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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Posted last week (when I was on vacation) at Directions Magazine:

- Product Review: MapInfo Professional Version 9.0
- The View from Here - Homework Part II
- Street-level Routing: Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Interested? We have a feed of articles from Directions Magazine or you can subscribe to e-mail newsletters.

by Adena Schutzberg on 08/21 at 08:06 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The photo release (with no photo) says it will “quickly mitigate and respond to cyber security threats to the FAA network. “

CNN Money

by Adena Schutzberg on 08/21 at 07:18 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

URISA’s sessions are organized into 9 tracks and I’m trying to attend different tracks during the event. This morning was Management (See Body of Knowledge). This afternoon I hit Tools (3D GIS: History, Trends and Future Capabilities) and Data (Fundamental Data Considerations).

The 3D session played off a workshop held on Monday which I understand addressed more of my questions: what do we do now to get started and be in sync with what’s to come. This session, with speakers from Oracle and Harvard University Grad School of Design focused on 3D in the database and BIM/GIS standards efforts. That was a bit theorectical for me, but clearly spoke to the needs of many in the audience who were not aware of the efforts to tie CAD/GIS together in this way.

The data session first addressed a topic about which I knew little: the data audit. The story was from Randal Krejcarek of Delray Beach, FL (pop: 65,000) and the steps the city followed to create a single centralized master address database. He offered four key steps and I’ve ask him to provide a detailed article for Directions:

- inventory (who has what data, from when, for what purpose, how did they collect it, etc.)
- rank the databases found based on accuracy and accessibility
- build the repository off the “best” database, referencing the others
- maintain the database

The other data talk was from longtime Directions contributor Kevin Coleman, who focused on data security. He told many scary stories and shared the fact that most data breaches are by folks on the inside! Mostly though he noted how a combination of physical (RFID cards, for example) and information security (multiple challenges to access data) are the best bets to keep data safe. He left us with three key take aways:

- data in under continuous attack
- datasets which may seem harmless if stolen alone, when paired with other data can cause significant liabilities
- use multiple datasets to enhance security

[Disclosure: URISA covered my lodging for this event.]

by Adena Schutzberg on 08/21 at 06:09 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

A session titled “The GIS Professional Body of Knowledge: What You Need to Know” turned out to be unexpectedly provocative. Al Butler’s presentation on a survey of GISPs done by GISCI suggests that many GISPs by their own admission are not fully competent in the 10 areas of knowledge in the first verison of the UCGIS Body of Knowledge (BoK). Now, the stats might be a bit dodgy since the terminology in that document (it’s outline) may not mesh with the terms used “in the field.” The area about which respondents had the least compentence: raster data (nearly 30% didn’t feel competent). At the other end of the spectrum only 11% didn’t feel up to snuff on aggregation and related topics. Respondents also felt that two topics that were not identified as core in the BoK, public speaking and programming, should be added. Respondents felt strongly about using the BoK for certification and 85% supported the idea of an exam. The main complaint however, is that the BoK is too academic.

What comes out of these data? It may indicate where continuing ed for GISP might be focussed, perhaps by URISA, which I understand is looking into giving online courses. It also prompted attendees to ponder a certification with both portfolio and test components. Finally, it was suggested we consider a process comparable to engineers: a test right after school (EIT) and then one after some years of work experience (PE). Asked on attendee: So, have we been certifying individuals without broad knowledge? That is, techs? Al Butler said yes, and noted GISP certification is new and it may be time to begin “tweaking it.” This study is certainly a step in that direction. GISCI’s Scott Grams promised to get the presentation and the data up on the GISCI website soon.

While that presentation got the most buzz, the other two presentations in the session were also valuable. David Dibiase, representing UCGIS, highlighted the process behind and value of the BoK and the plans for version 2 (and asked for participants). Trish Maggio-Long of Trenton highlighted the successes and failures of trying to do GIS training on a budget. Tutorials to be done by staff didn’t work. Hands-on training turned into demonstrations when Internet connections were slow and applications were too general for the types of information sought. Desktop hands-on training was better but highlighted limitations in the city’s data sets (timeliness, mostly). She noted with no budget and no mandate from above there are 5 people regularly using GIS in the city, among the 270 city workers at city hall. The discussion of her efforts brought up a new term for many in the audience: Value on Investment. It’s different from return on investment as it takes into account non-tangible returns.

[Disclosure: URISA covered my lodging for this event.]

by Adena Schutzberg on 08/21 at 12:32 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

There was a lot to do first thing on Tuesday at URISA’s opening session.

- Get an overview from Rob Bishoff, SSI Commissioner from Australia, on how the many geospatial organizations from that country are now united

Key ideas: it’s working well, but Australia needs to raise the number of women in geospatial and encourage young surveyors (avg age for current surveyors ~56)

- Name Hall of Fame inductees: Micheal Goodchild, Don Cooke

Key ideas:

Goodchild: Things are changing quickly in GIS with new offerings from Google, et al, “volunteered information” (user generated content) is one of the next big things, GIS is coming out of academia into the real world

Cooke: The strength of URISA is in its people.  Forty years ago it was the only place to talk about what would become GIS.

- Announce Horwood Award to Nancy Von Meyer

Key ideas: If you can do something and you don’t, you are an impediment - you get in the way. If you can lead and don’t you are an obstacle - you prevent forward motion.

- Keynote from staff and young people from Hopeworks ‘n Camden (New Jersey) - a program that empowers youth through technology (you may have seen them at ESRI and elsewhere)

Key ideas: This program is about empowering youth, not about GIS. (GIS was introduced because a neighboring organization, a land trust had a GIS intern some years ago. He introduced the program to GIS and it took off!), the young people have dreams but not geographic dreams: they want to be veteranarians, restaurant owners, not geogeeks. Said the founder, Father John: “I’d rather have your business than a contribution.”

- Develop key topics for stakeholders meeting later in the week

Key ideas thrown out:

- document recovery costs, selling data
- interoperability
- building regional data repositories before emergencies
- getting politicians to appreciate non-tangible results of GIS implementations
- getting senior leadership to recognize importance of GIS
- bad addressing data
- why data sharing/licensing is so hard
- GIS as a profession - what is it?

Ideally attendees will look for input on these ideas and share them in a final session on Thursday. This is an experiment.

My Thoughts

The Hopeworks presentation was certainly inspirational (and I’ve heard about this program before). What struck me from the presentation was that this really is NOT about GIS. Sure, GIS and Web design are what the program rallies around (and it provides paying jobs for many of the youth) but it’s really about getting youth ready for what’s ahead, be it college or something else. They are learning responsibility, goal setting and enhancing some skills such as reading and writing, along with learning and doing Web and GIS work. It’s great and I do not want to diminish the concept. I will note however a similar program in Boston, Bikes Not Bombs, that does many of the same things around building and fixing bikes. There are many different ways to help youth grow into successful adults.

The set of ideas thrown out (alas in limited time as we started late) were requested to be “difficult problems we all share.” They were “voted on” informally to confirm their importance to the assembled (some 200 people, I’m guessing). I noted some topics that I thought would pop up which did not: cost of software, Google/Yahoo/Microsoft/Ask, education. 

[Disclosure: URISA covered my lodging for this event.]

by Adena Schutzberg on 08/21 at 12:12 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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