Author Archives: admin - Page 2

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/

Digital Coast Briefing for Congress

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

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.

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.

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

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/