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Maine Names Young as GIS Administrator

On Monday Brian Guerrette, the OIT Information Technology Manager for the State of Maine announced Joe Young as the new GIS Administrator.   Guerrette said, “We have finished the interviews for GIS Administrator position within the MEGIS group and I’m happy to announce that Joe Young has accepted the position. Joe will start his new role effective today, Monday, March 30, 2015.

Joe has been a member of the MEGIS team since November of 2013 as the Executive Director of the GeoLibrary Board. Prior to that he worked in the Maine Floodplain Management Program coordinating flood mapping activities and advocating for improved imagery and elevation data acquisition. In both roles, Joe has spent much of his time collaborating with various entities (private, local, State and Federal) to promote the use and need for continuous updating of geospatial data. Joe will continue his work with the GeoLibrary Board.

OIT has begun a restructuring of the MEGIS team and this appointment is the first step in that restructuring. OIT management recognizes the need for additional technical services to support data processing, database management and agency technical support. These services will be filled by posting a GIS technical position as soon as possible.”

Joe has been actively participating in NSGIC during his time as the Director of the Geolibrary and so we are enthusiastic that he will be playing a lead role in Maine’s state spatial data infrastructure.  Congratulations Joe!

NSGIC Mid-Year Conference Summary

Shelby Johnson,  Arkansas GIO & NSGIC President

Shelby Johnson, Arkansas GIO & NSGIC President

Before I get too far I’d like to thank Karen Rogers from Wyoming, and Nathan Lowry from Colorado.  They did most of the writing for this update and I’m just the publisher.

Can you believe it has already been a month since the 2015 Mid-Year NSGIC conference?  The dust has settled now and for those who couldn’t make it, we offer this short summary to get you up to date.  These are just a few highlights from the event and filtered through our perspective. From federal address efforts to local outreach initiatives, many GIS projects were reported on as ideas and inspiration flourished.

NSGIC as an organization started the week off with an intense strategic planning session.  The Board of Directors discussed strategies to expand its membership and increase participation from the local level.  We hope to develop a marketing strategy to recruit new members with fresh ideas and strengthen our organization.

The keynote speaker, Waldo Jaquith, from U.S. Open Data, kicked things off with an intriguing presentation explaining his experience opening up state data to be visualized in GIS.  As the director of the U.S. Open Data, his mission is to build the capacity of governments to open up their data, and enabling that data to be plotted on a map makes it that much more meaningful and valuable.  He described how he scrubbed data on licensed businesses in the state of Virginia and with a few lines of coding was able to put geospatially enabled data in the hands of locals to help identify businesses that haven’t paid their business license fees.  This simple use case should find traction in every one of our states.  Waldo went on to point out.

  • Presume (assume) that all governments provide data to the public for free. When you hear of jurisdictions that charge for access to data they provide, “change your posture to aghast“.  “Really, …. you do that?  How is that working out for you?”, etc.
  • Make your data known and usable beyond GIS folks:
    • Publish machine-readable data
    • Host data on a repo and syndicate that data
    • Make sure all data is easily discovered via Google
  • And specifically for state address point data aggregators:
    • Publish in GeoJSON
    • Provide a .csv-based bulk geocoder
    • Provide a geocoding API that is RESTful, uses JSON, and doesn’t require authentication

Finally, he challenged NSGIC specifically to make a national address database and not wait for the someone else to do it.

The report card the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) recently released on NSDI data took center stage as former Governor Jim Geringer (WY) and John Moeller described the process and outcome of their efforts.  Overall, the nation has earned a C- on its efforts to maintain the framework data layers as identified in 1994.  Gov. Geringer was very clear that the blame is not to be placed on any one federal agency or program, but that it should be a wake up call that things should be done differently.  Specifically, there needs to be some oversight and accountability for federal agencies and how they acquire, maintain, and share geospatial data.

Riding the coattails of that discussion came information on the recently introduced Geospatial Data Act (GDA).  Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is the primary sponsor of this bill, and his staffer Ed Cox presented information regarding what the legislation is intended to do.  The GDA would codify the OMB A-16 circular that identified the NSDI framework data layers in the first place, and it would provide Congressional oversight to federal agency activities that generate or maintain those data.  It would restructure the governance related to geospatial data management, among many other things.  Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) is the co-sponsor of the bill.  In our opinion this legislation is the most significant policy event since President Clinton’s Executive Order 12906 in 1994.  Twenty years later, that order is partly realized but we have so much more to achieve.  NSGIC is firmly supporting this Act.

Tony LaVoi of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) presented an update on their geospatial activities.  Mr. LaVoi’s presentation remarked that “Geospatial technologies provide the framework to collect, store, analyze, and disseminate ‘NOAA’s Environmental Intelligence” and expanded on the catalog of authoritative geodata generated by NOAA programs. Supporting the COGO Report Card on NSDI, Tony addressed the NSDI Data Themes that received grades and that are supported by NOAA operations.  The presentation noted efforts for enhancing discovery, access, collaboration and value of data and services with a goal of “enterprise-scale IT services infrastructure to meet operational GIS requirements”.  They plan to support both OGC and ArcGIS rest services. “Of the 20 terabytes of data NOAA gathers each day –twice the data of the entire printed collection of the United States Library of Congress –only a small percentage is easily accessible to the public.” Next steps include increasing access through “The NOAA Big Data Partnership”. New datums both vertical and horizontal are scheduled to be released in 2022.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) provided an update on their latest efforts.  In April they will host the National Address Database Summit.  This effort is geared toward bringing together numerous entities interested in generating a national address database (NAD) that is based off local data aggregated at the state level.  They will discuss the opportunities and challenges of different approaches as they attempt to determine the best course of action to make it work.

Touching on the education community were two videos.  One ( highlights the Arbor School in Oregon where geography is used as the foundation upon which STEM concepts are taught.  The other ( describes WyoBio, a web application that enables users to geotag their photos of notable flora and fauna in Wyoming.  Both embody the value of incorporating geography into our public schools.

On the private side, exciting new developments related to imagery took center stage.  Digital Globe announced the new availability of 30cm satellite imagery.  Google also described their new offering of imagery as a service and their new licensing configuration for it.  1Spatial, a new NSGIC sponsor, described their specialty of conflating data from a variety of sources to streamline and automate processes related to transportation and address data.

Regardless of which state you’re in and what entity you represent, NSGIC always delivers valuable content and networking opportunities.  Make your travel plans for the upcoming Annual Conference in Kansas City this October 4-8 and get your fill.


First Round of Lidar BAA Awards Released

The US Geological Survey National Geospatial Program is pleased to announce the first round of awards resulting from the USGS Broad Area Announcement (BAA) for the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP).

BAA_FY15_Proposed Body of Work

The Fiscal Year 2015 Awards offered partnership funding to 29 proposals in 26 States and Territories. The FY15 body of work is expected to result in the influx of more than 95,000 square miles of public domain lidar point cloud data and derived elevation products into the 3DEP program.

For more information click HERE.

Financial Transparency of States

How does your state rank in its financial transparency to taxpayers?  Find out through this map:

Tischler Named as New Director of USGS National Geospatial Program

Shelby Johnson,  Arkansas GIO & NSGIC President

Shelby Johnson, Arkansas GIO & NSGIC President

NSGIC and the U.S. Geological Survey have a pretty deep history in geospatial time.  Many of the modern geospatial data programs were born out of work like the Digital Line Graph data, or the Digital Elevation Model that became the building blocks of the National Elevation Data set (NED).  In the not too distant past, USGS geospatial staff sat through all of our meetings and participated heavily in many of our annual conferences.  Many of our state GIS coordination offices benefited from their presence at state meetings. The liaison program is still among my favorite things that USGS has done in partnership with states.  I always look forward to their updates on programs and opportunities to coordinate with the agency on improving our nation’s geospatial data, one state at a time.   We all know it is pretty hard to do core science without framework data.

With that bit of background in hand, it is my pleasure to share this news today that ushers in a new era of leadership and what I hope will be a renewed bond between our organizations, cultivating an environment of coordination and cooperation that will push our nation’s geospatial standing to new heights and address any challenge.

Subject: Announcing Michael Tischler, New Director of the National Geospatial Program

It is my pleasure to announce that Michael Tischler has accepted the position as the Director of the National Geospatial Program (NGP) and will join the USGS on Monday, April 6th.

Mike brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the USGS and NGP.  He comes to the USGS from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where he served as the Associate Technical Director of the Engineering Research and Development Center.  Mike’s many accomplishments include managing the research for a $30 million broad-based research portfolio with both domestic and international applications.  He has held a breadth of positions, from a research scientist collecting, analyzing, and processing geospatial data, to Acting Technical Director, responsible for strategic planning and program implementation for a diverse portfolio of geospatial research projects.  In his most recent role as Associate Technical Director, he defined cutting edge research projects that affect the direction of geospatial science and how geospatial data is used throughout the U.S. Army.   Mike holds a Master of Science in Soil and Water Science and a Bachelor of Science in Soil Science.  Currently, Mike is a Ph.D. candidate in Earth Systems and Geoinformation Sciences at George Mason University .

I look forward to welcoming Mike and introducing him to you.

I would also like to thank Pam Haverland for serving as the Acting Director for the National Geospatial Program.  Over the last 6 months, Pam has provided caring and visionary leadership all while completing the SES Candidate Development Program and working in the USGS Budget Office as required. She will be sorely missed!

Please join me in thanking Pam, and welcoming Mike to Core Science Systems and the National Geospatial Program.


Kevin T. Gallagher
Associate Director, Core Science Systems
U.S. Geological Survey

SO… Thank you Pam for your service as Acting Director.   And… to Mike; the triad of Incoming, Current and Outgoing NSGIC Presidents have already exchanged notes about forming a NSGIC welcoming party for you as you begin this new adventure.

Sincerely, Your NSGIC Partners

What do people in your state research the cost of?

This is too good not to share.  The map here shows the most common Google autocomplete for the question, ‘How much does ** cost?’.

A Teenage Perspective on NSGIC

My oldest daughter, Megan, just turned 13 years old this week. Megan saw my Midyear badge sitting in a pile and asked if I would get to meet the “real President” after I become President of NSGIC. I told her it didn’t work that way.

She thought the real President should consider what would happen if NSGIC didn’t exist? I pondered the question for about 15 seconds. What if NSGIC didn’t exist? She asked me the implications of our nonexistence and I replied that lives would continue to be in danger. I cited 9-1-1 as an example and talked about the basic principles of addresses and the importance of tying the address to a coordinate. “Like Lat Long?” Way to go Megan!

I explained to her that a mobile 9-1-1 call doesn’t always find the exact location of the mobile phone. Her response was priceless. “Well that is stupid. That sort of defeats the purpose doesn’t it?”

NSGIC is a wise and thoughtful organization, but if you want perspective on something, every once in a while you need to ask a teenager. They tell it like it is.

Chris Diller
NSGI President-Elect.

Mapping Childhood Trauma

This article is highlights the benefit of using GIS to help target HHS programs and initiatives.

UN Resolution on Geospatial

The UN passed its first resolution regarding geospatial data:

Mid-Year Meeting - You Were Missed

Our Mid-Year meeting wrapped up this week, and despite bad weather many of our members made the trek.  My regret for the week is that you were not there.  I missed you.

Shelby Johnson,  Arkansas GIO & NSGIC President

Shelby Johnson, Arkansas GIO & NSGIC President

Our attendees were treated to another good lineup of speakers, federal agencies, sponsor updates, and opportunities to share with each other.  I wrote a quote down from Sandy Dyre of Arizona.  Sandy said, “My benefit at NSGIC is your wisdom.”  Sandy’s pretty wise, and don’t be fooled, she’s a wealth of experience on 9-1-1 geospatial issues.   Diversity is one of my most favorite things about our organization; that and the fact that all of our attendees care so much about GIS coordination in our respective states.

Another big treat was the industry insider information that always seems to unfold at our meetings.  Just when you think you know everything, someone develops new technology, techniques, or systems and our sponsors are the best at teaching us about these important developments.  I won’t try to tell you what all I learned, but to be sure, if you were not there you missed out.

There’s three more things you missed:

I missed you, and hope to see you in Kansas City.


Sentinel-2 is similar to Landsat with additional capabilities

There is an interesting article at about the Sentinel-2 satellite launch scheduled for June 12th.  This ‘bird’ flying out of Europe will provide some continuity with the Landsat mission, but it has additional multispectral bands, a much wider swath, and higher resolution color.

Civic Hackers Improve on MTA Bus Route app

This is timely given our discussions at the mid-year conference on open data and transportation data.

Chrome mapping experiments

While this type of mapping may not be very useful for us at a state level, it is really cool how they’re visualizing the variety of datasets.  My favorite is the world elevation map.

COGO Issues Report Card for the NSDI

NSGIC is a charter member of Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) and, with the twelve other member organizations, we supported the release of the Report Card on the U.S. National Spatial Data Infrastructure. We are hopeful that the Report Card and other impending developments will result in some much needed attention for the issues that have slowed the development of the NSDI. Those issues include the FGDC’s lack of authority over Federal agencies, no clear mandate for building the NSDI, no Congressional oversight, the lack of sufficient stakeholder involvement, and insufficient resourcing to build the NSDI. The report card is one more step toward our nation recognizing the need for a National Spatial Data Infrastructure. You are encouraged to read this document and engage in the dialog that will begin at our Midyear Meeting in Annapolis, Maryland, on February 24th.

UAV flown over Auschwitz

In honor of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, this video is pretty compelling.