Wisconsin Geospatial News

Will 2007 be the birth year for the WI Geographic Information Council?

Ted Koch

It’s the New Year, always a good time to take a few moments to anticipate what the next twelve months may bring. For several reasons I am very excited about the potential prospect of good things happening in 2007.

Of course, most immediate on the calendar are the annual meetings of the Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyors in late January in Wisconsin Dells, and the Wisconsin Land Information Association (WLIA) in early March in Appleton. Both are interesting events, and the organizers always put forth lots of energy resulting in memorable shows. Each year at these meetings we set up our SCO information booth, and our staff will be making presentations during each meeting.

However, the thing I am most looking forward to in 2007 is the creation of the Wisconsin Geographic Information Council (WIGIC). WIGIC doesn’t exist yet, but the concept for creating this body is the cornerstone of the soon-to-be-released statewide geographic information plan called  “Wisconsin Location Matters.” This plan was prepared by group of people organized by WLIA. The strategic planning process initially began last April at a meeting of nearly 100 people in Stevens Point, and continued throughout the summer with a group of about twenty individuals. Following lots of writing, changing, editing, and revision, and a December 19th Web cast to present a final draft of the plan, it is about to be officially released this month by WLIA.

The strategic plan identifies five primary goals, with probably the most important one being the need to improve coordination and collaboration between the vast arrays of GIS stakeholders around the state. To achieve this goal the plan identifies the pressing need to create a broadly representative GIS advisory council that will investigate and analyze critical issues and make recommendations on solutions to the highest levels of political and program leadership in the state. The plan makes no recommendations regarding the structure and composition of the proposed Council, nor does it identify any specific duties. The work to detail those issues has just been started under the guidance of Dave Mockert, the State Geographic Information Officer. Mockert and others are looking in detail at the structure, duties, and make-up of GIS councils in 8-10 other states as models for the formation of WIGIC.

The strategic planning group came to the conclusion that the preferred mechanism to creating WIGIC will be through a Governor’s Executive Order. This would be a shorter, more expedient path than through the legislative process. So, the 2007 WIGIC timeline looks something like this:

  • Over the next three to four months background research and analysis will be conducted and used to build a recommendation on WIGIC duties and structure.
  • Following a 2-3 month review period of the WIGIC proposal, the Governor is presented with a proposal to create WIGIC.
  • Following an appropriate amount of time to consider and modify the proposal, the Governor issues an Executive Order creating the Council, identifying its duties, and listing criteria for selecting its members.

If this scenario happens as predicted above, or even close to that, I will declare 2007 to have been a very good year!