Author Archives: Bill Burgess

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.

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/

Western States Contracting Alliance (WSCA) Cloud Services Contract Used

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

Washington Liaison Position Vacancy

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.

Submit a Nomination for NASCIO's 2012 Recognition Awards

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.

Environmental Sensitivity Index Maps

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)

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 (jmahoney@usgs.gov, 206-220-4621)

To join the Webinar via GoToMeeting:
Step 1: Register for the Webinar
1. Go to the following Registration Page link:

https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/765684950

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

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/