Author Archives: Kim Cloud

2013 Annual Conference Registration is Open!

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!

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.

Instrumental NSGIC Role in TFTN Win

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

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

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

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 ldalby@sanborn.com 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!