On Thursday May 21st, 2015 I attended the first-ever “Mapathon” event hosted by the White House (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHQh68bXDqg ). 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 (http://mapgive.state.gov/why-map/ ) 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 (http://www.nsgic.org/2015-nsgic-annual-conference ) 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!