Tag Archives: GIS

NSGIC On The Brain - Spring Break

Zion National Park, Angel's Landing

Zion National Park, Angel’s Landing

NSGIC is a hard habit to break. For those interested in building meaningful state and national digital mapping resources, the camaraderie and synergy of NSGIC conferences, committees, and professional networking is hard to beat.

But, if you’re like me, very occasionally you find yourself in engaged in some weird (to others) NSGIC or geography-inspired activity even when trying to get away from it all.

This happened to me on a road trip to southern Utah and northern Arizona last week. On day 2 of our spring break trip, my family suddenly found ourselves playing a modified version on the license plate game while hiking Zion National Park’s Angels Landing trail with, oh, about 1000 or more of our fellow park goers.

AL_TX

This counts as one only state: your choice, but you’ll see TX again (trust me)

In our modified version, “the hiking plate game,’ we were looking for any specific mention of a state or strong association to a state (a place, university, pro sports team, etc) on the clothing of passers by. We were working together toward fifty (and DC) and we only allowed one state to be counted per person.

Over the course of the 3.5 hour hike, which included lots of time queued up waiting for our direction’s turn on the steep ridge and its hand-hold chains, we bagged 34 states and DC. And, true to NSGIC form, I found myself using a (mental) map to track our progress. Somewhat surprising to me, the showing from states with teams in the SEC athletic conference was especially strong (except GA and TN for some reason). And what’s Idaho’s excuse? Is it potato planting time already? (no neighborly disrespect intended)

Our Results

Our Results:  Blue = Success

There’s something about Zion, which had almost 4.3 million visitors last year, because our other hikes were not nearly as productive in the hiking plate game. A 3 hour hike on the Bryce Canyon NP Peekaboo Loop trail (photo) produced only 5 states. Smaller crowds and snow on the trails (Bryce is about a mile higher) no doubt contributed to the lower state count as did, we feel, a much lower propensity of Bryce’s visitors to wear logo’d attire.

Happy spring and, in this new season, feel free to embrace your inner NSGIC/GIS/mapping instincts…unless a tattoo parlor is involved, in which case, you might sleep on it for at least a night.

Why NSGIC? My Top 3

Best Practices, Opportunity, Advocacy

At NSGIC’s 2016 Annual Conference (NSGIC’s 25th!), I shared a few slides describing why Utah has been involved with NSGIC since its inception, and has attended every NSGIC meeting. Just a couple months into my term as NSGIC’s board president, I thought I’d take a brief respite to revisit and reflect on why it’s all worthwhile.

1. Best Practices
My single favorite reason for actively participating with NSGIC is the opportunity “to see what great looks like.” It shouldn’t feel like Utah is spying on the rest of the nation, but in a way we are, and hopefully, you are too.

Most of what we’ve been able to accomplish with mapping technology for Utah has had its origins in an idea or program that was shared by another state through NSGIC’s mid year and annual meetings or through its committees or professional networking with members and sponsoring organizations.  A partial list of ideas we’ve been able to put into practice in Utah includes: imagery and lidar partnerships, address points, NG911 preparation, broadband mapping, RTK GPS network, parcel data sharing, PLSS stewardship, and a strengthened partnership with our state GIS association, UGIC.

Thanks to everyone who brought forward their great ideas! I’ll just try to remember to give appropriate credit and hope that we can, at some point, play a reciprocal role for others!

2. Opportunity
The second reason your state needs to be represented within NSGIC is to stay on top of emerging opportunities that bring in funding and other resources and/or to ensure that your state is accurately depicted in national (and world) mapping efforts. There’s no doubt great benefit to exploring and realizing funding and partnering opportunities that further the geographic knowledge of our world. That’s also true for making it easier for everyone to discover and use critical geospatial information, whether that be in responding to a potential large-scale disaster, getting an accurate census count in 2020, or ensuring the best chances for a package to be delivered successfully and on-time to a rural business. Over the years, leads gleaned from Utah’s NSGIC participation have brought millions in external funding to our state’s geospatial efforts (3DEP, NTIA Broadband, NGA 133 Cities, NHD, EPA Exchange Network, FirstNet, FGDC CAP grants, etc.) and the geographic data depicting our natural and civil resources are greatly enhanced and more accessible as a result of pursuing partnerships with federal, private sector entities, and others.

3. Advocacy
Nurturing great ideas into fruition is the realm of policy and advocacy, which taken together, are the third big attraction of NSGIC. In my mind, NSGIC is the premier organization for the development and voicing of smart geospatial guidance and policy. NSGIC advocacy efforts are focused on the maturity and beneficial uses of map technology and mapping resources to improve efficiency and outcomes. The important role that states play, positioned between local and federal levels and connected (through NSGIC) with leading geospatial companies in the private sector, form a wholistic perspective on our industry. Many state and national-level geospatial initiatives got their start from a NSGIC committee, conference session, or after-hours discussion in our hospitality suite. Others remain on the drawing board, waiting for the right timing and situation to move forward.

It could go without saying, but I think its fitting to add a late, fourth mention to the people of NSGIC, including our general membership, sponsoring members, and staff, led by our executive director, Molly Schar. Smarts, teamwork, and a desire to make a difference are the substance and the glue that make NSGIC work for all of us and for the constituents of state-led geospatial efforts across the country!

With all of this said, I hope to see and learn from you all again next month at NSGIC’s 2017 Midyear Meeting in Annapolis, the week of February 27th! Midyear registration is open and the door for conference content submission is quickly closing. Consider connecting a rising geospatial star in your state, to NSGIC, by encouraging or supporting their attendance at the midyear meeting.

The time is now to start the New Year on the NSGIC track — no resolution-breaking procrastination need be applied.

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 (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

2012 Annual Conference Opening Speaker

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!

NSGIC 2012 Annual Conference Day 1

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 ldalby@sanborn.com 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!