As we look to close out 2015, I’d like to take a few moments to reflect on all the outstanding work NSGIC has engaged in during the past year. It is inspiring to witness, no doubt. I thought I would take a moment to share some of my reflections with you.
2015 was a year of new direction for NSGIC. We are entering our 25th year and I’m excited and proud to be leading the organization into the next phase. We have moved past the concept that GIS and geospatial data are “nice to have” they are now a “need to have”. All NSGIC members, both past and present, have something to do with that. While I know all of you would never take a moment and pat yourself on the back, I think you deserve to do just that. NSGIC should be proud.
A great deal of thought and deliberation took place all year long on the strategic direction of the organization. Just a few weeks ago the Board approved the creation of a search committee, and in 2016 NSGIC will likely hire our first Executive Director. I’m very excited about this as it will increase our ability to grow as an organization. More members and more attendance mean more expertise. Growth also gives us more flexibility to communicate our advocacy agenda, and to do that with more effectiveness.
The year also seemed to be the “year of the address point.” The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released new rules associated with the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act that now includes mandatory collection of address information by Financial Institutions. This is a big deal because NSGIC provided written comment on address inclusion prior to the new rule change. CFPB is on record that it would consume the National Address Database (NAD) once it is developed.
Speaking of the NAD, USDOT hosted the first-ever summit on addresses back in April that included a variety of organizations from federal, state, local, tribal, private and non-profit. NSGIC was well-represented at that meeting and continues to be a strong force behind ensuring there is progress toward the NAD.
The White House had an opinion on addresses. In October The White House released the Third Open Government National Action Plan for the United States of America in which they called for an Initiative to Launch a Process to Create a Consolidated Public Listing of Every Address in the United States.
MAPPS also had an opinion on addresses and NSGIC 100% supported their recent MAPPS Privacy Best Practices Guidelines (v.2) in which “Data depicting the physical locations of street addresses, without associated personal information” is public information.
Waldo Jaquith of US Open Data keynoted the Midyear Meeting and talked about the value of GIS data inside and outside of government. During his talk Waldo challenged NSGIC to build the NAD ourselves. Waldo’s comments are inspiring and have helped drive NSGIC to solving these issues, which brings me to an important note I’d like to make.
If you are not attending the NSGIC 2016 Midyear you will be missing out. The Midyear is changing structure a bit to be more focused on developing outcomes. I’m excited about this because we are taking some time to break out into “working” sessions to address real problems and hopefully develop solutions to these problems. Be sure to get registered soon. The dates are February 22-25, 2016 at the Annapolis Hotel.
2015 was not just all about addresses. In February the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report titled “GEOSPATIAL DATA Progress Needed on Identifying Expenditures, Building and Utilizing a Data Infrastructure, and Reducing Duplicative Efforts”. Several states participated by giving interviews, example datasets and expenditure results. The overall report put a spotlight on our national geospatial priorities and the need to better identify geospatial expenditures and find ways to reduce duplicative efforts.
At about the same time the GAO report was released, the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) released their first-ever Report Card on the U.S. National Spatial Data Infrastructure. Thirteen national geospatial organizations came together in unison to provide this report. While not failing as a nation the report gave the NSDI an average rating, a “C”. We can certainly do much better.
The report card is an important tool in helping move Senate Bill S.740 ‘Geospatial Data Act of 2015’ through Congress, which was introduced in March. Progress continues and I’m happy to announce that as of last week Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota has signed on as a co-sponsor for the bill. We now have nine sponsors. I’m impressed by your dedication to help write letters and seek other letters of support for the bill. However, there is much work to be done in this area and I once again ask for your help in sending letters. It is never too late. If you need assistance in this area, then please reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org . I’m happy to help.
Terrific and exciting news also took place at the Annual Conference when the membership voted in favor of a MOU between NSGIC and the National Tribal Geographic Information Support Center (NTGISC). I was very happy to sign that MOU on behalf of NSGIC. The relationship between States and Tribes are unique. This MOU allows for more open dialog and opens the door for collaborative efforts to work on important issues. It really opens a communication channel we never had before, and I’m excited to see how this relationship will evolve over time.
Lastly, I want to take a moment to wish each of you and your families a safe and Happy Holidays. I look forward to what 2016 will bring.
Chris Diller, NSGIC President