National Geospatial Advisory Group Holds Fall Meeting

by Julie Sweetkind-Singer
Stanford University

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[Originally printed in Stanford University Libraries Blogroll; reprinted with permission]

The National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC) held its fall meeting at the National Conservation Training Center near Shepherdstown, West Virginia on September 27-28, 2016.  The NGAC is a Federal Advisory Committee (FACA) to the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC).  The role of the NGAC is to provide advice and recommendations related to the national geospatial program and the development of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure.  Full minutes of the meeting, PowerPoints, and lightning talks will be available on the NGAC website shortly.

Camille Touton, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water & Science at the Department of Interior and Chair of the FGDC, opened the meeting.  She discussed the FGDC’s priorities as well as the work the FGDC is doing to prepare for the transition to the new administration after the November election.  The priorities of the FGDC include continued work on the Geospatial Platform, advancing the National Spatial Data Infrastructure, support of the creation of the National Address Database and the 3DEP Elevation Program, and support for the Open Water Data Initiative.

Fifteen members of the committee will complete their terms at the end of December with six rotating off the committee due to term limits.  New members, including those who have reapplied from their first three year term, will be announced in January.

The NGAC heard reports from four subcommittees, three of whom are researching and preparing white papers that will be completed by the end of December.  The subcommittees include the following:

  • The Emerging Technologies subcommittee is providing information and perspectives on technologies that will impact the geospatial community within a three to five year time horizon.  They are considering overriding trends such as real time data collection and analytics, personalization, miniaturization, and expanded access.
  • The Policy Framework team was asked to review the OMB Circular A-16 providing advice on ways to update it and make it more relevant to today’s geospatial landscape.  This document was originally released in 1990 and then revised in 2002.  The Circular was established to provide a “coordinated approach to electronically develop the National Spatial Data Infrastructure.”
  • The Standards team seeks to provide advice on the greater adoption and utilization of standards.
  • The Landsat Advisory Group will work on an investigation of the small satellite landscape as well as research interest in temporal data cubes.

NGAC Vice Chair, Keith Masback, convened a panel of experts to discuss emerging technologies and their impacts on the geospatial communities.  David Tohn, of BTS Software Solutions discussed facial recognition innovations and real time data capture and analysis.  Aaron Gussman of HumanGeo talked about the use of big data analytics for social media.  Suzanne Foss of Esri discussed real time integration of sensors and with immediate analysis.  Sarah Battersby of Tableau Software (and a member of the NGAC) spoke about effective visualization and meaningful output for making decisions.

The group discussed the next phase of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure Plan as the present plan was written to cover work done between 2014-2016.  The plan has five key elements: policy, data, technology, standards, and people.  The NGAC discussed how the NSDI could be more relevant to the nation, how the plan should encourage engagement with partners outside the Federal government sphere, and how to expand outreach beyond the traditional geospatial sectors to include those integrating geospatial in their products.  During 2017 the FGDC will work on a plan that will govern the NSDI over the next few years.

During the 2008 election cycle, the NGAC developed a Transition Paper laying out importance of geospatial technologies to the nation and explaining the role of the Federal government in supporting the nation’s geospatial infrastructure.  The NGAC leadership is in the process of writing a Transition Paper for the current candidates.  The paper is designed to raise awareness of the importance of geospatial technologies focusing on its current applications and impacts.  It will define the role of the Federal community and explain the major initiatives now underway.  It will identify key areas where Federal leadership can provide opportunities for economic growth, cost savings, and strengthening of the nation’s infrastructure.  The expectation is that this short paper will be completed by the end of October and delivered to the new administration in early November.

The meeting was rounded out by a series of lightning talks by a dozen NGAC members discussing topics as varied as the boundary survey between North and South Carolina, DataUSA, Arctic elevation data, geologic map standards, and Utah’s high resolution imagery survey.

The last NGAC meeting of the year will be a conference call to be held in early to mid December.


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