Monthly Archives: February 2013

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

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

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

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.