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Six Months Left for Geo-Enabled Elections Project; 2021 Report Released

With six months remaining for the Geo-Enabled Elections project, key stakeholders are looking ahead to what’s next while also recognizing accomplishments to date.

Currently, the project team is finalizing the 2022 State Election Director Report, documenting progress in the use of GIS technology in elections across the country since the project’s inception in 2017. Targeted for release in the fall, the report will review advances in voter address management and auditing, states’ access to technology and systems capable of using GIS location information, collaboration with state GIOs, and more.

In the meantime, the Geo-Enabled Elections Phase Two/Year Two report is available for download. It describes how the national conversation changed in recent years, with a much greater understanding of the concept of geo-enabled elections in evidence. Stakeholders in counties, states, agencies, the private sector, and academia are pulling together to elevate the use of GIS in elections nationwide.

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Geo-Enabled Elections in the News – Data, Progress Across the U.S.; 2022 Focus

The Geo-Enabled Elections project was featured in the news this spring, shining a light on the work to make elections more accurate and efficient using GIS. The topic is timely, given that new voting districts are being rolled out across the country, followed by a string of local and national elections.

Jill Clark and Joseph Kerski’s excellent blog, centered on public domain spatial data, featured a discussion on how the data used to conduct elections can be improved using data culled from other sources. Kerski, a geographer with a distinguished career in GIS and education, serves as education manager at Esri. The blog, Spatial Reserves, continues the conversation started in the book by Clark and Kerski, The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data, and aims to provide GIS practitioners and instructors with the essential skills to find, acquire, format, and analyze public domain spatial data.

NSGIC’s guest blog post discussed how voter roll data can be audited and enhanced using data from other realms, including assessor and transportation department data. It also touched on how election data in GIS form can contribute to transparency and voter confidence. The blog post can be found here.

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GISCI Announces GISCI Endorsement Designation

The GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) has created the GISCI Endorsement Designation Program to help increase the value of GISP Certification for our primary stakeholders, and to help facilitate the growth of the GISP Program within the geospatial community. The GISCI will grant the GISCI Endorsement Designation to organizations that the GISCI deems to be supportive of GIS Professionals and the GISP Certification process by way of internal activities, programs, and policies. The designation is not only a commitment to GISP Certification for staff, but also to upholding the ideals of the GIS Certification Institute.

The GISCI Endorsement Designation is available to all organizations (public, private/commercial) with exception of GISCI member organizations. Organizations seeking the GISCI Endorsement Designation must submit a formal application listing the criteria met as verified by the organization’s HR representative. A review committee will evaluate each application and if the organization meets the criteria, the committee will forward the application to the GISCI Board of Directors for approval. Each approved GISCI Endorsement will last for three (3) years, provide the organization with permission to display their organization logo on our website and provide permission to display the GISCI Endorsement designation on their website. There is no cost to obtain this designation. More information is available at https://www.gisci.org/Employers/GISCIEndorsedEmployer.aspx

Criteria

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Progress, Technology, Reviewed at Third Annual Elections GeoSummit; Sessions Now Available Online

The third annual Elections GeoSummit was held on Thursday, December 9, 2021, with 220 elections administrators and GIS professionals in attendance. The day’s focus was on the progress that’s been made around the country when it comes to election modernization.

Neal Kelley, registrar of voters for Orange County, California, kicked off the meeting with his appreciated keynote, which can be viewed here. Among the many benefits of using GIS in elections realized in his county, he highlighted the experience of voters:

“We use geo-enabled data and information to pull all those pieces together and provide a better voter experience by allowing voters to access this information.”

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NSGIC Releases Findings from 2021 Geospatial Maturity Assessment

The National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) has released its 2021 comprehensive Geospatial Maturity Assessment (GMA) report, providing NSGIC members and partners with a summary of geospatial initiatives, capabilities, and issues within and across state governments.

Launched in 2009 and conducted biennially to document geospatial development practices and uses, the GMA has continued to provide a snapshot of each state’s geospatial maturity. Inspired by the National Spatial Data Infrastructure theme grading undertaken by the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (of which NSGIC is a founding member), an entirely new process was developed for the 2019 GMA. Nine-grade “report cards” were produced for individual state spatial data infrastructures and state geospatial coordination, in addition to overall theme and topical analysis.

This year’s data provide the first opportunity to compare grades through time. The 2021 report boasts 48 state responses, up from 41 in 2019. Many state’s grades have remained steady or increased from 2019. Coordination grades were largely the same, with both the addresses and transportation themes showing significant gains by states, likely driven by the increased focus on Next Generation 9-1-1. NSGIC’s advocacy efforts to bolster participation in the National Address Database (NAD) likely also contributed to the improvements seen in address data. The NAD program continues to grow, with participation by states and local governments increasing along with its acknowledged benefit to the private sector.

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Sponsor Spotlight: Planet

Streamlining Operations in the New Normal: Leveraging Satellite Data for Conservation and Compliance

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a “New Normal” for State, Local, and Tribal governments across the U.S. that is likely to last. This “New Normal” of more limited resources, uncertainty, and distributed teams presents unprecedented challenges for land use monitoring as the demand for water resources, agricultural yields, grazing land, and urban expansion continues to grow. It’s harder to maintain a reliable and updated view of what’s happening on the ground as field operations become slower and more expensive.

More advanced, complete datasets are needed to break down silos of information and increase efficiency. Planet delivers near-daily, high-resolution satellite imagery, reliably processed and delivered within hours of capture. Organizations across the country are using Planet data within their existing workflows to grow and meet these challenges head-on.

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Sponsor Spotlight: Geo-Comm

Public Safety Grade GIS Data is Critical for Public Safety Emergency Response Systems

With GIS data playing a key role across E9-1-1, Next Generation 9-1-1(NG9-1-1), Emergency Communication Center (ECC) and responder tactical mapping systems and applications, and now indoor and vertical 9-1-1 caller location, it has become an imperative for 9-1-1 to implement Public Safety Grade GIS data. These mission critical life safety systems and applications rely on GIS data to drive emergency response - helping to save lives and protect property. This GIS data must be highly accurate, highly secure, highly available, up-to-date, and commonly accessible to all mission critical life safety applications across 9-1-1 and public safety organizations.

While the 9-1-1 industry is aware of the mission critical role of GIS in NG9-1-1, new pressures, requirements, and urgency for achieving standardized Public Safety Grade GIS data are emerging as our world increasingly becomes data driven. Today, 9-1-1 and public safety entities are facing more and more challenges related to the explosion of multiple geospatial datasets copied to many applications, users, and locations across the 9-1-1 and public safety enterprise.

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States Continue to Spur Growth of National Address Database, Bringing in New Partners & Making Strong Case for Multi-Use Data

New Orleans, LA - At a pair of sessions presented at the annual conference of the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) on Sept. 22 in Dallas, representatives from the US Department of Transportation delivered the latest update in the efforts to build a robust National Address Database to meet the needs for open and authoritative data across government and industry.

Steve Lewis, Geospatial Information Officer for the USDOT, provided a live demonstration of an innovative new visualization tool for the National Address Database (NAD), developed in partnership with geospatial technology giant Esri. This “sneak peek” offered a glimpse of the future of the NAD, which had been previously available only in bulk download.

“The National Address Database is clearly moving forward with greater momentum as additional partners bring their unique insights and tools to the table,” said NSGIC President Frank Winters, who serves as Geospatial Information Officer for the State of New York. Over his leadership term with NSGIC, Winters has devoted significant energy to convening a widening group of private sector firms to discuss authoritative data for wayfinding and other use cases for a true National Address Database.

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NSGIC Announces New Board Members; Arizona’s Jenna Leveille Takes Over as President

National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) announces the election of new members to its Board of Directors, as well as the full slate of officers and board members for the 2020 - 2021 term.


Jenna Leveille (AZ) makes the move from President-Elect to assume the presidency of NSGIC, taking the reins from Frank Winters (NY). Jenna is Arizona’s Deputy State Cartographer, where she coordinates, provides leadership, facilitates the Arizona Geographic Information Council (AGIC) and coordinates statewide GIS initiatives. Her contributions to AGIC include providing administrative support, facilitating all AGIC Council and Committee meetings and activities, serving as a Co-chair to four AGIC technical committees and managing AZGeo, Arizona’s State Geospatial Data Portal. Notable activities include:

  • Modernization and governance of AZGeo
  • Increasing AGIC Committee and Work Group participation and the formation of several new groups in the past year focused on improving Arizona’s geospatial maturity
  • Increasing AGIC visibility and GIS education among Arizona government executives
  • Leading statewide lidar acquisition efforts in Arizona

Graduating with honors from Oregon State University, Jenna has been learning, practicing, and teaching GIS for almost 20 years. She has extensive experience in data acquisition, database management, GIS user training, and project management. She served as the state data liaison for the Arizona Land Resource Information System (ALRIS) for over ten years. In addition to her role as NSGIC President, Jenna currently serves on the Arizona Geographic Information Council and the Arizona State Board on Geographic and Historic Names.

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Sponsor Spotlight: Ecopia

3D Nationwide Landcover - A New Geospatial Frontier

The emergence of very high-resolution (VHR) commercial imagery products, both satellite and aerial, has led to an increased demand for high-accuracy derivative data.

Historically, derivative products created at a countrywide scale were produced to a 30-meter, or at best, 10-meter resolution. Ecopia has shifted the paradigm of data extraction by leveraging the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and readily available high-resolution imagery. With access to both VHR aerial and satellite imagery through our network of imagery partners, Ecopia has established a streamlined workflow to produce high-resolution vector data across the globe.

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Sponsor Spotlight: Hexagon


The HxGN Content Program, Hexagon's aerial data program, offers the largest library of high-resolution multispectral aerial imagery and elevation data of the United States. For state and local governments, Hexagon provides a flexible licensing model that enables stakeholders to tailor data collection to their exact specifications.

Trevis Gigliotti, Director, Technical Content Solutions at Hexagon, explains how state and local governments can benefit by partnering with Hexagon.

The geospatial imagery space has evolved significantly over the last decade. What are some notable trends we're seeing today?


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State GIS Projects Recognized with Esri’s Special Achievement in GIS Awards

It was terrific to see so much exciting state GIS work highlighted during the Esri Users Conference this year! Of special note were Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award Winners among NSGIC's membership:

Arizona State Land Department and several other counties in Arizona - AZGeo is the state of Arizona’s geospatial solution to duplicative (non-authoritative) datasets, inefficient workflows and collaboration platform challenges. It provides a centralized access point for authoritative data, cross jurisdictional collaborative space, GIS tools and functionality to under-served and/or resource challenged entities, custom applications, and much more to citizen’s and GIS professionals in Arizona. Kudos to NSGIC members Jenna Leveille and Shea Lemar!

State of Arkansas, Parks & Tourism Dept - At the onset of COVID-19, the GIS program leveraged all available GIS tools and technology to collect, analyze, and report data to make reliable data-driven decisions at the highest level of state government. The COVID-19 Impact Analysis Dashboard enabled their agency to make critical decisions regarding staffing concerns, PPE and supply distribution, visitor and staff safety, as well as monitoring the impacts of revenue and expenses.

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NSGIC Names Cy Smith to New Policy Role

After serving many years as a NSGIC state representative, board member, and board president, Cy Smith has joined NSGIC’s staff team in the newly-created role of Policy Director. In this position, Smith will work with NSGIC leadership to develop, promote, and coordinate strategies that advance states’ geospatial interests linked to federal programs, congressional actions, and related initiatives. The new appointment coincides with Smith’s retirement from state government service in Oregon on Nov. 12, 2021.

“Cy has been an extraordinary contributor to NSGIC and the entire geospatial ecosystem for nearly three decades,” said NSGIC Executive Director Molly Schar. “We are very fortunate to welcome him in this new strategic role as efforts continue to evolve in support of a robust National Spatial Data Infrastructure.”

Smith began his career in statewide GIS coordination in Kansas in 1992. He quickly joined the national discussion about efficient and effective GIS coordination as a member of the original Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Framework Working Group in 1993 and 1994.

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Sponsor Spotlight: NV5 Geospatial

With the recent acquisition of Geodynamics LLC, NV5 Geospatial has built one of the most comprehensive suites of solutions for geospatial surveys of deep water and near-shore environments. The combination brings together complementary, advanced technologies – Geodynamics’ full-ocean depth sonar-based hydrographic and geophysical surveying with NV5 Geospatial’s topographic and bathymetric capabilities – to deliver detailed insights for a variety of applications, including coastal management, flood monitoring, ecosystem protection, research, and more.

“This acquisition was a natural evolution toward our common goal of delivering valuable geospatial insights to our clients,” said Kurt Allen, vice president, Federal Vertical for NV5 Geospatial, North America’s largest and most comprehensive geospatial firm. “Our decades of combined experience and expertise using the most sophisticated technology for data acquisition and analysis will enable us to meet the most demanding client requirements.”

Only a handful of firms in North America share NV5 Geospatial’s topobathymetric and bathymetric capabilities at any level, much less have mastery of the science. We lead our peers in acquisition capabilities. We deploy leading-edge sensors like our newly acquired RIEGL 840 G. We have world-class experts managing the challenging data processing and developing informed answers that our government and commercial clients demand. In 2020 NV5 Geospatial completed the collection of topographic and bathymetric lidar and digital imagery for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) largest coastal mapping project. These efforts included updating information for 12,000 square miles along the Eastern Seaboard, Pacific, and Gulf Coast that have not been surveyed for hundreds of years.

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Sponsor Spotlight: DATAMARK

The technical and organizational complexity of GIS for Next Generation 9-1-1 is just one of the many considerations for decision makers when determining an NG9-1-1 solution. Whether the deployment will be PSAP-by-PSAP, County-by-County, or as a regional or statewide implementation, one common goal is the seamless connectivity of data to support the 9-1-1 caller. To prepare for this level of interoperability, 9-1-1 and GIS decision makers have the added challenge of how to best meet NG9-1-1 needs and requirements while still recognizing the autonomy of the many data providers that have the added responsibility of supporting the business needs of their individual communities.

The complexity of a GIS ecosystem can grow exponentially when one considers the scope of the various deployment “patterns” that are possible to meet the data validation, aggregation, and provisioning requirements for multi-jurisdictional entities. It is quite common for adjoining jurisdictions to have completely different GIS data that has widely varying data quality and is updated on similar varying update cycles. The management challenge grows as each adjoining jurisdiction is added to the larger collaboration effort.

Scalable solutions that allow for iterative validation and aggregation from multiple sources into a single database help to ensure the capability to support the interoperable needs of NG9-1-1. The ability to:

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Sponsor Spotlight: TeachMeGIS


‘Collaboration allows us to know more than we are capable of knowing ourselves.’ –Paul Solarz


It’s a fantastic thing to see figurative lightbulbs go on across the room at NSGIC meetings and in the socials as the top GIS professionals from every state come together to share knowledge and ideas.

At TeachMeGIS, we see this happen on a smaller scale nearly every day during our GIS classes. The instructor demonstrates a spatial join tool, and someone with point data says, “Hey you, you with the polygon data, let’s try this! I’ve needed this for years!”

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Prepare: Redistricting Approaches! (and Observations)

Really big decisions are about to be made in your state. Say what you want about the redistricting process, but the fact is, somebody’s going to have to put the results to work to run our future elections. And with that in mind, I've dusted off my list of observations from 10 years back, about what makes for the best set of boundaries from a standpoint of state election directors, local elections clerks, and GIOs and others supporting them with GIS.

The observations I’m sharing are based on first-hand experience in 2011-12, watching the redistricting process from a safe distance, while preparing to support the use of the new districts. During this period, Utah was one of the first states to integrate GIS-based address locations, voting unit polygons (precincts and sub/splits), aerial photography, and parcel base maps into its statewide elections management system. In addition, the Utah Legislature deployed a 'build-your-own' redistricting plan webmap, another first. As a result, GIS was front and center to the redistricting stage, exposing new users to its power and broadening their appreciation for mapping technology and authoritative data.

Oh, and keep in mind that just to make it more interesting, the Census Bureau is delaying its first 2020 census data product release -- the block-level redistricting files -- by 6 months. With the first glimpses of the 2020 count details not available until at least September 30, we are looking at a compressed redistricting process, and the local and state elections management work to implement new districts, into a few short, but hectic months. [cue up♪GNR’s “Welcome to the Jungle” here♪]

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Transportation Best Practices: On the Road to Success

NSGIC issued Best Practices for State Geospatial Maturity: Transportation today. In addition to being the backbone of our public safety and emergency management infrastructure systems, transportation data have achieved near-ubiquity in the hands of smart device users.

A viable transportation network, particularly a roadway network, is of paramount importance in our society, having the primary purposes of connecting people and places and allowing the movement of people, goods, and vehicles safely and efficiently. Transportation data allow us to spatially model and depict the network for the purposes of planning, asset management, navigation, and routing.

Growing from NSGIC’s 2019 Geospatial Maturity Assessment (GMA), this document is the fourth in a series of best practices collected from “honor roll” states based on individual GMA report cards. Coming soon: cadastre data, hydrography data, elevation data, and orthoimagery data.

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Elevation-Derived Hydrography (EDH) Project Opportunities

Interested in improving your hydrography data using lidar and other elevation data? Then don’t miss any of the following EDH for 3DNHD project opportunities. Each is open to all and NSGIC State Representatives are asked to forward this information to their state NHD/WBD stewards and others with interests in EDH. Non-members will be required to register with the NSGIC website.

EDH for 3DNHD Monthly Forum

NSGIC hosts monthly forums on the third Wednesday of each month at 3:00pm ET. The forums are discussion sessions that feature state, regional, and national EDH activities and resources. The March 17, 2021 forum will feature the USGS EDH Specifications. Register for this and future forums via the ‘Upcoming Events’ calendar at the NSGIC.home page. The January forum featured an introduction to the EDH for 3DNHD project and the February forum featured EDH activities in Michigan. All forums are recorded and published, along with materials, at the NSGIC Learning Link.

EDH for 3DNHD Experience Inventory

A key objective of the EDH for 3DNHD project is to gain a better understanding of how EDH is being implemented at the local level, the motivations for performing EDH, and the EDH challenges and successes experienced. NSGIC has developed the EDH for 3DNHD Experience Inventory to capture specifics about EDH projects and practices. If you have engaged in an EDH project, your information is needed. If you are aware of others that have engaged in EDH, please forward the information. The information gathered from the Forum and the Inventory will be used to identify resources needed to support locally-derived EDH. All contributors should coordinate with their NSGIC State representative prior to completing the survey to ensure that the state representative is aware of the activity and to avoid duplicate responses.

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Sponsor Spotlight: makepath

Equip Your GIS Analysts with Easily Scalable Tools

In this post, makepath will spotlight two tools that are great because they scale well, especially as the scope of a project grows. Scalability is gold in the GIS world.

Xarray-Spatial

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