Wednesday, November 6, 2013

2013 NSGIC Conference Summary

I had the good fortune to attend the 2013 National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) Conference in Kansas City, Missouri last week.  As usual, this conference was packed with a lot of information, so much in fact that I tweeted, “The information stream at this #NSGIC conference is not a fire hose of info but rather a water cannon.”

Several people commented to me that there were new faces at this conference which I noticed too, but many of the attendees that I’ve seen since joining NSGIC remain, and they continue to be the cylinders of the NSGIC engine and are thriving. The attendance appeared to be down a bit this year, but much of that was due to the scarcity of Federal attendees.  Even with travel restrictions and people’s schedules, 37 states were represented at this conference.

Compared to my notes from last year’s NSGIC this re-cap will be shorter but hopefully informational. So here we go.

NG9-1-1, Map-21, Addressing, Broadband, and FirstNet -These were once again hot topics and were threads running through many of the presentations.  Multiple times I heard people talking about the need to avoid creating “cylinders of excellence”, i.e., groups and people doing their own thing, resulting in duplicated efforts and data rather than working together in order to take advantage of areas of overlap within these programs. I became aware of two links that might be of interest to you.  The FHWA All Roads Study Project Homepage and a nice summary of the Map-21 and related programs.

Addressing - At this year’s conference I heard from several states how their addressing efforts are beginning to pay big dividends.  Prior to this year I had heard about what states are doing to create and maintain address data such as road centerlines and address points.  Now those states that have an address program are beginning to reap the benefits of having a shared address program where multiple agencies and programs are consuming that data and in turn is improving it.  As one state put it, their address layer is now a foundational layer on par with imagery

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) - I heard from a couple of companies known for their aerial photography and elevation expertise that they are looking to utilize drones UAS in the acquisition of data. This will be very interesting to see how this unfolds.

U.S.G.S. – This agency continues to reorganize in response to budgetary constraints and the “gray tsunami” with the focus continuing to be elevation and hydrography data.  The two main groups are now Cartographic Data Services and the Topographic Data Services. The liaison structure is evolving from liaisons in the states covering products and services to a point of contact for each state covering those specific products and services.

Private/Public Partnership – One of the states described a model, based on the Alberta Spatial Data Warehouse, in which the government contracts with an industry partner to improve, maintain, manage, and distribute the authoritative data.  This is some interesting thinking given the reduced budgets and people resources within some states.  

State/Local Partnership – Several states described their efforts to work more closely with the cities and counties in their states. One state has a couple of people that travels the state to be at city/county meetings and to work with those folks to assist them with their data collection and contribution to the state.  Another state is planning to offer the counties free access to the state’s ArcGIS Online in return for the counties’ data. 

More Information – If you are interested in reading more and viewing the presentations, be sure to check out the 2013 Annual Conference Archive.

You Are Invited - NSGIC is not just the domain of state Geographic Information Officers and state GIS Coordinators.  This organization and the conference are open to anyone interested in improving coordination of geospatial activities.