The National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) held its mid-year conference in Annapolis Maryland in mid-March. With an attendance exceeding 225, it was the largest mid-year meeting by far with over 100 more attendees than the previous year.
NSGIC is a an organization of state GIS coordinators and senior managers, federal agency representatives, and folks from the private sector committed to the adoption and effective use of geospatial information and technologies. NSGIC was organized fourteen years ago with a focus in two primary areas: GIS coordination and development within the states, and state-federal relations. Representatives from 33 states attended the Annapolis meeting.
The nation’s capital is a strategic location
The mid-year meeting, held in the Washington D.C. area each spring, is devoted to national and federal agency issues. This year’s meeting, for the first time, included a half-day forum at the Hall of States in Washington D.C. The purpose of the forum was to bring together state personnel, state government representatives in Washington, and national non-profit organizations with an interest in GIS.
Over the years, NSGIC has developed a tradition of meetings with long days covering many topics. The Annapolis conference was no exception, featuring one or more speakers from at least eight different federal agencies. Of particular note were presentations regarding the on-going reorganization of the geography and mapping components of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The USGS is making these adjustments to better fit its services to today’s digital mapping and geographic applications environment.
Over the past decade, the agency has been moving away from producing the long-established national topographic mapping series products to facilitating the collection, storage, and delivery of current digital information. Through its newly created National Geospatial Programs Office (NGPO), the agency is planning to reduce and decentralize much of its workforce to strategic locations in each state. This will afford much closer working relations with state and local governments. In developing the reorganization, the USGS has worked closely with NSGIC.
Fifty States Initiative underway
The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) has begun a new initiative to change how federal agencies coordinate with themselves and other governmental agencies. A component of the strategy is to better engage each of the fifty states. To do this, the FGDC asked NSGIC for assistance. A plan called the "Fifty States Initiative" has been approved by both organizations for implementation. It identifies basic criteria that states must meet, and the characteristics of effective statewide coordination. At the NSGIC Midyear meeting, the initiative was presented and discussed at a caucus of state representatives. Although, more work has to be completed on the details of implementation, the Fifty States Plan was generally well received.
Future NSGIC meetings to include Madison
Rochester, NY will be the site of NSGIC’s 2005 annual conference this September, while the 2006 gathering will take place in Little Rock, AK. Come late September 2007, the annual conference is scheduled for the Concourse Hotel in downtown Madison. The dates are September 23-27. We’ll keep you posted on this with more details as they develop over the coming year.