National Geospatial Advisory Group holds quarterly meeting in September 2017

by Julie Sweetkind-Singer
Stanford University

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[Originally printed September 29, 2017 in Stanford University Libraries Blogroll; reprinted with permission]

The National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC) held their fall meeting September 6-7, 2017 at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Viriginia.  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.

Kerry Rae, Chief of Staff, Office of the Assistant Secretary, Water and Science, spoke to the group about the current events at the Department of the Interior.  She noted that Dr. Andrea Travnicek has been named as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science.  Dr. Travincek is eager to engage with the NGAC in her new role.  A new chair is expected to be named for the FGDC with agency appointments to follow.  The steering committee has continued to do their work and issued guidance to the NGAC.  She discussed current topics of interest including disaster recovery from the recent hurricanes, future Landsat missions, the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) Report Card scheduled to be released in 2018, and the 2017 Geospatial Data Act.

The group received numerous Federal program updates.  Ivan DeLoatch (FGDC Executive Director) updated the group on the current activities at the FGDC including the National Spatial Data Initiative (NSDI) Strategic Framework as well as information about the COGO Report Card and the Geospatial Data Act.  Of particular interest to the group was the Virtual Student Federal Service Program.  This program allows students to work on projects within government agencies. They are connected with mentors in the Federal government to develop knowledge and skills as they conduct their work.  Some of these students may be available to the NGAC sub-committees to help with research on topics of interest.  Steve Lewis (Department of Transportation) and Tim Trainor (Census Bureau) discussed the status of the National Address Database (NAD).  More states are adding their information to the NAD, but the project is moving slowly due to lack of a dedicated funding stream.  Tod Dabolt (Department of the Interior) brief the group on the Geospatial Platform.  Peter Doucette (United States Geological Survey) briefed the group on the current status of the Landsat program including post Landsat 9 user requirements.  Vicki Lukas (United States Geological Survey) updated the group on the 3-D Elevation Program (3DEP) and the status of the National Hydrography Dataset, which was released in April 2017.

The meeting included ample time for the subcommittees to meet to discuss their guidance, frame their tasks, and develop deliverables.  The subcommittees are as follows:

  • The Landsat Advisory Group (LAG) is working on three tasks.  The first is to examine possible architectures for a future Earth land surface data collection mission beyond Landsat 9.  The second is to examine the feasibility and utility of implementing temporal data cubes to support projection or “forecast” models of land change trends.  The final task is to review and update previous LAG research on cost recovery options for Landsat.
  • The Cultural and Historical Geospatial Assets subcommittee is collaborating with the FGDC Cultural Resource Subcommittee to seek advice and feedback on policies and procedures to protect geospatial data assets that have cultural and historical significance.  The goal is to identify best practices and to model approaches both in terms of data security and data sharing.
  • The Data as Services subcommittee is developing a forward-looking paper addressing the current and future needs for data as services from Federal data repositories that provide online data access (e.g., GeoPlatform,, etc.).  This effort will include documentation of user needs and recommendations regarding formats and standardization for users to more effectively consume and incorporate Federal spatial datasets.
  • The Technology and Geospatial Infrastructure subcommittee is developing a paper and infographic describing how geospatial technology, tools, and information are powerful decision support components that can help drive smart decision making on infrastructure priorities and investments.Throughout the meeting lightning talks were presented by group members covering such diverse topics as national geologic mapping, geospatial aspects of emergency response, and a report on the Department of Homeland Security’s Apex programs.

The last NGAC meeting of the year will be a conference call to be held on December 11, 2017.

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