Category Archives: Uncategorized - Page 3

NHAP partnership videos on new NSGIC YouTube Channel

Jim Lacy (Wisconsin) has posted a couple of videos to YouTube concerning the National High Altitude Photography Program (NHAP) partnership program.   These videos, shown at a recent National Digital Orthoimagery Program (NDOP) meeting, help the viewer to understand the importance of coordination and partnerships to develop consistent, reliable and standardized imagery across the conterminous United States for the benefit of all common uses, needs and data collection.

Thanks to Mike Vanhook, NSGIC Membership Services co-chair for setting up a NSGIC YouTube channel, one more effort to provide everyone with a richer membership experience.

Texas Flooding Reveals Poor Notification System

This article describes the challenges of getting notices out to the right people in the right places at the right time about dangerous conditions in their area.

Cyber Archaeologists using Photogrammetry

I heard this piece on NPR and thought it was pretty darn cool!  They’re collecting crowd-sourced images and photogrammetry techniques to re-create sites and artifacts destroyed in the Middle East.

NSGIC Attends First-Ever White House Mapathon

20150521_165153140_iOSOn Thursday May 21st, 2015 I attended the first-ever “Mapathon” event hosted by the White House ( ).  Not only was it a tremendous honor to represent NSGIC, it was a personal experience I will not soon forget.  The event took place in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds.  In attendance were a variety of federal agencies, non-profit groups, some international representatives and a very small number of for-profit companies.

The goal of the event was to “…celebrate and actively participate in Open Mapping.”  Open mapping is sometimes referred to as crowd mapping or crowdsourced mapping.  The White House invite I received stated, “…geospatial data has been a key component of the Administration’s Open Data initiatives” and promoted the Map Give project ( ) as a starting point for presentations and discussion.  There has been tremendous success in open mapping efforts during and after disasters, which is one reason the White House is keen on promoting it.  Examples of successful crowd mapping are the Haiti earthquake in 2010, Ebola outbreaks in West Africa, Philippines, and Nepal disasters.

The White House held the event to raise awareness of open mapping in the United States, and to grow the number of volunteer mappers.  Attendees had the opportunity to engage in one of three mapping activities.  Mapgive, Power Service Area Mapping (a program under development by the Dept. of Energy), and Every Kid in a Park (an initiative that will improve facility information on public lands that have educational activities for kids) were three project areas in which attendees could participate.

I commend the White House for bringing attention to open mapping and the benefits that collaborative crowd mapping provides.  Having a spotlight on the subject certainly raises the conversation significantly.  Open mapping has many positives and why it is attracting a lot of attention, but it does have some drawbacks.  For example, it would be difficult to crowd map cadastral (property ownership) or elevation data.

Increasingly, GIS coordinators and professionals are facing real questions about the benefit and limitations of open mapping.  NSGIC must understand these issues and how authoritative government datasets (e.g. address points, cadastral) can co-exist with open mapping initiatives.   This fall during our annual conference in Kansas City ( ) I expect some significant discussions to take place on open mapping.  I’m inviting you all to attend and engage in that discussion.

Chris Diller – WI, NSGIC President-Elect

PEW Open Data study

The PEW Center for Research published an excellent study last month that analyzed public attitudes around Open Data.  It’s an excellent report and you can glean the highlights from the Executive Summary at the beginning.

If you believe, as I do, that Open Data is a very important movement for us to align with and pay attention to as Geospatial Professionals, it will be clear from this report that there is a pretty considerable gap that needs to be closed.  Awareness of open data and its benefits is low.

Portland students work with local law enforcement to map crime

Another good example of benefits to citizens gained through the use of GIS:

New app for 911

A developer created an app that sends location info directly to your local dispatch – I want to find out more about it!

911 App to Curtail Overuse

Long Beach worked with Code For America to develop this app that helps to identify addresses from which 911 calls are most frequently made, making response more efficient and targeted.  They indicate interest in being used in other cities.

Smart Markers

This is a very interesting article that describes an excellent idea to make older technology more useful and interoperable with new tech.

How well do you know the American landscape?

This is an intriguing quiz…I got 7/7.

GIS in new territory?

The image in the article says it all:

National Address Database Summit Recap

Realizing the development of a publicly accessible National Address Point Database (NAPD) with X and Y coordinates, is a very high priority for the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) and many others. Nearly all government service delivery requires a NAPD, and creating one will significantly reduce government duplication of effort and waste.

We saw the beginning of the process at the National Address Database Summit that was held last week at the Maritime Institute facilities in Linthicum, Maryland. It was sponsored by the USDOT with input from the U.S. Census Bureau during the planning stages. Participants from every sector were invited to attend this event and to engage in the facilitated discussions designed to identify the business case; governance and partnership issues; outreach and communication; and the technology that will be required to effectively develop and maintain a NAPD. Facilitation was provided by a team of expert facilitators provided by Applied Geographics and the Lead Alliance. They will also be drafting reports to detail the outcomes of the discussions.

The composition of the attendees was critical to the success of this meeting, because it represented the range of stakeholders that must be at the table. In addition to the 25 observers to the process, there were 10 Federal, 16 state, 17 local, and 2 tribal government representatives. They were joined by 8 private companies and 5 nonprofit/trade organizations that all have a vested interest in the development of a NAPD.

The event started with welcoming comments from Steve Lewis (USDOT GIO), Richard McKinney (USDOT CIO), Rolf Schmitt (Dep. Director, USDOT Bureau of Transportation Statistics), and Ivan Deloatch (Staff Director, FGDC). They each provided their thoughts on the value of a NAPD and the status of current efforts, ranging from the state of the current bureaucracy, to the highly personal experience of McKinney who, as a young man had to walk out into a foggy night to flag down a lost ambulance responding to his father’s heart attack. McKinney’s level of commitment was clearly demonstrated when he said that “if the participants of the Summit can figure out the identified issues, he would use the authority of his office to make it happen.”

Before the breakout sessions began, the participants were exposed to many of the diverse business requirements for a NAPD ranging from the reporting requirements for mortgage banks, to the services provided by the public safety answering points (PSAPs or 9-1-1 Call Centers) that send police, fire and ambulance crews to your front door as quickly as possible. The messages were clear. We all need a National Address Point Database to sustain business requirements and to ensure the safety of our loved ones.

It was noted that the end goal is clearly achievable, because it has already been accomplished in the United Kingdom and Denmark. Open Addresses was cited as a successful example, while noting that it may not be a sustainable model and that government must provide the appropriate leadership. We also know that several state address programs are in-place to coordinate the development of statewide address point databases.

Now we must come together to sustain this effort, and then finish the job in the U.S. Based on initial reports from the participants, we are well underway. The draft report from the Summit is expected by May 8th. The organizers of this event will provide their comments and the report will be finalized ten days later.

Has spring sprung?

This is certainly pertinent this time of year!

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.