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!
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.
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.