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National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC)

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 resilientrecovery@hud.gov.

NSGIC Annual Conference - Environmetal Intelligence and Resiliency Session

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.

Forty Maps that Help Explain the World

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.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/08/12/40-maps-that-explain-the-world/?lines

FEMA Technical Mapping Advisory Council (TMAC)

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.

Digital Homestead Records

Heard this story on NPR Radio yesterday afternoon “Digital Homestead Records Reopen A Crucial Chapter Of U.S. History” – http://www.npr.org/2014/07/02/327797193/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 – http://www.nps.gov/home/historyculture/track-the-progress-of-the-homestead-records-project.htm.

http://www.nps.gov/home/historyculture/homesteadrecords.htm – NE Records are currently available on –  http://www.fold3.com/title_650/homestead_records_ne/, 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.

Northwest Group Acquired by Hexagon AB

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

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.

Recurrent Flooding Being Addressed by Virginia Legislature

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

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

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

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/

My District Data

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.

The Return on Investment for Attending a NSGIC Meeting

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

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.

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

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.