Tag Archive | URISA

GAO Says OMB and Feds Need to Make Coordination a Priority

Geospatial Information

GAO-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.

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Project Report for GISCorps: Geocoding Locations of NGOs in Sierra Leone


GISCorps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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 and Amicus Brief Decision Statement

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.”

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Cost Recovery in Public Sector GIS Programs

GIS Program Revenue Generation and Legal Issues in Public Sector Organizations

by Peter Croswell and Alex Wernher, URISA, 2004

Abstract: In late 2003, The authors, in coordination with the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA), conducted a survey to learn about the status of financial, legal, and policy issues impacting public sector geographic information system (GIS) programs in the United States. More specifically, the survey’s purpose was to gather information about revenue generation through the sale of GIS products and services by organizations administering public agency GIS programs. This publication describes the approach and results of this survey, which included responses from a number of federal, state, regional, and local public agencies. In addition, this publication provides an overview of important concepts and issues that impact the distribution and sale of products and services from public agency GIS programs.

It will discuss the types of GIS products and services being provided by public agencies to external organizations and the nature and legal basis of agreements for cost sharing and funding of GIS programs. A review of important legal concerns will cover such areas as: a) impacts of state open records laws, b) privacy regulations, c) copyright restrictions on GIS databases, d) liability issues and other policy and legal issues. It will summarize the results of a national survey conducted in the Fall of 2003 which gathered information from public agencies on: The status of revenue generation programs; GIS products, services and fee schedules; Non-traditional funding sources; Interagency agreements and consortia; and Legal issues impacting GIS data and product distribution.

For full text of this report and survey, click here.

From Public Records to Open Government: Access to Massachusetts Municipal Geographic Data

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.

Location Privacy: Who Protects?

by Catilin D. Cottril, URISA Journal 2011, Volume 23, Issue 2

Abstract: Interest in and concerns related to the issue of privacy in the location-aware environment have been growing as the availability and use of location-based services (LBS) and data have been expanding. Recent events such as “Locationgate” have brought this issue to the forefront of interest for lawmakers, application developers, agencies, and users; however, understanding the varying levels of responsibility for each has been lacking. This article attempts to provide a clear review of the methods by which privacy protection may take place at the levels of law, technology, and management so a better understanding of how a comprehensive approach to privacy protection may take place. While the majority of policy aspects reviewed are U.S.-based, an attempt has been made to provide an overall view of locational privacy policy environments on an international scale as well. It is hoped that this effort will result in a clearer understanding of the ways in which privacy protection efforts should address the related concepts of law, technology, and practice to effectively minimize the risk of privacy harm.

For full text of the article, click here.

Call for Papers for Special Issue on Public Participation GIS

‘Looking Forward to the Past: Reflections on Using Applied PPGIS to Define Community’

Call for Papers for a Special Issue of the Journal of Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA Journal)

Guest Editors: Dr. Michelle M. Thompson and Kelly D. Owens
Department of Planning and Urban Studies, University of New Orleans

The application of geographic information systems (GIS) continues to emerge as the tools are adopted by both information and social sciences.  The ability to share dwindling resources by community, municipal and university partners has moved from the desktop to the information highway.  Early definitions of public participation geographic information systems (PPGIS) emphasized the university as the change agent since the technology drove collaboration. Resident-led PPGIS models focus on the collection and distribution of neighborhood level data using distributed web-based interfaces.

This special issue of the URISA Journal, scheduled for publication in November 2012, is intended to update the available body of applied GIS literature.  In particular, research should explore problems or questions on PPGIS strategies including effectiveness measures and implementation at varying levels of delivery. The discussion should include the changes in technology and data definitions including ‘volunteered geographic information’ or ‘VGI’ in the PPGIS model. Research may consider what influence of ‘crowdsourcing’ as a means to move PPGIS from participatory to action research, as well as, the impact on public policy in local and international spheres.  Research that considers PPGIS in emerging markets, shrinking cities or post-disaster environments and how the application of a PPGIS can aid in relearning pedagogy are considered an important perspective.

While it is important to consider the foundations of PPGIS and the traditional definitions of ‘partnership’, articles should describe how, or if, the model of participation has changed. When using contemporary examples, describe their ethical considerations in emerging markets from any part of the earth and address both earth and human-environment research.

For more information, visit http://www.urisa.org/Journal_PPGIS

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