Last May I wrote about the European March Toward Open Data. A Finnish study had found 15% better economic performance in countries with open data policies compared to those trying to recover their costs. Based on that finding, Finland had begun making their geodata available free of charge to all users.
I neglected an important issue. The growth came from small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Lower costs allow SMEs to develop new GI-based products and services. Large firms, able to pay full fees, didn’t do anything different when data became cheaper. See Does Marginal Cost Pricing of Public Sector Information Spur Firm Growth?
Tom Roff (FHWA) and Steve Lewis (USDOT GIO) celebrated the culmination of joint work with NSGIC by announcing President Obama’s signing of Public Law 112-441, which authorizes the use of federal funds for the production of statewide centerline data and attribution for all paved and unpaved public roads. NSGIC’s Transportation for the Nation initiative (TFTN) has been working for a national road centerline dataset for many years, and this law provides the resources and driver for states to now collect all roads data within their boundaries and does not require the usual 20% state funding match for the effort. Planning for the data collection will begin in October, 2012, and the first data reporting will begin in 2014. Once again, NSGIC has provided significant national value encouraging the efficient and effective use of geospatial technology.
- Ed Arabas
Our keynote speaker, Bob Austin, PhD, of the City of Tampa, gave a presentation on four views of GIS:
- Personal View, where the main take away is that it’s all about the data. His advice is to document requirements (the ‘How’ will come later), and to never sacrifice “Good” in favor of “Fast” and “Cheap”.
- Local View, using the City of Tampa’s view of the challenges of information access. Specific challenges being Data access, Naming, Policy and Usability. A major takeaway from this view is that the policy and data sharing consume just as much time in a project as the technical components. His advice is to plan ahead for the sociological and policy aspects in project planning.
- Industry View, using his experiences with GITA (Geospatial Information & Technology Association) as the example. 85% of US Infrastructure is owned by industry, and understanding infrastructure interdependencies is key.
- National View, using his service with NGAC (National Geospatial Advisory Committee). He emphasized building once, and using many times by taking a portfolio approach. Sharing data makes sense. Check out the work they have done at www.geoplatform.gov
- A bonus 5th view is the International View, citing several examples that emphasize interoperability and the need for international standards.
He also shared the City of Tampa’s experience with the Republican National Convention and the 3 major concerns that they planned for:
- 1st concern was Hurricanes; in reality Tropical Storm Isaac prompted the cancellation of the first day of the convention.
- 2nd concern was Terrorism; in reality they did not have any terrorist attacks.
- 3rd concern was Violent Protests; in reality there were some non-violent protests, but nothing violent. There were only 2 arrests during the course of the convention.
To support the convention they stood up a situational awareness dashboard called TIGER (Tampa Information and Geographical Resources) that now has upwards of 185 data sets.
It was a great presentation to get insight into some of the different perspectives of GIS. As Bob stated, “GIS is not just a good idea, it’s inevitable”.
The opening day of the annual conference began with an enlightening welcome from Florida’s state GIS coordinator, Richard Butgereit. He shared a couple of interesting facts about Florida. Between May and August, Florida has gone from a state of extreme drought to very wet due in part to 3 tropical storms and increased frequency of severe storms. Richard’s advice – if it thunders, run for cover!
We then had the pleasure of receiving a presentation from the State Archaeologist of Florida, James Miller, PHD, LLC, who shared examples of how GIS has made a profound difference in how they conduct their research and preservation efforts. He explained that GIS is the most powerful tool he has come across to help with his work and explain the results of his work. Examples included research into the Gainesville Depot, which they discovered had been moved 3 times since the 1800’s. Efforts are nearing completion to move the depot to its original location and restore it to become a useful building again. The second example was Heritage Park in the Bahamas. Their advice to the creators of the park – you don’t need to dig, you need a plan. Their research helped identify points of interest and the ideal location for the park using a combination of physical documents and GIS analysis. Finally, a highlight was the story of their research of Freetown in the Bahamas. Their research combined historic imagery, physical documents and interviews with former residents, including the Cooper family, to document what the town looked like in the past. They were able to identify wells, community centers, grave sites, and get a better understanding of the physical and cultural characteristics of the town. What an honor it was to hear about this research, and great examples of how GIS analysis can help preserve our past!
The NSGIC 2012 Annual conference kicked off today with a very informative and dynamic workshop facilitated by Sanborn. The workshop began with a presentation on sensor technologies, where they are today and where they are heading in the future. The presentation quickly took on the feel of an extended state caucus with an exchange of questions, answers and discussion on topics ranging from defining data classifications, quality control methodology, RFP’s and uses for 3D point clouds.
Here are some highlights:
- Suggestions for NSGIC to develop a common RFP “set” for procurement, that all states can use
- Several things drive up the cost of acquisition procurement, including: forced use of specific technologies; not allowing the experts to guide the process with creative options and lack of clarity regarding what is being requested.
- As cloud solutions become available, procurement will change for the variety of end-users and service levels, so a lot of new things to think about.
- A suggestion was made for Sanborn and NSGIC to develop a 1-pager with sample pictures for state reps to use as a handout to answer the question “why buy imagery when I can use free online resources?”
NSGIC thanks Brad Arshat, Sanchit Agarwal and Learon Dalby, they know their stuff!! Please contact them via Twitter @SanbornMap or email@example.com with any questions.
In true NSGIC style a discussion group met to talk about GIS as IT until about 10:45. Look for some useful tools born from this discussion to help market GIS in the midst of state leadership. Hats off to Danielle Ayan of Georgia for leading this discussion!
Looking forward to a very full day tomorrow including keynote speaker Bob Austin from the City of Tampa, LandSat and You, and the Corporate Sponsor Reception and Buffet!
NSGIC’s 2012 Annual Conference kicks off less than a week from today. For all who make the investments in time and money to participate, the ROI is typically very high. At least that’s what members tell us in the post-Conference evaluations and comments.
To those who have never attended or are attending for the first time, there may be concerns about the time that will be spent out of the office and the costs of travel/registration, and how those expenses will be justified. Although we know it’s there, NSGIC didn’t explain its Conference “ROI” very well or help prospective attendees justify their Conference expenses… until now.
Thanks to the efforts of several NSGIC volunteers, led by Membership Committee Chair Leland Pierce (NM), NSGIC has tools that help fill this need. “Attending NSGIC’s Annual Conference
is Worth Every Penny” is a two-page guide to identifying and quantifying the benefits of NSGIC Conference attendance. It provides helpful details on how our Conferences are organized, how NSGIC controls costs, and provides Conference Grants to help State representatives fund their participation. Read the document at http://www.nsgic.org/public_resources/Conference_ROI_060512_Final.pdfand be sure to visit the link for developing a conference attendance justification document to prove the value of attending NSGIC Conferences.
This information is directly from NASCIO. It would be great to see some geospatial projects nominated for this award.
The deadline is quickly approaching to submit a nomination for the 2012 State IT Recognition Awards. The deadline to apply is June 4, 2012. For details, including the categories and eligibility, visit www.nascio.org/awards/2012awards/index.cfm.
NASCIO’s State IT Recognition Awards will honor outstanding state IT projects that exemplify best practices, support public policy goals of state leaders, assist government officials in innovatively executing their duties and provide cost-effective services to citizens. NASCIO state and territory members may submit one project in each of the ten categories. Projects are judged on innovation, significance and overall benefit. Two finalists and one award recipient will be named for each category and announced at the 2012 Annual Conference in San Diego, Calif.
Two new studies have come out of Europe that support open access to government data.
- A 2011 Finnish study addressed the question, Does Marginal Cost Pricing of Public Sector Information Spur Firm Growth? The authors analyze data from 15 counties and conclude “Firms functioning in the countries in which public sector agencies provide fundamental geographical information either freely or at maximum marginal costs have grown, on average, about 15 percent more per annum than the firms in the countries in which public sector GI is priced according to the cost-recovery principle.” Starting in May 2012, all Finnish geodata is being made available free of charge to all users.
- An April 2012 Danish study looked at the Funding of a System of Key Registers in a PSI-conomics and Contemporary Perspective. Three options were considered: people pay to register data (e.g. deeds), people pay to purchase data, and government pays. The study concludes that it is best for general state government support. Selling government data is inefficient because it keeps out many potential users and those who do pay distort the market. Society is better off when data is available to widest number of users.
Spoke with Maryland’s Radio Interoperability Czar about the basics – basics – of FirstNet since I’ve heard a variety of details about it. It’s a federal effort to build a wireless network for first responders (hence the name – FirstNet). It will rely on existing infrastructure where available. A key goal is on dispatch and communication between emergency personnel but in areas where 911 wireless calling is lacking it can be used for 911 too. Fed’s plan to build this using the public/private partnership model. State grants are expected to be available. The D block range of the 700 MHz frequencies will be used. Revenue from the sale of other frequencies to commercial interests are expected to provide the funds for construction. There are many more details about this effort and much remains to be defined but this information helped to make things clearer for me.
Today, I had a reason to go back and look at the Environmental Sensitivity Index maps produced by NOAA. My first encounter with this effort was in the early 80s as part of the review team for Maryland. At the time, I responded to oil and hazardous material spills and these maps provided a wealth of information for our response efforts. We always kept a paper copy in the cab of our response vehicles. This map series has been updated through the years and they are now available in GIS formats. I thought I would pass along some information on how to access these maps for the 28 states and insular areas, and 9 major river basins that have been mapped. You can go to http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/esi to learn more about the maps and to download copies.