National Geospatial Advisory Committee spring 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 first meeting of the year in Washington, D.C. on March 21-22, 2017.  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 are available on the NGAC website.

The NGAC welcomed back seven returning members for a second three-year term and seven new members also appointed for three years.  The returning members are:

  • Ms. Julie Sweetkind-Singer, Stanford University (Chair)
  • Mr. Keith Masback, U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (Vice-Chair)
  • Ms. Patricia Cummens, ESRI
  • Mr. Kevin Pomfret, Centre for Spatial Law and Policy
  • Major General William N. Reddel III, New Hampshire National Guard
  • Dr. Harvey Thorleifson, Minnesota Geological Survey
  • Mr. Jason Warzinik, Boone County, Missouri

The new members include:

  • Mr. Gar Clarke, State of New Mexico
  • Mr. Garet Couch, National Tribal GIS Center
  • Mr. Stuart Davis, State of Ohio
  • Ms. Roberta Lenczowski, Roberta E. Lenczowski Consulting, LLC
  • Mr. Cy Smith, State of Oregon
  • Ms. Rebecca Somers, Somers-St. Claire GIS Consultants
  • Ms. Jennie Stapp, State of Minnesota

The focus of the NGAC meeting was to bring the new and returning members up to speed on geospatial developments in the Federal sphere.  The group was briefed by Ivan DeLoatch, the Executive Director of the FGDC, on their recent activities including an update on the National Spatial Data Infrastructure Strategic Framework.

A number of geospatial programs were highlighted throughout the proceedings.  Steve Lewis (Department of Transportation) and Tim Trainor (U.S. Census Bureau) discussed the recent developments in the National Address Database (NAD).  The project continues to move forward with the establishment of an address subcommittee, the development of a theme definition, and the gathering and refinement of NAD user requirements.  The subcommittee includes 16 Federal agencies and more than 25 non-Federal partners.  The NAD pilot was launched in October 2015 funded by the Department of Transportation.  The pilot and a workshop helped establish metadata and functional requirements for the NAD.  States continue to sign onto the project, which is growing slowly due to lack of stable funding for development and support.

Mike Tischler, Director of the National Geospatial Program for the United States Geological Survey (USGS), presented an overview of the National Geospatial Program.  He specifically focused on mapping in the 21st Century.  He briefed the group on the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP), which applies LiDAR technology to map the bare earth.  LiDAR data is used for such purposes as flood risk management, infrastructure and construction management, and natural resources conservation.  It is essential to powering the future by calculating wind potential, routing transmission lines, and determining solar potential.  There are currently 33 projects in 25 states to collect LiDAR data across the country.  Mr. Tischler then explained the status of the USGS Alaska Mapping Initiative.  On average the topographic maps of Alaska are more than 50 years old.  These maps are currently being updated with 33% of the state being newly mapped at the end of 2016.  Finally, he focused on the foundational hydrography datasets including the National Hydrography Dataset, the Watershed Boundaries Dataset, and the National Hydrography Dataset Plus.  The NHDPlus adds elevation data to enable estimates of flow volume and velocity and allows for the linking of all types of water related data.

Mike Donnelly (Department of Homeland Security) and Michael Piscotti (National Geospatial Agency) discussed the Homeland Infrastructure Foundation-Level Data (HIFLD) project, “A federal partnership and governance structure delivering mission critical geospatial data required to protect and defend the homeland.”  They announced that there is now an open data portal, HIFLD Open Data, containing or pointing to geospatial data that is in the public domain.  Datasets included relate to borders, public health, national flood hazards, mining, and many more.

Two subcommittees reported on their progress, Standards Coordination and the Landsat Advisory Group (LAG).  The NGAC provisionally adopted the Standards Subcommittee paper entitled, “Geospatial Standards: A National Asset.”  The paper, to be published on the NGAC website when finalized, explains who develops geospatial and related standards, barriers to utilization, and recommendations to the FGDC.  Pete Doucette, the Associate Program Coordinator for the Land Remote Sensing Program gave a status update noting that they were working on Landsat-Sentinel 2 harmonization and continuing to work on the development and deployment of both Landsat 9 (target launch in late 2020) and Landsat 10 (estimated launch mid-2020s).  He also stated that Sentinel 2-b successfully launched on March 7, 2017.  The LAG is currently working on two documents for the USGS.  The first researching the pros and cons of existing small satellite technology juxtaposed with Landsat 8 and 9.  The second is to study the feasibility and utility of implementing temporal data cubes to support projection or “forecast” models of land change trends.  Both of these papers should be completed by the June meeting.

Members presented lightning talks on the US geological mapping strategic plan, moving beyond open data to power policy initiatives, and the use of RFID and GNSS for underground asset management.

The next NGAC meeting will be held in Washington, D.C. on June 13-14, 2017.


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