NSGIC Comments on H.R. 4233 & H.R. 1620

May 03 2012
NSGIC President Dr. Tim De Troye submitted comments for today's Congressional Field Hearing on H.R. 4233 the Map It Once, Use It Many Times Act, and H.R. 1620 the Federal Land Asset 5 Inventory Reform Act of 2011. You can read the comments that NSGIC submitted for the record by clicking here. Details about the Hearing can be obtained by clicking here.

Congressional Research Service Report

May 02 2012
The Congressional Research Service released an updated report in it's series titled Issues and Challenges for Federal Geospatial Information. The report was drafted by Peter Folger, a Specialist in Energy and Natural Resources Policy. It was released on April 27, 2012.

The Conclusion states:

"Congress may consider how a national GIS or geospatial infrastructure would be conceived,
perhaps drawing on proposals for these national efforts as described above, and how they would
be similar to or differ from current efforts. Congress may also examine its oversight role in the
implementation of OMB Circular A-16, particularly in how federal agencies are coordinating
their programs that have geospatial components. In 2004, GAO acknowledged that the federal
government, through the FGDC and Geospatial One-Stop project, had taken actions to coordinatethe government’s geospatial investments, but that those efforts had not been fully successful in
eliminating redundancies among agencies. As a result, federal agencies were acquiring and
maintaining potentially duplicative data sets and systems. Since then, it is not clear whether
federal agencies are successfully coordinating among themselves and measurably eliminating
unnecessary duplication of effort.

Were Congress to take a more active oversight role overseeing the federal geospatial enterprise, it
could evaluate whether specific recommendations from nonfederal stakeholders have been
addressed. For example, the National Geospatial Advisory Committee recommended that OMB
and FGDC strengthen their enforcement of Circular A-16 and Executive Order 12906. However,
enforcement alone may not be sufficient to meet the current challenges of management,
coordination, and data sharing. The issuance of supplemental guidance to Circular A-16 by OMB
in November 2010 may instigate new activity among and between agencies, which could spill
over into better coordination with the state and local governments and the private sector. It will
likely take some time, and several budget cycles, to track whether agencies are adhering to the
“portfolio-centric model” of geospatial data management outlined in the supplemental guidance.
It may also take time to evaluate whether the “portfolio-centric model” is the best available model
for managing the federal geospatial assets."

GIS & Land Surveyors - Requirements for Licensing

May 02 2012
NSGIC worked as one of many organizations to develop a rationale approach to the issue of licensing for GIS Professionals and Land Surveyors. Learn more about this issue by clicking here.

The National States Geographic Information Council believes that every state adopting the NCEES Model Law should also adopt the Model Rules document to provide a thorough understanding of the respective roles of GIS Professionals and Licensed Land Surveyors and to make the appropriate distinctions between their responsibilities and job functions. Click the link above to find more information.

NSGIC Midyear Meeting a Success

Mar 03 2012
From the Esri Workshop on Sunday morning through Wednesday's meeting with the U.S. Senate GIS Work Group, the NSGIC Midyear Meeting was a success. The Meeting included 11 hours of plenary presentations, including panel discussions and other individual presentations.

Jack Dangermond, Esri President shown at right, led the Sunday morning workshop that included
presentations from Bern Szukalski, Brenda Wolfe, Gerry Kinn, and others. They covered a range of capabilities and improvements in ArcGIS.com, demonstrated significant new tools for managing imagery and LiDAR data, and talked about existing efforts like Community Analyst that can enhance knowledge and improve the workflow in state agencies.

Dr. Tim De Troye, NSGIC President shown at left, welcomed the attendees on Monday and opened the Federal Roll Call which provides quick information on the activities of Federal agencies. The efforts of the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC) and the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) were then described.

A Speed Networking lunch held on Monday replaced the sponsor booths and displays seen at most conferences. It is preferred by the Sponsors and State representative alike as a good way to make introductions, provide information on product offerings, and obtain feedback on proposed initiatives.

A panel discussion on the U.S. Census Bureau Address Pilot Projects followed the progress of the projects proposed at the Shepherdstown, West Virginia, Address Summit. Other Federal presentations on Monday included the Geospatial Platform with Jerry Johnston of EPA, the National Enhanced Elevation Assessment with Larry Sugarbaker of USGS, and the National Broadband Map with Mike Byrne of FCC.

The Meeting opened on Tuesday morning when Cy Smith, Oregon State GIS Coordinator, described a COGO effort to develop a policy and legal framework for data sharing that will assist efforts to modify public records laws to enable data sharing. A Federal Panel including David Alexander of the Department of Homeland Security, Steve Alness of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Paul Rooney of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Paul Reisner of the DHS Virtual USA Program described updates to their respective programs.

The NSGIC Coastal Caucus met during lunch on Tuesday to view the latest additions to Digital Coast, including newly posted Ocean and Great Lakes economic data, the ENOW Explorer built to provide online access to that data, and the Ocean Jobs Snapshots which provide the simplest ways to access this economic data for each of the Coastal Counties. Miki Schmidt and Susan Fox of the NOAA Coastal Services Center provided these updates.

'Smolder' presentations filled out the schedule on Tuesday and covered a wide range of topics from Voter Registration to the new Chromebook offered by Google. Smolder presentations are simply brief presentations that don't impose the stringent requirements of Ignite style presentations.

The Midyear Meeting was concluded with NSGIC's most successful Hill Event in its 21 year history. Members didn't go to the Hill to advocate for legislation or budgets. They went to meet with Senate Staff engaged in the Senate GIS Work Group (see photo below). The work of this group was described by Tim Petty, Deputy Legislative Director for Senator Risch (ID). His presentation was followed by a description of NSGIC and statewide GIS coordination activities that was given by Dr. Tim De Troye, NSGIC President. Following these presentations, NSGIC members interacted with their respective Staff Members and many went to other Senate Offices to meet with their Members of Congress. NSGIC State Representatives will work with members of the Work Group in the future to identify Summer Interns, sources of data, and map services that can assist the activities of the Senate.

Don't forget to mark your calendar for September 9-13, 2012, to attend the NSGIC Annual Conference in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

NSGIC Advocates for Open Data-Sharing

Feb 24 2012
After a great deal of discussion among its Board members, NSGIC has joined as Amicus Curiae in a Brief to be submitted to the Supreme Court of the State of California. The Brief supports the appeal of a Superior Court decision that we believe mischaracterizes geospatial data as “software,” thus allowing Orange County to charge very high data access fees under the California Public Records Act. NSGIC is concerned that this decision, should it be upheld, may become cited as case law and replicated in other jurisdictions. This would diminish efforts to make geospatial data available to all levels of government and the public. NSGIC takes this position in support of its vision of open data sharing. It is important to note that while NSGIC has signed the Brief and supports the concept, certain strong language choices within the document gave us pause. We do not believe that Orange County intentionally misled the Court through its testimony.

In short, NSGIC shares the opinion stated in the Brief that geospatial data is separate and distinct from software used to manage and analyze the data, and therefore the data should be available in existing formats through requests made under the Public Records Act. NSGIC accepts that public entities should maintain the right to charge for the costs associated with facilitating data sharing.

The National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) strongly believes that open sharing of taxpayer funded geospatial data is in the best interest of our communities, states and nation. Open data sharing makes the most current and accurate geospatial data available for decisions affecting economic development, social services, public safety, emergency management, human or environmental health, agriculture, natural resources, planning and transportation.

In December 2011, NSGIC published its “Geospatial Data Sharing—Guidelines for Best Practices,” which outlines its vision for open data sharing and the value it provides to all stakeholders and the public. One of NSGIC’s goals is to make all non-sensitive geospatial data produced or maintained using taxpayer funds a part of the public record, so that state and local government data is accessible to everyone.

NSGIC’s Data Sharing Guidelines advocate for collaborative, cooperative and creative solutions. As an organization, we do not pursue litigation to achieve the goal of open data sharing, but in specific cases where NSGIC feels that regulatory or legal rulings may run counter to its goals, NSGIC is compelled to make its position known. In this case, we reviewed and joined others as Amicus Curiae to a Brief being submitted to the California Supreme Court.