LSU Report on Resiliency a Decade after Katrina

This white paper reports on the emergency and disaster management community response and recovery lessons learned in the years since Hurricane Katrina.  Overall this is a good report and an interesting read, but unfortunately the role that geospatial data and technology played in this process is lost in this report.  The value of maps and mapping is clearly indicated, but the reports misuses the acronym GPS, and also incorrectly defines GIS as Global Information Systems when discussing mapping, so that the underlying geospatial technology being used is not clear.

There are a number of really good practical recommendations in this report.  Natural disasters like hurricane Katrina will happen again, but from the lessons learned the goal is to make sure that an inadequate response does not.  The top four takeaways from the report are all about resilience, and include a call to embrace preparedness, create resilient communities, implement lessons learned, and dedicate funding to create resilient systems and communities that will endure disaster more effectively, facilitating a more rapid and complete response and recovery.

To download the report click HERE.

2015 – 17 NSGIC Strategic Goals Approved

On Monday this week the NSGIC Board of Directors approved the 2015 -17 Strategic Goals. The development of the strategic goals is the result of many hours of discussion and interaction by leadership.  It all began in February with a member survey and a planning retreat as part of the mid-year meeting in Annapolis.  I can say these goals truly reflect the pulse of the membership and I thank all who participated and provided feedback to the survey.

There are a few items to point out about the strategic goals.  You will notice that the core vision and mission of NSGIC has not changed.  The Geospatial Maturity Assessment, the GIS Inventory and advocating for the National Geospatial Data Act remain atop of the list of our priorities.  You will also notice that the document has been streamlined considerably to four pages.  As a result, the document itself should be easier to read and understand.

The last item I will point out is the focus on building more support for member participation.  Leadership heard “loud and clear” the need to grow our member base and provide increased opportunities for current members to participate, so that is what we’ve done.  Goal 3 is heavily focused on improving member growth and participation.

The NSGIC Strategic Goals can be found at the following link.

Chris Diller, President-Elect

Glossary of NSGIC Acronyms

When it comes to the use and abuse of acronyms, NSGIC takes a backseat to no one.  Recognizing that not everybody, particularly new members and new attendees to our conferences, will understand all of the acronyms flying around, the Membership Services Committee has created a glossary for members and conference attendees to use.  Simply go to the website and use a find command to learn what that acronym meant.  The glossary will be updated as needed, particularly prior to the two annual conferences.


Final Report from the National Address Database Summit is Available

If you have been to any NSGIC meeting, or have read the April 13th post on the National Address Database Summit meeting in Linthicum, Maryland, you will know that 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.

The final report from the National Address Database Summit meeting is now available at this link.  You can also find more information on the Summit Meeting, including the presentations, at this link.  NSGIC appreciates the efforts of the U.S. Department of Transportation to host this meeting and work on this important initiative.

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.

Resiliency Task Force Meeting Notes 04-16-2015


Jon Gottsegen, Kathy Demarco, Phil Worrall, Iain Hyde (Guest Speaker), Susan Fox, Miki Schmidt, Krysia Sepita, Mariam Pomilio, Leland Pierce, Jim Scott, Nathan Lowry, Pat Cummens, Richard Betgereit, Zsolt Nagy.

Special Presentation:

Iain Hyde, Deputy Chief Recovery Officer, State of Colorado Governor’s Office

In 2013 Colorado was hit by the most catastrophic flooding since 1976.  Flood event estimated at nearly $4 billion dollar impact of this event.  Immediately after this event a resiliency workgroup was formed.  First year was mostly focused on recovering from the flood events, but also how to build back better, stronger and to become more resilient, and this is our current focus of our Colorado resiliency project.

The resiliency workgroup is working toward formalizing and developing a Colorado Resiliency Framework.  Colorado Resiliency Framework is currently under development March – May, 2015.  Why?

  • Colorado has experienced four major presidential declared disasters in the last 5 years, but even more [smaller non-declared] disaster events impacted local communities during the same time period.
  • We anticipate more frequent events in the future due to changing climate patterns.


For recovery and current resiliency efforts from:

  • Federal Disaster Funds from declared flood disaster (320 million)

We hope to fund ongoing resiliency efforts through:

  • Creating a Community Resiliency Partnership Fund
  • HUD Resiliency Grant Competition award
  • Sweat equity (We will proceed with this effort statewide regardless of competition / grant awards)

How do we define vulnerability and resiliency? What are the different sectors in a community (Economic, Government, Community, Housing, Social, Infrastructure, etc…), and what resiliency actually means to each sector, how do we respond, and how do we prioritize these? (See slides)

This summer the plan is to:

  • Use the framework to pilot the development of Local Resiliency Strategies
  • Develop a GIS-based Risk and vulnerability assessment tool
  • Start building a stable funding source.  The Community Resiliency Partnership Fund (Existing disaster funds and potential HUD grant competition funds to seed this fund, but also build out permanent funding by building local and private funding partnerships.)

For More Information:

Resiliency Task Force (News and Announcement):

  1. Zsolt Nagy, AECOM
  • Would be interested in knowing more how this work in Colorado is it being informed from a national /international resiliency efforts.
  • UN has just released a scorecard on resilient cities, co-developed by AECOM and IBM.  This could be of interest to NSGIC members on how scoring can be used to evaluate Counties and States.*
  1. Miki Schmidt, NOAA
  • National Sea Grant Resilient competition.**  FY15 budget included a $5 million resilience coastal grant opportunity [coastal watersheds in 34 states].  Is currently delayed, but hope to be able to spend in near future.
  • NSGIC should consider playing a role in putting together a geospatial data sharing plan for local, statewide and regional resiliency applications.  Tim DeTroy presented recently on lessons learned from Sandy in his state – this could be a good source to start with.
  • States and NSGIC would definitely be in a good position to support these grant proposals by distilling down a short list of minimum essential GIS data sets.
  • This could help kick start the work of this task force.
  • Have talked to Bill Burgess about this grant and can follow up with him more.
  1. Jon Gottsegen, Co GIO

NSGIC could define the common Geospatial data, technology and resource threads between these different initiatives:

  • HUD Resiliency Grant Competition
  • Climate Data Initiative
  • 100 Resilient Cities Competition
  • National Sea Grant Competition
  • 3DEP LiDAR program funds
  1. Pat Cummens, Esri
  • There are a number of organizations like IMCA, National League of Cities, the Urban Sustainability Network, with substantial resiliency activities under way.  We do not need to reinvent the wheel, but partner with these other groups
  • Esri whiteboard discussions with customers on resiliency #1 is flooding, but #2 is Extreme Heat events
  • Recommend states [NSGIC] put together a list of “must have / minimum essential” geospatial data to support resiliency.
  • Esri is putting together another Resiliency App. Challenge on “Climate and Public Health” to support the President’s Climate Data Initiative.  These are open sourced and publically available through hacker league site and Esri site.***


Footnotes & References:

*From Zsolt Nagy, AECOM:  UN Score Card. UNISDR – 10 point checklist –

View Score Card:  UNScorecard-1pager


**From Susan Fox, NOAA:  The Sea Grant resilience index that we mentioned today was developed through the MS-AL Sea Grant Consortium. This is something that we highlight during our trainings, such as the Coastal Community Planning and Development training.

MS-AL Sea Grant’s Coastal Resilience Index:

General info here:

There is also a grant program with project descriptions.


***From Pat Cummens, Esri: Some links we talked about below

Rockefeller 100 resilient communities

Minneapolis resilience story map – be sure to drive into to data on the extreme heat event one:

Esri Resilient Communities:


Jon Gottsegen, CO GIO:  This is a link to the Community Inclusion mapping site that came up in Iain’s presentation today:



How well do you know the American landscape?

This is an intriguing quiz…I got 7/7.