NSGIC Latest News

Latin for GIS Professionals

You have, I am sure, seen the Latin phrase carpe diem, which translates literally to “seize the day.” In modern usage, carpe diem is sometimes equated to “living in the moment,” taking pleasure in the here and now without regard for the future, and occasionally even an ode to hedonism. But the more important definition, in my opinion, is to take a chance, to go above and beyond what might be expected, to take full advantage of an opportunity, to stretch yourself in pursuit of the issue before you right now. This is a credo that I can embrace, and with the clarity of hindsight, I now recognize that it has been a recurring theme in the best examples of GIS projects I’ve had the good fortune to be involved with over the years.

I’ll venture a guess that Latin scholars won’t like this, but I would like to offer a twist on carpe diem as it applies to those of us in the GIS profession: carpe geo, seize the GIS opportunity. I was honored to be the closing keynote speaker at the Utah Geographic Information Council conference in Park City this year, and I introduced carpe geo as part of my talk. It seemed to resonate well with the audience, well enough to embolden me to write this blog post to circulate it further.

Consider for a moment how most GIS projects start. How many times have you been presented with a complete and clear set of requirements that translate directly to the GIS-based analytics you need to perform to reach a well-articulated outcome? My guess is that your answer is “never.” That would also be my honest answer, and I’m basing mine on more than 32 years in this field.

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Moving Change: The Importance of Small, Unsung Benefits

This isn’t original but it's worth restating.

Maybe ‘change’ is so difficult because it’s so hard to know ‘when’ it’s the right time? That applies to life in general, but certainly to technology fields, like ours. In fact, there’s a whole body of study around the risk and benefit calculations made around technology, including my favorite description, the technology adoption life cycle. I am thinking about this today because I just had my first success with Esri’s latest GIS software product platform, ArcPro.

I am pretty sure that I am not considered an ‘Innovator’ or ‘Early Adopter’ for this change, especially considering how many GIS shops seem to bite instantly on the ‘you have to move now to version x.x’ hook without much thought. But maybe I am making the ‘Early Majority’ cut? It doesn’t really matter. It did, however, remind me of previous GIS software transitions that I’ve been involved in. And the common thread for those changes, surprisingly, was never a quest for the most hyped, flashy functionality.

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Major Movement for NSGIC Legislative Priorities

Both the Geospatial Data Act and the Digital Coast Act had big days yesterday. The bills are making their way through the 115th Congress after stalling out in prior years.

The Geospatial Data Act of 2017 was introduced yesterday by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mark Warner (D-VA), Dean Heller (R-NV) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) as S.1253. Over the course of the last few years, NSGIC has worked closely with other stakeholders to provide input with the states' perspective on improving the coordination and use of geospatial data.

NSGIC president Bert Granberg said this upon the bill's reintroduction: "From transportation, to natural resources, to homeland security, map-based digital information has quietly become mission critical to how work gets done and to future economic growth. We need an efficiency and accountability framework to build, sustain, and share geographic data assets for the entire nation. The GDA delivers just that." (Read more in the press releases put out by Senator Hatch and Senator Warner.)

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Longtime NSGIC Member Joy Paulus to Retire

Washington State GIS Coordinator Joy Paulus is just four days away from retirement. With 30 years of experience in the use, implementation and management of geospatial data and delivery of service, Joy first became a NSGIC member in 2002. Her GIS career took her to Arizona, Vermont, and finally, Washington, where she became the GIS coordinator for the state in 2007. Her awards for environmental data management and coordination include the Washington Governing for Results Award, Efficiency in State Government Award, and Esri Special Achievement in GIS Award. Joy served NSGIC in leadership roles as a committee volunteer and frequent presenter at conferences and meetings. 

A few years ago, Joy shared her favorite quote with us, from Mary Oliver: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" A fitting sentiment as Joy turns the page to a new chapter in her life. Best of luck, Joy, and thanks for everything!

 

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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 [email protected] 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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Community Resilience Indicators and National-Level Measures: A Draft Interagency Concept | FEMA.gov

 

Source: Community Resilience Indicators and National-Level Measures: A Draft Interagency Concept | FEMA.gov

White House Office of Management and Budget Releases New Report to Support Community Resilience

On December 21, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a new report titled "Standards and Finance to Support Community Resilience," the culmination of collaboration with leaders in re/insurance, catastrophe modeling and building science to advance community resilience and insurability.

The White House: Supporting Resilient Communities: Leaders in the insurance industry are announcing new investments to support resilient communities - Here's Why

NAFSMA Press Release: White House Office of Management and Budget Releases New Report to Support Community Resilience

NENA NG9-1-1 GIS Data Model Available for Public Review

The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) recently released the NENA Standard for Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) GIS Data Model for public review.  Under development for over 6 years, the NG9-1-1 GIS Data Model is designed to support civic location address data management in a NG9-1-1 System. NENA was a major participant in the development of the FGDC’s United States Thoroughfare, Landmark, and Postal Address Data Standard and closely aligned the NG9-1-1 Data Model to the FGDC Standard, but it does have some differences.

The public is invited to review the document and submit comments following the instructions below (direct link https://dev.nena.org/kws/public/document?document_id=9828&wg_abbrev=csds-gis). Comments will be accepted until February 28.

A NSGIC 30-minute webinar about the standard was recently held and is now available on NSGIC’s NG9-1-1 library page (https://www.nsgic.org/next-generation-9-1-1). Those interested in commenting on the document are strongly urged to first review the webinar as it explains what the NG9-1-1 GIS Data Model Standard is, how the document is structured, the GIS data layers needed in a NG9-1-1 system, their structure and use in required NG9-1-1 functional elements, items deferred for future work, how to participate in the public review, and the document’s relationship to other NENA GIS-related standards.

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CREAT Climate Scenarios Projection Map

Contributed by: Nathalie Smith, Esri

EPA's Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool (CREAT) Climate Scenarios Projection Map. This map provides easy-to-access scenario-based climate change projections drawn from CREAT. The impacts from a changing climate, including extreme heat and more intense storms, present challenges to water, wastewater and stormwater utilities and the communities they serve. Understanding how climate change may affect a utility's ability to maintain and deliver adequate, reliable and sustainable water supplies and clean water services is the first step in climate-related planning.

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