Geospatial InformationGAO-13-94, Nov 26, 2012
What GAO Found
While the President and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have established policies and procedures for coordinating investments in geospatial data, governmentwide committees and federal departments and agencies have not effectively implemented them. The committee that was established to promote the coordination of geospatial data nationwide–the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC)–has developed and endorsed key standards– including a metadata standard that includes descriptive information about a particular set of geospatial data–and established a clearinghouse of metadata; however, the clearinghouse is not being used by agencies to identify planned geospatial investments to promote coordination and reduce duplication. The FGDC has not yet planned or implemented an approach to manage geospatial data as related groups of investments to allow agencies to more effectively plan geospatial data collection efforts and minimize duplicative investments; and its strategic plan is missing key elements, such as performance measures for many of its defined objectives. Further, none of the three federal departments in GAO’s review have fully implemented important activities for coordinating geospatial data, such as preparing and implementing a strategy for advancing geospatial activities within their respective departments.
Summary:Non-government organization NGO activity in developing countries is difficult to track due to limited infrastructure. URISA’s GISCorps, which coordinates short-term, volunteer-based GIS services to underprivileged communities, was asked to assist the Craig Bellamy Foundation in creating an interactive map showing the locations of international and national NGO offices and their programs in Sierra Leon, a developing country in Western Africa. Michael Knapp, a GIS specialist from Anchorage, Alaska, describes how a combination of Esri and Google technology accomplished the task.
For full text of the article, visit Project Report for GISCorps: Geocoding Locations of NGOs in Sierra Leone – Directions Magazine.
URISA Data Policy & Amicus Brief Decision Statement E-mail
Written by URISA, 28 February 2012
February 27, 2012 (Des Plaines, IL) At its February 24, 2012 meeting, the URISA Board of Directors again considered the draft Sierra Club vs. Orange County, California amicus brief. A Board motion to sign an earlier version of the brief on February 2 failed to pass a vote.
The Board’s deliberation followed a joint URISA Board and Policy Committee conference call to discuss the Board’s February 2 decision in light of the Policy’s Committee’s recommendation to sign the brief. Glenn O’Grady, Policy Committee Chair, was invited to again discuss the matter with the Board during the February 24 meeting.
Before considering the question of signing the SC v. OC amicus brief, the Board drafted and approved the following data sharing policy that reflects URISA’s role as an international organization and the need for the organization to be aware of data policies and situations in many countries:
“It is URISA’s policy that all units of government should freely provide the means for their citizens to fully participate in their own governance by publishing and otherwise supplying geospatial data to all interested parties. URISA believes that governmental geospatial programs must be appropriately funded and that there are multiple acceptable mechanisms for such funding. Credible studies have shown that the value of geospatial data to the governmental agencies and the people they serve increases with the breadth of data sharing.”
by Robert Goodspeed, URISA Journal 2011, Volume 23, No 2
Abstract: Increasingly, citizens are demanding access to raw data from governments to hold public officials accountable, look up facts, conduct analysis, or create innovative applications and services. Cities and towns create data using geographic information systems such as layers describing parcels, zoning, and infrastructure that are useful for a wide range of purposes. Through a public records request to all 351 Massachusetts municipalities, this paper investigates whether these data are accessible to citizens in practice. Some response was received by 78.6 percent of the municipalities. Two municipalities refused access to all electronic records. Many others charged fees ranging up to $453 or placed legal restrictions on the data through licensing that could chill or prohibit creative reuses of the information through emerging technologies. Other practical barriers limited public access to data, such as limited resources, government officials’ limited technical knowledge, and outsourcing to private vendors. A followup survey among municipalities that did not respond to the request was conducted to determine if they had GIS systems or data policies, and this information was collected for 80.3 percent of the municipalities. Finally, the paper discusses the legal, policy, and technical steps that can be taken by governments to move from a “public records” to an “open government” paradigm for transparency of government data. The policy recommendations for municipalities include publishing GIS data for free online and with minimal legal restrictions.
For full text of the article, click here.
- Access to local GIS data (spatialityblog.com)
by Catilin D. Cottril, URISA Journal 2011, Volume 23, Issue 2
For full text of the article, click here.
- Protecting Location Privacy Against Inference Attacks (geodatapolicy.wordpress.com)
- Monday’s Musings: Seven Basic Privacy Rights Users Should Demand For Social Business (forbes.com)