Wisconsin Geospatial News

New SCO strategic plan looks to the future

For more information

Check out the SCO 2010-2013 Strategic Plan.  We welcome your feedback!  Please contact Howard Veregin if you have any questions or comments.

Since my arrival at the State Cartographer’s Office (SCO) almost exactly one year ago, some of you have wondered and asked what changes are coming to the office. While change is a natural occurrence with any turnover in leadership, I remain committed to the many longstanding relationships and priorities developed under the guidance of the previous State Cartographer.  At the same time, however, the office must continue to evolve and find new ways to support both traditional and emerging geospatial application areas.

With these thoughts in mind, we recently embarked on an initiative to update our 2006-2009 strategic plan. With assistance from the UW-Madison Office of Quality Improvement, we held a series of team discussions to begin to flesh out a new strategic plan for 2010-2013. The discussion revolved around a variety of themes, including our office’s history and user community, our relationship to other organizations and to the university, our mission as defined by statute, previous strategic planning efforts and outcomes, technology change and other trends at local, state and national levels, and analysis of external opportunities and risks.

In June, 2010, we shared a draft strategic plan with our advisory committee, the Committee on State Cartography. Following some revisions recommended by the Committee, we are now releasing the plan for public review and commentary. We welcome your thoughts and comments about the new plan.

Overview of the plan

Underlying the new strategic plan is the understanding that the geospatial community and GIS technology have evolved significantly over the last decade, and that sensitivity to these changes is necessary to maintain our value to the community. One significant trend is a dramatic increase in public awareness of digital mapping technologies, which has been fueled by the advent of web-based and mobile mapping applications. This has in turn helped spur the expansion of geospatial applications into non-traditional sectors as diverse as public health, economic development, conservation, community planning, business intelligence, and the humanities.  At the SCO, we need to position ourselves to support these emerging application areas while continuing to maintain relationships with more traditional geospatial sectors.

Another important theme underlying the plan is the need to leverage Wisconsin’s rich local repositories of geospatial data to develop statewide datasets that support the business needs of state agencies, comprehensive planning efforts, scientific analyses, and other applications for which regional aggregations of data are required. Other organizations, including the Wisconsin Land Information Association, also see statewide data integration as an important strategic priority.

The new strategic plan is consciously outward-looking, as evident from the vision statement that addresses what we hope to see evolving in the state:

A Wisconsin geospatial community that is well-informed, supported, and collaborative, and that operates on complete, up-to-date, integrated information for meaningful and effective analysis, visualization, and service delivery to the citizens of the state of Wisconsin.


In alignment with this vision, our mission is to:

foster the development of Wisconsin’s geospatial community by supporting and facilitating the equitable and efficient creation and exchange of Wisconsin geospatial data and services, and promoting their informed use in support of education, innovation, and delivery of services to citizens.


The strategic plan derives much of its emphasis from our legislatively-mandated mission [Ch 36.25(12m)] around information integration and dissemination, and coordination and collaboration of mapping activities. In addition, the plan is informed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s 2009-2014 Campus Strategic Framework, and in particular the strategic initiatives related to a reinvigoration of the Wisconsin Idea and renewed commitment to the University’s public mission and outreach functions.

Strategic priorities and initiatives

The 2010-2013 strategic plan is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all the projects and activities in which we are involved. Instead, it focuses on a specific set of strategic priorities where we would like to focus attention over the next three years, within the mix of our other activities and responsibilities.

The plan identifies five strategic priorities, each with its own set of strategic initiatives. In general, strategic initiatives are specific projects with tangible, measurable objectives.

  1. Facilitate the development of methods for statewide data integration, with the goal of supporting regional, state, and national GIS-based analysis and decision-support. This priority is aligned with our vision of a geospatial community that has access to complete, up-to-date, integrated statewide information on which to base decision-making and help solve critical problems in all areas of the state.
  2. Improve online data discovery and access for Wisconsin’s geospatial community and citizens, with the goal of providing efficient and timely access to best-available local and state data sources. This priority relates to enhancements to our core mission of providing definitive information on geospatial technology, trends, policies, data, and methods.
  3. Develop a geospatial coordination leadership role within and between campuses of the UW system and other institutions of higher education in Wisconsin to foster information sharing, coordination of efforts, and collaboration on initiatives. As a unit of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, our office is uniquely positioned to help bridge the gap between the geospatial communities on and off campus, which can have benefits in both directions.
  4. Engage more fully with the geospatial research community to ingest, develop and disseminate information about new methods and practices. The goal here is to provide a bridge between research and practice, in order to make research benefits more tangible to the Wisconsin geospatial community and citizens.
  5. Continue efforts to engage, educate, and support the Wisconsin geospatial community. This priority relates to our traditional leadership roles in professional organizations, information dissemination methods, and mechanisms for training and information delivery.

We intend to use the strategic plan to drive the development of an annual business plan that takes staffing, budgeting, and other factors into account when prioritizing specific initiatives. The annual business plan provides the basis for accountability and for assessing the degree to which strategic objectives have been achieved.


The 2010-2013 strategic plan reflects our office’s history and traditions, while simultaneously acknowledging the need to adapt and evolve. We are committed to the initiatives outlined in the plan, but recognize that our success on these initiatives is dependent on commitment from outside partners. This is particularly true with respect to initiatives under Priorities I, II and III, which depend on the participation of state and local agencies, as well as the higher education community.

We welcome your thoughts and comments about the new strategic plan. Please feel free to contact me directly. We look forward to working with many of you on important initiatives over the next three years and beyond.