss the opportunities and challenges of different approaches as they attempt to determine the best course of action to make it work.

Touching on the education community were two videos.  One (http://www.arborschool.org/news/blog/2014/12/4/place-a-conversation-about-geography) highlights the Arbor School in Oregon where geography is used as the foundation upon which STEM concepts are taught.  The other (http://youtu.be/36Qh4MGEH0E) describes WyoBio, a web application that enables users to geotag their photos of notable flora and fauna in Wyoming.  Both embody the value of incorporating geography into our public schools.

On the private side, exciting new developments related to imagery took center stage.  Digital Globe announced the new availability of 30cm satellite imagery. Google also described their new offering of imagery as a service and their new licensing configuration for it.  1Spatial, a new NSGIC sponsor, described their specialty of conflating data from a variety of sources to streamline and automate processes related to transportation and address data.

Regardless of which state you’re in and what entity you represent, NSGIC always delivers valuable content and networking opportunities.  Make your travel plans for the upcoming Annual Conference in Kansas City this October 4-8 and get your fill. 

First Round of Lidar BAA Awards Released

BAA_FY15_Proposed Body of Work

Posted by Phil Worrall on March 25, 2015

The US Geological Survey National Geospatial Program is pleased to announce the first round of awards resulting from the USGS Broad Area Announcement (BAA) for the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP).

The Fiscal Year 2015 Awards offered partnership funding to 29 proposals in 26 States and Territories. The FY15 body of work is expected to result in the influx of more than 95,000 square miles of public domain lidar point cloud data and derived elevation products into the 3DEP program.

For more information click HERE. 

Financial Transparency of States

Posted by Karen Rogers on March 25, 2015

How does your state rank in its financial transparency to taxpayers?  Find out through this map.

Tischler Named as New Director of USGS National Geospatial Program

Posted by Shelby Johnson on March 17, 2015

Shelby Johnson,  Arkansas GIO & NSGIC President

Shelby Johnson, Arkansas GIO & NSGIC President

NSGIC and the U.S. Geological Survey have a pretty deep history in geospatial time.  Many of the modern geospatial data programs were born out of work like the Digital Line Graph data, or the Digital Elevation Model that became the building blocks of the National Elevation Data set (NED).  In the not too distant past, USGS geospatial staff sat through all of our meetings and participated heavily in many of our annual conferences. Many of our state GIS coordination offices benefited from their presence at state meetings. The liaison program is still among my favorite things that USGS has done in partnership with states.  I always look forward to their updates on programs and opportunities to coordinate with the agency on improving our nation’s geospatial data, one state at a time. We all know it is pretty hard to do core science without framework data.

With that bit of background in hand, it is my pleasure to share this news today that ushers in a new era of leadership and what I hope will be a renewed bond between our organizations, cultivating an environment of coordination and cooperation that will push our nation’s geospatial standing to new heights and address any challenge.

Subject: Announcing Michael Tischler, New Director of the National Geospatial Program

It is my pleasure to announce that Michael Tischler has accepted the position as the Director of the National Geospatial Program (NGP) and will join the USGS on Monday, April 6th.

Mike brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the USGS and NGP.  He comes to the USGS from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where he served as the Associate Technical Director of the Engineering Research and Development Center.  Mike’s many accomplishments include managing the research for a $30 million broad-based research portfolio with both domestic and international applications. He has held a breadth of positions, from a research scientist collecting, analyzing, and processing geospatial data, to Acting Technical Director, responsible for strategic planning and program implementation for a diverse portfolio of geospatial research projects.  In his most recent role as Associate Technical Director, he defined cutting edge research projects that affect the direction of geospatial science and how geospatial data is used throughout the U.S. Army. Mike holds a Master of Science in Soil and Water Science and a Bachelor of Science in Soil Science. Currently, Mike is a Ph.D. candidate in Earth Systems and Geoinformation Sciences at George Mason University .

I look forward to welcoming Mike and introducing him to you.

I would also like to thank Pam Haverland for serving as the Acting Director for the National Geospatial Program.  Over the last 6 months, Pam has provided caring and visionary leadership all while completing the SES Candidate Development Program and working in the USGS Budget Office as required. She will be sorely missed!

Please join me in thanking Pam, and welcoming Mike to Core Science Systems and the National Geospatial Program.


Kevin T. Gallagher

Associate Director, Core Science Systems

U.S. Geological Survey

SO… Thank you Pam for your service as Acting Director.   And… to Mike; the triad of Incoming, Current and Outgoing NSGIC Presidents have already exchanged notes about forming a NSGIC welcoming party for you as you begin this new adventure.

Sincerely, Your NSGIC Partners 

What do people in your state research the cost of?

Posted by Karen Rogers on March 16, 2015

This is too good not to share. The map here shows the most common Google autocomplete for the question, ‘How much does ** cost?’.

A Teenage Perspective on NSGIC

Posted by admin on March 13, 2015

My oldest daughter, Megan, just turned 13 years old this week. Megan saw my Midyear badge sitting in a pile and asked if I would get to meet the “real President” after I become President of NSGIC. I told her it didn’t work that way.

She thought the real President should consider what would happen if NSGIC didn’t exist? I pondered the question for about 15 seconds. What if NSGIC didn’t exist? She asked me the implications of our nonexistence and I replied that lives would continue to be in danger. I cited 9-1-1 as an example and talked about the basic principles of addresses and the importance of tying the address to a coordinate. “Like Lat Long?” Way to go Megan!

I explained to her that a mobile 9-1-1 call doesn’t always find the exact location of the mobile phone. Her response was priceless. “Well that is stupid. That sort of defeats the purpose doesn’t it?”

NSGIC is a wise and thoughtful organization, but if you want perspective on something, every once in a while you need to ask a teenager. They tell it like it is.

Chris Diller

NSGI President-Elect. 

CROs: the human element of resilience leadership

Posted by Phil Worrall on March 13, 2015



Over the past 18 months, 100RC has been hard at work bringing together resilience practitioners with backgrounds in local government and the NGO and private sector to build the world’s first international city resilience network.

But it’s the people behind this Network — the dedication, passion, and personalities of the world’s first Chief Resilience Officers — that truly bring the 100RC mission to life.

Meet the Chief Resilience Officers putting their passion into practice with this behind the scenes look at the world’s first CRO Summit.



Michael Berkowitz


President, 100 Resilient Cities

Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation 

Mapping Childhood Trauma

Posted by Karen Rogers on March 12, 2015

This article highlights the benefit of using GIS to help target HHS programs and initiatives.

UN Resolution on Geospatial

Posted by Karen Rogers on March 11, 2015

The UN passed its first resolution regarding geospatial data

Sophisticated Resilience Model in Development in Colorado

Posted by Phil Worrall on March 7, 2015

Backed by a $20 million grant announced this week from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Community Resilience Center of Excellence is being established at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO. [PRESS RELEASE]

The Community Resilience Center of Excellence will focus on development of FREE tools to support community disaster resilience. The center will work on developing integrated, systems-based computational models to assess community infrastructure resilience and guide community-level resilience investment decisions. The center also will develop a data management infrastructure, as well as tools and best practices to improve the collection of disaster and resilience data. For more information on NIST’s programs click HERE.


These efforts will build a sophisticated computer model that will offer a look down to the minute details at just how communities may withstand – or crumble under – perils like earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis and other catastrophic risks.  Additionally, the City of Boulder Colorado’s first-ever Chief Resilience Officer, Gregory Guibert indicated that Boulder, as a 100 Resilient City, will serve as a future test bed and living lab as they develop the models.

The City of Boulder is one of the first 32 cities chosen to participate in 100 Resilient Cities. The program, pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, is funding 100 chief resilience officers in selected cities worldwide. These officers are working together — and with their communities — to build resilience. For more information about Boulder’s 100 Resilient City efforts:



Mid-Year Meeting - You Were Missed

Posted by Shelby Johnson on February 27, 2015

Our Mid-Year meeting wrapped up this week, and despite bad weather many of our members made the trek.  My regret for the week is that you were not there. I missed you.

Shelby Johnson,  Arkansas GIO & NSGIC President

Shelby Johnson, Arkansas GIO & NSGIC President

Our attendees were treated to another good lineup of speakers, federal agencies, sponsor updates, and opportunities to share with each other.  I wrote a quote down from Sandy Dyre of Arizona. Sandy said, “My benefit at NSGIC is your wisdom.” Sandy’s pretty wise, and don’t be fooled, she’s a wealth of experience on 9-1-1 geospatial issues.   Diversity is one of my most favorite things about our organization; that and the fact that all of our attendees care so much about GIS coordination in our respective states.

Another big treat was the industry insider information that always seems to unfold at our meetings.  Just when you think you know everything, someone develops new technology, techniques, or systems and our sponsors are the best at teaching us about these important developments.  I won’t try to tell you what all I learned, but to be sure, if you were not there you missed out.

There’s three more things you missed:

I missed you, and hope to see you in Kansas City. 

Sentinel-2 is similar to Landsat with additional capabilities

Posted by admin on February 27, 2015

There is an interesting article about the Sentinel-2 satellite launch scheduled for June 12th. This ‘bird’ flying out of Europe will provide some continuity with the Landsat mission, but it has additional multispectral bands, a much wider swath, and higher resolution color. 

Civic Hackers Improve on MTA Bus Route app

Posted by Karen Rogers on February 25, 2015

This is timely given our discussions at the mid-year conference on open data and transportation data.

Resiliency Task Force Meeting 2-25-15

Posted by Phil Worrall on February 25, 2015



2015 NSGIC MidYear – Resiliency Task Force Meeting 2-25-2015 

Chrome mapping experiments

Posted by Karen Rogers on February 24, 2015

While this type of mapping may not be very useful for us at a state level, it is really cool how they’re visualizing the variety of datasets. My favorite is the world elevation map.

Climate-Smart Conservation Guide

Posted by Phil Worrall on February 23, 2015

Contributed by:  Leland Pierce

NM Geospatial Advisory Committee

NM Geographic Information Council

National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC)

This guidance document is the product of an expert workgroup on climate-smart conservation convened by the National Wildlife Federation.  Climate change already is having significant impacts on the nation’s species and ecosystems, and these effects are projected to increase considerably over time.  As a result, climate change is now a primary lens through which conservation and natural resource management must be viewed. How should we prepare for and respond to the impacts of climate change on wildlife and their habitats? What should we be doing differently in light of these climatic shifts, and what actions continue to make sense?  Climate-Smart Conservation: Putting Adaptation Principles into Practice offers guidance for designing and carrying out conservation in the face of a rapidly changing climate.

A pdf of this full report is available HERE. 

 climate report

COGO Issues Report Card for the NSDI

Posted by admin on February 11, 2015

NSGIC is a charter member of Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) and, with the twelve other member organizations, we supported the release of the Report Card on the U.S. National Spatial Data Infrastructure. We are hopeful that the Report Card and other impending developments will result in some much needed attention for the issues that have slowed the development of the NSDI. Those issues include the FGDC’s lack of authority over Federal agencies, no clear mandate for building the NSDI, no Congressional oversight, the lack of sufficient stakeholder involvement, and insufficient resourcing to build the NSDI. The report card is one more step toward our nation recognizing the need for a National Spatial Data Infrastructure. You are encouraged to read this document and engage in the dialog that will begin at our Midyear Meeting in Annapolis, Maryland, on February 24th. 

UAV flown over Auschwitz

Posted by Karen Rogers on January 29, 2015

In honor of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, this video is pretty compelling.

2014 Continues Long-Term Global Warming

Posted by Phil Worrall on January 16, 2015

NASA:  Published on Jan 16, 2015

The year 2014 now ranks as the warmest on record since 1880, according to an analysis by NASA scientists.

NASA Global Warming

This video shows a time series of five-year global temperature averages, mapped from 1880 to 2014, as estimated by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

While scientists expect temperatures to fluctuate from year to year, the average temperature of the planet as a whole has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius) since 1880. This trend is largely driven by increasing human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The GISS analysis incorporates temperature measurements from 6,300 weather stations around the world, ship- and buoy-based ocean temperature readings and data from Antarctic research stations. These measurements are plugged into an algorithm that then estimates average global temperature. The computer code for this process is freely available for download from the GISS web site.

This video is public domain.

US Population Trends

Posted by Karen Rogers on December 18, 2014

I love these maps that change through time!  This is a neat application showing how US population has changed in states since the late 1700’s.

DriveDecisions for City Government Open Data

Posted by Karen Rogers on December 12, 2014

This sounds like a pretty cool application.

Visualization of what sea level rise looks like

Posted by Karen Rogers on December 9, 2014

I saw this article and thought it would be pertinent to our new effort to look at resiliency.  GIS will play a big role in helping the public understand what those changes in sea level will look like.

NENA works with wireless carriers to enhance locating 911 calls

Posted by Karen Rogers on December 8, 2014

I came across this article this morning and thought it marks what could be a significant improvement to locating 911 calls indoors.

UAV Innovation Champion

Posted by Karen Rogers on December 8, 2014

This is a great article on GoPro, a company that may serve as the champion for UAV innovation and eventual regulation.

Palo Alto Uses GIS Permitting App

Posted by Karen Rogers on December 4, 2014

This is a great example of a user-friendly app to help citizens answer their own questions regarding what things are happening where.

NSGIC President Update

Posted by Shelby Johnson on December 3, 2014

Dear NSGIC Member,

Shelby Johnson,  Arkansas GIO & NSGIC President

Shelby Johnson, Arkansas GIO & NSGIC President

It dawned on me today I have not communicated much with all our members since assuming the Presidential role. I wanted to take a minute to share a few thoughts. Some of these are my way of thinking about how NSGIC works and where we stand. I’ll try to be brief.

Elected Servants

NSGIC has a proven leadership system in place. The organization has a President-Elect, a President and Out-Going President. The result, is a nearly seamless transition from year to year, and the passage of institutional knowledge about the organization works extremely well. I’ve been blessed to serve alongside very capable leadership from Tim DeTroye, Out-Going, to Kenny Miller who is transitioned to Out-Going, and Chris Diller, as President-Elect. The chemistry we have is excellent, and each other plays off our strengths. We talk about NSGIC nearly every day.


NSGIC is led by capable staff at headquarters including Kathy DeMarco, our Association Manager, Diane Schaffer, Director of Meetings, and our DC Liaison, Bill Burgess. On most days, they are operating in the background, and also in the foreground such as when Bill represents NSGIC at formal events.


NSGIC has an outstanding Board of Directors. These servants are the financial steward and the think-tank of the organization. They do monthly Board meetings where they conduct business, and they are so committed that nearly every Monday, they participate in a Leadership briefing where initiatives become results.


NSGIC’s Committee Chairs and Co-Chairs are the gears of the engine. They all have missions and are passionate about serving. They strike a balance between their career job and their volunteer job by leading monthly calls, drafting position papers and shepherding their members. They advise the Board and steer on things that need to get done.


The early years of NSGIC were formative, that’s obvious. But NSGIC’s last decade has been one of influence. On national geospatial activity, NSGIC has been at the table. In several cases NSGIC has led. I would go so far as to say, that State influence on national geospatial policy is at an all-time high.

Curious or Hungry

Here’s an interesting tidbit. NSGIC has nearly 2,300 followers on Twitter which is a very large number compared to our dues paid membership of nearly 400. It makes me think those folks are curious about what we do; or even better, they are hungry for leadership, and understand that NSGIC leads. I may be over inflating our worth but I think it’s the latter.

Connect & Participate

I’d be failing my duty if I did not remind you to participate in our 2015 Mid-Year conference. The call for Abstracts is open and participation is valuable. We are returning to Annapolis, Maryland. The agenda is taking shape and true to our colors there will be focus on national geospatial policy. The details are here: http://www.nsgic.org/2015-midyear-meeting

Thank You

I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve as your President. If you find ways I can serve you better or improve the organization I would sure like to hear from you. Rest-assured the sleeves are rolled up. Things are happening and I will try to do a better job of staying in touch members. 

The Field of GIS

Posted by Karen Rogers on November 17, 2014

To kick of Geography Awareness Week, here’s an article that highlights some of the discussions related to how our field is changing.  I think the challenge of state coordinators is to make our data and our tools applicable to all those interested in our ‘expanding’ field.

Ambulance UAV's

Posted by Karen Rogers on November 14, 2014

The original article calls them drones, but we know better. This is an intriguing concept, but we all know there’s lots of work to do to be able to dispatch anyone (or anything) to where someone in distress is calling from their cell phone.

Correct link for Anthrpocene Story Maps

Posted by Karen Rogers on November 12, 2014

Thanks to Shane White for picking up my error in the previous post.  For those of you on the RSS feed, please note this is the correct link.

Anthropocene Story Maps

Posted by Karen Rogers on November 12, 2014

The story maps ESRI put together for this topic are pretty neat. 

NSGIC Comments on Home Mortgage Disclosure Act

Posted by admin on October 30, 2014

On October 29th, Shelby Johnson, NSGIC President and Arkansas State GIO, forwarded comments on proposed rule changes issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, Docket No. CFPB-2014-0019, RIN 3170-AA10). The Bureau is trying to determine how to track and analyze home mortgages with greater granularity than in the past. NSGIC’s suggestions include:

  1. The Bureau should not use parcel identification numbers because there is no standard numbering system in the United States.

  2. The Bureau should use address points and sub-addresses with the caveat that approximately 30 counties in the U.S. have not converted to physical addresses and they cover approximately 12 million addresses.

  3. The Bureau could partner with states to ‘roll-up’ local government address data and make it publicly available.

NSGIC noted that local governments are the address authorities and at least 21 states are already partnering with their local governments to produce high-quality address point data.  As they are posted, you will be able to view all of the comments on this proposed rule change

Google searches in Europe

Posted by Will Craig on October 27, 2014

Is it OK to let people dig up old dirt? At issue is the balance between privacy and freedom of information.  In the US, we say “sure” even when the dirt is no longer relevant. It’s different in Europe. Thanks to a recent lawsuit, Google allows people to opt out when the information is “inadequate, irrelevant, or no longer relevant.”

The October 4 issue of The Economist describes the situation in an article, The Right to be forgotten: Drawing the line. In 1998 Mario Costeja González, a lawyer, was forced to sell his home to pay some debts. Notice was posted in a Spanish newspaper, La Vanguardia. Google linked to it, causing González no end of professional problems. He sued to be forgotten and won.

America (and Google) has a history of openness and freedom of speech. Everything is fair game. Europe has a different history, that includes fascism and communism. Public information has been used to hurt innocent people.  Europe is more willing to suppress information that doesn’t serve a public good.

The balance is not always easy, but Google has risen to the challenge and is allowing people to petition to have links removed. Each appeal is reviewed and most are refused, but many have been granted.  Requests by doctors to remove patient reviews have been denied. A teenage drunk-driving accident report was removed because it happened years ago, but an old report about professional misconduct was retained.

The process is evolving. Google has established a high level advisory council to help develop the process. Their report is due early next year. At the same time, government privacy regulators are working on shared guidelines for appeals.

The GIS community should watch closely. Our GISCI Code of Ethics commits us to serving society on the one hand and respecting individuals on the other. Society needs information, but individual privacy needs to be respected too. People should have enough autonomy to opt out, but not always. Where is the balance? The Google case will help us understand the balance and make more informed decisions.

There are other reasons to watch closely.  Rules adopted in Europe may prove useful in other parts of the world, including the US. 

Integrating Airport and Public Agency GIS Data

Posted by Will Craig on October 24, 2014

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) recently published a report: Integrating Airport Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Data with Public Agency GIS. It is based on a literature review and surveys of 44 organizations, mostly airports themselves. The report was commissioned by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to benefit airports, but results will be equally interesting to readers from public agencies.

Airports need air photos, parcel, land use, zoning, centerline, construction areas, utility, flood zone, and wetland data from public agencies. They can be strong partners in collecting new air photos and contour information. Interestingly, some of the smaller airports rely on local agencies as their GIS resource: software, hardware, and even staff in some cases.

Public agencies could use airport data for their own work. Noise contours, construction areas, internal building addresses, and outside building height limitations are some of the most useful items. Airports also supply useful information on the basic airfield layout, ground transportation data, utilities, and impervious surfaces and other themes with environmental impacts, .

There are clearly benefits from interaction, but organizational and technical challenges limit progress. Organizational challenges include cost, cumbersome agreements, excessive protection of sensitive data, lack of awareness, and limited awareness of high-level administrative officers about the value of collaboration. Technical challenges include lack of metadata and lack of consistently applied standards.

Nine successful case studies show how those obstacles have been overcome. The Minneapolis-St. Paul example benefited from the broader spirit of cooperation facilitated by MetroGIS, which has involved counties, cities, and the airport from the beginning. Each of the other examples focuses on a particular activity or approach that led to their success. 

22 Intriguing Maps

Posted by Karen Rogers on October 24, 2014

For your Friday, here are 22 maps that are pretty interesting.

2nd National Adaptation Forum Request for Abstracts

Posted by admin on October 15, 2014

You are invited to submit proposals for the 2nd National Adaptation Forum, the biennial gathering of the adaptation community to foster information exchange, innovation and mutual support for a better tomorrow. The Forum will take place from May 12 – 14, 2015 in St. Louis, MO. It will engage key individuals from industry, academia, government, non-profit organizations, communities—all working across traditional boundaries to develop adaptation solutions and partnerships. The Program for 2015 centers on adaptation integration: Make adaptation part of everything you do, and Break out of silos to create holistic, durable solutions.  Submit your proposal here. Deadline for submissions is October 24, 2014. 

TED Talk

Posted by Karen Rogers on October 12, 2014

I just heard this TED Radio Hour piece on how much we want to know where things are.  Predictions on how our GPS use will continue to increase has implications on our privacy.

GIS Helps Build Resilient Communities #2

Posted by Phil Worrall on October 9, 2014


By Patrick Fiorenza, govLoop October 9, 2014

Today, you are challenged to stay resilient no matter what challenges your community faces. Governments must operate efficiently regardless of any crisis or event. That’s where GIS comes into play. GIS is an integrative technology, and seamlessly connects mobile, ECM and cloud to help gain a holistic view of the community, building more resilient communities. This infographic explores how.  More HERE.


By Patrick Fiorenza, govLoop, October 9, 2014

Government must stay efficient and deliver services no matter what trials the community faces. Technology offers the opportunity to build for the future in a way that allows for foundational strength for service delivery– as well as flexibility and innovation when communities need it. Our industry perspective will:

  • Identify what it means to be a resilient community

  • Share case studies from 5 resilient communities

  • Insights from Patricia Cummens, government strategist, Esri

More HERE. 

NACo - Resilient Counties Initiative Prepares County Leaders for Change

Posted by Phil Worrall on October 7, 2014

Under the leadership of NACo President Linda Langston, NACo Resilient Counties initiative bolstered county leaders’ ability to thrive amid changing physical, social and economic conditions.


Read More from NACo HERE, and here…..

Strong Economies, Resilient Counties: The Role of Counties in Economic Development

Counties are responsible for providing core services, such as human services, criminal justice, public welfare and infrastructure, to communities of all sizes across America. To ensure the delivery of these essential services, support job growth and maintain a healthy revenue base, counties invest in economic development activities in a number of ways. 

Planning Resilient Water Systems: Coastal Resiliency County Case Studies, Vol. 1

The case studies showcase counties that have experienced negative effects of poor water quality and are now striving to reverse this course. In each case, counties have found that partnerships have been key components for achieving success.

Sustainable Ports: Strategies for Port Development and Operations

This issue brief explores the vital role that ports play in counties across the U.S., and what steps counties can take to ensure that they minimize their ports’ environmental impact while remaining competitive in local and global commercial activities. Case studies highlight innovative work that counties are already doing, and offer ideas and additional resources to support counties in promoting more efficient and sustainable port development.

Restoring Habitats for Resilient Coastal Economies

This issue brief provides coastal counties and coastal managers with an overview of how environmental restoration initiatives can help strengthen the ongoing vitality of coastal economies. Specifically, the issue brief provides examples from counties that are pursuing coastal restoration projects to promote storm and flood resiliency, support coastal tourism, protect healthy fisheries and create coastal jobs.

Strategies to Bolster Economic Resilience: County Leadership in Action

This publication features eight case studies demonstrating how some county leaders are pursuing innovative strategies to create healthy, safe, vibrant and economically resilient communities. From crafting economic visions and supporting new business ventures, to training local workers and assisting entrepreneurs, county leaders and their partners are approaching economic development in compelling new ways.

Digital Coast: Tools to Promote County Resilience

The report provides an overview of Digital Coast, a suite of tools to analyze and communicate about coastal natural resource management issues. Developed by NOAA Coastal Services Center, with support from partnership organizations, Digital Coast offers powerful tools to assist users in accessing data on coastal vulnerability, simulating projections of impacts, creating publishable visualizations and ‘snapshots’ of potential future scenarios, and more. 

NACo - Resilient Counties Initiative Prepares County Leaders for Change

Posted by Phil Worrall on October 7, 2014

Under the leadership of NACo President Linda Langston, NACo Resilient Counties initiative bolstered county leaders’ ability to thrive amid changing physical, social and economic conditions.

Read More from NACo HERE, and here…..

Strong Economies, Resilient Counties: The Role of Counties in Economic Development

Counties are responsible for providing core services, such as human services, criminal justice, public welfare and infrastructure, to communities of all sizes across America. To ensure the delivery of these essential services, support job growth and maintain a healthy revenue base, counties invest in economic development activities in a number of ways.

Planning Resilient Water Systems: Coastal Resiliency County Case Studies, Vol. 1

The case studies showcase counties that have experienced negative effects of poor water quality and are now striving to reverse this course. In each case, counties have found that partnerships have been key components for achieving success.

Sustainable Ports: Strategies for Port Development and Operations

This issue brief explores the vital role that ports play in counties across the U.S., and what steps counties can take to ensure that they minimize their ports’ environmental impact while remaining competitive in local and global commercial activities. Case studies highlight innovative work that counties are already doing, and offer ideas and additional resources to support counties in promoting more efficient and sustainable port development.

Restoring Habitats for Resilient Coastal Economies

This issue brief provides coastal counties and coastal managers with an overview of how environmental restoration initiatives can help strengthen the ongoing vitality of coastal economies. Specifically, the issue brief provides examples from counties that are pursuing coastal restoration projects to promote storm and flood resiliency, support coastal tourism, protect healthy fisheries and create coastal jobs.

Strategies to Bolster Economic Resilience: County Leadership in Action

This publication features eight case studies demonstrating how some county leaders are pursuing innovative strategies to create healthy, safe, vibrant and economically resilient communities. From crafting economic visions and supporting new business ventures, to training local workers and assisting entrepreneurs, county leaders and their partners are approaching economic development in compelling new ways.

Digital Coast: Tools to Promote County Resilience

The report provides an overview of Digital Coast, a suite of tools to analyze and communicate about coastal natural resource management issues. Developed by NOAA Coastal Services Center, with support from partnership organizations, Digital Coast offers powerful tools to assist users in accessing data on coastal vulnerability, simulating projections of impacts, creating publishable visualizations and �?snapshots’ of potential future scenarios, and more. 

Resiliency and Emergency Management Stories from Government Technology

Posted by Phil Worrall on October 7, 2014

Some recent Government Technology Posts of interest on Resiliency and Emergency Management…

Is Data the Best Preparation Against Natural Disasters?  Open data and analytics have become fundamental tools in disaster preparedness, experts say. But public officials aren’t using them enough.  BY JASON SHUEH / OCTOBER 6, 2014 [LINK]

How Can Predictive Analytics Improve Disaster Response and Recovery? Adam Thiel, deputy secretary of public safety and homeland security for Virginia, talks opportunities and challenges. BY ELAINE PITTMAN / SEPTEMBER 3, 2014 [LINK]

White House Innovation Day Highlights Disaster Response, Recovery, Emergency managers converged with the tech community to discuss tools that can create more resilient communities. BY ELAINE PITTMAN / JULY 30, 2014 [LINK]

Appallicious Launches FEMA Disaster Dashboard, The Disaster Assessment and Assistance Dashboard pairs local resources with open data to improve local resiliency. BY JASON SHUEH / JULY 29, 2014 [LINK] 

GIS Support of Resilient and Sustainable Communities #1

Posted by Phil Worrall on October 4, 2014

What does GIS have to do with building Resilient & Sustainable Communities? Today, GIS data and technology plays a critical role in helping efficiently manage and improve our infrastructure, government services, natural resources, environment, and public safety in our communities. We see clear examples from the Emergency Management community of Planning, Mitigation, Response and Recovery efforts enhanced by ready access to GIS data and technology. Resiliency & Sustainability often impact six interconnected domains, individuals, communities, businesses, institutions, natural and manmade systems.

Each of these six domains have strong geographic elements and similar life-cycles for us to focus our existing geospatial resources as well as develop new geospatial resources to support these domains, thereby helping increase our local, statewide and national resiliency to emerging challenges. 

Coastal States Organization Newsletter

Posted by admin on October 4, 2014

Those of you interested in the resiliency issues faced by the 35 coastal states and insular areas should consider subscribing to the weekly newsletter published by the Coastal States Organization.  One example in the current edition is “As a part of President Obama’s continuing commitment to help promote resilient coastal systems, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the State of Maine signed a two-year cooperative agreement totaling $195,000 to evaluate sand resources for coastal resilience and restoration planning.”

You can read the most recent edition of the newsletter at this link. It contains many articles like the one above that are related to resiliency issues in your states.  You can also view other editions or subscribe to the newsletter at this link. 

State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force On Climate Preparedness and Resilience

Posted by Phil Worrall on October 3, 2014

Post Contributed By: Richard Butgereit, GISP

Information Management

Florida Division of Emergency Management


When considering what your participation may be on the new NSGIC Resiliency task force, you may want to consider participation by your state and/or local officials on the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force On Climate Preparedness and Resilience.  The White House Task Force Members include:

State Officials:

Governor Neil Abercrombie (HI)

Governor Jerry Brown (CA)

Governor Eddie Calvo (GU)

Governor Jay Inslee (WA)

Governor Jack Markell (DE)

Governor Martin O’Malley (MD)

Governor Pat Quinn (IL)

Governor Peter Shumlin (VT)

Local Officials:

Mayor Ralph Becker (Salt Lake City, UT)

Mayor James Brainard (Carmel, IN)

Commissioner Paula Brooks (Franklin County, OH)

Supervisor Salud Carbajal (Santa Barbara County, CA)

Mayor Frank Cownie (Des Moines, IA)

Mayor Bob Dixson (Greensburg, KS)

Mayor Eric Garcetti (Los Angeles, CA)

Mayor George Heartwell (Grand Rapids, MI)

Mayor Kristin Jacobs (Broward County, FL)

Mayor Kevin Johnson (Sacramento, CA)

Mayor Michael Nutter (Philadelphia, PA)

Mayor Annise Parker (Houston, TX)

Mayor Patsy Parker (Perdido Beach, AL)

Mayor Madeline Rogero (Knoxville, TN)

Mayor Karen Weitkunat (Fort Collins, CO)

Mayor Dawn Zimmer (Hoboken, NJ)

Tribal Officials:

Karen Diver, Chairwoman, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (MN)

Reggie Joule, Mayor, Northwest Arctic Borough (AK)

More:  You can read more about that task force here.

NSGIC Geospatial Resiliency Task Force Formed

Posted by Phil Worrall on October 3, 2014

NSGIC is forming a “Geospatial Resiliency Task Force” to help discover, document and inform our members and our communities in the role that geospatial data and technology can play in this important undertaking.

This blog post is a first step in this effort….

First off, a definition of resilience:“Resilience” as the ability to prepare for and adapt to changing conditions, and withstand and recover rapidly from disruptions.

At all levels of government across our nation communities already have, or are now beginning to recognize the need to become more resilient. Earlier this summer, the Whitehouse and HUD announced a $1 Billion Competition for Disaster Recovery Ideas (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/06/14/fact-sheet-national-disaster-resilience-competition). The premise behind this initiative is simple: “…as extreme weather events—including heat waves, drought, tropical storms, high winds, storm surges, and heavy downpours—are becoming more severe. In many places these risks are projected to increase substantially due to rising sea levels and evolving development patterns, affecting the safety, health, and economy of entire communities. Extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy have made it clear that we remain vulnerable to such events in spite of advances in disaster preparedness. American communities cannot effectively reduce their risks and vulnerabilities without including future extreme events and other impacts of climate change in their planning both before and after a disaster, and in everyday decision-making.”

As you can see, resilience is also an important component of sustainability, so here is a simple definition of sustainable communities: “Wikipedia defines this as communities planned, built, or modified to promote sustainable living. Sustainable communities tend to focus on environmental and economic sustainability, urban infrastructure, social equity, and municipal government. …The term is sometimes used synonymously with “green cities,” “eco-communities,” “livable cities” and “sustainable cities”.”

Both resiliency and sustainability and often measured at the community level. From a geographic perspective the impacted community may be local, regional, statewide, national, international or worldwide. The size of the impacted community dictates the scope and scale of the response needed, as well as the geospatial data needed to support a response. Geospatial data and technology already play a critical role in managing and improving our infrastructure, government services, natural resources, environment, and public safety, so an expanded focus on Geospatial Resilience is logical.

Task Force Mission:

Promote public awareness and the effective coordination and use of geospatial capabilities across all levels of government to support decision making on resiliency issues and promote awareness of how States can foster this support.

Task Force Objectives:

1.  Identify existing and new partner organizations for NSGIC and States to collaborate with to:

• Leverage our existing geospatial data and technology and developing new geospatial data to help build more resilient communities.

• Educate organizations involved in resiliency about NSGIC and State GIS supporting roles in the issue.

2. Identify and document resiliency challenges that can be better informed through a geospatial lens, for example:

• Disasters, both Natural and Human-exacerbated

• Environmental, such as a Result of Over-development

• Education, Economy and Workforce

• Community and Personal Wealth

• Community and Personal Health

• Infrastructure Lifecycle

• Population Change

3. Establish a list of key data sets for state GIS coordination offices that lend themselves to support resiliency activities.

4. Create a NSGIC issue brief for resiliency.

What’s Next: We will begin posting some resource links and examples showcasing best practices of geospatial resilience, so please contribute your own comments (thoughts, questions, resources, best practices, and ideas) directly through this blog. We also plan to start holding regular web meeting through NSGIC to advance this conversation.

Please Contribute to this Conversation: You do not need to be a member of NSGIC to participate, and any level of participation is welcome. The initial NSGIC leaders for this new task force are Jon Gottsegen, State of Colorado GIS Coordinator; and Phil Worrall, Executive Director of the Indiana Geographic Information Council.

Final Delivery to the National Broadband Map

Posted by admin on October 3, 2014

The 1st of October marked the deadline for the 10th and final delivery of broadband availability data to NTIA by all of the state grantees. This program produced a nationwide, seamless spatial database of broadband availability (www.broadbandmap.gov), updated every 6 months over the 5 years of the program. This effort conclusively demonstrated the value and success of a model that engages states as key coordination partners in nationwide data projects. NSGIC had a significant role in getting this program off to a good start.  We are proud of our contribution, the good work done by the states, and the National Broadband Map. 

City Annexation Through Time

Posted by Karen Rogers on October 1, 2014

Yet another example of how GIS can help tell a story.

Comic Relief

Posted by Karen Rogers on September 30, 2014

Something amusing for a change…

Boundless Comments on the 2014 NSGIC Annual Conference

Posted by admin on September 25, 2014

Read the linked blog post of Juan Marin, Chief Technology Officer of Boundless, to see what he has to say about the 2014 NSGIC Annual Conference. 

Senator Tammy Baldwin Introduces Digital Coast Act

Posted by admin on September 19, 2014

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin introduced legislation on September 18th to help Wisconsin communities along the Great Lakes better prepare for storms, cope with varying lake levels, and strengthen economic development planning efforts along the shore.

“Our Great Lakes are a great asset for our quality of life but also for our long-term economic security. Wisconsin’s Great Lakes communities face a variety of challenges to keep their harbors open, their waters clean and their beaches ready for visitors,” said Senator Baldwin. “This bill ensures that our coastal communities have the resources and tools they need to adapt to changing environmental conditions, maintain healthy shores, and make smart planning decisions to support their local economies and way of life.”

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) currently assembles and hosts the Digital Coast Project, a collaborative online database of the most up-to-date coastal information, and makes it available to both the public and private sectors for use in community planning and disaster response. NOAA also trains coastal communities how to decipher and use the high-tech mapping data to make accurate decisions and smart investments in coastal communities.

Baldwin’s Digital Coast Act authorizes the next phase in coastal mapping at NOAA by ensuring that coastal managers and developers will continue to have the data to make smart choices for economic development, shoreline management and coastal restoration. The Act supports further development of the current project, including increasing access to uniform, up-to-date data, to help communities get the coastal data they need to respond to emergencies, plan for long-term coastal resilience, and manage their water resources.

“Our nation’s coasts are not only where the majority of our population lives and works, much of our nation’s natural heritage and wealth in natural resources are also concentrated in these areas,” said Todd Holschbach, The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin. “Working with Digital Coast has helped The Nature Conservancy’s Wisconsin, Great Lakes and coastal conservation staff access and share data and tools with partners to improve resilience, enhancing the environment and economies of communities across the country.”

“Coastal areas are under increasing demand. Without good data, it is difficult for communities and counties to balance the sometimes competing demands placed on our coasts.  Planners in Wisconsin support this legislation so that we can have the data and information to help people and communities make wise, data-driven decisions for these critical coastal areas.  We applaud Sen. Baldwin’s leadership on this issue,” said Lawrence Ward, Jr., AICP,  President of Wisconsin Chapter of the American Planning Association and Executive Director, Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.

The Digital Coast Act is co-sponsored by Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Maria Cantwell (D-WA.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Begich (D-AK), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Angus King (I-ME). Bipartisan companion legislation has also been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Additional support includes: Continental Mapping Consultants, Quantum Spatial, Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department, American Planning Association (APA), Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM), Coastal States Organization (CSO), National Association of Counties (NACo), National Estuarine Research Reserve Association (NERRA), National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Urban Land Institute (ULI), Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS), and National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS).

The Digital Coast Act is part of NSGIC’s Advocacy Agenda. 

National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC)

Posted by admin on September 19, 2014

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the launch of the National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC), which will competitively award nearly $1 billion in HUD Disaster Recovery funds to eligible communities. The competition will help communities recover from prior disasters and improve their ability to withstand and recover more quickly from future disasters, hazards, and shocks. To complement these funds, the Rockefeller Foundation will provide technical assistance and training workshops to every eligible state and local government. The press release can be found on HUD’s website at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2014/HUDNo_14-109.

All states with counties that experienced a Presidentially Declared Major Disaster in 2011, 2012 or 2013 are eligible to submit applications. This includes 48 of 50 states plus Puerto Rico and Washington, DC. In addition, 17 local governments that have received funding under PL 113-2 are also eligible. A full list of eligible grantees can be found in the attachment “NDRC Eligible Applicants.”

For more information or for questions, please contact [email protected]. 

NSGIC Annual Conference - Environmetal Intelligence and Resiliency Session

Posted by admin on September 19, 2014

Margaret Davidson is the Senior Leader Coastal Inundation and Resilience at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  She provided a thought-provoking speech on Environmental Intelligence and Resilience at the NSGIC 2014 Annual Conference in Charleston, SC.  Afterwards, the entire audience engaged in a lengthy discussion about climate and resiliency. Extensive notes were taken during this session and they will be turned into actionable items for NSGIC State Representatives and for a new work group or committee that will deal with climate and resiliency issues. For those members who want to learn more, generate ideas for activities, or determine how to discuss the subject with naysayers, pick up the latest issue of Audubon Magazine (http://www.audubonmagazine.org/), with the cover on climate change and birds. Along with interviews with geospatial modelers and elected officials, there is a chapter on getting past “politics and paralysis” on the subject. Besides, birds are cool. 

Pulled pork, a broken thumb and hydration...

Posted by Kim Cloud on September 14, 2014

It’s that time again.  The 2014 annual meeting kicked off today in Charleston.  With some of the only free time in a traditionally packed agenda, many of us took the opportunity to check out some of the local cuisine, and stumbled on the Second Sunday festivities on King Street.  Lots of local shopping and live music to enjoy along the way. I highly recommend checking out the Charleston City Market downtown on Market St. It seems to be THE place to go for locally made items like jewelry, palmetto baskets and an assortment of souvenirs to purchase for loved ones back home.  The locals will certainly appreciate the business! We were lucky that the weather held up and the buildings and abundance of huge old oak trees provided some shade. Unfortunately that didn’t help with the humidity, but those of us from the east coast are lucky to be a bit more used to it then our partners from the west.

So what does one do when the majority of the group wants to go for BBQ and you have a broken thumb?  You ask the waiter for something to cover it so you can enjoy your sandwich of course! Luckily for Ed Arabas they had rubber gloves that did the job.  He had the recent misfortune of breaking his thumb in a bike accident. For anyone here, he’ll be happy to provide more details if you ask. ;-)

Now after a day of talking shop with our counterparts, it’s time to see how NSGIC hospitality combines with southern hospitality and for the real networking to begin.  Hopefully our members, both new and old, followed the advice of our next president and past president, and hydrated well. A whole new day of meetings and information sharing starts early, so good to be prepared for anything. 

Historic Maps of London

Posted by Karen Rogers on September 11, 2014

This is an awesome series of historic maps of London that offers a glimpse of early cartography.

Disaster Lessons Learned

Posted by Karen Rogers on September 5, 2014

This article describes interviews with several CIO’s who have dealt with significant disasters.  GIS is mentioned a few times; it’s certainly an interesting read!

Where the Wage Gap is and isn't

Posted by Karen Rogers on September 3, 2014

This map shows where the wage gap between men and women is the most pronounced, and the most even.  Depressing but true.

NYC Tackles Rising Lawsuits with Data and Maps

Posted by Karen Rogers on September 3, 2014

For those of you who have heard of CompStat, NYC has developed a similar tool to track lawsuits in relation to government services, called ClaimStat.  This article describes how GIS analysis is being used to help reduce lawsuits and improve government performance. 

The Top Five Things You Should Know about UAV's

Posted by Karen Rogers on August 28, 2014

This excellent article from Directions Magazine provides educational information about UAV’s (aka drones, but not the preferred term).  Their increased use will certainly affect the GIS industry.

Forty Maps that Help Explain the World

Posted by admin on August 3, 2014

NSGIC member Jack Maguire spotted this blog article sponsored by the Washington Post.  It has a very interesting collection of maps that range from a circa 200 AD Political Map to a map showing the range of North Korean missiles.  These maps provide an interesting perspective on our World and the diversity of the people on it. 

Government Business Needs for Addresses

Posted by Will Craig on August 3, 2014

NSGIC has begun documenting the hundreds of state, local and federal government business needs for addresses. By drawing attention to the importance of address data, we hope to justify efforts to coordinate address collection, management, and uses across all levels of government. While NSGIC still considers it to be a work-in-progress, this information is being tracked in a publicly available Google doc – Address Business Needs.

Sometimes, the use of an address is as simple as placing a letter or package into the mail system. Other times, a correct address location can save a life. The problem is that government doesn’t do a very good job of tracking addresses. Typically, a local “address authority” assigns an address and then notifies a few other (usually local) agencies about the new address. But no agency is assigned (or assumes) a custodial role of maintaining an authoritative database of addresses (and importantly, their physical location in space) that can be used by others in that local government or at other levels of government.

NSGIC’s initial list of government business needs for addresses includes well over 100 use cases. Our list of state uses is the most complete, with nearly two dozen generic agencies using addresses in at least 67 different ways. Since address assignments typically originate with local governments, each state government needs to coordinate with hundreds of local cities and counties to collect authoritative address data. The US Post Office and US Census Bureau also create and maintain data collection partnerships with local government, but are forbidden by law from sharing their compiled address datasets with other agencies or levels of government.

There are three separate tabs on the Google document to delineate governmental business needs – one tab each for local, state, and federal government. An initial tab provides an overview of the purpose, process, and contents of the document. For each business need listed, we list:

A. The agency/department that uses the address data;

B. The business function name/label within the governmental division;

C. The spatial function that the address data is created/collected to serve (e.g. delivery, district determination, service allocation, etc.); and,

D. A brief description of the business function that the address data supports

The initial response to these lists has been quite positive. Even states that have begun to coordinate addresses have found new agency use cases from other states that help to expand their user base at home.

Comments are welcome and can be added to the Google doc. Individuals or agencies wishing to add to these lists of business needs are invited to contact their State NCGIC Representative or leadership of the NSGIC Address Committee. 

How happy is your town?

Posted by Karen Rogers on July 30, 2014

This interesting map shows the relative happiness of folks across the country.  How does your community fit in?

FEMA Technical Mapping Advisory Council (TMAC)

Posted by admin on July 17, 2014

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced the membership of the newly created Technical Mapping Advisory Council (TMAC). As directed by Congress, the Council is tasked with developing recommendations for FEMA’s flood mapping program to ensure that flood insurance rate maps reflect the best available science and are based on the best available methodologies for considering the impact of future development on flood risk.

NSGIC’s Florida State Representative is Richard Butgereit, GISP, from the Division of Emergency Management. He was appointed to serve on TMAC in the category of STATE GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEM (GIS) REPRESENTATIVE.  For more information, please follow this link. 

DC 911 Mobile Calls

Posted by Karen Rogers on July 10, 2014

I found this article to be very interesting in detailing the incredible challenges facing our 911 dispatchers.

Digital Homestead Records

Posted by admin on July 3, 2014

Heard this story on NPR Radio yesterday afternoon “Digital Homestead Records Reopen A Crucial Chapter Of U.S. History” – 

The Homestead Records Project seeks to digitize the over 800,000 Homestead Records from nearly 200 land offices in all 30 Homesteading States. Nebraska records were the first to be digitized, and they are now complete. Next up is Arizona, followed by Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Nevada, and Alaska (in that order), but for now the records for the remaining 29 states are only available in hard copy in the National Archives.

 – NE Records are currently available, but fold3.com is not a free site. This could be an interesting historical set of land records to geocode to our state GIS maps when they become available [and if they are free].

Posted for Phil Worrall, Executive Director, Indiana Geographic Information Council, Inc. 

Mapping 'Big Data'

Posted by Karen Rogers on July 2, 2014

This article scratches the surface of what can be done with all the data floating around out there.  How can you put it to work in your state?

How old is your house?

Posted by Karen Rogers on June 27, 2014

This is a fascinating map that shows the average age of housing units by zip code block.  It paints an incredible picture of demographic patterns across the country through the years.

Friday afternoon considerations

Posted by Karen Rogers on June 27, 2014

I just saw this disturbing map…thoughts to ponder as you enter into your weekend.  Be safe and encourage those around you to do the same!

How do you spend your time?

Posted by Karen Rogers on June 23, 2014

Here is a series of 10 maps that shows how folks across our country spend their time, from how much they read each day to how long they spend ‘grooming’. It’s pretty interesting!

Mapping our Energy System

Posted by Karen Rogers on June 16, 2014

This is a great series of maps showing what our energy infrastructure looks like.

Northwest Group Acquired by Hexagon AB

Posted by admin on June 13, 2014

On Wednesday, Hexagon AB announced that it had acquired Northwest Geomatics, Ltd. (aka Northwest Group) which is a longtime NSGIC Platinum Sponsor.  Tim Crago (Vice President, Northwest Group) briefed NSGIC’s leadership on the acquisition and reaffirmed his commitment to sponsoring NSGIC.  He also alluded to exciting new product offerings, resulting from the acquisition, that he hopes to announce at the NSGIC Annual Conference in Charleston, South Carolina.  Stay tuned… 

Esri's Contribution to ConnectED

Posted by admin on June 12, 2014

Daniel Edelson is vice president for education at the National Geographic Society and directs National Geographic’s Center for Geo-Education. He recently posted an interesting article on their Education Blog that describes the value of Esri’s commitment in support of President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative.  Esri will provide free access to ArcGIS Online to all elementary and secondary schools in the United States. Follow this link to learn more about this initiative.  The Huffington Post published a related article titled “The New Space Race” by Thomas Fisher, Dean of the College of Design, at the University of Minnesota.  The Association of American Geographers also published an article in it’s newsletter about Esri’s donation to this important program. 

Smithsonian Article on History of GIS

Posted by Karen Rogers on June 3, 2014

In case you haven’t seen this interesting article

Gerrymander, anyone?

Posted by Karen Rogers on May 15, 2014

This is a great article demonstrating the craziness of (some of) our Congressional election boundaries.  Who did their GIS, anyway? What a nightmare!

Mother's Day data

Posted by Karen Rogers on May 12, 2014

Here’s a series of charts and maps in honor of Mother’s Day. 

The Economic Potential of Geospatial Data

Posted by Karen Rogers on April 21, 2014

While I’m preaching to the choir, this op-ed makes some good arguments to share with others.  I especially like the point at the end, that GIS is poised to generate the next transformation of data online.

How healthy is your county?

Posted by Karen Rogers on April 21, 2014

Ah the power of maps!  Here is a series of 10 maps on a variety of health metrics.  I found it eye-opening for my neck of the woods. How does yours measure?

NSGIC Address Program Survey 2013

Posted by Nathan Lowry on April 9, 2014

In October 2013, the NSGIC Address Working Group conducted a survey to describe the level of activity of states and territories with address location databases and programs that support them.  Address program points of contact had previously been identified via NSGIC state and territory liaisons.

The results of the survey were presented at the NSGIC 2013 Annual Conference in Kansas City.  In addition, state-specific slides were made available for comparisons in a deck and via the NSGIC State Information sub-site.  Responses were also made available for download in spreadsheet form for further analysis at will.

What was most remarkable was the level of response.  49 of 57 states and territories expressed whether they had programs for or plans to develop an address dataset for their jurisdiction.  19 of these admitted to no formal program, however at least half of these reported a high level of interest or activities in the planning or informal implementation stages.  And none of these responders selected “No Interest/No Demand” as a reason for not administering an addressing program. Lack of personnel, funding, or coordination were instead listed as the primary reasons.

Of the 30 states and territories reporting a program, most reported representations of over 80% of their population or jurisdictions.  Their profiles of activity show that address data aggregation was the principle role of states and territories, although coordination, distribution, standardization, quality assurance, technical assistance and standards promulgation were also common roles.  Less than five states or territories indicated that they were address assigners.

911 Dispatch, Emergency Management, Broadband Mapping, and Enterprise Geocoding needs were the most common drivers among those states and territories reporting addressing programs, each with differing weights for both use and contributions.  Funding for these programs ,as reported by 17 of the 30 states administering address programs, is predominantly supported via federal grants and telephone service charges. The costs for start-up and maintenance reported varied widely.

Data collection from local jurisdictions is predominantly via lower technological means, specifically email, File Transfer Protocol (FTP) servers or other Managed File Transfers (MFT) services, or on physical discs, although collection via database and web service access may be growing.  Distribution after collection was primarily reported to be via address-matching (geocoding) services, FTP/MFT, web map services, and static data download websites. Data is largely being stored in spatial relational databases.

For collection and re-distribution of address data, 40% of the respondents reported no formal agreements were necessary AND their data was made available to the public, while agreements to make data available to state and/or federal governments were still common for others.

The use of internal or State standards was most common.  The use of national address standards (FGDC, NENA, USPS) were significant but not predominantly used in quality assessments.  Rather general aspects of attribute and spatial accuracy and database normalization or integrity constraints were common among them.

The data for at least a quarter of those reporting addressing programs is field verified, and likely over half of the data contains “subaddresses” or additional location information most often indicating in which building and at which unit an address is located.  Many address datasets describe at what feature (building, driveway, parcel) the address point is being located.

For more information regarding the survey, please contact Russell Provost or Nathan Lowry. Those who are interested in this topic more broadly are invited to join the Address Committee by contacting Russell Provost.

Sincerely, Nathan Lowry

GIS Outreach Coordinator

P 303.764.7801 |  F 303.764.7764

601 East 18th Avenue, Suite 220, Desk D-23, Denver, CO 80203-1494

[email protected]  | www.colorado.gov/oit

How am I doing?  Please contact my manager Jon Gottsegen ([email protected]) for comments or questions. 

Update on Twin Cities Free & Open Data

Posted by Will Craig on April 4, 2014

In a December Blog I wrote about the MetroGIS Call for Free & Open Access to Government Data. On GIS Day 2013, MetroGIS sent letters to the Administrators and Board chairs in each of the 7 counties in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area asking the move in that direction.

As of Tuesday, April 1, 4 of the 7 counties had passed resolutions endorsing that policy: Ramsey (St. Paul), Hennepin (Minneapolis), Dakota, and Carver counties. These four represent 75% of the nearly 3 million people in the area.

Most of these resolutions were passed as consent items! County Boards were convinced by a wonderful research document showing the benefits of sharing and the low returns on sales. For that document, related material, and the 4 county resolutions, see MetroGIS Free & Open Data Resource Page. 

Tsunami wave animation

Posted by Karen Rogers on April 2, 2014

This animation models the tsunami wave generated from this morning’s 8.2 earthquake off the coast of Chile.  Notice how well New Zealand shields Australia.

Guess the average age of your Congressional delegation?

Posted by Karen Rogers on April 1, 2014

This is fascinating data.  Anyone willing to make predictions or draw any conclusions from it?

Place matters for Health and GIS

Posted by Karen Rogers on March 10, 2014


Emergency cell site in a backpack

Posted by Karen Rogers on March 7, 2014

This contraption is up and running in 10 minutes.

How we're connected around the world

Posted by Karen Rogers on March 7, 2014

This map shows the fiber optic lines that circle the earth under water.  It’s an amazing spider web!

E911 App

Posted by Karen Rogers on March 5, 2014

This article explains an app developed to notify your family members in the event of placing a 911 call from your cell phone.  It’s a nifty app with other features, including locating nearby non-911 services that are helpful in emergency situations, such as fire stations, hospitals, auto repair shops, and hotels. 

Registration for 2014 Midyear Meeting Now Open!!

Posted by Kim Cloud on January 13, 2014

Registration for the 2014 Midyear Meeting is now open! You should be receiving the official registration materials by regular mail in the next week or so. We have updated the website with all of the most current meeting details. You can see all of the details about the meeting as well as hotel and travel information and how to register online.

The meeting will be held February 23-26, 2014 and we’ll be returning to the Loews Annapolis Hotel. Once again, the hotel is extending the prevailing federal government rate of $101 to the entire NSGIC group. To receive the discount rate, call the Loews Annapolis Hotel, 1-410-263-7777 or 1-800-526-2593 and reference NSGIC. Make your reservations early since cut-off for the group rate is January 31, 2014.

Also, we are now accepting applications for conference travel grants. Please submit your application by January 15th in order to be considered for travel assistance. As always, we’d like to thank our sponsors for their support of NSGIC which allows us to offer these opportunities to our members. Click here for more information about conference travel grants and to submit an application.

See you in February! 

MetroGIS Recommends Free and Open Access to Government Data

Posted by Will Craig on December 12, 2013

MetroGIS, an award-winning collaboration, began working in 1995 as an initiative to share data across the 7-county Minneapolis-St. Paul region. From the beginning, they have struggled with fees and licenses. This year may signal the end of those problems. A formal report on Free and Open Access to Data presents enough good research to justify lowering those barriers. The report was adopted by the MetroGIS Policy Board in October.  Letters encouraging the elimination of charging and licenses were sent to all county Administrators and Board Chairs on November 20 (GIS Day).

It is remarkable that the MetroGIS Policy Board is dominated by county government.  The report convinced those leaders by showing them: the low revenue gained  through sales, the value of work done by non-profits who were able to access the data, and the reduction in liability of free and open systems.

The NSGIC audience will appreciate examples of sharing and case law that go beyond Minnesota and cover the nation.

Related resources:

Recurrent Flooding Being Addressed by Virginia Legislature

Posted by admin on December 12, 2013

NORFOLK – Delegate Christopher P. Stolle (R-Virginia Beach) and Senator Mamie E. Locke (DHampton) today announced the introduction of a legislative resolution creating a joint Senate and House subcommittee fostering the development of a comprehensive and coordinated flood mitigation action plan. The proposed joint committee implements a recent Virginia Institute of Marine Science recommendation that the Commonwealth intervene to assist regions and communities attempting to manage recurrent flooding. VIMS is part of the College of William and Mary. The resolutions (HJR16 And SJR3) will be considered during the 2014 session of the Virginia General Assembly scheduled to convene on Wednesday, January 8.

Click Here to see the full Press Release. 

NOAA Coastal Storms Program Grants

Posted by admin on November 21, 2013

See the NOAA Coastal Storms Program RFP announcement that will fund projects in the following focus areas:

a)     Improving beach hazard observations, modeling, forecasting/warnings, and risk communication

b)    Addressing impacts of stormwater on natural resources and promoting best management practices

c)     Enhancing shoreline mapping, visualization, and management

d)    Hazard Mitigation and Community Resilience 

Hurricane Sandy Competitive Grant Program

Posted by admin on November 21, 2013

On the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today launched a $100-million Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program to fund science-based solutions to restore natural areas along the Atlantic Coast, helping to deliver on the Administration’s commitment in the Climate Action Plan to make local communities more resilient against future storms. 

Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Coastal Watersheds

Posted by admin on November 21, 2013

The following information was distributed by Tom Dahl, Senior Scientist, Wetlands Status and Trends, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The report, Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Coastal Watersheds of the Conterminous United States 2004 to 2009, was released on November 21, 2013 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  This study tracked wetland changes in the coastal watersheds of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico as well as the Great Lakes. It concludes that more than 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands are being lost on average each year, up from 60,000 acres lost per year during the previous study from 1998-2004.

Notable wetland losses were recorded along the Gulf Coast (257,150 acres). The Atlantic Coast lost 111,960 acres and the Pacific Coast 5,220 acres. The watersheds of the Great Lakes region experienced a net gain in wetland area of an estimated 13,610 acres.

In some coastal watersheds, rising ocean levels are encroaching into wetlands from the seaward side, while development from the landward side prevents wetlands from being able to migrate inland. This dual threat squeezes wetlands into an ever smaller and more fragile coastal fringe.

The full report is available for viewing or download at: http://www.fws.gov/wetlands/

Rivalry & Collaboration – can they co-exist?

Posted by Kim Cloud on October 30, 2013

If you are a Mizzou fan, would you get on a bus driven by a Jayhawk fan? As we learned from Kansas City’s former mayor Joe Reardon, sometimes the rivalries run so deep that the answer is no. We are surrounded by rivalries and competitive mentalities every day. But we can still collaborate, can’t we? Unfortunately, sometimes the answer to that question is also no. A recurring theme of Monday’s presentations was collaboration. Everyone wants it, everyone wants to see it improve, but we struggle to find the right language to improve the awareness and knowledge of the other party. So the resistance continues. And we can’t work together until we can communicate and are willing to make some compromises along the way.

Mayor Reardon shared his observation that what we do is full of jargon that outsiders and executives either don’t understand or don’t want to understand. Our jargon isn’t approachable by legislators – just look at the descriptions of our presentations for examples. But the jargon is leading to results, and the technology is evolving to the point that we can make the data more and more relevant to the consumers. It’s making it easier to help people reach the conclusions that you want them to reach without having to explain everything you did along the way.

So how did we get to where we are? Throughout our history, technology has advanced, and infrastructure has been put into place that opens up possibilities that weren’t there before. Do you think that if the decision had been made to not complete the interstate loop around Kansas City that they would have built the Kansas City Speedway where they did? If the train yards hadn’t been built here (KC is the 2nd largest rail hub in the country) would so many opportunities been open for farmers to share their goods? Infrastructure enables economic development – if more things come to your community, quality of life will improve, the tax base will broaden and employers will want to come into the area and bring jobs.

Kansas City’s work to implement the 1 Gb Google Fiber demonstrates this principle, as it already seems that the value of homes that have the 1 Gb internet are higher than homes without, businesses are willing to move into the areas with the faster connections and bring jobs. We want things to be faster, even though what we have is probably enough.

All this can happen if we are willing to share our story and use the right jargon.

Collaboration was a running theme through the day. The Enterprise Architecture & Governance Committee of NASCIO now has a working group that is surveying states for successful stories of collaboration. Check out their site at http://www.nascio.org/atdvocacy/collaboration for more information. Eric Sweden noted that one of the most downloaded reports they have is the NASCIO top 10 priorities. It shows that we are trying to find the right things to talk about.

Nathalie Smith reminded us that having data and maps isn’t enough. We don’t gain knowledge and understanding until we share it. Michael Terner & Jeff Hamerlink showed CHAT, the Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool that uses hexagons to show their state model results. Not a typical map representation, but it’s what the end users are accustomed to. This is a great example of finding the right lingo to fit the audience.

The Roll Call of States just emphasized our differences and shared challenges. Even with our differences we can collaborate with each other to share knowledge and experiences. With open minds we have a lot to learn from each other.

The afternoon panels again reiterated finding a common language. According to Stu Davis, most CIO’s don’t understand what GIS is and what we do. Zsolt Nagy and Rick Miller both stated that we can do a better job with the State’s constituents and our local governments and empower them with knowledge. Maybe with more outreach and education we can help open minds and work through our underlying ‘rivalries’ to work towards mutually beneficial goals. We need to open minds and break down the barriers – help them see what is in it for them so we can collaborate.

So why do we have such difficulty working with local governments in some cases. Do we want their data so another agency can beat them up with it? Of course not. Is it this perception that leads to the seeming competition to show you have the best data and reluctance to share? If we communicate better, can we get past this to improve collaboration? What can we do and how can we get there?

Keith Hangland from Kansas said that their clearinghouse has been very successful. Local governments can choose for themselves if they want to share their data. Turns out most have. Stu cautions us against setting expectations that we can’t meet, as there are always people who are going to try to stop you. Is that rivalry or competition or something else? It certainly doesn’t help with collaboration if you can’t even ‘get them on the bus’ with you.

Stu’s observation of what NSGIC could have done sooner was to engage the IT side of organizations. I think that emphasizes the need to communicate early and often to help the process progress. Dan Ross highlighted their experience with making sure you let the owners of the data know what they will get in return if they share. Erin Tesh from Maryland also experienced that it is very important for everyone to have an equal voice at the table.

So essentially, and in short, if we drop our ‘rivalries’ and just get on the bus, together we can really go a long way and truly collaborate. We can all find compromises that we can make to be successful. Otherwise we may be travelling alone… 

Go for a dip in NSGIC!

Posted by Kim Cloud on October 28, 2013

– a blog inspired by a night time swim in Kansas City followed by chips & dip…

Today was the first day of the 2013 Annual NSGIC meeting, one of the most important days of the conference according to some of our members. The day started with a workshop from Platinum Sponsor Sanborn. They began by sharing information about the advances in remote sensing technology that support the collection of aerial imagery at a higher flying elevation. This provides numerous benefits, including, but not limited to reducing building lean. And, believe it or not, haze can be filtered out using more dynamic depth and better algorithms. If only we could filter the actual causes of the haze as easily! The use of remote sensing data was demonstrated in a case study of a SEMCOG (South East Michigan Council of Governments) project to analyze multiple layers of data to create a green infrastructure dataset. Between the internal QC by Sanborn and QC done in partnership with Michigan State University they were able to achieve 96.4% accuracy in their results, well above their goal of 85%. A note for Detroit residents – don’t dip into your neighbor’s heat… Thermal imaging can reveal that your house is heated! Finally, another emerging technology was presented: UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), which have more appropriately also been referred to as UAS’s (Unmanned Aerial Systems) due to the nature of the amount of supporting equipment on the ground. State policies range from allowing residents to shoot these vehicles down, to encouraging their use for environmental and emergency projects. The complications of their usage are compounded by the evolving regulations of the FAA. Sounds like a good opportunity for NSGIC to develop a position paper to help support states in educating stakeholders on what’s good and what’s bad about the technology.

The State Caucus was jam packed as usual. Although our states vary greatly in geography and legislation, there are still a lot of issues that we have in common. Including Federal funding availability and even the “Silver Tsunami” which refers to the business continuity during times of human resource attrition.

** If you are a NSGIC member, be on the alert for a survey in the next few weeks to gather feedback on conferences, the benefits of NSGIC and some important topics that we NEED your input.

Many feel that we need to branch out to our State, Local and Agency leaders. We need to ‘dip’ into the broad range of resources and a community that shares some of the same challenges and look for more opportunities for collaboration. Some words to ponder: “NSGIC is good at strategic thinking, we just don’t think that we are and we need to think about that.” Let’s take this organization to the next level!

Have you heard of ESF’s? These are “Emergency Support Functions”. There are currently 15 defined and accepted ESF’s. Several groups in the community continue to advocate for the creation of a dedicated GIS ESF. Everyone uses GIS to support the other ESF’s in an emergency and a good GIS needs data. Our partner organization, NISC (National Information Sharing Consortium), that now has over 60 members, is working with agencies to develop EEI’s (Essential Elements of Identification) that the professionals in each ESF utilize. Once those are identified, they can be incorporated into state’s SDI’s (Spatial Data Infrastructures). Anything that has that many acronyms must involve a lot of collaboration. Imagine what we can accomplish if we work together!

And there is no shortage of opportunities for collaboration. Some of the most recent additions are the collection of online sales taxes and changes to flood plain boundaries as our climate continues to change.

These topics and more are discussed in more detail at NSGIC’s mid-year and annual meetings. Attendees have the opportunity to ask questions and directly interact with their peers. Everyone has a voice and can benefit from discussions of our shared experiences. Are you willing or able to take a ‘dip’ into NSGIC? You won’t regret it. I know I never regret taking the time and making the effort into coming. I guess it could be the chips and dip talking though. Hmmm… something to think about.

Check back tomorrow for more!

— Kim 

NSGIC Publishes Document about Location Data That Is Not Private

Posted by Will Craig on August 26, 2013

Newspapers and legislative hearing rooms are full of concerns over individual privacy.  While some of those concerns are well founded, there is a danger all data will be sequestered, that it will be locked behind firewalls.   If that happens, all transparency will be lost. People will not be able to understand what is happening in their community. They will not be able to make intelligent decisions or know how their government is functioning.

Thomas Jefferson said, “Information is the currency of democracy.”  NSGIC believes this and is especially concerned with attacks on locational information because Geographic is our middle name.   We have recently published a document, This Isn’t Private Information.  It presents five examples of locational data that is clearly not private.

  1. Street addresses, even with x-y coordinates, if no resident names are associated

  2. Property ownership and assessment records are purposely public records

  3. Aerial photography resolution is typically too course to identify individuals

  4. Published Census data is only summary information

  5. Google’s Street View™ and similar images

(September 17, 2013 Update)  MAPPS is also concerned about federal overreaction on privacy issues.  They have developed a resolution and other convincing material that document the value of imagery and geospatial information for the economy, public safety, open government, etc.  See Federal Issue: Privacy. 

NSGIC Call for Awards

Posted by Laura Izzo on August 20, 2013

NSGIC is currently soliciting nominations for the NSGIC Outstanding Service Award and the NSGIC Lifetime Service Award. The NSGIC Outstanding Service Award is presented to an individual or organization has advanced the National Spatial Data Infrastructure, promoted NSGIC’s goal of efficient and effective government, and is likely to continue in their current or a more challenging position. Recipients must exceed the normal expectation of duty. The NSGIC Lifetime Service Award is presented to an individual that has given a ‘lifetime’ of notable service to NSGIC. This award is typically given to an individual who has served one or more leadership positions over an extended period of time; e.g., on the NSGIC Board, as an officer or as a Committee Chair. This award is usually given at the conclusion of the recipient’s career or at a transition point in their career. As this is one of NSGIC’s highest service award recognition, a recipient’s exemplary service must exceed the normal expectation of duty and have occurred over an extended period of time. Click here to view a list of past award recipients.

Click on the following links to view the criteria for each award:

NSGIC Lifetime Service Award

NSGIC Outstanding Service Award

Any current or former NSGIC member may nominate eligible individuals or organizations for this award. If you would like to nominate someone, please include detailed information concerning the nominee’s specific activities and responsibilities that make them eligible for the award. All nominations must be sent to the Awards Working Group Chair, Tony Spicci ([email protected]) to be considered.  Nominations must be received by COB August. 

Digital Coast Briefing for Congress

Posted by Bill Burgess on July 11, 2013

NSGIC is a member of the Digital Coast Partnership which presented a briefing on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Digital Coast initiative. Digital Coast — a constituent-driven program — improves coastal economies and ecological health by helping communities address on-the-ground planning, resource management challenges with just, cost-effective, and participatory solutions. Reps. Ruppersberger (D-MD) and Young (R-AK) introduced The Digital Coast Act of 2013 (H.R. 1382) on March 21, 2013, and it has been referred to the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs.

Speakers for this briefing included:

• Jason Jordan, Director of Policy & Government Affairs, American Planning Association

• Chad Berginnis, Executive Director, Association of State Floodplain Managers

• Bill Burgess, Washington Liaison, National States Geographic Information Council

• Allison Hardin, Planner, City of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

• Kurt Allen, Vice President, Photo Science, Inc.

You may view the materials presented at this briefing by clicking HERE. 

California Public Records Act Decision

Posted by Bill Burgess on July 11, 2013

The following message was forwarded to NSGIC by Bruce Joffee, GISP, from the Open Data Consortium.  NSGIC is posting this message, because it signed the Amicus Brief that was filed in this matter before the California Supreme Court.

Interpreting the California Public Records Act in light of California’s Constitution, the California Supreme Court affirmed the public’s right of access to government information in the same format that it is used by government agencies.  The unanimous decision of all seven Justices explained, “Openness in government is essential to the functioning of a democracy. Implicit in the democratic process is the notion that government should be accountable for its actions. In order to verify accountability, individuals must have access to government files.”

It has been over four years (51 months) since the Sierra Club filed suit against Orange County for access to its GIS-formatted parcel basemap database (“OC Landbase”) under the Public Records Act, which precludes having to pay the County’s price ($475,000) nor having to sign a licensing agreement restricting use or distribution of the County’s data.  A year after filing, however, the Superior Court decided in favor of Orange County, agreeing with the County’s position that its OC Landbase was excluded from disclosure as “computer mapping system” software. Sierra Club appealed, but 14 months later, the Court of Appeal found the statutory language ambiguous, and supported the County’s position that GIS-formatted files fall within the meaning of “computer mapping system.”

The Sierra Club appealed to the California Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case 3 months later.  After another 22 months, the Supreme Court decided: the lower courts got it wrong. The Court decision says, “We believe the public records exemption for ‘computer software’ (§ 6254.9(a)), a term that ‘includes computer mapping systems’ (§ 6254.9(b)), does not cover GIS-formatted databases like the OC Landbase at issue here.”  Orange County must produce the OC Landbase in response to Sierra Club’s request “in any electronic format in which it holds the information (§ 6253.9(a)(1)) at a cost not to exceed the direct cost of duplication (§ 6253.9(a)(2)).”

The Court cited the California Constitution, (Article I, Section 3, Subdivision (b)(1)): “The people have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business,” and Subdivision (b)(2): “A statute, court rule, or other authority shall be broadly construed if it furthers the people’s right of access, and narrowly construed if it limits the right of access.”   It also made several references to various Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) statements, particularly the brief from “212 GIS Professionals and 23 GIS Organizations” which explained the difference between software and data, made a distinction between “computer mapping system” and GIS software, illustrated the need for the GIS-formatted database over PDF-format pictures of the data, and pointedly noted that 49 out of California’s 58 counties are able to maintain their GIS databases without having to sell public record data.

Your interest and encouragement helped us carry on through initial disappointments to prevail.

Thank you for your support.

This is not the first time, nor will it be the last time, in which the GIS community is called upon to lend its expertise and participation to defend and extend our democratic rights and professional integrity.  Liberty requires vigilance. Working together, our efforts can make a difference.

You can download the text of the decision at http://appellatecases.courtinfo.ca.gov/search/case/mainCaseScreen.cfm?dist=0&doc_id=1985061&doc_no=S194708. 

2013 Annual Conference Registration is Open!

Posted by Kim Cloud on June 11, 2013

Registration is now open for the 2013 Annual Conference in Kansas City, Missouri! Please visit the website at www.nsgic.org/2013-annual-conference for more information about the conference and to review the current draft agenda. The official registration brochure will be in the mail shortly. In the meantime, you can either download a printable registration form or visit NSGIC Online to register. You will need to log in prior to registering online. Remember to register prior to September 27th to receive the early registration rate!

We are also accepting applications for conference grants. Applications may be submitted online thru July 19th.

The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center is offering a special rate of $149, per room, per night, for the NSGIC 2013 Annual Conference for Saturday, October 26 thru Thursday, October 31st. In addition, the hotel will be offering the prevailing Government per diem rate to all attendees providing valid Government Identification. To make your reservation, call the hotel at 1-816-474-4400 or 1-888-627-8538, please reference NSGIC (National States Geographic Information Council) when making your reservation (for both the group rate AND government per diem). Be sure to make your reservation before October 12, 2013 in order to receive the NSGIC discounted rate. Complimentary Internet service will be available to attendees in guestrooms and within the NSGIC meeting space.

Hope to see you in Kansas City! 

An April Fool’s Rationale for Not Sharing Data

Posted by Will Craig on April 11, 2013

Editor’s Note: The following ‘report’ was made at Rick Gelbmann’s retirement party.  Rick was manager of the Twin Cities Metropolitan Council’s GIS Team where he made huge contributions to regional data sharing activities, including the creation of the award-winning MetroGIS initiative in 1995.  He had to do something like this; two-thirds of the data he needs to do his job comes from others in the region.  Rick’s retirement party was on April 5, 2013, close enough to label this spoof the thoughts of an April Fool.  The report was conceived and delivered by Randy Knippel, chair of the MetroGIS County Data Producer Workgroup and Nobody’s Fool.  (My apologies for badly formatting Randy’s report, but the blogosphere has its limitations)

MetroGIS Liaison Report

We have worked with Rick for many years through MetroGIS, but he has always held reservations about how things have changed over the years.  With his retirement, he intends to make himself available through consulting services. We have had preliminary planning meetings with him and, with Rick’s guidance; we expect to start making some much needed changes.

Effective immediately, we will begin a new phase in GIS data development and deployment by eliminating all collaboration and data sharing, instead, working individually to create much stronger GIS programs.

  1. To get things back on track we will encourage adoption of following basic principles:

    1. All agencies will independently examine data fees and begin charging more to pay for their GIS operations.

    2. Eliminate sharing of data so we don’t have to worry about people misusing it or blaming us for mistakes.

    3. This will also prevent terrorists from using it against us and avoid privacy issues.

  2. All work groups will dissolve and all communication and collaboration will cease.

  3. From the counties’ perspective, pricing for parcels is expected to rise to former levels and beyond, likely exceeding $100 per parcel.  However, other government agencies and educational institutions will not be allowed to buy it and will begin building their own parcel databases.

  4. Current data licensing will be amended to include universal background checks and restrictions on the use of high-capacity data storage devices.

    1. This will prevent criminals from getting the data and using it for nefarious purposes.

    2. Calm fears of law-abiding citizens who believe less than 10 records at a time is enough.

  5. We expect to realize a host of benefits including:

    1. Revenue from GIS data is expected to increase into the ka-jillions (That’s a big number.  For those of you having trouble visualizing it, that’s a 1 with a ka-jillion zeros after it.)

    2. Property taxes will decrease substantially as entire government operating budgets are funded by GIS data revenue.

    3. GIS programs will grow.  (It will be a great time to be working in the field of GIS.  We will double and triple existing staffing levels to build killer apps as unique as possible so we all have our own brand and individual web presence.  As demand for GIS staff increases, GIS salaries will increase dramatically, creating hiring wars as we compete with each other for qualified staff.)

    4. The economy in general will be stimulated (Without collaboration and data sharing we will spend much more on data collection and maintenance creating a boon for consultants and contractors.)

  6. We look forward to Rick’s vision and leadership in this brave new approach to doing GIS! We were going against established wisdom in 1995, but times have changed.  It’s time to reverse direction and go against the flow again.

My District Data

Posted by Alyssum Pohl on March 27, 2013

One of NSGIC’s goals is to promote geospatial information integration to help inform public and private decision-makers.   A similar goal is met by a new web-based tool called MyDistrictData, created by Citi Community Development and PolicyMap.  MyDistrictData offers users the ability to create reports on economic, employment, financial, educational, and housing conditions in their district.  The hope is that access to these data will equip decision makers to make more informed recommendations as they consider their constituents. While much of the data is collected and presented at the state level, MyDistrictData produces reports at the congressional district level to show clear variation between districts.  Currently, only reports on workforce and jobs are available. By June, other reports (Money & Savings, Education, and Housing) will be available. All data is free, public, and encouraged to be disseminated.

Stu Davis Named to Top 25 List of Doers, Dreamers and Drivers

Posted by Bill Burgess on March 8, 2013

Stu Davis is currently serving as the CIO for the State of Ohio, but NSGIC members know him better as a Past-President of NSGIC and the former GIS Coordinator for the State of Ohio.  He was recently named by Government Technology Magazine as one of the top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers in Public-Sector Innovation. Follow this link to see the complete list and read what they have to say about Stu – http://www.govtech.com/top-25/

Western States Contracting Alliance (WSCA) Cloud Services Contract Used

Posted by Bill Burgess on March 8, 2013

The All Points Blog at Directions Magazine published an article on March 7th indicating that Hawaii has used the WSCA Cloud Services Contract. You can read more at: http://apb.directionsmag.com/entry/hawaii-uses-wcsa-for-cloud-contract-with-dewberry/314956

NSGIC Mid-Year Day 2, Monday 2/25/13

Posted by Kim Cloud on February 26, 2013

As usual, the first full day of the NSGIC mid-year meeting was jam packed with useful information.  The day began with opening remarks from the President of NSGIC, Ivan Weichert. He provided a reminder to us that change is inevitable and summarized it succinctly – The way it was is not the way it is and the way it is now is not the way it will be.  Wise words to remember. We then had the pleasure of hearing from keynote speaker Major General William Reddel, the Adjutant General of the New Hampshire National Guard.  He emphasized the importance of collaboration and its ultimate role in saving lives.  In our reality where speed is life, it is ever so important to have tools that can turn our data into information that can be used to create knowledge and understanding in place before disasters occur.  He cited a Winston Churchill quote “Gentlemen, we are out of money, we need to think”. A quote that has been repeated several times since. This is not the time to make excuses; this is the time to get creative.  Geospatial thinking is a science and an art and the only thing stopping us from using GIS now is our imaginations. Now is a time for us to work together to share best practices, find standards and architecture that can support all of us.  When the lowest level source of data is the towns in our states then we need to start with the towns that have ‘good’ geospatial programs to be champions to those who don’t. Rather than federal entities pulling information together in silos, it is more efficient and will reduce redundancy to carry the data up from the lowest levels.  He is looking to NSGIC and the states to keep pushing our message. He will keep pushing with the organizations he works with including NASCIO, the White House, Department of Homeland Security and the National Geospatial intelligence Agency. We need to have many voices with one message. The importance of this was emphasized with a reminder of what the American people will judge us by: 1) Did we save their lives, 2) Did we reduce human suffering and 3) Did we protect their property.

Other presentations throughout the day carried the same theme of collaboration and finding creative solutions in the economic challenges we are facing.  Jim Scott from Texas spoke of Transcendental Geography.  He highlighted the importance of calibrating models with actual data to get a more realistic picture.  Their field research of flood high water marks has proven that you can have accurate maps that are not realistic.

Bert Granberg from Utah and Jacob Mundt from Wyoming, chairs of the Geospatial Web Service Working group have collected survey responses regarding state’s use of Geospatial web services.  The results will be available in a Google document for shared viewing. They are going to work with NSGIC on next steps and will incorporate results into the GMA and develop a best practices document.  Stay tuned for more!

Ray Faught from New York presented results from an eye-opening imagery ROI study, including data gathered from 15 counties, combined with data extrapolated for approximately 35 additional counties and the private sector.  They determined there was a 711% ROI on their imagery investment. And that doesn’t even include the non-financial benefits such as lives saved by having good data… WOW!

David Boyd’s update on Virtual USA was also a reminder of being creative in tough financial times.  Governance is typically the hardest part as it implies who is in charge and who pays. Noting that you can’t rely on government to continue funding for any prolonged period of time, they are going to continue funding Virtual USA until it can be self-sustaining.

Sean McSpaden from Oregon, the chair of NISC, provided us with an update of their progress.  Since July 2012 they have grown from 5 to 24 members. The most recent additions are NSGIC and their first private sector member esri.  In a relatively short period of time they have collected a diverse array of resources, tools, API’s and even code that are available to members.  In the future they are also looking at technologies other than Flex to expand their toolkit.

Mike Byrne of the FCC shared information about one of their current projects to collect ILEC study area boundaries.  They are building a data collection website for providers to submit data and for collaboration on certification.

Charley Hickman from the USGS gave an update on the 3D elevation program which seems analogous to Lidar for the Nation (with the exception of Alaska that is collecting mostly IFSAR).  USGS has developed an interagency elevation inventory and if you are from an area impacted by Sandy, they are seeking partners for additional data to be collected.

Past President of NSGIC Tim DeTroye of South Carolina shared some of their lessons learned with data licensing issues.  In their state tables of data aren’t typically an issue, but when you add a spatial component, counties want to copyright their data.  The question is “To license or not to license”. To be copyrightable, data has to be original and some sort of creative work.

This is a point that was further emphasized by Paul Uhlir’s discussion of legal interoperability of data.  One of his points was that public domain is the yin to proprietary’s yang.  He moved to an explanation of the difference between license and contract which is an important distinction.

Learon Dalby stayed true to form with his talk about the meaning of ‘free’.  The reusable analogy he used – ask yourselves is this “puppy dog” free, or “beverage” free?  Meaning, when you adopt a puppy for free you are on the hook for food and shelter, but if someone were to give you a beverage than that’s free to you.  His emphasis was to look at the total cost of ownership – something may be free initially, but what about the servers to host it and resources to maintain it?

Christian Carlson from esri shared their goals to take the technology from highly customized systems that can’t be modified and sustained to configurable systems that require little coding.  The tools they have developed for local governments will be extended to state governments.

Anthony Fassero from Nokia discussed the progression of street view data collection.   The first project of its kind was actually a 1977-79 MIT Aspen movie map developed using a camera strapped to the roof of a wood panel wagon!

The final session of the day was on broadband data.  Bill Johnson from New York cited some creative uses of the broadband data to filter applications for funding Connect NY projects and their collaboration with their economic development office.  Joy Paulus from Washington noted how their maps are a lot more precise than they used to be.  They are also using the broadband data to support investments and later mentioned that 80% of their communities have seen a change for the better.  And last, but not least was Bert Granberg from Utah.  He first emphasized that the broadband data is freely available in the public domain.  You don’t have to be a broadband steward to do cool things with it. He highlighted creative ways they are funding gaps in coverage – their roadkill application, er, I mean, their Wildlife Vehicle Collection Response application serves as a double agent.  They are able to tell where field users aren’t able to connect to the network and can use that data to improve their broadband data.

A full day to say the least!! These are only highlights; you can view full presentations in the 2013 conference archives. 

ROI Song of NSGIC meetings

Posted by Kim Cloud on February 26, 2013

Too rarely in our lives do we get opportunities where our professional and personal lives intersect.  As bizarre as it sounds to some, I am privileged to say I have had that opportunity with my experiences with NSGIC.  I have never known another group of people so closely bound by a shared common goal who can enjoy the silly pleasures of an evening of folk songs and sing-alongs after a hard day of collaborating on ideas to bring people together and to get outsiders to understand the importance of what we do.  On paper, is that an ROI on attendance? Probably not. But in a world where a difference can be made by the right person having the right contact at the right time, does that or should that really matter? To me, it doesn’t. I, for one, know I can count on any of the members of NSGIC to come through on a trivial question or even response to a major disaster.  I don’t know of a similar organization that avails itself to furthering education, pushing legislation, increasing communication and fostering collaboration like NSGIC does. And it is not to the benefit of its members, as is proven by the fact that many members come to the meetings at their own expense. It is to the benefit of the citizens that we all serve. Whom we, as civil servants, have pledged our careers and ourselves to help.  I, for one, know who I can call upon for help with geospatial challenges, do you? I learned by attending NSGIC meetings. Not by reading contact lists or directories, but by meeting the people in person. That’s an ROI song that I think I can sing. 

State GIOs Focused on Emerging Public Safety Requirements

Posted by Kathy DeMarco on February 4, 2013

State GIOs are preparing for significant changes required to support the next generation of emergency response technology; data and business planning and preparation are underway, with the state GIS office a central stakeholder in ensuring successful coordination.

Responding to states’ need for information and guidance, NSGIC’s Addressing Work Group recently presented “Statewide Addressing Solutions,” a web conference featuring three states’ (MA, NY, and UT) approaches to coordinating statewide, cross-departmental preparations for the next generation of public safety services. Issues surrounding addressing standards, coordination across federal-state-county stakeholders, eliminating duplication of effort, and leveraging updated data layers for other statewide needs were addressed in this session. [access recorded session here]

NSGIC’s 2013 Midyear Meeting (Feb. 24-27, Annapolis, MD, info here) will continue to provide strategic insights for state GIOs, as well as the opportunity to discuss and debate approaches to NG911 support preparations and available funding resources:

Homeland Security Workshop: “Strategic Initiatives to Support Geospatial Preparedness”

Emergency Management professionals are acutely aware that their success during an event depends heavily upon having the right networks, resources and capabilities in place before an event occurs. This is essential because when that “big event” happens, whatever it is, those resources need to be rapidly mobilized and deployed appropriately. While emergency managers are preparing for the next big event, their partners are busy addressing everyday (non-disaster focused) challenges facing their respective organizations. This workshop is designed to provide state coordinators with a strategic view of the opportunities to address both – cross walking between the everyday business requirements of an organization and the disaster requirements of emergency managers. At the end of this workshop, we hope state coordinators will have additional tools to strategically address the needs of the emergency management community, while at the same time strengthening the daily usage of geospatial information and technology to support the business requirements of their states.

SBI/Broadband and Addressing Session: “State Approaches to Addresses”

States are working to create statewide address registers – often with very different approaches. Virginia and Rhode Island already have systems that provide up-to-date address data that benefits their states. Maryland and Oregon are moving forward. This session will present those four models, then discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each.

FirstNet Panel Discussion

FirstNet, the federal plan to deploy a nationwide wireless public safety broadband network, will be discussed. There are many unknowns about this plan, including funding and federal-state roles and responsibilities. This panel will provide the most up-to-date information useful to state GIS coordinators.

NENA Guidance for States: Preparing for NG911 Data Needs

As state GIS coordinators, a significant amount of effort is aimed at creating standardized, statewide databases of key local government databases. The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) provides standards and guidance useful in assisting states in creating databases such as structure point addresses, 911 service boundaries, parcels, road centerlines, etc. The role of these databases in Next Generation 9-1-1 systems will be discussed as well as

where in the call taking process the data is used, current databases that may be replaced (e.g. Master Street Address Guide – MSAG) and how state GIS coordinators can best prepare our respective states for meeting these needs.

Facilitated Discussion on SBI/Broadband, Address, Transportation and FirstNet

This session will tie together the relationships between the many efforts that have one very important thing in common: an address.

NSGIC’s 2013 Midyear Meeting is open to all stakeholders in the geospatial community. On average, nearly 40 US states and territories are represented at the Midyear Meeting, popular for its depth of content, open discussion and networking, and take-home value for attendees. Visit www.nsgic.org for more information. 

North West Group Workshop to Take Place at the NSGIC Midyear

Posted by Laura Izzo on January 22, 2013

A special workshop will be presented by NSGIC Platinum Sponsor, North West Group, on Sunday, February 24th, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm.*

Topic: A Real World Analysis of a Geospatial Public Private Partnership

Presented By: Tim Crago, Vice President, North West Group; and Tom Grabowski, President & CEO, The Silvacom Group

Overview: Since 1997, the Government of Alberta Canada has participated in a PPP for the storage, management, update and distribution of a number of government data sets. The history, corporate set up and funding models are examined.

Please join us for this highly interactive session that we hope will ignite great discussion and provide insightful input relating to both sides of the equation.

* This workshop will be open to Government, Academic, & Non-Profit Attendees Only.  Please consider this workshop while arranging your travel plans; it is recommended that you plan to arrive on Saturday if you wish to attend. 

Washington Liaison Position Vacancy

Posted by Bill Burgess on January 7, 2013

NSGIC’s Washington Liaison, is planning to retire in November 2013. If you are interested in filling this position, please review the cover letter from Ivan Weichert, NSGIC President, that details the requirements for submitting an application. In addition, you can review the position description that describes both the expectations for the position, as well as the desired skill sets.

If you are aware of anyone that you believe is a good ‘fit’ for this position, please direct them to the announcement on the web page at http://www.nsgic.org/position-announcement. 

The Return on Investment for Attending a NSGIC Meeting

Posted by admin on December 21, 2012

NSGIC recently distributed a new flyer titled “If you’re involved with GIS Coordination…NSGIC has the right meeting for you.”  You will find some interesting quotes from NSGIC State Representatives about the ROI they have obtained from attending NSGIC Meetings.  Use this and other information in the flyer to help justify why it’s important to attend the Midyear Meeting in Annapolis, Maryland, from February 24th through the 27th.  The detailed conference agenda will be posted later today. The Conference Committee has built a very strong agenda for this year’s meeting and we are encouraging our State Members to reach out to their Emergency Management agencies to encourage their attendance at this meeting. 

Justifying the Cost of Authoritative Imagery

Posted by admin on December 21, 2012

The November/December issue of Earth Imaging Journal ran an article titled “Justifying the Cost of Authoritative Imagery in a World of Free Data“. This article was based, in part, on a recent NSGIC publication titled “Justifying the Cost of Authoritative Imagery….a brief review of the issues“.  The NSGIC publication was developed as a result of discussions at the State Caucus Meeting during the NSGIC Annual Meeting in Orlando Florida. 

Open Data Will Create Smart Cities

Posted by Will Craig on October 29, 2012

Better cities can be created by giving citizens creative access to information.  A new project is being launched in Europe to create Smart City applications and transfer them from city to city.  The project will be using an open source service developer toolkit to help make it easier for developers to create new and innovative applications that work across the continent.  The project is called CitySDK, City System Development Kit.  The €6.84 million project is funded in part by a grant from the European Commission.

The basic idea is to open city data resources to developers allowing them to create useful applications, much like Washington DC did when it conducted its Apps for Democracy competition.  Unlike Washington DC, CitySDK wants the same app to run in many cities across Europe.  Pilot projects will be launched in three cities starting in early 2013: Amsterdam, Helsinki, and Lisbon. Five other cities are also participating: Barcelona, Istanbul, Lamia (Greece), Manchester, and Rome.  This effort will require cities releasing their data in standard formats.

Europeans see this approach benefitting citizens who use the applications, cities who get apps written for them, and developers who benefit from expanded markets.  The expectation is that the more nimble smaller firms will take advantage of this opportunity, what Europeans call SMEs – small and medium enterprises. In their documentation, they say CitySDK will provide developers with a “European advantage against the US and Asian competitors.”

Note: CitySDK was identified in a special report on Technology and Geography in the October 27 issue of The Economist.  The over-riding theme of the report is that geography is enhanced by smart phones and connectivity, not diminished.  Smart cities take advantage of technology by helping people navigate, find interesting places, and even report problems that can be fixed quickly. 

Proposed Best Practices for Managing Address Inventories

Posted by Bert Granberg on October 23, 2012

-updated 10/25/12 2:17pm-

Whether it be emergency medical response, the delivery of goods and services, tourists trying to find a hotel or restaurant, preparations for the census, or local crime analysis, the ability to find addresses is critical to public safety, economic efficiency, and government operations. The need to locate addresses accurately is growing at all levels, including of course, at the global level from within Google, Bing, Apple, Mapquest, and other mapping engines.

The process of assigning new, or modifying existing addresses is owned and managed by local government Address Authorities. This should not change as trusted local expertise is closest, the most connected, and likely the most vested to getting the information correct. And, many redundant and sometimes competing efforts are made to compile an inventory of official and unofficial physical addresses. The public and private sectors would both benefit greatly if local Address Authorities would extend their current responsibilities to provide a publicly-available inventory of physical addresses and their locations in geographic coordinates.

What follows is a suggestion for best practices that would make the most of local addressing knowledge, for the benefit of local communities, state, federal government, and private sector enterprise.

This is just a strawman and suggestions for any improvements to this proposal — in the form of additions, modifications, or simplifying/enhancing the concepts and related messaging — are encouraged.

Important Terms:

BSA — Basic Street Address. Consists of a house number, fully qualified street name including prefix and suffix directionals, street type, and the address reference system (a name associated with the addressing area, not a zipcode) that the address is found within. Building names on campus-like facilities should be incorporated into the BSA inventory.

BSA + Geo — The Basic Street Address plus geographic location coordinates, expressed in latitude, longitude or as an x,y coordinate pair in a recognized coordinate system. BSA+Geo can include several separate address point records for the same address, where appropriate, to represent access points, entrance points, and multiple structures.

Proposed Best Practices

  • The local government Address Authority is responsible for maintaining an inventory of official and unofficial BSA information.

  • The BSA information is kept together with a coordinate pair reflecting, at minimum, a 2D position of the address in geographic space.  (Unit numbers, aka sub addresses, are also worth inventorying, but introduce sufficient complexity that they are not covered in this proposal).

  • The geographic location(s) for each BSA should be accurate enough to guide emergency responders to the desired location without ambiguity with respect to ‘which structure’ and ‘from which road’.

  • The inventory of BSA+Geo is maintained through a separate business process and does not include any resident names or other personal information.

  • For new addresses, the BSA+Geo, should be updated as soon as a building permits are issued for new construction to accommodate for deliveries, inspections, accidents, etc.

  • The BSA+Geo inventory is maintained locally by a stewarding agency that is clearly identified and one that coordinates well with public safety operations.

  • The BSA+Geo inventory is collected and maintained with minimal redundant resources.

  • The BSA+Geo inventory should consist of all physical addresses but could be linked to corresponding mailable addresses where this is desired.

  • The inventory of BSA+Geo is public information*, and is actively shared via web endpoints (data file and service URLs).

  • Incentivizing states, where they are willing, to be aggregators of address data, from the local address authorities into regional, statewide, and/or nationwide data resources, is a logical approach that seems promising.

  • Web-based feedback channels exist to get issues with the BSA+Geo content to the local data steward to be adjudicated and acted upon where appropriate.

  • ‘Time to market’ for changes to BSA+Geo is measured in hours or days (ie an address inventory is a continual, not a periodic, activity).

  • Standardized metrics are compiled and published openly that track the completeness, accuracy, and currency of the BSA+Geo data content.


The Census Bureau and US Postal Service both currently attempt to keep national address inventories. The Census Bureau does not focus on business addresses and its primary need is in preparing for the decennial census every 10 years. The USPS has an inventory of mail delivery points which includes only businesses and residences served by street delivery mail.

Unfortunately, neither agency shares their address inventories citing Federal laws that pertain to either a) information collected in conducting (not preparing for) the census survey (Title 13, Sections 9 & 214) or b) a prohibition of identifying addresses of a specific “postal patron” (Title 39, Section 412a). Take out any direct association of addresses with names of residents/patrons and the current interpretations of the laws by Census and USPS seems somewhat misguided.

With this in mind, perhaps an additional best practice would be the adoption a policy statement similar to the one shown below.

An address point record (APR) consists exclusively of the following digital information components:

  1. A descriptive street address, in a standardized format;

  2. addressing zone information (zipcode, city, and/or addressing authority) that denotes a specific area within which the address is located; and

  3. a numeric coordinate pair (latitude-longitude or equivalent) that represents the geographic location associated with the address.

An APR should be considered public information when:

  1. Local, tribal, regional, or state government has recognized the address through a formal process or for purposes of services delivery (utilities, emergency response, etc); and

  2. the APR is not provisioned with additional descriptive information formally classified as protected, private, or sensitive.   

The National Broadband Map: A Case Study on Open Innovation for National Policy

Posted by Alyssum Pohl on October 18, 2012

Screenshot of one of the National Broadband Maps

A panel discussion about the National Broadband Map was held at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. on October 15th, 2012 (Case Study report here).  The discussion was also webcasted.  Panel members included:

  • Michael Byrne, GIO for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC);

  • Zach Bastian, a recent JD graduate who wrote the Case Study report;

  • Haley Van Dyck, lead of the Digital Government Strategy, and e-government policy analyst for the Office of Management and Budget;

  • Greg Elin, Chief Data Officer at the FCC;

  • Ben Balter, Presidential Innovation Fellow who recently wrote Towards a More Agile Government; and

  • Dr. Sean Gorman, Chief Strategist for ESRI’s DC Development Center.

The gist of the presentation was to highlight how well the broadband initiative worked.  It is, as Zach Bastian put it, “the poster child for government and IT collaboration.” He also highlighted four main wins that developed from this project.

  1. Incredible savings (specifics seen in the report).

  2. Agile development, which is an iterative process.  Features were added as needed instead of the usual governmental “waterfall” methodology where all specs are listed in advance.

  3. Open data, participation (i.e. speed testing by citizens, using mobile applications provided by FCC), transparency, and collaboration by NTIA, states, and internet providers, as well as NSGIC.  Open data provided an “Aha!” moment because even though the government had to give up a bit of control, it meant that their systems, points, and work spread much faster than they could have imagined.

  4. Tangible effect on policy.  This was projected helped to address the digital divide.

After this introduction, the panel was asked a series of questions.  The first question, “What can government do to help modernize?” lead to some great insights:

  • *Build tools to accomplish culture change.  You can’t just tell people about change, you need to provide the tools to do so.

  • *Lead by example.  Seeing others having impact, success leads to more people joining in.

  • *Hire people with new mindsets.

  • *Encourage risk to learn from failure, even in government.

  • *Innovation change is hard and trying to think its easy makes it harder.

  • *Find opportunities to move 1 or 2 people to do things differently. Even small numbers is good.

  • *“Everyone has to learn to swim for themselves” –Greg Elin.  Meaning that you may have to explain and help each person climb on board with these new ideas.  Be patient! Along these lines, famous physicist Max Planck’s famous quote, “Truth never triumphs—its opponents just die out.  Science advances one funeral at a time,” was recalled.

In addition to these points, the National Broadband Map serves as a great example of how data can come alive for people when attention is paid to design as well as factually correct information.  With such a combination, the realization of peoples’ ideas can be very powerful. 

Open Data Launches New Businesses

Posted by Will Craig on October 17, 2012

Last May I wrote about the European March Toward Open Data.  A Finnish study had found 15% better economic performance in countries with open data policies compared to those trying to recover their costs.  Based on that finding, Finland had begun making their geodata available free of charge to all users.

I neglected an important issue.  The growth came from small and medium enterprises (SMEs).  Lower costs allow SMEs to develop new GI-based products and services.  Large firms, able to pay full fees, didn’t do anything different when data became cheaper.  See Does Marginal Cost Pricing of Public Sector Information Spur Firm Growth?

Instrumental NSGIC Role in TFTN Win

Posted by Kim Cloud on September 13, 2012

Tom Roff (FHWA) and Steve Lewis (USDOT GIO) celebrated the culmination of joint work with NSGIC by announcing President Obama’s signing of Public Law 112-441, which authorizes the use of federal funds for the production of statewide centerline data and attribution for all paved and unpaved public roads. NSGIC’s Transportation for the Nation initiative (TFTN) has been working for a national road centerline dataset for many years, and this law provides the resources and driver for states to now collect all roads data within their boundaries and does not require the usual 20% state funding match for the effort. Planning for the data collection will begin in October, 2012, and the first data reporting will begin in 2014. Once again, NSGIC has provided significant national value encouraging the efficient and effective use of geospatial technology.

- Ed Arabas 

2012 Annual Conference Keynote Speaker

Posted by Kim Cloud on September 11, 2012

Our keynote speaker, Bob Austin, PhD, of the City of Tampa, gave a presentation on four views of GIS:

– Personal View, where the main take away is that it’s all about the data. His advice is to document requirements (the ‘How’ will come later), and to never sacrifice “Good” in favor of “Fast” and “Cheap”.

– Local View, using the City of Tampa’s view of the challenges of information access. Specific challenges being Data access, Naming, Policy and Usability. A major takeaway from this view is that the policy and data sharing consume just as much time in a project as the technical components. His advice is to plan ahead for the sociological and policy aspects in project planning.

– Industry View, using his experiences with GITA (Geospatial Information & Technology Association) as the example. 85% of US Infrastructure is owned by industry, and understanding infrastructure interdependencies is key.

– National View, using his service with NGAC (National Geospatial Advisory Committee). He emphasized building once, and using many times by taking a portfolio approach. Sharing data makes sense. Check out the work they have done at www.geoplatform.gov

– A bonus 5th view is the International View, citing several examples that emphasize interoperability and the need for international standards.

He also shared the City of Tampa’s experience with the Republican National Convention and the 3 major concerns that they planned for:

– 1st concern was Hurricanes; in reality Tropical Storm Isaac prompted the cancellation of the first day of the convention.

– 2nd concern was Terrorism; in reality they did not have any terrorist attacks.

– 3rd concern was Violent Protests; in reality there were some non-violent protests, but nothing violent. There were only 2 arrests during the course of the convention.

To support the convention they stood up a situational awareness dashboard called TIGER (Tampa Information and Geographical Resources) that now has upwards of 185 data sets.

It was a great presentation to get insight into some of the different perspectives of GIS. As Bob stated, “GIS is not just a good idea, it’s inevitable”. 

2012 Annual Conference Opening Speaker

Posted by Kim Cloud on September 10, 2012

The opening day of the annual conference began with an enlightening welcome from Florida’s state GIS coordinator, Richard Butgereit. He shared a couple of interesting facts about Florida. Between May and August, Florida has gone from a state of extreme drought to very wet due in part to 3 tropical storms and increased frequency of severe storms. Richard’s advice – if it thunders, run for cover!

We then had the pleasure of receiving a presentation from the State Archaeologist of Florida, James Miller, PHD, LLC, who shared examples of how GIS has made a profound difference in how they conduct their research and preservation efforts. He explained that GIS is the most powerful tool he has come across to help with his work and explain the results of his work. Examples included research into the Gainesville Depot, which they discovered had been moved 3 times since the 1800’s. Efforts are nearing completion to move the depot to its original location and restore it to become a useful building again. The second example was Heritage Park in the Bahamas. Their advice to the creators of the park – you don’t need to dig, you need a plan. Their research helped identify points of interest and the ideal location for the park using a combination of physical documents and GIS analysis. Finally, a highlight was the story of their research of Freetown in the Bahamas. Their research combined historic imagery, physical documents and interviews with former residents, including the Cooper family, to document what the town looked like in the past. They were able to identify wells, community centers, grave sites, and get a better understanding of the physical and cultural characteristics of the town. What an honor it was to hear about this research, and great examples of how GIS analysis can help preserve our past! 

NSGIC 2012 Annual Conference Day 1

Posted by Kim Cloud on September 10, 2012

The NSGIC 2012 Annual conference kicked off today with a very informative and dynamic workshop facilitated by Sanborn. The workshop began with a presentation on sensor technologies, where they are today and where they are heading in the future. The presentation quickly took on the feel of an extended state caucus with an exchange of questions, answers and discussion on topics ranging from defining data classifications, quality control methodology, RFP’s and uses for 3D point clouds.

Here are some highlights:

– Suggestions for NSGIC to develop a common RFP “set” for procurement, that all states can use

– Several things drive up the cost of acquisition procurement, including: forced use of specific technologies; not allowing the experts to guide the process with creative options and lack of clarity regarding what is being requested.

– As cloud solutions become available, procurement will change for the variety of end-users and service levels, so a lot of new things to think about.

– A suggestion was made for Sanborn and NSGIC to develop a 1-pager with sample pictures for state reps to use as a handout to answer the question “why buy imagery when I can use free online resources?”

NSGIC thanks Brad Arshat, Sanchit Agarwal and Learon Dalby, they know their stuff!! Please contact them via Twitter @SanbornMap or [email protected] with any questions.

In true NSGIC style a discussion group met to talk about GIS as IT until about 10:45. Look for some useful tools born from this discussion to help market GIS in the midst of state leadership. Hats off to Danielle Ayan of Georgia for leading this discussion!

Looking forward to a very full day tomorrow including keynote speaker Bob Austin from the City of Tampa, LandSat and You, and the Corporate Sponsor Reception and Buffet! 

Making the Case for Conference Attendance

Posted by Kathy DeMarco on September 4, 2012

NSGIC’s 2012 Annual Conference kicks off less than a week from today. For all who make the investments in time and money to participate, the ROI is typically very high. At least that’s what members tell us in the post-Conference evaluations and comments.

To those who have never attended or are attending for the first time, there may be concerns about the time that will be spent out of the office and the costs of travel/registration, and how those expenses will be justified. Although we know it’s there, NSGIC didn’t explain its Conference “ROI” very well or help prospective attendees justify their Conference expenses… until now.

Thanks to the efforts of several NSGIC volunteers, led by Membership Committee Chair Leland Pierce (NM), NSGIC has tools that help fill this need. “Attending NSGIC’s Annual Conference

is Worth Every Penny” is a two-page guide to identifying and quantifying the benefits of NSGIC Conference attendance. It provides helpful details on how our Conferences are organized, how NSGIC controls costs, and provides Conference Grants to help State representatives fund their participation. Read the document at http://www.nsgic.org/public_resources/Conference_ROI_060512_Final.pdfand be sure to visit the link for developing a conference attendance justification document to prove the value of attending NSGIC Conferences. 

Submit a Nomination for NASCIO's 2012 Recognition Awards

Posted by Bill Burgess on May 25, 2012

This information is directly from NASCIO.  It would be great to see some geospatial projects nominated for this award.

The deadline is quickly approaching to submit a nomination for the 2012 State IT Recognition Awards. The deadline to apply is June 4, 2012. For details, including the categories and eligibility, visit www.nascio.org/awards/2012awards/index.cfm.

NASCIO’s State IT Recognition Awards will honor outstanding state IT projects that exemplify best practices, support public policy goals of state leaders, assist government officials in innovatively executing their duties and provide cost-effective services to citizens. NASCIO state and territory members may submit one project in each of the ten categories. Projects are judged on innovation, significance and overall benefit. Two finalists and one award recipient will be named for each category and announced at the 2012 Annual Conference in San Diego, Calif. 

Europeans Continue March Toward Open Data

Posted by Will Craig on May 20, 2012

Two new studies have come out of Europe that support open access to government data.

  • A 2011 Finnish study addressed the question, Does Marginal Cost Pricing of Public Sector Information Spur Firm Growth?   The authors analyze data from 15 counties and conclude “Firms functioning in the countries in which public sector agencies provide fundamental geographical information either freely or at maximum marginal costs have grown, on average, about 15 percent more per annum than the firms in the countries in which public sector GI is priced according to the cost-recovery principle.” Starting in May 2012, all Finnish  geodata is being made available free of charge to all users.

  • An April 2012 Danish study looked at the Funding of a System of Key Registers in a PSI-conomics and Contemporary Perspective.  Three options were considered: people pay to register data (e.g. deeds), people pay to purchase data, and government pays.  The study concludes that it is best for general state government support. Selling government data is inefficient because it keeps out many potential users and those who do pay distort the market.  Society is better off when data is available to widest number of users.


Posted by Kenny Miller on May 18, 2012

Spoke with Maryland’s Radio Interoperability Czar about the basics – basics – of FirstNet since I’ve heard a variety of details about it. It’s a federal effort to build a wireless network for first responders (hence the name – FirstNet). It will rely on existing infrastructure where available. A key goal is on dispatch and communication between emergency personnel but in areas where 911 wireless calling is lacking it can be used for 911 too. Fed’s plan to build this using the public/private partnership model. State grants are expected to be available. The D block range of the 700 MHz frequencies will be used. Revenue from the sale of other frequencies to commercial interests are expected to provide the funds for construction. There are many more details about this effort and much remains to be defined but this information helped to make things clearer for me. 

Environmental Sensitivity Index Maps

Posted by Bill Burgess on May 17, 2012

Today, I had a reason to go back and look at the Environmental Sensitivity Index maps produced by NOAA. My first encounter with this effort was in the early 80s as part of the review team for Maryland. At the time, I responded to oil and hazardous material spills and these maps provided a wealth of information for our response efforts. We always kept a paper copy in the cab of our response vehicles. This map series has been updated through the years and they are now available in GIS formats. I thought I would pass along some information on how to access these maps for the 28 states and insular areas, and 9 major river basins that have been mapped. You can go to http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/esi to learn more about the maps and to download copies. 

Webinar will discuss service on the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC)

Posted by Bill Burgess on May 15, 2012

FGDC will be holding a webinar briefing and discussion on Thursday, May 24 from 2:00-3:00 pm EDT about the next round of nominations and appointments to the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC). Webinar and conference line instructions are included below.

NGAC Background

The NGAC is a Federal Advisory Committee that provides advice and recommendations to the FGDC on geospatial policy and management issues and provides a forum to convey views of non-Federal stakeholders in the geospatial community. The NGAC includes members from all levels of government, non-profits, academia, and the private sector. NGAC members are appointed by the Secretary of the Interior. The NGAC meets 3 to 4 times per year, and subcommittees work between meetings to develop draft products for review by the full committee. Additional information about the NGAC, including the NGAC charter, key products , and summaries of meetings are available on the NGAC website at www.fgdc.gov/ngac.

NGAC Nominations/Appointments

10 of the 28 current appointments to the NGAC will expire in December 2012. The next round of appointments to the NGAC will be initiated with a Call for Nominations in early June 2012. The Call for Nominations will be open for 45 days. In the May 24 briefing, we will provide information about the nomination and appointment process and answer any questions from partners in the geospatial community. Our goal is to seek highly-qualified nominees who will provide a representative cross-section of organizations and perspectives on the committee.

We encourage you to attend this briefing and to consider submitting nominations of qualified candidates for appointment. If you are not able to attend the webinar but would like information about the nomination process, please let us know. If you have any questions about the webinar or about the nominations process, please contact John Mahoney at FGDC ([email protected], 206-220-4621)

To join the Webinar via GoToMeeting:

Step 1: Register for the Webinar

1. Go to the following Registration Page link:


2. Complete the Registration form.

3. Click Register Now.

4. You will receive a confirmation email providing you with a unique link to join the Webinar as well as a link to add the event to an Outlook or Lotus Notes calendar.

Step 2: Join the Webinar

1. At the time of the Webinar, open the confirmation or reminder email for the Webinar event.

2. Click the link provided in the email to join the Webinar.

3. If prompted, click Yes, Trust or Always to accept the download. If the automatic download does not occur, follow the instructions on the download Web page to do it manually.

To join the Audio Conference:

Dial: 218-844-0850

Code: 1017284# 

Prison Gerrymandering

Posted by Bill Burgess on May 14, 2012

While doing some background work on another issue, I came across a web page that has specific information for each state about possible gerrymandering using prison populations.  I thought the information was interesting and might be of interest to many states. You can visit the site at: http://www.prisonersofthecensus.org/50states/