Correct link for Anthrpocene Story Maps

Thanks to Shane White for picking up my error in the previous post.  For those of you on the RSS feed, please note this is the correct link:

Anthropocene Story Maps

The story maps ESRI put together for this topic are pretty neat:


NSGIC Comments on Home Mortgage Disclosure Act

On October 29th, Shelby Johnson, NSGIC President and Arkansas State GIO, forwarded comments on proposed rule changes issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, Docket No. CFPB-2014-0019, RIN 3170-AA10). The Bureau is trying to determine how to track and analyze home mortgages with greater granularity than in the past. NSGIC’s suggestions include:

  1. The Bureau should not use parcel identification numbers because there is no standard numbering system in the United States.
  2. The Bureau should use address points and sub-addresses with the caveat that approximately 30 counties in the U.S. have not converted to physical addresses and they cover approximately 12 million addresses.
  3. The Bureau could partner with states to ‘roll-up’ local government address data and make it publicly available.

NSGIC noted that local governments are the address authorities and at least 21 states are already partnering with their local governments to produce high-quality address point data.  As they are posted, you will be able to view all of the comments on this proposed rule change at:

Google searches in Europe

Is it OK to let people dig up old dirt? At issue is the balance between privacy and freedom of information.  In the US, we say “sure” even when the dirt is no longer relevant. It’s different in Europe. Thanks to a recent lawsuit, Google allows people to opt out when the information is “inadequate, irrelevant, or no longer relevant.”

The October 4 issue of The Economist describes the situation in an article, The Right to be forgotten: Drawing the line. In 1998 Mario Costeja González, a lawyer, was forced to sell his home to pay some debts. Notice was posted in a Spanish newspaper, La Vanguardia. Google linked to it, causing González no end of professional problems. He sued to be forgotten and won.

America (and Google) has a history of openness and freedom of speech. Everything is fair game. Europe has a different history, that includes fascism and communism. Public information has been used to hurt innocent people.  Europe is more willing to suppress information that doesn’t serve a public good.

The balance is not always easy, but Google has risen to the challenge and is allowing people to petition to have links removed. Each appeal is reviewed and most are refused, but many have been granted.  Requests by doctors to remove patient reviews have been denied.  A teenage drunk-driving accident report was removed because it happened years ago, but an old report about professional misconduct was retained.

The process is evolving. Google has established a high level advisory council to help develop the process. Their report is due early next year. At the same time, government privacy regulators are working on shared guidelines for appeals.

The GIS community should watch closely. Our GISCI Code of Ethics commits us to serving society on the one hand and respecting individuals on the other. Society needs information, but individual privacy needs to be respected too. People should have enough autonomy to opt out, but not always. Where is the balance? The Google case will help us understand the balance and make more informed decisions.

There are other reasons to watch closely.  Rules adopted in Europe may prove useful in other parts of the world, including the US.

Integrating Airport and Public Agency GIS Data

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) recently published a report: Integrating Airport Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Data with Public Agency GIS. It is based on a literature review and surveys of 44 organizations, mostly airports themselves. The report was commissioned by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to benefit airports, but results will be equally interesting to readers from public agencies.

Airports need air photos, parcel, land use, zoning, centerline, construction areas, utility, flood zone, and wetland data from public agencies. They can be strong partners in collecting new air photos and contour information. Interestingly, some of the smaller airports rely on local agencies as their GIS resource: software, hardware, and even staff in some cases.

Public agencies could use airport data for their own work. Noise contours, construction areas, internal building addresses, and outside building height limitations are some of the most useful items. Airports also supply useful information on the basic airfield layout, ground transportation data, utilities, and impervious surfaces and other themes with environmental impacts, .

There are clearly benefits from interaction, but organizational and technical challenges limit progress. Organizational challenges include cost, cumbersome agreements, excessive protection of sensitive data, lack of awareness, and limited awareness of high-level administrative officers about the value of collaboration. Technical challenges include lack of metadata and lack of consistently applied standards.

Nine successful case studies show how those obstacles have been overcome. The Minneapolis-St. Paul example benefited from the broader spirit of cooperation facilitated by MetroGIS, which has involved counties, cities, and the airport from the beginning. Each of the other examples focuses on a particular activity or approach that led to their success.

22 Intriguing Maps

For your Friday, here are 22 maps that are pretty interesting.

2nd National Adaptation Forum Request for Abstracts

You are invited to submit proposals for the 2nd National Adaptation Forum, the biennial gathering of the adaptation community to foster information exchange, innovation and mutual support for a better tomorrow. The Forum will take place from May 12 – 14, 2015 in St. Louis, MO. It will engage key individuals from industry, academia, government, non-profit organizations, communities—all working across traditional boundaries to develop adaptation solutions and partnerships. The Program for 2015 centers on adaptation integration: Make adaptation part of everything you do, and Break out of silos to create holistic, durable solutions.  Submit your proposal here. Deadline for submissions is October 24, 2014.

TED Talk

I just heard this TED Radio Hour piece on how much we want to know where things are.  Predictions on how our GPS use will continue to increase has implications on our privacy.

GIS Helps Build Resilient Communities #2

By Patrick Fiorenza, govLoop October 9, 2014
Today, you are challenged to stay resilient no matter what challenges your community faces. Governments must operate efficiently regardless of any crisis or event. That’s where GIS comes into play. GIS is an integrative technology, and seamlessly connects mobile, ECM and cloud to help gain a holistic view of the community, building more resilient communities. This infographic explores how.  More HERE.

By Patrick Fiorenza, govLoop, October 9, 2014
Government must stay efficient and deliver services no matter what trials the community faces. Technology offers the opportunity to build for the future in a way that allows for foundational strength for service delivery– as well as flexibility and innovation when communities need it. Our industry perspective will:

  • Identify what it means to be a resilient community
  • Share case studies from 5 resilient communities
  • Insights from Patricia Cummens, government strategist, Esri

More HERE.

NACo - Resilient Counties Initiative Prepares County Leaders for Change

Under the leadership of NACo President Linda Langston, NACo Resilient Counties initiative bolstered county leaders’ ability to thrive amid changing physical, social and economic conditions.


Read More from NACo HERE, and here…..

Strong Economies, Resilient Counties: The Role of Counties in Economic Development

Counties are responsible for providing core services, such as human services, criminal justice, public welfare and infrastructure, to communities of all sizes across America. To ensure the delivery of these essential services, support job growth and maintain a healthy revenue base, counties invest in economic development activities in a number of ways.
July 2014

Planning Resilient Water Systems: Coastal Resiliency County Case Studies, Vol. 1

The case studies showcase counties that have experienced negative effects of poor water quality and are now striving to reverse this course. In each case, counties have found that partnerships have been key components for achieving success.
July 2014

Sustainable Ports: Strategies for Port Development and Operations

This issue brief explores the vital role that ports play in counties across the U.S., and what steps counties can take to ensure that they minimize their ports’ environmental impact while remaining competitive in local and global commercial activities. Case studies highlight innovative work that counties are already doing, and offer ideas and additional resources to support counties in promoting more efficient and sustainable port development.
June 2014

Restoring Habitats for Resilient Coastal Economies

This issue brief provides coastal counties and coastal managers with an overview of how environmental restoration initiatives can help strengthen the ongoing vitality of coastal economies. Specifically, the issue brief provides examples from counties that are pursuing coastal restoration projects to promote storm and flood resiliency, support coastal tourism, protect healthy fisheries and create coastal jobs.
January 2014

Strategies to Bolster Economic Resilience: County Leadership in Action

This publication features eight case studies demonstrating how some county leaders are pursuing innovative strategies to create healthy, safe, vibrant and economically resilient communities. From crafting economic visions and supporting new business ventures, to training local workers and assisting entrepreneurs, county leaders and their partners are approaching economic development in compelling new ways.
December 2013

Digital Coast: Tools to Promote County Resilience

The report provides an overview of Digital Coast, a suite of tools to analyze and communicate about coastal natural resource management issues. Developed by NOAA Coastal Services Center, with support from partnership organizations, Digital Coast offers powerful tools to assist users in accessing data on coastal vulnerability, simulating projections of impacts, creating publishable visualizations and ‘snapshots’ of potential future scenarios, and more.
October 2013

Resiliency and Emergency Management Stories from Government Technology

Some recent Government Technology Posts of interest on Resiliency and Emergency Management…

Is Data the Best Preparation Against Natural Disasters?  Open data and analytics have become fundamental tools in disaster preparedness, experts say. But public officials aren’t using them enough.  BY / OCTOBER 6, 2014 [LINK]

How Can Predictive Analytics Improve Disaster Response and Recovery? Adam Thiel, deputy secretary of public safety and homeland security for Virginia, talks opportunities and challenges. BY / SEPTEMBER 3, 2014 [LINK]

White House Innovation Day Highlights Disaster Response, Recovery, Emergency managers converged with the tech community to discuss tools that can create more resilient communities. BY / JULY 30, 2014 [LINK]

Appallicious Launches FEMA Disaster Dashboard, The Disaster Assessment and Assistance Dashboard pairs local resources with open data to improve local resiliency. BY / JULY 29, 2014 [LINK]

GIS Support of Resilient and Sustainable Communities #1

What does GIS have to do with building Resilient & Sustainable Communities? Today, GIS data and technology plays a critical role in helping efficiently manage and improve our infrastructure, government services, natural resources, environment, and public safety in our communities. We see clear examples from the Emergency Management community of Planning, Mitigation, Response and Recovery efforts enhanced by ready access to GIS data and technology. Resiliency & Sustainability often impact six interconnected domains, individuals, communities, businesses, institutions, natural and manmade systems.

Each of these six domains have strong geographic elements and similar life-cycles for us to focus our existing geospatial resources as well as develop new geospatial resources to support these domains, thereby helping increase our local, statewide and national resiliency to emerging challenges.

Coastal States Organization Newsletter

Those of you interested in the resiliency issues faced by the 35 coastal states and insular areas should consider subscribing to the weekly newsletter published by the Coastal States Organization.  One example in the current edition is “As a part of President Obama’s continuing commitment to help promote resilient coastal systems, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the State of Maine signed a two-year cooperative agreement totaling $195,000 to evaluate sand resources for coastal resilience and restoration planning.”

You can read the most recent edition of the newsletter at this link. It contains many articles like the one above that are related to resiliency issues in your states.  You can also view other editions or subscribe to the newsletter at this link.

State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force On Climate Preparedness and Resilience

Post Contributed By: Richard Butgereit, GISP
Information Management
Florida Division of Emergency Management

When considering what your participation may be on the new NSGIC Resiliency task force, you may want to consider participation by your state and/or local officials on the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force On Climate Preparedness and Resilience.  The White House Task Force Members include:

State Officials:

Governor Neil Abercrombie (HI)
Governor Jerry Brown (CA)
Governor Eddie Calvo (GU)
Governor Jay Inslee (WA)
Governor Jack Markell (DE)
Governor Martin O’Malley (MD)
Governor Pat Quinn (IL)
Governor Peter Shumlin (VT)

Local Officials:

Mayor Ralph Becker (Salt Lake City, UT)
Mayor James Brainard (Carmel, IN)
Commissioner Paula Brooks (Franklin County, OH)
Supervisor Salud Carbajal (Santa Barbara County, CA)
Mayor Frank Cownie (Des Moines, IA)
Mayor Bob Dixson (Greensburg, KS)
Mayor Eric Garcetti (Los Angeles, CA)
Mayor George Heartwell (Grand Rapids, MI)
Mayor Kristin Jacobs (Broward County, FL)
Mayor Kevin Johnson (Sacramento, CA)
Mayor Michael Nutter (Philadelphia, PA)
Mayor Annise Parker (Houston, TX)
Mayor Patsy Parker (Perdido Beach, AL)
Mayor Madeline Rogero (Knoxville, TN)
Mayor Karen Weitkunat (Fort Collins, CO)
Mayor Dawn Zimmer (Hoboken, NJ)

Tribal Officials:

Karen Diver, Chairwoman, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (MN)
Reggie Joule, Mayor, Northwest Arctic Borough (AK)

More:  You can read more about that task force here –

NSGIC Geospatial Resiliency Task Force Formed

NSGIC is forming a “Geospatial Resiliency Task Force” to help discover, document and inform our members and our communities in the role that geospatial data and technology can play in this important undertaking.

This blog post is a first step in this effort….

First off, a definition of resilience: “Resilience” as the ability to prepare for and adapt to changing conditions, and withstand and recover rapidly from disruptions.

At all levels of government across our nation communities already have, or are now beginning to recognize the need to become more resilient. Earlier this summer, the Whitehouse and HUD announced a $1 Billion Competition for Disaster Recovery Ideas ( The premise behind this initiative is simple: “…as extreme weather events—including heat waves, drought, tropical storms, high winds, storm surges, and heavy downpours—are becoming more severe. In many places these risks are projected to increase substantially due to rising sea levels and evolving development patterns, affecting the safety, health, and economy of entire communities. Extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy have made it clear that we remain vulnerable to such events in spite of advances in disaster preparedness. American communities cannot effectively reduce their risks and vulnerabilities without including future extreme events and other impacts of climate change in their planning both before and after a disaster, and in everyday decision-making.”

As you can see, resilience is also an important component of sustainability, so here is a simple definition of sustainable communities: “Wikipedia defines this as communities planned, built, or modified to promote sustainable living. Sustainable communities tend to focus on environmental and economic sustainability, urban infrastructure, social equity, and municipal government. …The term is sometimes used synonymously with “green cities,” “eco-communities,” “livable cities” and “sustainable cities”.”

Both resiliency and sustainability and often measured at the community level. From a geographic perspective the impacted community may be local, regional, statewide, national, international or worldwide. The size of the impacted community dictates the scope and scale of the response needed, as well as the geospatial data needed to support a response. Geospatial data and technology already play a critical role in managing and improving our infrastructure, government services, natural resources, environment, and public safety, so an expanded focus on Geospatial Resilience is logical.

Task Force Mission:
Promote public awareness and the effective coordination and use of geospatial capabilities across all levels of government to support decision making on resiliency issues and promote awareness of how States can foster this support.

Task Force Objectives:

1.  Identify existing and new partner organizations for NSGIC and States to collaborate with to:

• Leverage our existing geospatial data and technology and developing new geospatial data to help build more resilient communities.
• Educate organizations involved in resiliency about NSGIC and State GIS supporting roles in the issue.

2. Identify and document resiliency challenges that can be better informed through a geospatial lens, for example:

• Disasters, both Natural and Human-exacerbated
• Environmental, such as a Result of Over-development
• Education, Economy and Workforce
• Community and Personal Wealth
• Community and Personal Health
• Infrastructure Lifecycle
• Population Change

3. Establish a list of key data sets for state GIS coordination offices that lend themselves to support resiliency activities.

4. Create a NSGIC issue brief for resiliency.

What’s Next: We will begin posting some resource links and examples showcasing best practices of geospatial resilience, so please contribute your own comments (thoughts, questions, resources, best practices, and ideas) directly through this blog. We also plan to start holding regular web meeting through NSGIC to advance this conversation.

Please Contribute to this Conversation: You do not need to be a member of NSGIC to participate, and any level of participation is welcome. The initial NSGIC leaders for this new task force are Jon Gottsegen, State of Colorado GIS Coordinator; and Phil Worrall, Executive Director of the Indiana Geographic Information Council.