Emergency cell site in a backpack

This contraption is up and running in 10 minutes.

http://www.itnews.com.au/News/373645,emergency-cell-site-in-backpack-launched.aspx

How we're connected around the world

This map shows the fiber optic lines that circle the earth under water.  It’s an amazing spider web!

http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/04/tech/gallery/internet-undersea-cables/index.html?sr=sharebar_google

E911 App

This article explains an app developed to notify your family members in the event of placing a 911 call from your cell phone.  It’s a nifty app with other features, including locating nearby non-911 services that are helpful in emergency situations, such as fire stations, hospitals, auto repair shops, and hotels.

http://www.digitalcommunities.com/articles/New-App-Calls-911-and-Notifies-Family-in-Two-Taps.html

Registration for 2014 Midyear Meeting Now Open!!

Registration for the 2014 Midyear Meeting is now open! You should be receiving the official registration materials by regular mail in the next week or so. We have updated the website with all of the most current meeting details. You can see all of the details about the meeting as well as hotel and travel information and how to register online.

The meeting will be held February 23-26, 2014 and we’ll be returning to the Loews Annapolis Hotel. Once again, the hotel is extending the prevailing federal government rate of $101 to the entire NSGIC group. To receive the discount rate, call the Loews Annapolis Hotel, 1-410-263-7777 or 1-800-526-2593 and reference NSGIC. Make your reservations early since cut-off for the group rate is January 31, 2014.

Also, we are now accepting applications for conference travel grants. Please submit your application by January 15th in order to be considered for travel assistance. As always, we’d like to thank our sponsors for their support of NSGIC which allows us to offer these opportunities to our members. Click here for more information about conference travel grants and to submit an application.

See you in February!

MetroGIS Recommends Free and Open Access to Government Data

MetroGIS, an award-winning collaboration, began working in 1995 as an initiative to share data across the 7-county Minneapolis-St. Paul region. From the beginning, they have struggled with fees and licenses. This year may signal the end of those problems. A formal report on Free and Open Access to Data presents enough good research to justify lowering those barriers. The report was adopted by the MetroGIS Policy Board in October.  Letters encouraging the elimination of charging and licenses were sent to all county Administrators and Board Chairs on November 20 (GIS Day).

It is remarkable that the MetroGIS Policy Board is dominated by county government.  The report convinced those leaders by showing them: the low revenue gained  through sales, the value of work done by non-profits who were able to access the data, and the reduction in liability of free and open systems.

The NSGIC audience will appreciate examples of sharing and case law that go beyond Minnesota and cover the nation.

Related resources:

 

Recurrent Flooding Being Addressed by Virginia Legislature

NORFOLK – Delegate Christopher P. Stolle (R-Virginia Beach) and Senator Mamie E. Locke (DHampton) today announced the introduction of a legislative resolution creating a joint Senate and House subcommittee fostering the development of a comprehensive and coordinated flood mitigation action plan. The proposed joint committee implements a recent Virginia Institute of Marine Science recommendation that the Commonwealth intervene to assist regions and communities attempting to manage recurrent flooding. VIMS is part of the College of William and Mary. The resolutions (HJR16 And SJR3) will be considered during the 2014 session of the Virginia General Assembly scheduled to convene on Wednesday, January 8.

Click Here to see the full Press Release.

NOAA Coastal Storms Program Grants

See the NOAA Coastal Storms Program RFP announcement that will fund projects in the following focus areas:

a)     Improving beach hazard observations, modeling, forecasting/warnings, and risk communication

b)    Addressing impacts of stormwater on natural resources and promoting best management practices

c)     Enhancing shoreline mapping, visualization, and management

d)    Hazard Mitigation and Community Resilience

Hurricane Sandy Competitive Grant Program

On the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today launched a $100-million Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program to fund science-based solutions to restore natural areas along the Atlantic Coast, helping to deliver on the Administration’s commitment in the Climate Action Plan to make local communities more resilient against future storms. 

Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Coastal Watersheds

The following information was distributed by Tom Dahl, Senior Scientist, Wetlands Status and Trends, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The report, Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Coastal Watersheds of the Conterminous United States 2004 to 2009, was released on November 21, 2013 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  This study tracked wetland changes in the coastal watersheds of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico as well as the Great Lakes. It concludes that more than 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands are being lost on average each year, up from 60,000 acres lost per year during the previous study from 1998-2004.

Notable wetland losses were recorded along the Gulf Coast (257,150 acres). The Atlantic Coast lost 111,960 acres and the Pacific Coast 5,220 acres. The watersheds of the Great Lakes region experienced a net gain in wetland area of an estimated 13,610 acres.

In some coastal watersheds, rising ocean levels are encroaching into wetlands from the seaward side, while development from the landward side prevents wetlands from being able to migrate inland. This dual threat squeezes wetlands into an ever smaller and more fragile coastal fringe.

The full report is available for viewing or download at: http://www.fws.gov/wetlands/

Rivalry & Collaboration – can they co-exist?

If you are a Mizzou fan, would you get on a bus driven by a Jayhawk fan? As we learned from Kansas City’s former mayor Joe Reardon, sometimes the rivalries run so deep that the answer is no. We are surrounded by rivalries and competitive mentalities every day. But we can still collaborate, can’t we? Unfortunately, sometimes the answer to that question is also no. A recurring theme of Monday’s presentations was collaboration. Everyone wants it, everyone wants to see it improve, but we struggle to find the right language to improve the awareness and knowledge of the other party. So the resistance continues. And we can’t work together until we can communicate and are willing to make some compromises along the way.

Mayor Reardon shared his observation that what we do is full of jargon that outsiders and executives either don’t understand or don’t want to understand. Our jargon isn’t approachable by legislators – just look at the descriptions of our presentations for examples. But the jargon is leading to results, and the technology is evolving to the point that we can make the data more and more relevant to the consumers. It’s making it easier to help people reach the conclusions that you want them to reach without having to explain everything you did along the way.

So how did we get to where we are? Throughout our history, technology has advanced, and infrastructure has been put into place that opens up possibilities that weren’t there before. Do you think that if the decision had been made to not complete the interstate loop around Kansas City that they would have built the Kansas City Speedway where they did? If the train yards hadn’t been built here (KC is the 2nd largest rail hub in the country) would so many opportunities been open for farmers to share their goods? Infrastructure enables economic development – if more things come to your community, quality of life will improve, the tax base will broaden and employers will want to come into the area and bring jobs.

Kansas City’s work to implement the 1 Gb Google Fiber demonstrates this principle, as it already seems that the value of homes that have the 1 Gb internet are higher than homes without, businesses are willing to move into the areas with the faster connections and bring jobs. We want things to be faster, even though what we have is probably enough.

All this can happen if we are willing to share our story and use the right jargon.

Collaboration was a running theme through the day. The Enterprise Architecture & Governance Committee of NASCIO now has a working group that is surveying states for successful stories of collaboration. Check out their site at http://www.nascio.org/atdvocacy/collaboration for more information. Eric Sweden noted that one of the most downloaded reports they have is the NASCIO top 10 priorities. It shows that we are trying to find the right things to talk about.

Nathalie Smith reminded us that having data and maps isn’t enough. We don’t gain knowledge and understanding until we share it. Michael Terner & Jeff Hamerlink showed CHAT, the Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool that uses hexagons to show their state model results. Not a typical map representation, but it’s what the end users are accustomed to. This is a great example of finding the right lingo to fit the audience.

The Roll Call of States just emphasized our differences and shared challenges. Even with our differences we can collaborate with each other to share knowledge and experiences. With open minds we have a lot to learn from each other.

The afternoon panels again reiterated finding a common language. According to Stu Davis, most CIO’s don’t understand what GIS is and what we do. Zsolt Nagy and Rick Miller both stated that we can do a better job with the State’s constituents and our local governments and empower them with knowledge. Maybe with more outreach and education we can help open minds and work through our underlying ‘rivalries’ to work towards mutually beneficial goals. We need to open minds and break down the barriers – help them see what is in it for them so we can collaborate.

So why do we have such difficulty working with local governments in some cases. Do we want their data so another agency can beat them up with it? Of course not. Is it this perception that leads to the seeming competition to show you have the best data and reluctance to share? If we communicate better, can we get past this to improve collaboration? What can we do and how can we get there?

Keith Hangland from Kansas said that their clearinghouse has been very successful. Local governments can choose for themselves if they want to share their data. Turns out most have. Stu cautions us against setting expectations that we can’t meet, as there are always people who are going to try to stop you. Is that rivalry or competition or something else? It certainly doesn’t help with collaboration if you can’t even ‘get them on the bus’ with you.

Stu’s observation of what NSGIC could have done sooner was to engage the IT side of organizations. I think that emphasizes the need to communicate early and often to help the process progress. Dan Ross highlighted their experience with making sure you let the owners of the data know what they will get in return if they share. Erin Tesh from Maryland also experienced that it is very important for everyone to have an equal voice at the table.

So essentially, and in short, if we drop our ‘rivalries’ and just get on the bus, together we can really go a long way and truly collaborate. We can all find compromises that we can make to be successful. Otherwise we may be travelling alone…