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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sammies Finalists 2014The awards are new to me!

The Partnership for Public Service annually honors outstanding federal employees who have made a significant difference in the lives of Americans, presenting awards that have come to be known as the "Oscars of government service."

Renamed the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals in honor of the Partnership's late founder, the awards shine the spotlight on the inspiring and high impact accomplishments of talented and dedicated federal employees. The honorees' achievements are a testament to the important and effective work of our government and the value of a strong federal career workforce.

One time GIO of California and most recently GIO of the FCC, Michael Byrne now serves as Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Operations Lead at Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He is one of five nominees for the Citizen Services Medal. (All finalists are at right It recognizes a federal employee for a significant contribution to the nation in activities related to citizen services (including economic development, education, health care, housing, labor and transportation). He was interviewed on Federal News Radio yesterday. The station (in D.C. and online) is speaking with all the nominees.

Byrne has always been a good friend of Directions and the geospatial community. He sets the bar high regarding what a geographer can do in the public sector. Congrats on the nomination and best of luck with the new job!

by Adena Schutzberg on 07/29 at 06:55 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Today the Obama Administration is rolling out the Climate Data Initiative “Food Resilience” effort, "aimed at empowering America’s agricultural sector and strengthening the resilience of the global food system in a changing climate." Some geospatial highlights include:


  • New Features on The Obama Administration is today unveiling an expanded to include new pages and features that make data about the risks of climate change to food production, supply, nutrition, and security more open and accessible to innovators, entrepreneurs, and researchers. Through a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and other Federal agency partners, hundreds of datasets, web services, and tools on these topics and more are being made accessible through, including data from the Census of Agriculture, current and historical data on production, supply, and distribution of agricultural products, and data on climate-change-related risks such as storms, pests, and drought. The Administration is also expanding to include datasets from climate models, projecting potential future climate impacts.


  • Microsoft. In support of the President’s Climate Data Initiative’s, Microsoft and USDA will co-host a series of workshops, webinars, and an app-athon aimed at demonstrating the value of open-data and data-driven tools to boost climate preparedness and resilience in the agricultural sector. Microsoft and USDA will also jointly launch a climate-change-focused Innovation Challenge to inspire the development of new tools and services that harness data available via, as well as an initial collection of USDA datasets that will be made available through Microsoft’s Azure Marketplace. Microsoft Research will issue a special request for proposals focused on food resilience and climate change and grant 12 months of free cloud-computing resources to 20 awardees whose proposals are submitted by Sept. 15, 2014 through the Azure for Research program.
  • Esri. Esri will work with USDA, GEOGLAM, CGIAR and others to expose and unlock authoritative data as live data feeds across dimensions of agricultural production, risk and trade.  In the fall of 2014, Esri will host an Executive White Boarding session to target the development of common information products (maps, apps and templates) needed to address specific needs in the domain of climate, society, and agriculture. Esri fact sheet (pdf)
  • Michigan Agri-Business Association. In August 2014, the Michigan Agri-Business Association will launch a publicly-available web-based mapping tool for use by the state’s agriculture sector. This platform will incorporate Federal, state, and local data that could prove useful to farmers, rural businesses, conservationists and economic development professionals. Resulting maps will aggregate soil, water, meteorological and infrastructure GIS data that can be compared and visualized to meet the needs of a particular project. It is anticipated that this tool will be particularly useful for planning future agricultural activities in response to climate change in Michigan.

In Action:

  • Trust for Public Land: The Trust for Public Land will commit new organizational resources through the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to help America's cities lessen their vulnerability to climate-related heat events. Specifically, over the next two years the Trust for Public Land will help fill national gaps in heat-risk spatial data and modeling for cities, expand its Urban Heat Risk Explorer App to new cities, and develop a heat risk reduction GIS toolkit to help cities strategically target green infrastructure for heat resilience.    
by Adena Schutzberg on 07/29 at 05:48 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The White House is keeping busy. In two separate efforts the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is reviewing geospatial technology initiatives in earth observation systems and in disaster response and recovery.

On July 18th, the OSTP released a report on the National Plan for Civil Earth Observations with the express purpose, according to the report, to "maximize the value of observations collected by Federal agencies of the Earth’s land surfaces, oceans, and atmosphere. The Plan is a blueprint for future Federal investments in and strategic partnerships to advance Earth observing systems that help protect life and property, stimulate economic growth, maintain homeland security, and advance scientific research and public understanding." The plan was based on input from various sources called for last November. The plan identifies specific prior ties including but not limited to:

  1. Continuity of sustained observations for public services
  2. Continuity of sustained observations for Earth-system research
  3. Continued investment in experimental observations

Subsequent to these priorities are specific actions that include:

  1. Coordinate and integrate observations
  2. Improve data access, management, and interoperability
  3. Increase efficiency and cost savings

And today at the White House, the OSTP is reviewing demonstrations and apps from public and private organizations for mitigating the challenges brought about by natural disaster response and recovery. Today is "White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Initiative Demo Day" whereby several private companies and public agencies are demonstrating technology that will hopefully cut the "red tape" of getting data and information to first responders and officials that need better access to geospatial technology. For example, the NGA is demonstrating GeoQ, an open source platform that was released to GitHub in March. The NGA is working with the non-profit GEO Huntsville on a pilot project called "Blueprint for Safety" (at the 1:12 mark of the video below) that supports geospatial data sharing and tasking for first responders.

The entire demonstration was broadcast live and can be found at YouTube:

These activities come on the heels of another White House report on "big data and privacy" that called attention to how geospatial information is used and its potential impact to privacy especially from data collected by social media.

by Joe Francica on 07/29 at 05:48 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Monday, July 28, 2014

Tiny Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts took the lead on an open letter (pdf) sent to the Federal Aviation Administration last week to protest that researchers don't have access to the same hobbiest model planes that ten year olds do. Current regulations prevent commerical users and private school employees from using such UASs and although public universities can ask for permission, there are many hoops. Thus, thirty individuals from Smith, Harvard and Standford as well as the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin signed on.

I'm pleased to see colleges and universities making it clear UAS are important research and teaching tools. Despite it being an "open letter," I have yet to find the full text. I'll post it when I find it.

h/t to JC

by Adena Schutzberg on 07/28 at 09:30 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Friday, July 25, 2014

More info via various sources. Suggestion to Esri: It'd sure be nice if all of this information was on the MOOC home page.

Start date: Sept 3 (via Learn ArcGiS)

MOOC guest lecturers: (via @esrimooc):  

  • David Gadsden - Esri Nonprofit Program coordinator. Geographer. Humanitarian. GIS Professional and Advocate.@david_gadsden
  • Kenneth Field - Cartonerd mad about maps; @CartoJnl editor; Nottm Forest; drums; snowboards; views mine not my employers.@kennethfield

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 07/25 at 09:54 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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