Tag Archives: NSGIC

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.

State Feedback: What I Need Most from NSGIC...

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At a State Caucus session during NSGIC’s Annual Conference in Indianapolis last October, we conducted a completely impromptu exercise that produced some interesting, important information.

The game was pretty simple. Take one of the ubiquitous hotel notepads and fill in the blank: “What I need most from NSGIC is _______.”

I can’t remember the specifics of what spawned this, but it was time well spent. Here (below) is what we heard. (Thanks to Molly Schar for summarizing the results!)

… help me tap into the collective wisdom of NSGIC members

  • Use working meetings to convene discussions on priority areas. Make them mentoring opportunities to learn, work together and create products/services. Develop and publish best practices, guidance, recommendations, briefs and white papers.
  • Take networking to the next level by connecting members with similar roles. Involve subject matter experts and other new people to expand membership.
  • Publish relevant news and information about what is happening in GIS.

… help me be more effective in my job

  • Provide opportunities to think about the bigger picture, analyze geospatial maturity progress and plan strategically for the future.
  • Facilitate mentoring for states that need assistance. Establish relationships between states with common needs and goals.
  • Develop best practices for GIS Councils and GIOs.

… be the network mesh to enable local, state and federal collaboration on geospatial initiatives

  • Educate state leadership, locals and private sector about the importance of GIS and statewide collaboration. Establish return on investment for collection of statewide data. Engage local governments and make room for them at the NSGIC table.
  • Proactively lead programs “for the nation” like what was done for broadband.
  • Establish minimum content standards for framework data.

… represent states with one voice at the federal level

  • Advocate for legislation beneficial to states and a national spatial data infrastructure with a central role for states
  • Connect states with federal agencies. Leverage resources like seed money from federal agencies. Leverage activities like the 2020 census and NG9-1-1.

The NSGIC board will be retreating in advance of next month’s Midyear Meeting to develop strategic priorities for 2017 and 2018. We will explore these four areas of coordination and communications as we look to meet the needs of our members, exceed member expectations, and continue to craft the organization that will make NSGIC continue to grow and excel.

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

NSGIC President Update

Dear NSGIC Member,

Shelby Johnson,  Arkansas GIO & NSGIC President

Shelby Johnson, Arkansas GIO & NSGIC President

It dawned on me today I have not communicated much with all our members since assuming the Presidential role. I wanted to take a minute to share a few thoughts. Some of these are my way of thinking about how NSGIC works and where we stand. I’ll try to be brief.

Elected Servants
NSGIC has a proven leadership system in place. The organization has a President-Elect, a President and Out-Going President. The result, is a nearly seamless transition from year to year, and the passage of institutional knowledge about the organization works extremely well. I’ve been blessed to serve alongside very capable leadership from Tim DeTroye, Out-Going, to Kenny Miller who is transitioned to Out-Going, and Chris Diller, as President-Elect. The chemistry we have is excellent, and each other plays off our strengths. We talk about NSGIC nearly every day.

Leaders
NSGIC is led by capable staff at headquarters including Kathy DeMarco, our Association Manager, Diane Schaffer, Director of Meetings, and our DC Liaison, Bill Burgess. On most days, they are operating in the background, and also in the foreground such as when Bill represents NSGIC at formal events.

Think-Tank
NSGIC has an outstanding Board of Directors. These servants are the financial steward and the think-tank of the organization. They do monthly Board meetings where they conduct business, and they are so committed that nearly every Monday, they participate in a Leadership briefing where initiatives become results.

Do-ers!
NSGIC’s Committee Chairs and Co-Chairs are the gears of the engine. They all have missions and are passionate about serving. They strike a balance between their career job and their volunteer job by leading monthly calls, drafting position papers and shepherding their members. They advise the Board and steer on things that need to get done.

Influence
The early years of NSGIC were formative, that’s obvious. But NSGIC’s last decade has been one of influence. On national geospatial activity, NSGIC has been at the table. In several cases NSGIC has led. I would go so far as to say, that State influence on national geospatial policy is at an all-time high.

Curious or Hungry
Here’s an interesting tidbit. NSGIC has nearly 2,300 followers on Twitter which is a very large number compared to our dues paid membership of nearly 400. It makes me think those folks are curious about what we do; or even better, they are hungry for leadership, and understand that NSGIC leads. I may be over inflating our worth but I think it’s the latter.

Connect & Participate
I’d be failing my duty if I did not remind you to participate in our 2015 Mid-Year conference. The call for Abstracts is open and participation is valuable. We are returning to Annapolis, Maryland. The agenda is taking shape and true to our colors there will be focus on national geospatial policy. The details are here: http://www.nsgic.org/2015-midyear-meeting

Thank You
I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve as your President. If you find ways I can serve you better or improve the organization I would sure like to hear from you. Rest-assured the sleeves are rolled up. Things are happening and I will try to do a better job of staying in touch members.

Instrumental NSGIC Role in TFTN Win

Tom Roff (FHWA) and Steve Lewis (USDOT GIO) celebrated the culmination of joint work with NSGIC by announcing President Obama’s signing of Public Law 112-441, which authorizes the use of federal funds for the production of statewide centerline data and attribution for all paved and unpaved public roads. NSGIC’s Transportation for the Nation initiative (TFTN) has been working for a national road centerline dataset for many years, and this law provides the resources and driver for states to now collect all roads data within their boundaries and does not require the usual 20% state funding match for the effort. Planning for the data collection will begin in October, 2012, and the first data reporting will begin in 2014. Once again, NSGIC has provided significant national value encouraging the efficient and effective use of geospatial technology.

– Ed Arabas

2012 Annual Conference Keynote Speaker

Our keynote speaker, Bob Austin, PhD, of the City of Tampa, gave a presentation on four views of GIS:
– Personal View, where the main take away is that it’s all about the data. His advice is to document requirements (the ‘How’ will come later), and to never sacrifice “Good” in favor of “Fast” and “Cheap”.
– Local View, using the City of Tampa’s view of the challenges of information access. Specific challenges being Data access, Naming, Policy and Usability. A major takeaway from this view is that the policy and data sharing consume just as much time in a project as the technical components. His advice is to plan ahead for the sociological and policy aspects in project planning.
– Industry View, using his experiences with GITA (Geospatial Information & Technology Association) as the example. 85% of US Infrastructure is owned by industry, and understanding infrastructure interdependencies is key.
– National View, using his service with NGAC (National Geospatial Advisory Committee). He emphasized building once, and using many times by taking a portfolio approach. Sharing data makes sense. Check out the work they have done at www.geoplatform.gov
– A bonus 5th view is the International View, citing several examples that emphasize interoperability and the need for international standards.

He also shared the City of Tampa’s experience with the Republican National Convention and the 3 major concerns that they planned for:
– 1st concern was Hurricanes; in reality Tropical Storm Isaac prompted the cancellation of the first day of the convention.
– 2nd concern was Terrorism; in reality they did not have any terrorist attacks.
– 3rd concern was Violent Protests; in reality there were some non-violent protests, but nothing violent. There were only 2 arrests during the course of the convention.

To support the convention they stood up a situational awareness dashboard called TIGER (Tampa Information and Geographical Resources) that now has upwards of 185 data sets.

It was a great presentation to get insight into some of the different perspectives of GIS. As Bob stated, “GIS is not just a good idea, it’s inevitable”.

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!