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.


Final Delivery to the National Broadband Map

The 1st of October marked the deadline for the 10th and final delivery of broadband availability data to NTIA by all of the state grantees. This program produced a nationwide, seamless spatial database of broadband availability (, updated every 6 months over the 5 years of the program. This effort conclusively demonstrated the value and success of a model that engages states as key coordination partners in nationwide data projects. NSGIC had a significant role in getting this program off to a good start.  We are proud of our contribution, the good work done by the states, and the National Broadband Map.

City Annexation Through Time

Yet another example of how GIS can help tell a story.

Comic Relief

Something amusing for a change…

Boundless Comments on the 2014 NSGIC Annual Conference

Read the linked blog post of Juan Marin, Chief Technology Officer of Boundless, to see what he has to say about the 2014 NSGIC Annual Conference.

Senator Tammy Baldwin Introduces Digital Coast Act

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin introduced legislation on September 18th to help Wisconsin communities along the Great Lakes better prepare for storms, cope with varying lake levels, and strengthen economic development planning efforts along the shore.

“Our Great Lakes are a great asset for our quality of life but also for our long-term economic security. Wisconsin’s Great Lakes communities face a variety of challenges to keep their harbors open, their waters clean and their beaches ready for visitors,” said Senator Baldwin. “This bill ensures that our coastal communities have the resources and tools they need to adapt to changing environmental conditions, maintain healthy shores, and make smart planning decisions to support their local economies and way of life.”

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) currently assembles and hosts the Digital Coast Project, a collaborative online database of the most up-to-date coastal information, and makes it available to both the public and private sectors for use in community planning and disaster response. NOAA also trains coastal communities how to decipher and use the high-tech mapping data to make accurate decisions and smart investments in coastal communities.

Baldwin’s Digital Coast Act authorizes the next phase in coastal mapping at NOAA by ensuring that coastal managers and developers will continue to have the data to make smart choices for economic development, shoreline management and coastal restoration. The Act supports further development of the current project, including increasing access to uniform, up-to-date data, to help communities get the coastal data they need to respond to emergencies, plan for long-term coastal resilience, and manage their water resources.

“Our nation’s coasts are not only where the majority of our population lives and works, much of our nation’s natural heritage and wealth in natural resources are also concentrated in these areas,” said Todd Holschbach, The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin. “Working with Digital Coast has helped The Nature Conservancy’s Wisconsin, Great Lakes and coastal conservation staff access and share data and tools with partners to improve resilience, enhancing the environment and economies of communities across the country.”

“Coastal areas are under increasing demand. Without good data, it is difficult for communities and counties to balance the sometimes competing demands placed on our coasts.  Planners in Wisconsin support this legislation so that we can have the data and information to help people and communities make wise, data-driven decisions for these critical coastal areas.  We applaud Sen. Baldwin’s leadership on this issue,” said Lawrence Ward, Jr., AICP,  President of Wisconsin Chapter of the American Planning Association and Executive Director, Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.

The Digital Coast Act is co-sponsored by Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Maria Cantwell (D-WA.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Begich (D-AK), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Angus King (I-ME). Bipartisan companion legislation has also been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Additional support includes: Continental Mapping Consultants, Quantum Spatial, Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department, American Planning Association (APA), Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM), Coastal States Organization (CSO), National Association of Counties (NACo), National Estuarine Research Reserve Association (NERRA), National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Urban Land Institute (ULI), Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS), and National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS).

The Digital Coast Act is part of NSGIC’s Advocacy Agenda.

National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC)

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the launch of the National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC), which will competitively award nearly $1 billion in HUD Disaster Recovery funds to eligible communities. The competition will help communities recover from prior disasters and improve their ability to withstand and recover more quickly from future disasters, hazards, and shocks. To complement these funds, the Rockefeller Foundation will provide technical assistance and training workshops to every eligible state and local government. The press release can be found on HUD’s website at

All states with counties that experienced a Presidentially Declared Major Disaster in 2011, 2012 or 2013 are eligible to submit applications. This includes 48 of 50 states plus Puerto Rico and Washington, DC. In addition, 17 local governments that have received funding under PL 113-2 are also eligible. A full list of eligible grantees can be found in the attachment “NDRC Eligible Applicants.”

For more information or for questions, please contact

NSGIC Annual Conference - Environmetal Intelligence and Resiliency Session

Margaret Davidson is the Senior Leader Coastal Inundation and Resilience at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  She provided a thought-provoking speech on Environmental Intelligence and Resilience at the NSGIC 2014 Annual Conference in Charleston, SC.  Afterwards, the entire audience engaged in a lengthy discussion about climate and resiliency.  Extensive notes were taken during this session and they will be turned into actionable items for NSGIC State Representatives and for a new work group or committee that will deal with climate and resiliency issues. For those members who want to learn more, generate ideas for activities, or determine how to discuss the subject with naysayers, pick up the latest issue of Audubon Magazine (, with the cover on climate change and birds. Along with interviews with geospatial modelers and elected officials, there is a chapter on getting past “politics and paralysis” on the subject. Besides, birds are cool.

Pulled pork, a broken thumb and hydration...

It’s that time again.  The 2014 annual meeting kicked off today in Charleston.  With some of the only free time in a traditionally packed agenda, many of us took the opportunity to check out some of the local cuisine, and stumbled on the Second Sunday festivities on King Street.  Lots of local shopping and live music to enjoy along the way.  I highly recommend checking out the Charleston City Market downtown on Market St.  It seems to be THE place to go for locally made items like jewelry, palmetto baskets and an assortment of souvenirs to purchase for loved ones back home.  The locals will certainly appreciate the business!  We were lucky that the weather held up and the buildings and abundance of huge old oak trees provided some shade.  Unfortunately that didn’t help with the humidity, but those of us from the east coast are lucky to be a bit more used to it then our partners from the west.

So what does one do when the majority of the group wants to go for BBQ and you have a broken thumb?  You ask the waiter for something to cover it so you can enjoy your sandwich of course!  Luckily for Ed Arabas they had rubber gloves that did the job.  He had the recent misfortune of breaking his thumb in a bike accident.  For anyone here, he’ll be happy to provide more details if you ask. ;-)

Now after a day of talking shop with our counterparts, it’s time to see how NSGIC hospitality combines with southern hospitality and for the real networking to begin.  Hopefully our members, both new and old, followed the advice of our next president and past president, and hydrated well.  A whole new day of meetings and information sharing starts early, so good to be prepared for anything.

Historic Maps of London

This is an awesome series of historic maps of London that offers a glimpse of early cartography.

Disaster Lessons Learned

This article describes interviews with several CIO’s who have dealt with significant disasters.  GIS is mentioned a few times; it’s certainly an interesting read!

Where the Wage Gap is and isn't

This map shows where the wage gap between men and women is the most pronounced, and the most even.  Depressing but true.