Category Archives: Uncategorized

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)

NISC Announces New Executive Director

The National Information Sharing Consortium Board of Directors has selected Kenny Ratliff as the NISC’s first Executive Director. Mr. Ratliff brings nearly two decades of experience to the NISC, with excellent skills in partnership building, collaboration, and information sharing. As Executive Director, he will work with the Board of Directors to advance the NISC’s mission and lead the organization with fundraising, strategic planning, and business development efforts.

NSGIC members know Kenny from his previous service to the Commonwealth of Kentucky as GIS Manager in the Department of Military Affairs, and as the Director of the Kentucky Division of Geographic Information. To view the full announcement, click here.

The National Address Database - Finding the RIGHT Location

Finding The Right Location Paper

NSGIC believes the selection of a steward for the NAD should be driven by these factors

NSGIC believes that a nationwide digital map layer of all addressed locations will be one of the most impactful map information resources. Success with the proposed National Address Database (NAD) will serve as the basis for hundreds of applications, from directing emergency response to fueling business analytics to improving government and commercial services.

This spring, NSGIC drafted a set of basic requirements for the federal-level orchestration of the NAD by, an as-yet-unselected lead agency. The document urges careful and thorough consideration of the strengths and weakness of candidate agencies. The lead agency tasked to implement and manage the NAD must be able to commit to a well-funded effort that sustains a current, complete and open product of all addresses. NSGIC also recommends that all parties interested in the NAD, keep it simple so we can quickly facilitate its development.


Simple. Powerful. Physical addresses paired with their X/Y map coordinates

As can happen with joint efforts, the NAD initiative could become mired in ever increasing detail and complexity. Focusing on the most basic public safety use cases, in alignment with emerging standards from NENA (the national, association for 9-1-1 service providers), provides the best path forward. Allowing the NAD to be subjected to ever-increasing requirements will likely ensure its failure, which would be a national disgrace.

The NSGIC NAD requirements document was presented as a lightning talk at the April meeting of the FGDC’s National Geospatial Advisory Committee by NSGIC President-Elect, Bert Granberg.

Jack Dangermond Shares Vision of the Future

This article summarizes a speech in which Jack Dangermond weighs in on how GIS can help make better decisions for the future.  Good food for thought!

NSGIC Seeks Qualified Candidates for Executive Director Position

The National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) is announcing that it is seeking qualified candidates to fulfill the role of Executive Director for the organization. The Executive Director Position details are included in the Position Description.

The council has operated for 25 years under the guidance of a Board of Directors and association management firms and supporting contractors. Over these years the council has been a force in the advocacy for a national spatial data structure. The Board of Directors has determined that in order to achieve the organization goals the council needs a full time director focused on the development of the organization. This will strengthen the council so that it develops the resources to meet its objectives.

The council President has appointed a team of members to guide the selection process which begins with this announcement. Prospective candidates should carefully read the position description and respond with cover letter and resume. In your cover letter please address your passion for the NSGIC mission and your long-term leadership for the organization. The selection process requires prospective candidates respond to a written exam. If there is any reason you may be unable to complete the exam in the required time frame please let us know.

This position announcement will remain open until April 8, 2016.

Please send your candidacy documents to:
Fred Stringfellow [ ]

GIS group plans push for national address database, next generation 911 expansion

The president of the National States Geographic Information Council lays out his group’s priorities for the new year.

Source: GIS group plans push for national address database, next generation 911 expansion