Wisconsin Geospatial News

Imagery for the Nation initiative gains support

At its October 20 meeting, the WLIA Board of Directors approved an endorsement of the Imagery for the Nation (IFTN) initiative as proposed by the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC). In making this endorsement, WLIA joins eight other states that have gone on record as supporting the proposal. 

NSGIC’s Imagery for the Nation proposal consists of two coordinated programs. The existing National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) will be enhanced to acquire 1-meter, leaf-on digital ortho imagery nationwide (except over Alaska and Hawaii) every summer. A companion program proposes 1-foot resolution ortho imagery, once every three years, for all states east of the Mississippi River, and for all counties west of the Mississippi River with population densities greater that 25 people per square mile. The current proposal specifies that both the NAIP imagery and the 1-foot resolution program be 100% federally funded, while 50% matching state/local funds be required in partnership with the federal government to acquire 6-inch resolution ortho imagery over locations meeting the U.S. Census Bureau definition of “urbanized area.”  In total, the current IFTN cost estimate exceeds $110 million annually.

Funding is the largest hurdle

Finding and allocating the federal funding needed to support IFTN is currently the most significant barrier to its implementation. The funding hurdle is one of the major reasons NSGIC is seeking IFTN support from states and other organizations. In its endorsement letter to NSGIC, WLIA stated the following: “The WLIA is aware of NSGIC’s Imagery for the Nation initiative. It offers the potential of providing the state with systematically acquired, high-resolution ortho imagery on a set schedule. This proposal offers something much needed by state and local governments and the private sector in Wisconsin. The WLIA endorses this proposal in concept, and looks forward to working with NSGIC and federal agencies in its implementation.”

In the April 2006 issue of the Mapping Bulletin, we reported that NSGIC created a short web-based survey to collect information from across the country on current digital ortho acquisition activities, and to gather impressions on the IFTN initiative. The survey, which closed at the end of July this year, drew responses from nearly 1887 individuals of which nearly half (888) were from local government. Another 18% (345) were received from state government employees. In response to the survey question: “What do you think of the IFTN Proposal?”, 79% entered a positive comment, 17% a neutral comment, while only 4% entered a negative comment.

Additional survey results and information on the IFTN proposal can be viewed on the NSGIC Web site under the “Hot Topics” link.

Cost benefit analysis underway

The most recent IFTN development is the beginning of a formal Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA). The USDA Farm Services Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey are working jointly to conduct and fund this study. Research and analysis for the effort has been contracted to a private consultant experienced in conducting CBA studies meeting requirements set by the President’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The goal of the CBA study is to develop a comprehensive IFTN business case that accurately communicates program goals, objectives, and benefits. The first draft of the CBA is due from the consultant on March 16, 2007 with the final report due on June 1. In the interim, NSGIC, along with other partners, will continue to inform members of the U.S. Congress and others of the merits of the IFTN proposal. At present, NSGIC is hopeful that some funding for IFTN will appear in the FY ’09 federal budget year that begins on October 1, 2008.