2006 December 21

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Professional Surveyor Magazine

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Editor's Introduction

This week I report on the final phases of an effort by the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) to establish an advisory committee that will provide a substantive seat at the table for all National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) stakeholders. I also bring you the comments on this subject by the executive directors of the Geospatial Information and Technology Association (GITA), the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM).

I also have two corrections to last week's story on Autodesk and my usual boatload of news items extracted from press releases.

Next week, enjoy the holidays! Look for GIS Monitor again on 2007 (get used to writing it) January 4.


NSDI Advisory Committee Nears Formation

A long wait may soon be over. The Steering Committee of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) is in the final phases of establishing an advisory committee under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) that will provide a substantive seat at the table for all National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) stakeholders. The establishment of the committee was recommended in the Future Directions - Governance of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure draft report, issued on 2005 May 31, at the end of the FGDC Future Directions initiative of 2004-2005. It remains to be seen whether the new advisory committee will help speed up or further delay full implementation of the NSDI.

I discussed the proposed new NSDI governance structure with Bill Burgess, Washington Liaison for the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), who has been working on this issue extensively; Dennis Goreham, of Utah's Automated Geographic Reference Center (AGRC), the NSGIC representative who is most deeply involved in the governance issue; and John Mahoney, Acting Director, Partnerships and External Coordination for the National Geospatial Program Office of the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey). I also received comments from Bob Samborski, Executive Director of the Geospatial Information and Technology Association (GITA); Jim Plasker, Executive Director, American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS); and Curtis W. Sumner, LS, Executive Director, American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM).

Read more …

I asked a few professional geospatial organizations the following questions:

  1. Are you involved in the discussion on NSDI governance? If so, how? Who's the lead person for your organization on this?
  2. Does your organization have a position on NDSI governance?
  3. How would broader participation in NSDI governance benefit your members? Do you think it would speed up or further delay full implementation of the NSDI?

Here are the answers I received.

  1. From Bob Samborski, Executive Director, Geospatial Information and Technology Association (GITA):

    GITA is involved in the general discussions, on the periphery as one of several 'stakeholder' associations and groups. We are represented at FGDC Steering Committee meetings by Dr. Bob Austin, Chairman of our Federal Liaison Advisory Group, and John Moeller, former FGDC Staff Director. Both are currently members of our board of directors. I am able to attend as well about half the time. Bob and John are really our 'go-to' guys on issues relating to the federal government.

    Our position on NSDI governance is that we applaud the decision to expand the group of stakeholders well beyond just federal agencies. We think it is very important to have practitioners from every aspect of the geospatial industry involved in — or at least aware of — efforts to evolve the NSDI. I think the feds have made a conscientious effort to obtain input from a broad spectrum of industry, and that's good!

    Read more …

  2. From Jim Plasker, Executive Director, American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS):

    ASPRS has been involved in the discussions about future NSDI governance alternatives going back to the initial planning, and has monitored the development of the new NSDI governance strategy. We are included on all FGDC Coordination Group and Steering Committee meeting correspondence, and we have periodically attended those meetings by telecon. Currently I serve as the primary contact at ASPRS for this issue.

    While ASPRS has not developed a formal position on NSDI governance, there is a consensus in our leadership that greater representation by stakeholders throughout the community is necessary. While the current strategy to implement a FACA committee to advise the Federal process appears to be a good faith effort to broaden representation, it nevertheless is designed to advise a "federal" process rather than implement a "national" coordination and governance of the NSDI. It remains to be seen whether the FACA committee will serve as a first step in that direction or will primarily serve to advise the Feds.

    Read more …

  3. From Curtis W. Sumner, LS, Executive Director, American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM):

    ACSM is involved in the discussion about NSDI in its capacity as a Collaborating Partner of FGDC. While there are members of ACSM involved in this discussion in their roles as representatives for their respective Federal Coordination Group Member agencies, the ACSM representative who speaks directly for our organization as a Collaborating Partner is Rebecca Somers. Internally, ACSM regularly discusses the policies and standards that federal agencies use to obtain and regulate geospatial data to determine what, if any, actions or positions we should take regarding them.

    It is our hope that the composition of any FACA (specifically the proposed National Geospatial Advisory Committee) would include representatives from all of the current Collaborating Partner organizations. ACSM is comprised of a broad range of members (both public and private) who have working contacts at all levels of government through which members can help to support and advance the work of the NSDI.

    Read more …

  4. The Future Directions - Governance of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure report, issued on 2005 May 31, recommends the creation of a National Geospatial Coordination Council (NGCC) and specifies the following "scope of responsibility" for the new body:

    The NGCC would provide a forum for all sectors to work together toward shared national goals. The specific roles of the NGCC would include:

    • Facilitating the development of national geospatial policy; coordinating implementation of geospatial policy among sectors (federal, state, local, private)
    • Providing national advocacy and leadership for NSDI production and maintenance; defining and resolving policy barriers
    • Recommending standards to national and international standards bodies and acting as an advocate for the expeditious adoption of standards.
    • Developing consensus on, and publishing authoritative interim standards and guidelines to facilitate quick solutions to problems as required
    • Facilitating use of geospatial data, standards, and technologies across government
    • Promoting coordinated data production, acquisition, maintenance, and access to provide data that meets a set of common data content standards.

  5. The minutes of the 2006 October FGDC Steering Committee meeting include the following:

    Our preliminary thinking, from evaluating FACAs already in place - is that there may be 20-25 members. It would mirror what we have here but include more private sector involvement.

    We are not able to have non-Feds in the room when discussing budget and policy. But we recognize that non-Fed recommendations are important as well. The FACA is a way of having an open process with all stakeholders while managing all of our assets.

    The advice from the solicitor's office is that we need a FACA to get formal advice from the stakeholders. Open forums to discuss issues are fine outside of the FACA, but we need a FACA to get formal advice on an ongoing basis.

    If we don't change the status quo we will not have a formal mechanism to involve partners and stakeholders, to mobilize down to local level to make the NSDI happen.

    Action: Will check with the nonvoting members before we take further action - we had a couple comments that today's representatives need to confer with their senior officials before voting.

Department of Corrections

Last week's story about Autodesk contained two errors: first, Mike Dana's company is The PPI Group, not Portland Precision Instruments, as it was formerly called; second, the seminar also covered MapGuide.

News Briefs

Please note: I have culled the following news items from press releases and have not independently verified them.


    1. Just over three years ago, STAR INFORMATIC acquired the French company Apic SA. Today, the teams from both companies have achieved their goal of integrating both their knowledge and technologies. Read more …

    2. ESRI's ArcGIS software is playing a major role in the Philippine government's Environmental Animal Health Management Initiative (EAHMI), launched earlier this year. Read more …

    3. The City of Alpena, Michigan, has joined Bentley's Municipal License Subscription (MLS) program. Read more …

    4. The City of Westerville Electric Division, serving Central Ohio for more than 100 years, has selected Telvent Miner & Miner's Responder for their outage management system (OMS). Read more …

    5. Xcel Energy has purchased GE Energy's new Smallworld Global Transmission Office software, a spatially-enabled network management suite of applications for the management of the assets in a pipeline transmission network. Read more …

    6. The VRCO division of Mechdyne Corporation has joined ESRI's Business Partner Program and is now offering its Conduit software for ESRI's ArcGIS 3D Analyst software, enabling stereoscopic display of desktop-based imagery mapping and GIS applications in large-scale immersive and interactive visualization systems. Read more …

    7. Geodynamic Solutions Inc. (GSI), a wholly owned subsidiary of LandWorks Inc., has acquired Geospatial Training Services LLC, a provider of GIS training courses for geotechnology professionals. Read more …

    8. James River Insurance Company has implemented MapInfo location intelligence solutions to improve its underwriting practices, analyze potential catastrophe patterns, and enhance its catastrophe management and claims response practices. Read more …


    1. gvSIG, the Open Source (GNU/GPL license) GIS developed by the Generalitat Valenciana has reached version 1.0. With this release, gvSIG presents itself as an integrated GIS + SDI (Spatial Data Infrastructure) client, able to combine data from different local and remote sources (Web services) and at the same time include advanced editing, geoprocessing, scripting language support, and georeferencing, among other features. Read more …

    2. CARIS has released Bathy DataBASE 2.0 for the creation and management of bathymetric surfaces. Read more …

    3. Organizations looking for scaled PDF printing from ArcIMS applications now have a solution with Freeance Release 4.2, which allows system administrators to add custom PDF print layouts to their ArcIMS. Read more …

    4. IDELIX Software Inc. has released EagleView, a new JPIP image-viewing client designed for the Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system and optimized for Palm's Treo 700W series smartphones. Read more …

    5. LeadDog Consulting now offers datasets of fourteen countries in Arabic. Read more …

    6. NAVTEQ, a provider of digital map data for vehicle navigation and location-based solutions, has released a Detailed Coverage map for the whole of Norway. Read more …

    7. ArcGIS Image Server 9.2, ESRI's new solution for fast and dynamic image distribution, is now available. Read more …

    8. MultiVision USA has introduced MultiVision 3D Plus, the first integrated oblique imagery and 3D viewing solution designed for use by multiple departments within city and county governments. Read more …


    1. The International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) and the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) will hold the 11th Annual Integrating GIS & CAMA Conference, 2007 March 4-7, in Las Vegas. Read more …

    2. The Location Intelligence Conference 2007, with the theme "Convergence," will take place April 16-18, in San Francisco, at The Renaissance Parc 55 Hotel. Read more …

    3. ScanEx R&D Center will participate in the Map World Forum 2007 that will be held in India on 2007 January 22-55. Read more …

    4. The deadline to submit abstracts for URISA's 45th Annual Conference (2007 August 20-23, in Washington, D.C.) has been extended to 2007 January 3.

    5. The O'Reilly Where 2.0 Conference brings together the people, projects, and issues building the new technological foundations and creating value in the location industry. Read more …

  4. OTHER

    1. In the United States less than 1 percent of the population, or around 3 million people, claim farming as their profession. Read more …

    2. ESRI, the National Vacant Properties Campaign, and Magellan have announced the winners of the National Vacant and Abandoned Properties Grant Program. Read more …

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