Chicago Unveils OpenGrid Map System

The web application described here developed for the city of Chicago sounds very user friendly and worth checking out…

Chicago Unveils OpenGrid Map System

2015 NSGIC Year in Review

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 .   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

What Maps Really Say

NPR did this piece about maps and cartography, highlighting the fact that for a map there’s just as much value (if not more) in the reflection of what’s important to the cartographer than their purpose of navigation.  I’d love to tour the map collection they reference at the Library of Congress!  Perhaps NSGIC could arrange a tour one of these days…

Developing Pre-Disaster Resilience Based on Public and Private Incentivization

Recent major disasters, such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy—and their considerable financial, social, and environmental impacts— have substantially raised the profile of resilience in communities.  Resilience has come to occupy a place in public policy and programs across the United States. Yet, even in the face of growing losses and the deleterious effects of natural disasters, the nation’s capacity and appetite is waning for continued funding of federal and state pre- and post disaster mitigation efforts to create resilience.

The National Institute of Building Sciences, Multihazard Mitigation Council (MMC), MMC Resilience Committee, and the Council on Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate (CFIRE), as well as members of the Institute’s Board of Directors, supported the development of this white paper to define a new approach [HERE].

ResilienceIncentivesThis new approach is focused on capturing all of the potential incentives provided by both the public and private sectors for preand post-hazard investment. The most cost-effective manner to achieve resilience is through a holistic and integrated set of public, private, and hybrid programs based on capturing opportunities available through mortgages and loans; insurance; finance; tax incentives and credits; grants; regulations; and enhanced building codes and their application. This focus on private/public-sector opportunities to induce corrective action is called “incentivization.”

For more information about The National Institute of Building Sciences, click here –

States at Risk - America's Preparedness Report Card

Contributed by: Larry A. Larson, P.E., CFM
Director Emeritus-Senior Policy Advisor
Association of State Floodplain Manager (ASFPM)

States at risk report was done by collaboration between Climate Central and ICF International. Climate Central*** is an independent, non-profit organization of scientists and journalists researching and reporting about our changing climate and its impact on the American public. This analysis and report was funded by the ZOOM Foundation, a family foundation which has a focus on education and the environment. The ZOOM Foundation focuses its philanthropic investments on innovative change efforts that have the high potential for sustainable, scalable impact, especially in the areas of education and the environment.

States at Risk held a telecom 18 Nov for media and released the report.  Read the full press release here [States at Risk National Press Release FINAL]


This report gives states a grade from A to F for their level of preparedness to face the significant and increasing risks posed by changing levels of extreme weather, including: extreme heat, drought, wildfires, inland flooding and coastal flooding. This report is focused on threats that are projected to become more frequent and/or severe as a result of changing climate. It does not address threats like earthquake or terrorism which are not necessarily impacted by a changing climate. Wind damage has not been analyzed due to the lack of data at the appropriate scale and the relative uncertainty of future projections.

The attached Q&A document [States at Risk Report Q&A Nov 2015gives added background on how the report was developed and what was used to grade the states. You will note a key factor for determining if a state is looking at future threats from extreme weather is to see if they are addressing the future conditions in their hazard mitigation plan. Remember, while many states do well with addressing existing hazards, this report evaluates if they are addressing future risks related to changing levels of extreme weather. While the report was developed by looking at actions and plans states had in place or are implementing, States at Risk says they talked with state officials to ensure that state actions not in printed documents were captured in the analysis.

ASFPM spoke on the telecom in support efforts like this that focus attention on building state capability. Attached is the statement ASFPM gave on the telecom [States at Risk telecon-PR–Larson talk 11-18-15]. You can get to the report for all the states through the links in the press release or from this link opens to a map where you see an interactive US map, where you can click on each state to get that report.We urge State Floodplain Managers and SHMO’s to vet and utilize this information in your work and to discuss it with your agency leaders. Chapters can use this to urge their State decision makers to consider and address these increasing hazards through mitigation, and improve flood risk management approaches. Those Chapters and states that have worked with the ASFPM Foundation to use a state symposium to identify key actions your state can do to improve its managing of flood risk may find this a useful added tool for those actions / discussions.

***Climate Central A non-partisan research organization communicating the science and effects of climate change to the public with some neat tools and resources


The Nature Conservancy - Coastal Resilience

Contributed by: Nathalie Smith
Esri, Olympia, WA
M 360-485-2371

Esri video highlights TNC work on Coastal Resilience and Ecosystem Adaptation leveraging the coastal resilience mapping portal and 3D GIS analysis.  Watch this video:

TNCLogoPrimary_RGB2Coastal Resilience is a global network of practitioners who are applying an approach and web-based mapping tool designed to help communities understand their vulnerability from coastal hazards, reduce their risk and determine the value of nature-based solutions.


Links: here
Coastal Resilience mapping portal here

Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month!

DHS-CI MonthCritical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month, observed in the month of November, builds awareness and appreciation of the importance of critical infrastructure and reaffirms the nationwide commitment to keep our critical infrastructure and our communities safe and secure. Securing the nation’s infrastructure, which includes both the physical facilities that supply our communities with goods and services, like water, transportation, and fuel, and the communication and cyber technology that connects people and supports the critical infrastructure systems we rely on daily, is a national priority that requires planning and coordination across the whole community.

During November, the Department focuses on engaging and educating public and private sector partners about the systems and resources that support our daily lives. DHS calls on our partners, stakeholders, and communities to serve as force multipliers of this message. By raising awareness of the importance of securing the assets, systems, and networks we count on every day, we can build on the great work of this public-private partnership and further enhance the security and resilience of our critical infrastructure.

For more information click HERE.

NADO - Planning for a More Resilient Future: A Guide to Regional Approaches

Contributed by: Susan Fox
TBG at NOAA Office for Coastal Management
Charleston, SC 29405

nado-resilient-futureThe National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) identifies, studies, and promotes regional solutions and approaches to improving local prosperity and economic growth.  The NADO Research Foundation released this report that summarizes the rapidly-growing body of research on resilience, describing the main ideas that are driving policy and practice across the country and examining current thinking on regional and economic resilience.  It is intended for communities impacted by, or at risk of being impacted by, disasters, natural and human-induced.

Addresses on the Reservation

I heard this piece on public radio this morning:

U.S. Commerce - Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems


Contributed by: Susan Fox
TBG at NOAA Office for Coastal Management
Charleston, SC 29405

commerce-newsThe U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today issued the Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems to help U.S. communities better withstand and rebound from the shocks of severe weather, earthquakes and other hazards.

Smart Growth America - Building Resilient States: A Framework for Agencies

Contributed by: Susan Fox
TBG at NOAA Office for Coastal Management
Charleston, SC 29405

sga-logoHow could better land use and transportation strategies help your state recover and remain resilient in the face of disaster?

On October 22, Smart Growth America released Building Resilient States: A Framework for Agencies, a resource designed to help state agency staff integrate land use and transportation issues into their conversations about resilience. Disaster preparedness professionals can also use it to make strategic decisions and build communities that are more resilient from the ground up.

As part of the kickoff, Smart Growth America hosted an online conversation about resilience efforts at the state level. New resource—as well as national best practices, and how the states of Colorado, New York, and Vermont are using these strategies were discussed.

Watch the archived webinar HERE

Resilient America's Activities - 2015

Contributed by: Susan Fox
TBG at NOAA Office for Coastal Management
Charleston, SC 29405


The Resilient America roundtable and its programs aim to help communities and the nation build resilience to extreme events, save lives, and reduce the physical and economic costs of disasters.

Resilient America is a program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine –

Weather and other extreme events are becoming more destructive and costly in the United States and around the world. In the United States alone, floods, hurricanes, wildfires, windstorms, and other natural hazards collectively kill or injure thousands of people each year and cost communities and the United States government billions of dollars in damages.

The academic, public, and private sectors share a need to increase understanding of risk and extreme events; to better communicate, manage, and mitigate exposure associated with extreme events; and to develop strategies that build resilience to such events.

In 2012, The National Research Council released a report, Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative, about critical issues and strategic steps the United States can take to reduce impacts on the nation’s communities from natural and human-induced disasters. This report generated strong interest across the country for follow-on projects to test or implement the recommendations laid out in the report. To meet this demand, Resilient America was established in 2014 for an initial three-year period to help communities build resilience to extreme events. 

Through meetings, workshops and other activities, the Roundtable brings together experts from the public, private, nonprofit and academic sectors to advance discussions about resilience; incubate ideas and projects; and conduct education, outreach and community exchange that builds community and national resilience to disasters and extreme events. Roundtable activities are designed to help decision makers build approaches for (1) deciding how and where to invest resources to reduce their risk and build resilience and to (2) explain or defend those investment decisions. The Roundtable also partners with communities across the United States to support their efforts to build resilience.


The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have a number of activities aimed at improving individual, community, and national resilience.  This website is a portal to this work –

Extreme Event Game – This fun role-playing game gives participants a taste of what it takes to buildEE-game-thumb community resilience in the face of disaster. Players work together to make decisions and solve problems during an engaging, fast-paced disaster simulation. –



Resiliency Reading list:  Here is a list of books available for FREE from the National Academies Press:

Healthy, Resilient, and Sustainable Communities After Disasters (2015):

Disaster Resilience:  A National Imperative (2012):

Dam and Levee Safety and Community Resilience A Vision for Future Practice (2012)

Building Community Disaster Resilience Through Private-Public Collaboration (2011):

Applications of Social Network Analysis for Building Community Disaster Resilience:  Workshop Summary (2009):

Facing Hazards and Disasters Understanding Human Dimensions (2006):

MORE Resiliency Reading:  Just in case you are looking for something else here is list of additional resources from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine   –


Home and Family Natural Disaster Preparedness Guide

This guide [HERE] provides common sense steps families can take to prepare for natural disasters as well as understanding the risks where you live.


Augmented Reality Sandbox video

We should ask them to come to one of conferences and let us play with this.  Imagine what classrooms could so with this technology!

MAPPS Privacy Guidelines Endorsement

The National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) Board of Directors unanimously endorsed recent guidelines produced by the Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS).  The guidelines outline best practices for citizen privacy and geospatial data.  The MAPPS guidelines, adopted by their organization in July, are designed to provide a self-regulatory framework for its collection of private firms engaged in geospatial technologies and data.   They are intended to provide guidance on when companies should seek individual consent for gathering geospatial data and when such data are not breaching privacy concerns and will serve public good.  It addresses such issues as geospatial data derived from aerial imagery and drawing the line at not collecting real-time, personally identifiable data.

The NSGIC endorsed the common-sense guidelines during their August Board meeting. NSGIC President Shelby Johnson is quoted as saying, “I’m very proud that our board acted in unison on this endorsement. We totally agree with MAPPS on this issue, and it’s very important for the industry as a whole and those of us in government to be on the same page.”  This builds on NSGIC’s existing policy about what data should be considered private and what isn’t.   State Geographic Information System (GIS) coordinating councils have recognized the complexity of the issue surrounding privacy for citizens.  At the same time, enormous societal benefits can be gained by leveraging GIS technologies and data.  The MAPPS guidelines are straightforward and should be applied equally across the private and public sectors.