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NSGIC On The Brain - Spring Break

Zion National Park, Angel's Landing

Zion National Park, Angel’s Landing

NSGIC is a hard habit to break. For those interested in building meaningful state and national digital mapping resources, the camaraderie and synergy of NSGIC conferences, committees, and professional networking is hard to beat.

But, if you’re like me, very occasionally you find yourself in engaged in some weird (to others) NSGIC or geography-inspired activity even when trying to get away from it all.

This happened to me on a road trip to southern Utah and northern Arizona last week. On day 2 of our spring break trip, my family suddenly found ourselves playing a modified version on the license plate game while hiking Zion National Park’s Angels Landing trail with, oh, about 1000 or more of our fellow park goers.


This counts as one only state: your choice, but you’ll see TX again (trust me)

In our modified version, “the hiking plate game,’ we were looking for any specific mention of a state or strong association to a state (a place, university, pro sports team, etc) on the clothing of passers by. We were working together toward fifty (and DC) and we only allowed one state to be counted per person.

Over the course of the 3.5 hour hike, which included lots of time queued up waiting for our direction’s turn on the steep ridge and its hand-hold chains, we bagged 34 states and DC. And, true to NSGIC form, I found myself using a (mental) map to track our progress. Somewhat surprising to me, the showing from states with teams in the SEC athletic conference was especially strong (except GA and TN for some reason). And what’s Idaho’s excuse? Is it potato planting time already? (no neighborly disrespect intended)

Our Results

Our Results:  Blue = Success

There’s something about Zion, which had almost 4.3 million visitors last year, because our other hikes were not nearly as productive in the hiking plate game. A 3 hour hike on the Bryce Canyon NP Peekaboo Loop trail (photo) produced only 5 states. Smaller crowds and snow on the trails (Bryce is about a mile higher) no doubt contributed to the lower state count as did, we feel, a much lower propensity of Bryce’s visitors to wear logo’d attire.

Happy spring and, in this new season, feel free to embrace your inner NSGIC/GIS/mapping instincts…unless a tattoo parlor is involved, in which case, you might sleep on it for at least a night.

State Feedback: What I Need Most from NSGIC...

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At a State Caucus session during NSGIC’s Annual Conference in Indianapolis last October, we conducted a completely impromptu exercise that produced some interesting, important information.

The game was pretty simple. Take one of the ubiquitous hotel notepads and fill in the blank: “What I need most from NSGIC is _______.”

I can’t remember the specifics of what spawned this, but it was time well spent. Here (below) is what we heard. (Thanks to Molly Schar for summarizing the results!)

… help me tap into the collective wisdom of NSGIC members

  • Use working meetings to convene discussions on priority areas. Make them mentoring opportunities to learn, work together and create products/services. Develop and publish best practices, guidance, recommendations, briefs and white papers.
  • Take networking to the next level by connecting members with similar roles. Involve subject matter experts and other new people to expand membership.
  • Publish relevant news and information about what is happening in GIS.

… help me be more effective in my job

  • Provide opportunities to think about the bigger picture, analyze geospatial maturity progress and plan strategically for the future.
  • Facilitate mentoring for states that need assistance. Establish relationships between states with common needs and goals.
  • Develop best practices for GIS Councils and GIOs.

… be the network mesh to enable local, state and federal collaboration on geospatial initiatives

  • Educate state leadership, locals and private sector about the importance of GIS and statewide collaboration. Establish return on investment for collection of statewide data. Engage local governments and make room for them at the NSGIC table.
  • Proactively lead programs “for the nation” like what was done for broadband.
  • Establish minimum content standards for framework data.

… represent states with one voice at the federal level

  • Advocate for legislation beneficial to states and a national spatial data infrastructure with a central role for states
  • Connect states with federal agencies. Leverage resources like seed money from federal agencies. Leverage activities like the 2020 census and NG9-1-1.

The NSGIC board will be retreating in advance of next month’s Midyear Meeting to develop strategic priorities for 2017 and 2018. We will explore these four areas of coordination and communications as we look to meet the needs of our members, exceed member expectations, and continue to craft the organization that will make NSGIC continue to grow and excel.

NSGIC Seeks Technical Developers

NSGIC is looking for a Technical Developer and a Senior Technical Developer to participate as subcontractors on an exciting project to improve access to GIS web services/data for public safety through the GIS Inventory. Specifically, NSGIC seeks to develop ability to generate Web Feature Services (WFS) and Web Map Services (WMS) from multiple WFS/WMS sources, as well as to generate exportable data packages (e.g., zipped shapefile) from WFS from given spatial metadata queries. Experience in open source web development, in particular, GDAL, OGC WFS and WMS, is required. Familiarity with Linux command line tools, GeoServer, CKAN and Open Geoportal is preferred. The following details the experience, responsibilities and capabilities that are being sought.

Individuals wishing to be considered should forward their resumes to Molly Schar at by January 23, 2017.


  • Time Frame: February 2017 – September 2017
  • Rate: $54.76/hr.
  • Education/Experience: Requires a bachelor’s degree or higher or equivalent work experience. Requires a minimum of 4 years of relevant experience.
  • Functional Responsibilities: The Technical Developer operates under the direct supervision of the Project Manager and works closely with the Senior Technical Developer, the Subject Matter Expert (SME) and the Systems Administrator. This individual provides research, design and implementation services delivering complex data and software solutions. The Technical Developer conducts in-depth topical research on technical approaches and their feasibility and develops the conceptual drawings, diagrams and wireframes, data flow and process diagrams, and logical and physical data models for software systems. The Technical Developer also both supports and leads in the creation of technical solutions using web-based geospatial technology platforms that fulfill the needs and requirements provided by the SME and Project Manager. The Technical Developer should have hands-on experience in the Esri-based and open source geographic information systems. As noted above, they should have hands-on experience in open source web development. In particular, GDAL, OGC WFS and WMS are required. Familiarity with Linux command line tools, GeoServer, CKAN and Open Geoportal is preferred.


  • Time Frame: February 2017 – September 2017
  • Rate: $72.36/hr.
  • Education/Experience: Requires a bachelor’s degree or higher or equivalent work experience. Requires a minimum of 6 years of relevant experience.
  • Functional Responsibilities: The Senior Technical Developer operates under the direct supervision of the Project Manager and works closely with the Technical Developer, the Subject Matter Expert (SME) and the Systems Administrator. This individual provides technical design, user interface expertise and implementation services delivering GIS-based software solutions. The Senior Technical Developer works with the Technical Developer to develop technical approaches and assess their feasibility, and provides engineering in the building and developing of solutions for data sharing, exchange, access and visualization. The Senior Technical Developer will use leading web-based geospatial technology platforms that fulfill the needs and requirements provided by the SME and Project Manager. The Senior Technical Developer should have hands-on experience in the Esri-based and open source geographic information systems. As noted above, the Senior Technical Developer should have hands-on experience in open source web development. In particular, GDAL, OGC WFS and WMS are required. Familiarity with Linux command line tools, GeoServer, CKAN and Open Geoportal is preferred.

Why NSGIC? My Top 3

Best Practices, Opportunity, Advocacy

At NSGIC’s 2016 Annual Conference (NSGIC’s 25th!), I shared a few slides describing why Utah has been involved with NSGIC since its inception, and has attended every NSGIC meeting. Just a couple months into my term as NSGIC’s board president, I thought I’d take a brief respite to revisit and reflect on why it’s all worthwhile.

1. Best Practices
My single favorite reason for actively participating with NSGIC is the opportunity “to see what great looks like.” It shouldn’t feel like Utah is spying on the rest of the nation, but in a way we are, and hopefully, you are too.

Most of what we’ve been able to accomplish with mapping technology for Utah has had its origins in an idea or program that was shared by another state through NSGIC’s mid year and annual meetings or through its committees or professional networking with members and sponsoring organizations.  A partial list of ideas we’ve been able to put into practice in Utah includes: imagery and lidar partnerships, address points, NG911 preparation, broadband mapping, RTK GPS network, parcel data sharing, PLSS stewardship, and a strengthened partnership with our state GIS association, UGIC.

Thanks to everyone who brought forward their great ideas! I’ll just try to remember to give appropriate credit and hope that we can, at some point, play a reciprocal role for others!

2. Opportunity
The second reason your state needs to be represented within NSGIC is to stay on top of emerging opportunities that bring in funding and other resources and/or to ensure that your state is accurately depicted in national (and world) mapping efforts. There’s no doubt great benefit to exploring and realizing funding and partnering opportunities that further the geographic knowledge of our world. That’s also true for making it easier for everyone to discover and use critical geospatial information, whether that be in responding to a potential large-scale disaster, getting an accurate census count in 2020, or ensuring the best chances for a package to be delivered successfully and on-time to a rural business. Over the years, leads gleaned from Utah’s NSGIC participation have brought millions in external funding to our state’s geospatial efforts (3DEP, NTIA Broadband, NGA 133 Cities, NHD, EPA Exchange Network, FirstNet, FGDC CAP grants, etc.) and the geographic data depicting our natural and civil resources are greatly enhanced and more accessible as a result of pursuing partnerships with federal, private sector entities, and others.

3. Advocacy
Nurturing great ideas into fruition is the realm of policy and advocacy, which taken together, are the third big attraction of NSGIC. In my mind, NSGIC is the premier organization for the development and voicing of smart geospatial guidance and policy. NSGIC advocacy efforts are focused on the maturity and beneficial uses of map technology and mapping resources to improve efficiency and outcomes. The important role that states play, positioned between local and federal levels and connected (through NSGIC) with leading geospatial companies in the private sector, form a wholistic perspective on our industry. Many state and national-level geospatial initiatives got their start from a NSGIC committee, conference session, or after-hours discussion in our hospitality suite. Others remain on the drawing board, waiting for the right timing and situation to move forward.

It could go without saying, but I think its fitting to add a late, fourth mention to the people of NSGIC, including our general membership, sponsoring members, and staff, led by our executive director, Molly Schar. Smarts, teamwork, and a desire to make a difference are the substance and the glue that make NSGIC work for all of us and for the constituents of state-led geospatial efforts across the country!

With all of this said, I hope to see and learn from you all again next month at NSGIC’s 2017 Midyear Meeting in Annapolis, the week of February 27th! Midyear registration is open and the door for conference content submission is quickly closing. Consider connecting a rising geospatial star in your state, to NSGIC, by encouraging or supporting their attendance at the midyear meeting.

The time is now to start the New Year on the NSGIC track — no resolution-breaking procrastination need be applied.

Celebrating GIS Day with Release of 2016 Awards for Geospatial Excellence & Outstanding Service

In one of his last acts as National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) president, Chris Diller presented a record number of awards during NSGIC’s recent Annual Conference in Indianapolis, IN.

“Today, on GIS Day, it seems especially appropriate to recognize the many GIS professionals and partners in the geospatial community who serve, catalyze, champion and innovate,” said current NSGIC President Bert Granberg.

During last month’s Annual Conference, NSGIC unveiled a new awards program designed to recognize leadership and innovation at the state level. The Geospatial Excellence Awards join NSGIC’s long-running program of Outstanding Service Awards that recognize individuals and organizations that advance the national spatial data infrastructure and promote NSGIC’s goals of efficient and effective government.

2016 Geospatial Excellence Award Recipients

Innovator Awards

West Virginia State GIS Technical Center

For providing focus, strategic direction and leadership to users of geographic information systems (GIS), digital mapping and remote sensing within the State of West Virginia.

Jeff Ylvisaker and Tony Van Der Wielen, Wisconsin Legislative Technology Services Bureau

For supporting statutory changes and the development of the WISE-Decade platform, that taken together, resulted in an upgrade to how Wisconsin government publicly reports municipal boundary changes. This also resulted in more accurate management of voting districts, improved distribution of government funds by refining population estimates, and a streamlined data delivery to the Census BAS program.

Catalyst Awards

Jim Dove, Allen Burns, Brent Lanford and Hunter Key, Georgia Association of Regional Commissions

For leading the efforts to create and fund the Georgia GIO Office and its charge to leverage the use and application of geospatial data in public policy and decision-making to improve the overall safety and economic prosperity of the State of Georgia and its citizens.

Kenny Brevard, VITA Integrated Services Program

For innovative aggregation of local government data into statewide enterprise resources and development of statewide analysis tools to evaluate and communicate GIS data quality back to local government in preparation for NG 9-1-1 implementation.

Joan Delos Santos, Hawaii Office of Planning

For leading the Hawaii ‘GIS Modernization’ project that resulted in a cloud-hosted set of public-facing, authoritative GIS datasets and services.

Sean McSpaden, Oregon Legislative Fiscal Office

Sean has been the catalyst for introducing legislation in the upcoming 2017 Oregon Legislative Session that authorizes the Oregon Geographic Information Council, the Geospatial Enterprise Office and the GIO, creates a Council Fund, and requires data sharing of geospatial framework data between all public bodies.

Minnesota GIS/LIS Consortium

The education, grant funding, networking and collaboration opportunities the consortium has pursued have been critical to building and extending a strong statewide professional community. The consortium is expecting 700 attendees at its annual conference and 70 teachers at a special geospatial STEM training event.

Champion Award

Utah Mapping & Information Partnership, Executive Steering Committee; Amanda Smith, Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Robyn Pearson, Utah Department of Natural Resources

The Utah Mapping and Information Partnership (UMIP) is an informal committee of department heads formed to advance agency goals through heightened use of GIS and more complete sharing of data. UMIP won funding commitments from 14 agencies to license statewide high resolution aerial photography and successfully sought an appropriation to work on key enterprise geospatial projects.

Catalyst Award and Champion Award

Alaska Geospatial Council

The Alaska Geospatial Council, led by its chair Ed Fogels, is a multi-agency organization chartered in 2015 with representatives from all tiers of government, tribal entities and academic institutions working together to promote shared geospatial technology, enterprise data and infrastructure resources, and technical exchange.

2016 Outstanding Service Award Recipients

Tony LaVoi, NOAA, Department of Commerce

Tony LaVoi is the Chief of the Integrated Information Services Division for NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management. He is also NOAA’s geospatial information officer (GIO). In these positions, he serves as the focal point for agency-wide strategies, policy development, standards and coordination activities related to geospatial technologies out of NOAA’s Office of the Chief Information Officer. He coordinates a number of enterprise geospatial services for the NOAA GIS community of users, including many that are beneficial to state and local government stakeholders. Tony has kept NSGIC members informed and engaged in NOAA’s activities through his participation in the Coastal Caucus and Geospatial Preparedness Committee meetings. On several occasions, he has carried NSGIC issues back to other NOAA staff for resolution. The states are better able to focus on their unique issues and to incorporate NOAA’s services to support planning, response and recovery activities related to emergencies, coastal management and climate-related initiatives. More recently, Tony’s influence helped to ensure the success of NOAA’s nowCOAST web mapping portal for access to real-time weather observations, forecasts, warnings and other data, while expanding available services and incorporating input from stakeholders. He did this by using a transparent process and integrating it with services across NOAA.

Andy Rowan, State of New Jersey

Andy is Deputy Chief Technology Officer, formerly the Director of the NJ Office of GIS. Andy has been involved with NSGIC since the 2005 Annual Conference in Rochester, NY. Andy was first elected to the NSGIC board in 2010. He has co-chaired both the Address and Transportation committees, represented NSGIC on addressing issues at the National Address Summit and earlier this year represented NSGIC at the Mapping Science Committee meeting on addresses in Washington, DC. Andy has provided a valuable voice into issues and provided advice on board calls.

Nathalie Smith, Esri

Nathalie is a State Government Account Manager based out of Esri’s Olympia, WA office. Nathalie has worked at Esri for 28 years, first starting in Redlands, and now in the Pacific Northwest. Nathalie recently served on the Executive Director Search Committee helping NSGIC hire our first ever Executive Director. Nathalie represented our Corporate Leadership Council on this committee and provided a much-needed sponsor perspective on our hiring.

Kathy DeMarco, NSGIC Association Manager

Kathy has been NSGIC’s Association Manager since 2009. It should be noted that Kathy is a Certified Association Executive and has served NSGIC well in that capacity. Her attention to details is one of her many strengths. Kathy always keeps the board informed of upcoming meetings, provides meeting notes and helps ensure officers of the board follow the rules. She also helps the Finance Committee with the all-important annual budget and monthly financials. It is safe to say that without Kathy, NSGIC would not be operating as efficiently.

Craig Johnson, Louisiana Geographic Info Center

Craig is the Director of the Louisiana Geographic Information Center. Craig has been working in state government for 19 years and in a GIS leadership role for 16 years. Craig has been involved with NSGIC since the 2000 NSGIC Annual Conference in Lake Tahoe, NV, and has served as chair of the NSGIC Elections Committee since 2009. Knowing that NSGIC can count on Craig year in and year out to serve in that capacity is always a relief. It is one less thing that the president and board had to worry about. It is also why NSGIC elections happen smoothly.

Phil Worrall, Indiana Geographic Info Center

Phil first joined NSGIC in 2009 and has been a vocal proponent of everything GIS in Indiana. Phil has been involved in the mapping sciences since 1972. Phil heads up the Resiliency and 3DEP work groups and has served in this capacity since the 2014 Annual Conference in Charleston, SC. Phil regularly engages with USGS on behalf of NSGIC and advocates for state needs surrounding the 3DEP program.

Randy Mayden, North West Geomatics Ltd.

Randy has been a member of NSGIC since 2006. Randy has served on the Corporate Leadership Council (CLC) since 2009 and served as chair of the CLC from 2014 to 2015. While serving as CLC chair, Randy helped provide sponsor perspectives on NSGIC engagement. This type of engagement is valued by the board and fundamental to our partnerships between states and sponsors. Last year, Randy served on the Executive Director Task Force, helping NSGIC define the duties and responsibilities of the Executive Director position description. Many hours were spent collaborating on this effort.


Federal-Level Leadership for Nationwide Parcel GIS Data

This June, the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) and Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Infrastructure Foundation-Level Data (HIFLD) teams co-sponsored a National Parcel Data Summit at USGS Headquarters in Reston, VA. One of the outcomes of that meeting was a recognition by the participants that:

  • – nationwide parcel GIS data is needed to support a diverse set of important application areas, and
  • – federal leadership is needed in order to best facilitate an efficient aggregation and publication of nationwide parcel GIS data.

The federal agencies at the Summit made it clear that they needed to know what the broader user community believed to be the requirements for federal leadership on parcels. In other words, what would be the role and responsibilities for a lead federal agency related to ensuring development and maintenance of a national parcel data set?

Over the summer, Cy Smith, the State of Oregon’s GIO, led a small work group of Summit attendees in the development of a document articulating requirements for federal leadership on a national parcel data set. The work group published its recommendations in a paper entitled, Leadership for a National Parcel Data Set. This document was delivered to Ivan DeLoatch at FGDC and David Alexander at DHS HIFLD as supporting information for a late September federal agency meeting to determine parcel data requirements and to discuss which agency or agencies will provide national leadership. Work group members, listed at the end of the document, included county government, state government, private industry, and geospatial professional associations.

Earlier this year, NSGIC took a similar approach in making recommendations relating to the National Address Database. This effort prefaced the FGDC decision to add Addresses as an official National Geospatial Data Asset theme, and the selection of Census and USDOT as the co-leads. NSGIC encourages federal decision-makers to likewise use the valuable parcel recommendations and observations made by the post-Summit workgroup.

New Federal Focus on Address Data Can Save Lives, Safeguard Resources and Improve Public Services

Adoption of Address Theme Lauded by National States Geographic Information Council

(Washington, DC) – Yesterday’s announcement by the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) that it has established a new National Geospatial Data Asset Address Theme to support ongoing work to develop a National Address Database was met with approval by the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), the nonprofit that convenes senior geospatial coordinators for states, districts and territories across the United States.

“With this shift in policy, we look forward to the work that the named Lead Agencies of the Department of Transportation and Census Bureau will accomplish together, drawing on the strengths of each agency, to build the comprehensive address database through a truly national process,” said NSGIC President Chris Diller.

Addresses in the U.S. are created at the local level, city and county. States are prepared to act as intermediaries in collecting and organizing that data. Several states are far advanced in doing that work. The states look to the Federal government as the coordinating body to pull state data together to create a national address database, said Diller.

FGDC’s new focus on address points acknowledges that finer-grained location information has great utility for public safety, policy and planning, and demography. Improved address information on roads and demographic statistics for block and tract summary areas will support the essential functions of government including wide area disaster response, time-critical emergency response and other 911 services, financial and taxation oversight, and elections management.

Addresses have been a high-priority data theme of NSGIC since 2006, with the formation of an Address Work Group and production of a position paper on a “master” address file for state and local governments. In 2012, NSGIC members led an effort at the FGDC National Geographic Advisory Committee to assess the need for a National Address Database.

Since that time, NSGIC has worked closely with the Census Bureau and Department of Transportation towards development of a national system to gather, organize and share address data to meet a host of needs of government at all levels. In a Department of Transportation pilot program launched earlier this year, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Utah, Virginia and Washington, DC, joined pilot states Arizona and Arkansas in contributing address data.

The Department of Commerce National Telecommunications & Information Administration State Broadband Program (SBP) is widely seen as a successful model for state-led address point programs. Launched in 2009, the State Broadband Program is designed to facilitate the integration of broadband and information technology into state and local economies via state entities and nonprofits. Because accurate data is critical for broadband planning, the SBP assists states in gathering data twice a year on the availability, speed and location of broadband services, as well as services used by public institutions.

“As with the State Broadband Program, funding for the FGDC Address Theme efforts will be critical,” said Diller. “Many small jurisdictions do not have the resources to create an electronic file of their addresses. They have the resources to maintain that database, but need help setting things up.”

NSGIC advocates for open sharing of taxpayer-funded geospatial data, asserting that open data sharing makes the most current and accurate geospatial data available for decisions affecting economic development, social services, public safety, emergency management, human or environmental health, agriculture, natural resources, planning and transportation.

More information:
Address Points for the Nation, a NSGIC issue brief (2015)
The Need for a National Address Database: A Report Submitted by the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (2012)
Geospatial Data Sharing – Guidelines for Best Practices (2011)

Molly Schar, NSGIC Executive Director

25th Annual Conference: Connecting our Past to Present with an Eye Toward the Future

In less than two months NSGIC will be holding its 25th Annual Conference.  I am inviting you to attend.  Whether you have been a long time member or one of the original members who started this great organization, please come.  If you are in federal, state, local or tribal government, please come.  If you work in the private sector, for a non-profit, in education or are retired, please come to Indianapolis. All are welcome.

I am personally very excited about this conference.  You as members make our conferences great.  They are great because of the diversity of presenters we are able to attract and the rich content they provide.  The value in attending our conferences and becoming a member is that each of us will gain new ideas, collaborate on solving problems, establish or strengthen our connections with others, and share our knowledge.  This is the essence of NSGIC.  This is the reason NSGIC first met in 1991 followed by its first conference in Santa Fe, NM, in 1992.  It is the reason I attended my first conference in 2006 and have kept coming back year after year.

The 25th Annual Conference comes with an opportunity to recognize our past, yet the agenda is loaded with new ideas that will carry us forward. Why celebrate our past?  It does three things.  It shows respect for the challenges and efforts that came before us, it allows us to appreciate our current blessings, and finally it allows us to carry forward lessons learned so we don’t make the same mistakes.  These are three principles I adhere to in my own life and I believe should be applied to NSGIC.

There are a lot of special surprises being planned to help us celebrate 25 years.  I can’t tell what they are or they wouldn’t be surprises now, would they?  I’m not sure how we can ever top last year’s social event with fireworks at the WWI museum in Kansas City, unless of course we do fireworks again, but I can share a few things with you now.

For the first time, NSGIC has an executive director and Molly Schar will help me kick off the conference in style with a brief welcome message and Molly’s observations after four months on the job.  I have gotten to know Molly the last couple of months and I’m excited to introduce her to the membership.  You will have all week to introduce yourself to Molly, so don’t be shy.  NSGICers shy? Yeah, right!

The conference will also feature Admiral David Simpson from the Federal Communication Commission as the keynote speaker on the hot topic of Next Generation 9-1-1.  I had a chance to visit with Admiral Simpson earlier this summer and I think you will find him to be engaging and passionate about location accuracy for 9-1-1 and the need to provide our 9-1-1 centers with more accurate and comprehensive mapping data.

Wednesday afternoon is going to be special.  We have a 30 minute presentation on NSGIC history, a past presidents panel with some of our past presidents providing reflection from the early years of NSGIC, and finally a 25th anniversary celebration at the NCAA museum where we can all enjoy an evening of reflection and a bit of fun.   Be sure to represent your alma mater and wear your college colors.  It would be fun to see where each of you went to school.

Lastly, “In celebrating 25 years of facilitating smart policy, partnership-building, innovation and professional growth,” the Board of Directors has established a series of new awards called the Geospatial Excellence Awards.  I want to encourage our state reps to submit nominations by September 12, 2016.  If you know of anyone or any organization who is deserving, please consider submitting a nomination to  Awards will be announced during the conference.

I look forward to seeing you all in Indianapolis very soon!

Chris Diller (WI)
NSGIC President

NSGIC Online Mapping Platform


NSGIC Online Mapping Platform

NSGIC has launched a new Online Mapping Platform based on Esri ArcGIS Technology. Our Continuum of Natural Disasters project is our first official use of this site, but more projects are being planned. If you would like to suggest ideas and or contribute maps / apps / data to this platform please let us know. To access the NSGIC Online Mapping Platform click HERE

Open Data Leader Waldo Jaquith Heads to 18F

Some of you who attended the 2015 midyear may remember Waldo Jaquith as our keynote speaker.  It appears he’s moving up in the world!

Article on Waldo Jaquith

GovTech Article on New Government Uses for GIS

This article talks about the innovative ways GIS is being used to engage citizens by their local governments and to improve government services.  It’s a good read.

Introducing Molly Schar as NSGIC Executive Director

MollyScharOn behalf of the NSGIC Board of Directors, it is with great delight that I announce the hiring of Molly Schar as NSGIC’s first executive director.

During the search process, Molly impressed the search committee with not only her extensive background working with government and nonprofit organizations in advocacy, management, and communications roles but also with the creative ideas and enthusiasm she brought to our discussions about NSGIC’s future. I am confident that as you meet Molly in the coming weeks and months, you will also appreciate her warmth and candor, as well as the distinct perspective she brings to our organization.

Nearly two years ago NSGIC embarked on a journey to find our first executive director when I sat down with former NSGIC presidents Kenny Miller and Shelby Johnson by the fireplace at Kenny’s house in Maryland contemplating NSGIC’s future. I recall that during those early discussions we identified the need to better serve our membership, diversify our base by finding ways to grow it and develop a strategy that complements our volunteers’ commitment to NSGIC rather than asking members to do more than they can offer.

In 25 years of NSGIC, our organization has had plenty of success. However, the paradigm has shifted and so we must shift as well. Instead of trying to convince the people we work for that GIS is an essential element to decision making, we are now asked to do more with GIS than ever before. As a result, we have less time to collaborate amongst ourselves and therefore, NSGIC needs a bit more help than our membership can offer.

Not too long ago I was provided a Directions Magazine interview of Past President Bill Johnson from 2004. During that interview, Bill predicted that NSGIC would have an Executive Director within five years.

“Our hope as an organization is that we can continue to expand our financial base to the point where we can afford a full-time Executive Director, and I really believe it will be possible to reach that goal within five years, or perhaps sooner.” Bill Johnson, 2004

Bill was off about seven years but his vision was on point.

Molly began her government career with the National Credit Union Administration in Alexandria, Va., as a public affairs specialist. As a member of the public and congressional affairs office, Molly represented the federal agency and its priorities to a number of different audiences, including national and regional media. From there, Molly moved to the World Council of Credit Unions, where she directed its Washington advocacy efforts before federal agencies and the U.S. Congress. In that role, she served actively as part of the Washington-based Microenterprise Coalition and U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council as legislative committee co-chair.

Molly also worked in Washington as the head of the stewardship team for the development office of the national headquarters of the American Red Cross. There, she directed the execution of advanced strategy for donor retention and growth, focusing on effective donor communications in the complex and fast-paced disaster relief organization.

During a stint on the West Coast, Molly was campaign director of the million-dollar-donation-at-a-time “Women Moving Millions” campaign by the Women’s Funding Network, based in San Francisco. She also served for more than five years as the executive director of a medical association focused on leadership development.

Molly makes her home in New Orleans, La., on the “third coast.” A water lover, Molly has lived on boats in Washington, DC, as well as the Northern California coast. Currently living in a camelback shotgun house in New Orleans’ historic Esplanade Ridge neighborhood, Molly says she doesn’t own a boat on the Gulf Coast … yet.

Please join me in welcoming Molly to NSGIC as she hits the ground running.

• Molly Schar on LinkedIn
• Molly Schar on Twitter

Chris Diller, WI
NSGIC President

Our Friend Jim Knudson

James Knudson passed away at the home he shared with his wife Kimberly on Wednesday, June 1, 2016. Jim was born and raised in Charleston, West Virginia. He studied geology and computer science at West Virginia University earning degrees in both fields. Jim built a career in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) working with private firms and with Pennsylvania government as the Commonwealth’s first Geospatial Coordinator. He also served as the Deputy State Chief Information Officer within the Office of Administration.

NSGIC members knew Jim as both the Pennsylvania State Representative and as a private sector partner. He is shown in the photograph below giving a presentation at the October 2006 Annual Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas. Jim was always a step ahead and willing to share his work with others. He embodied the NSGIC spirit, and he will be missed.Jmi_Knudson_NSGIC_Annual_Conf_October_2006

Bill Burgess Steps Down as Washington Liaison for NSGIC

NSGIC has been in existence for twenty-five years, and Bill Burgess has been a part of the organization for twenty-three of those years.  Earlier this week Bill informed the Board of Directors that he will be stepping down as Washington Liaison for NSGIC.

Bill joined NSGIC in 1993 and served three terms on the NSGIC Board of Directors while employed by the State of Maryland.  After 28 years of proud service, he retired as Director of the Watershed Services Unit in the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in 2003.  Shortly after retiring, he then joined NSGIC as Washington Liaison and has been with NSGIC ever since.

My first NSGIC experience was in 2006 when I attended the annual conference in Little Rock, AR, and I quickly came to understand the value of Bill Burgess.  Over the years, I have been enormously impressed with Bills’ drive and determination to carry the NSGIC mission forward.  Bill has always been there for NSGIC and often worked long days and late nights.  Whether it was finalizing a contract, working on a report or coordinating some activity Bill was usually at the center of that activity.

With Bill seemingly able to do it all, his shoes will be hard to fill.  Bill has been a central figure on every major NSGIC initiative such as the ‘Fifty States Initiative’, ‘Imagery for the Nation’ and the ‘Digital Coast Partnership’ just to name a few.  There are just too many things to list.  If you ever crossed paths with NSGIC, either at a meeting or some publication, it is safe to say Bill had something to do with it.  Bill knows so many people.  He has contacts in just about every national geospatial organization, federal agency and in every state.

In Bill’s letter to the Board, he stated, “I am enormously proud of NSGIC’s accomplishments and appreciate the opportunities that the organization has provided to me over the past 23 years as both a volunteer and contractor. I value many of the relationships I’ve made over that period and still firmly believe in NSGIC’s mission.”

The feeling is mutual Bill.  NSGIC wishes you all the best in the next chapter of your life.

Chris Diller
NSGIC President

Digital Coast Act Update - April 28th, 2016

Yesterday the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation met to ‘markup’ seven bills including the Digital Coast Act of 2015. I’m happy to report that the bill has passed the Committee and it is now available for the full Senate to take it up for a full vote.

The Digital Coast Act of 2015 received only two amendments. One of those amendments (Senator Thune, SD) directs NOAA to “develop[ing] and maintain[ing] a best practices document that sets out the best practices used by the Secretary in carrying out the program and providing such document to the United States Geological Survey, the Corps of Engineers, and other relevant Federal agencies.” This is a strong indication that Senator Thune understands the value of constituent-driven programs like Digital Coast. This is exactly why NSGIC strongly supports and advocates for Digital Coast.

NSGIC is a charter member of the Digital Coast Partnership. Together, we work to improve and promote NOAA’s Digital Coast. Our goal is to provide improved data, tools, and training to Federal, state and local coastal managers to improve management practices and coastal resiliency. We dedicate significant staff resources to the Digital Coast Partnership and at each of the NSGIC Conferences, we hold a Coastal Caucus meeting to help inform our members about the latest geospatial initiatives affecting the nation’s coasts.

NSGIC and the other members of the Partnership have actively worked with MAPPS, an association of photogrammetry, mapping and geospatial firms, to help promote legislation that will authorize the Digital Coast Program. Bills have been introduced in the previous three sessions of Congress. The bill’s sponsor Senator Baldwin (WI) introduced S. 2325 in the 114th Congress, and Representative Ruppersberger (MD) introduced the companion bill HR 4738.

NSGIC strongly supports the passage of S. 2325 and will work with the other Digital Coast Partners and MAPPS to help enable this valuable Federal program. To learn more about the entire legislative process, click here.

NSGIC President
Chris Diller (WI)