NSGIC Blog

We're Hiring: Membership & Communications Coordinator

NSGIC seeks to fill a recently created position to coordinate the association's operations, including membership, event management, communications, sponsorship and administration. The Membership & Communications Coordinator will work closely with NSGIC's Executive Director to assure the organization's operations are consistently functioning at a high level and exceed member service expectations.

To apply, applicants should submit their resumes with letters of interest to NSGIC Executive Director Molly Schar at molly.schar@nsgic.org. Applications must be received by June 15, 2017.

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An SEO Goal for Geospatial Data

I spent an hour or so this rainy weekend planning for a future trip to Nevada’s Great Basin National Park. (Hang in there, this post is actually about geospatial data and search engine optimization - SEO).

Specifically, I wanted to print out a few areas of the USGS 1:24,000 scale topographic quad maps for the Wheeler Peak portion of the park, which by all accounts includes some delicious spring ski touring terrain. 

And as luck would have it, that area of the park falls on the boundary of the Wheeler Peak and Windy Peak USGS quad maps. Ideally, I wanted the plain-jane, collarless, georeferenced files for each map, so I could load them into GIS or an image manipulation app (photoshop, gimp, etc.) and print out just the areas I needed. And, bonus points go to the data stewards if I could do so while avoiding any and all of the following: creating yet another user account, suffering through undesired ads and mouse clicks, downloading additional unneeded bulky data layers, paying fees to resellers of public domain info, and feeling like I was risking infecting my machine with ‘who knows what?’ packed into a download file. Basically, I wanted just the facts, from a trusted, unobtrusive source.

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Ruminations on Open Geodata Taxonomy (or lack thereof)

Taxonomy (noun) – a scheme of classification  

If you were at the recent Midyear conference, you may recall we had a panel of open data experts fielding questions from the audience. Yours truly asked for the microphone and confessed to being “stuck”, since there seems to be no good way to ensure that all of the various open data sites and platforms and cataloging systems can share catalogs to their content, because they don’t use a common set of terms. This seems analogous to every library using their own unique system to catalog their books. That’s probably how libraries started, but we all know that today there are standards in place that make each library a searchable node in an extensive library network. We lack that today for open geodata. Typical open data sites support searchable metadata and keywords or tags as the method for making data discoverable.  But since any given dataset can be described in an infinite variety of ways, the current situation supports only a limited (and unpredictable) amount of cross-platform catalog sharing. What we need is a common taxonomy.

Just for fun tonight, I tried a few keyword searches on data.gov.  The table below summarizes my results for two popular GIS datasets:

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Geography On the Brain - Spring Break

NSGIC, and spatial thinking in general, are hard habits 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 engaged in some weird (to others) NSGIC or geography-inspired activity even when trying to get away from it all.

This happened 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.

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

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

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