2007 March 29

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Editor's Introduction

This week I report on the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI), which certifies "GIS professionals" (GISPs) and interview the organization's executive director, Scott Grams. I also point out three GIS-related items in the news and bring you my usual dose of press releases.


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GIS Professional Certification

An alphabet soup of organizations promote geospatial technology and protect the interests of geospatial companies and professionals—including AAG, ACSM, ASPRS, GITA, MAPPS, NCEES, NSGIC, UCGIS, and URISA. A few years ago, at the request of GIS practitioners, URISA—later joined by AAG, NSGIC, and UCGIS—developed benchmarks and a process to certify GIS professionals (GISPs) and it set up an organization to administer the program—the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI), whose mission is "To maintain the high standards and integrity of the GIS profession and promote ethical conduct within it." Since the GISCI program went "live" at the beginning of 2004, the number of GISPs has grown rapidly and has now reached about 1,450. (To apply, see here.) I recently discussed GISCI's history and goals with its executive director, Scott Grams, and attended his presentation on the subject at GITA's annual conference.

The idea of GIS professional certification had been discussed for decades, Grams says, and was detailed in a 1993 article by Nancy Obermeyer for the URISA Journal . A few years later, respondents to a URISA membership survey overwhelming endorsed professional certification as a priority and in 1997 the organization created a certification committee, first chaired by Obermeyer, to look into the feasibility of creating a certification program. The committee first looked at the idea of developing an examination, but could not agree on content, so it stalled.

In 2001, three members of the committee—William Huxhold, Karen Kemp, and Lyna Wiggins—stripped the notion of a GIS professional to its core, Grams writes, and developed the following benchmarks:

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Briefly Noted

Runway Mapping Device

According to the New York Times ("F.A.A. Calls for Runway Mapping Device," by Matthew L. Wald, 2007 March 24), the Federal Aviation Administration, in response to recent accidents and near-accidents, has asked the aviation industry to "design a device for the cockpit of a plane that shows the plane's position on an airport map to help pilots avoid becoming confused and using the wrong runway or taxi-way."

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Threatened by Rising Sea Levels

According to a study in the current issue of the journal Environment and Urbanization and reported on National Public Radio, 634 million people (roughly ten percent of the world's population) live in areas near the coast and with elevations less than 30 feet above sea level—making them vulnerable to the rise in sea level that is going to accompany global warming.

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Location, location, location

One of the biggest news stories of the week, Iran's seizure of 15 British sailors on March 23 in the waters of the northern Persian Gulf, hinges, ostensibly, on the exact location of the seizure: did it take place inside Iraqi waters, as the Royal Navy claims, or about a half a mile inside Iranian waters, as the Iranian authorities claim?

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News Briefs

Please note: I have neither edited nor verified the content of these press releases.


    1. 3Dconnexion Announces Support for NASA World Wind

    2. Boundary Solutions Inc. Supports HUD Exploratory Efforts To Support Local Officials With Long-Term Disaster Recovery

    3. McDonald Bradley Selects ESRI Software Toolset to Implement $11.2 Million Prime Contract at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA)

    4. GeoDecisions Partners with Daffron & Associates, Inc.

    5. Geomatic Technologies Completes ETSA State-wide Rural Asset Survey

    6. Leica Geosystems Powers National Spanish Orthophoto Project

    7. NAVTEQ and Skyhook Wireless Team to Provide Location-Awareness for Portable Devices

    8. AAA and Networks In Motion Announce First GPS-Enabled Navigation System for Mobile Phones with Integrated Roadside Assistance

    9. Applied Geographics Completes Statewide GIS Business Plan and Education Strategy for Wyoming

    10. Pictometry Announces Master Distributorship for Wireless, Self-Contained Internet Remote Camera from DigitalXtractions

    11. TerraServer and MyTopo.com Announce Exclusive Print Partnership


    1. ESRI Announces RouteMAP IMS 4 Is Now Shipping

    2. ESRI Helps Organizations Standardize Geospatial Business Processes

    3. Leica Geosystems Introduces Leica GPS Spider Version 2.3.0 Software for GNSS Networks and Reference Stations Strengthening Communications with Greater Redundancy, Reliability and Availability

    4. 1:50K CADRG Background Map of Middle East Created by East View Cartographic

    5. Innovative Positioning Package From Round Solutions: Website And Starter Kit For Tracking Applications


    1. 2007 O'Reilly Where 2.0 Conference Adds New Speakers and Sessions

    2. The Second Geospatial Integration for Public Safety Conference, April 15-18, 2007, Marriott New Orleans at the Convention Center

    3. GITA Issues Call for Papers for Annual Conference 31

    4. 2007 Iowa Geographic Information Council GIS Conference to be held at the Sioux City, Iowa, Convention Center on April 23 — 26, 2007.


    1. Ballhaus To Lead Network Systems Business For Bae Systems

    2. University of Idaho Natural Resources Student Receives Prestigious National Fellowship

  4. OTHER

    1. GIM International Releases Website for Chinese Market

    2. ScanEx Launches "Transparent World" Educational Project.

    3. Global Marketing Insights Completes NOAA 2006 Asian Remote Sensing Study; Final Report Posted on Web

    4. MAPPS Members Lobby U.S. Congress to Support Geospatial Agenda

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Matteo Luccio, Editor
GIS Monitor

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