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Monday, February 25, 2013

The release of the National Broadband Map by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in February 2011 brought much attention to the issue of high speed Internet coverage across the United States.

At this year's National States Geographic Information Council meeting the issue continues as a highly important issue for states that must support the federal government's effort to map coverage areas and secure the infrastructure to facilitate emergency response and management.
 
Michael Byrne, the FCC's Geographic Information Officer (GIO), addressed the meeting's attendees to discuss the complexity of mapping Exchange and Study area boundaries and their relationship to Incumbent Local Exchange Centers (ILEC). The FCC released an order in November 2012 adopting rules for collection of study area boundary data from ILECs. The order allows state commissions or state telecommunication associations to voluntarily submit data on behalf of any or all ILECs.
 
Bill Johnson, Deputy Director of New York State's Office of Cyber Security & Critical Infrastructure Coordination discussed a $25 Million broadband map program for his state to understand what areas of the state are underserved or not served at all. The state has set a speed threshold whereby an area not currently getting 6 Mbits/second or slower would be considered underserved. Grants will be provided to serve these areas and providers will be allowed to see where the applications for grants would be issued in particular to make certain that these areas are not already serviced by other providers.
 
Joy Paulus of Washington State's Broadband Office discussed how broadband is impacting economic revitalization. She remarked that broadband mapping is vitally important for urban growth management and rural community development. 
 
Bert Granberg, Director at Utah Automated Geographic Reference Center discussed leveraging the state's broadband data for public safety applications and its importance as an economic driver. Granberg remarked how broadband's near ubiquity should be treated just like other critical infrastructure assets like electricity and telephone.
by Joe Francica on 02/25 at 06:45 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Tim de Troye from the State of South Carolina offered a presentation that is an ongoing issue among states and local governments about how they distribute geospatial data collected with taxpayer money. He recognized that some organizations copyright their data and that data in South Carolina, for example, is available but through different agreements depending on whether it is spatial or not.

The big question in licensing geospatial data is to license or not to license!
 
De Troye said that many choose an Open Use or General Use License; others opt for something more restrictive. But whichever option is chosen, state GIS coordinators should look upon this  as an opportunity to focus on the benefits of licensing so that users know how data can or should be handled. Some of the options to consider about geospatial data are as follows:
  • Can or should it be copied, reproduced or distributed
  • Can or should it be incorporated with other data
  • Is the data offered for a one time use?
  • Will or should its use "time out?"
  • Should it copy certain attribution thereby giving credit where credit is due?
  • Can or should data usage be tracked to show demand and thus justify its value?
  • Entities may consider limiting liability to avoid confusion and to specifically articulate what the data can be used for.
  • Set up a partnership relationship: receive data improvements, comments and corrections and receive new data products in return
Issues with licensing have two primary considerations:
  • Legal: restrictive vs. open licensing
  • Enforcing restrictive licenses - is it possible?
De Troye offered a synopsis of how South Carolina handles geospatial data licensing. At one point, almost no one was running licenses past its legal department. One reason was that the legal department often does not understand GIS and hence confusion between what is GIS, maps, or software.
 
In many cases local authorities were using commercial licensing agreements as templates for data licensing. Many counties in South Carolina copyright data to try to protect it. But the problem is whether it is really copyrightable. De Troye said that in order to copyright anything it needs to be original and be some sort of creative work. Are parcels copyrightable ? De Troye said that most digital parcel data is just a representation of data found on paper copies and therefore is not original nor creative, for example. Other 
 
What's going on now in South Carolina? De Troye offered these observations:
  • Several counties are placing data in the public domain; many others are considering it.
  • Many want to go public domain but there is a lack of distribution resources with minimal return on fees.
  • There are certain barriers to transitioning to the public domain. If the local government is no longer getting fees there may be a perception of reduced value for the data. Therefore more education is required and there needs to be a champion who can better articulate the value of GIS data.
So, the state has developed a series of speaking points and have repeated contact with counties to reinforce the licensing options. They've also established a statewide GIS conference to facilitate the education process and they recommend having a champion in each county.
by Joe Francica on 02/25 at 12:03 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

In a detailed blog post at CloudMade lays out keys milestones frome the past four years and introduces three new mapping platform offerings. The last news I reported from Cloudmade was about its in-game sponsoring platform, Zigi in Oct 2012. That was, from what I understood, the plan for a pivot away from mapping. Either I misunderstood the plan or the plan changed. It sure sounds like CloudMade is back in mapping for the longer haul.

The new products include:

Mapsafe” family

CloudMade Mapsafe is a technology stack that manages personal geo data tied, and authenticated, to the individual user.

Hybrid” family 

CloudMade Hybrid enables geo data from different providers to be managed in the cloud and distributed to devices and applications on an as-needed basis.

Magellan uses the Hybrid tools for its SmartGPS, which will be demoed at Mobile World Congress this week, per GPS Biz News.

new range of CloudMade SDKs, starting with Android

CloudMade's NavSDK comes with all the features you need to implement your own navigation solution in a smartphone or dedicated device application.

- CloudMade Blog via @cageyjames

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/25 at 10:51 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

At the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) Mid-Year Meeting in Annapolis, Maryland this week, New Hampshire's Adjutant General Major General William Reddel described the challenge that he has informing decision-maker about the applications and importance of geospatial technology. Reddel serves as Military Chief of Staff to the Governor and is the Executive Head of the Adjutant General's (AG) department. In his position, he oversees all aspects of the AG's department, which includes Army and Air National Guard and the New Hampshire Veteran's Cemetery.

"Not everybody gets geospatial technology … We need to come up with one message for decision makers: "Location enabled decision support," said Reddel. He described the dilemma of a basic perceived value about geospatial technology and its applications. "Most of the time our leaders never know what questions to ask because they never got to the knowledge part," he said. "The geospatial thinking revolution has begun and geospatial thinking is both a science and an art."

Reddel monitors and sometimes coordinates statewide efforts regarding emergency management and response, especially during natural disasters. However, he is acutely aware that local jurisdictions have most of the data and may also have the expertise that he requires to do his job. He wants to find the local governments that do their job particularly well and then support them to articulate best practices to other communities thus building upon that foundation of expert GIS users. He advocates finding those standards and architecture that can support his mission and knows very well that the real goal is better interoperability. "We've got to stop the redundancy of effort; look at what we have and expand the power of the tools that we have and work with each other to find the solution," he said.

In extolling the need for the state GIS representatives to continue their mission Reddel said, "The American people will judge you by three things: did you save my life; did you reduce human suffering; did you protect my property." Reddel is aware of the applicability of GIS to emergency situations and is keen to see it used as effectively as possible. "If we can't deploy people within the first 72 hours during an emergency or big disasters ... it's looks really bleak," he said in referring to the ability to save people who are in life threatening situations.

Reddel was somewhat frustrated that the focus at times seems too centered at the federal government level. "We're spending too much money at the federal level; and we should be spending money at the state level, he said. "T here are a few of us that get it and we really need you guys [NSGIC state coordinators] to pile on. Reddel wrapped up his comments by highlighting that Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley was probably one of the most progressive governors in geospatial thinking.

by Joe Francica on 02/25 at 10:04 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
by Adena Schutzberg on 02/25 at 06:29 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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