Tuesday, May 3, 2016

MidAmerica GIS Consortium (MAGIC): Symposium Wrap-Up

Another excellent MAGIC Symposium was held last week in Overland Park, Kansas. This was the 15th Symposium with the first having been held in Lawrence, Kansas in 1987.

The MAGIC Symposium is one of my favorite conferences because it provides content ranging from coordination/oversight to very technical content.  This Symposium once again continued the tradition of providing excellent substance with 80 hours of content, 22 workshops, and 35 exhibitors.  What follows are just some of the highlights from the Symposium that I experienced. Keep in mind that this is only one experience.

The opening keynote was provided by Ruel Williamson, CEO of International Property Tax Institute. His talk focused on the rate at which technology is advancing.  He tied in the futuristic thinking of three people, R. Buckminster Fuller, Gordon Moore, and Ray Kurzweil, to demonstrate how it is feasible that in a relatively short time from now human thinking may be intersected by computer artificial intelligence. Ruel brought up the question about who is going to program ethics, rules, and law into computer chips that mimic the human brain.

MAGIC recognizes work well done! The OKMAPS Project of the Oklahoma Office of Geographic Information brought home the GIS Innovation award, Jason Warzinik of Boone County, MO was given the GIS Coordination award, and North Dakota’s very own Rod Bassler of the State Water Commission brought home the GIS Service award.

Esri provided a presentation on the spread of the Zika virus and provided a demonstration of the templates that they provide.  They indicated that in the past 10 days Esri has instructed their people to get the word out to their customers on the severity of the virus and how Esri is able to assist. Esri provided a number of links including Vector-Borne Disease Surveillance and Control and a Story Map.

A speaker from Douglas County, KS provided an extremely informative presentation on best practices for improving the development and maintenance of parcels. He went through the basics including have section corners nailed down, utilizing the vast array of data sources, using status maps as a communication tool, methods of work, documenting issues and then moving on, and initiating feedback loops to gain trust and improve quality.

The USGS provided presentations on the latest updates of their elevation products and their National Map.  I learned that they no longer use the name “NED” and instead call these bare earth DEMs “seamless DEM layers.” Data is downloaded from the TNM Download Client and that tool now is also beginning to allow the download of the vector data used in the National Map GeoPDFs. And finally, the USGS has a nice listing of their REST and other web services.

The U.S. Census Bureau provided a very informative session on partnership opportunities designed to assist state and local government to provide their data to the Census Bureau to ensure that the proper boundaries are in use by the Census Bureau.  Accuracy in turn benefits the state and local government with proper federal funding and redistricting.  There a lot of acronyms used by the Census, here are the main ones that we heard about:

  • Boundary and Annexation Survey (BAS) – boundaries for local government, three methods of submitting data are paper, ArcMap, or Geographic Update Partnership Software (GUPS)
  • Geographic Support System (GSS) – supplies authoritative address and street data 
  • Boundary Quality Assessment and Reconciliation Project (BQARP) – update Census boundaries to match local data such as parcels
  • Participant Statistical Areas Program (PSAP) – state and local government reviews Census blocks, tracts, designated places, county divisions, tribal statistical areas for accuracy
  • Local Update of Census Addresses Program (LUCA) – provides an opportunity for state and local representatives to review the addresses used for the census. 

Kansas briefly described their partnership activities with the Census Bureau.  As of last year Kansas has over 3,000 BAS contacts and out of their 105 counties, 71 have agreed to share their data.  Kansas showed a map of some of their city boundaries not matching between what Census has and what the state has.  North Dakota has this same problem!  Arkansas talked about the methodical approach they are taking to improve the synchronization of their city boundaries with the state and with Census.  As their GIO put it simply, “City boundaries are all about M-O-N-E-Y!” Cities need to make sure that Census has the correct data. For example, one of their maps showed how one city is missing out on collecting federal funds because their city boundary is not properly represented at Census:  

If you haven't had a chance to be a part of MAGIC, please consider doing so, there are lots of opportunities, just visit the web site or contact me.  Planning for the 2018 Symposium is already in the early stages, you are more than welcome to assist! 

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