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"Spatially Speaking" is the official MAPPS blog providing information on topics related to the association and profession and MAPPS involvement with the issues.


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MAPPS 3DEP Initiative Moves Ahead

Posted By John Palatiello, Monday, May 04, 2015

MAPPS is spear-heading a campaign to promote to Congress the need to fund the 3DEP program in the Appropriations process.

We launched a specific website in support of 3DEP -

We published a "coffee table book" on 3DEP and LiDAR (see digital version). I will be happy to provide you a printed, hard copy.

We ran an advertisement in "The Hill" on April 14 and 15. (scroll down)

More than 120 surveying and mapping professionals visited Congress on April 15 to advocate for 3DEP during a national conference.  Here is the issue paper that was presented to more than 80 Senators and 125 members of the House.

MAPPS hosted a 3DEP stakeholder forum of interested Federal agencies and non-Federal interested parties.

We are assembling a broad coalition of organizations in support of 3DEP.

Interest in LiDAR is also catching on at the state level.  Legislation was recently enacted in Washington State to expand LiDAR coverage, as a result of the Oso, WA landslide.

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MAPPS Best Practices on Privacy of Geospatial Data

Posted By John Palatiello, Friday, May 01, 2015

Comments due to MAPPS by May 15.

Recent legislative and regulatory efforts to protect consumers and citizens, in the name of “privacy”, have cast a wide net creating unintended consequences for mapping and geospatial firms. Geospatial data is derived from images and data collected from a variety of airborne and space borne platforms, as well as other mobile and terrestrial-based acquisition systems. This imagery and data is regularly and historically collected, utilized and applied in geographic information systems (GIS) by companies engaged in free market commerce and by government authorities operating within the safeguards, rights and framework established by the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed to protect the privacy of individual citizens’ "sensitive” data, including "precise geolocation data” that included, for example, an address. However, FTC did not define the term "precise geolocation data” and a report recommended that before any firm could collect, store, or use such data, it would be required to "provide prominent disclosures and obtain affirmative express consent before using consumer data in a materially different manner than claimed when the data was collected...". While the surveying, mapping and geospatial community generally, and MAPPS members particularly, provided substantial comments on the first draft of the FTC report, in March 2012, the FTC final report, “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change”, provided only a single footnote to address the geospatial community’s concerns. It said:


"With respect to use of geolocation data for mapping, surveying or similar purposes, if the data cannot reasonably be linked to a specific consumer, computer, or device, a company collecting or using the data would not need to provide a consumer choice mechanism. Similarly, if a company takes reasonable measures to de-identify smart grid data and takes the other steps outlined above, the company would not be obligated to obtain consent before collecting or using the data.”


In the report, the FTC went on to note “the Commission calls on individual companies, trade associations, and self-regulatory bodies to adopt the principles contained in the final privacy framework, to the extent they have not already done so.”

In an effort to establish best practices, principles and a self-regulatory framework for its member firms, a MAPPS task force led by President-Elect Susan Marlow (Stantec, Nashville, TN) has drafted guide to meet the FTC’s challenge.  The following was presented to the MAPPS membership for review and comment earlier this year.  This draft has been reviewed by the MAPPS Board of Directors and approved in principle, pending final review and comment by the membership:

MAPPS, is the only national association of firms in the surveying, spatial data and geographic information systems field in the United States. MAPPS member firms are engaged in surveying, photogrammetry, satellite and airborne remote sensing, aerial photography, hydrography, aerial and satellite image processing, GPS and GIS data collection and conversion services. Our associate members include firms that provide products and services to our member firms, as well as other firms world-wide.

MAPPS member firms conduct their business in accordance with high ethical, moral and legal standards, efficiently, in good faith, and in the best interests of their respective companies, their employees, shareholders and other related stakeholders.  MAPPS member firms maintain business practice standards that earn the respect of everyone with whom the companies conduct business.  MAPPS member firms are a part of the geospatial profession that provides geospatial products and services to a broad range of markets.

Geospatial information plays an important role in our society.  Almost all human activities and decisions have a geospatial component.  In general, the value of personal information increases when it is connected to a location.  All kinds of personal information can be connected to a geospatial location such as financial data, health data, and other consumer behavioral data.  With the rapid technological development and wide uptake of smart mobile devices a whole new category of location based services is developing. 

The phrase “precise geolocation information” is becoming a part of many legislative actions.  The word “precise” may be misleading and if left undefined will wreak havoc in the geospatial community. Most importantly, a clear and concise definition will protect the public’s well-being and safety by enabling citizens and consumers access to data, devices, and location based services such as E-911, electronic lost and found, and navigation. The term should be defined to accomplish the actual goals of the legislation and not result in unintended consequences such as thwarting legitimate and desired business activities or denying consumers the products, technologies, and services they are demanding in the marketplace.  The purpose of most of the legislation is to protect personal and private information of individuals that have not given consent to collect such information.  This policy is intended to define the best practices for protecting personal privacy when collecting geospatial data. 

There should be a distinction between the term “precise geospatial information” and “precise personal geospatial information”. 

MAPPS recognizes and agrees that everyone has the right to protect their personal data.  Personal data should only be gathered legally under strict conditions, for a legitimate purpose. Furthermore, persons or organizations which collect and manage personal information should protect it from misuse and should respect certain rights of the data owners.

Individuals regularly disclose personal information such as their names, photographs, telephone numbers, birth date, and address while engaged in a whole range of everyday activities. This personal data may be collected and processed for a wide variety of legitimate purposes such as business transactions, joining clubs, applying for a job, and so on.  Also, when purchasing devices with GPS technology, such as smart phones, individuals typically agree to share their location.  Sharing your location can provide an enormous amount of personal information about your habits and behavior. 

When should a company obtain individual consent when collecting geospatial data?

Any information about the location and shape of, and the relationships among, geographic features, including remotely sensed and map data.


Any graphical or digital data depicting natural or manmade physical features, phenomena, or boundaries of the earth and any information related thereto, including surveys, maps, charts, remote sensing data, and images.


Collection, storage, retrieval, or dissemination of graphical or digital data to depict natural or manmade physical features, phenomena, or boundaries of the earth and any information related to such data, including any such data that comprises a survey, map, chart, geographic information system, remotely sensed image or data, or an aerial photograph by surveyors, photogrammetrists, hydrographers, geodesists, cartographers, or other such mapping and geospatial professionals.


Data originating from commercial satellite systems licensed to operate by the U.S. government, global positioning systems, geographic information systems, and airborne or terrestrial mapping equipment. 



Collection, storage, retrieval or aggregation of information about an individual that is publically available such as legal information found in deeds, property records, and property maps


Personal information about an individual’s real time geospatial location


Personal information that is protected under law such as health and employment information. 


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MAPPS Webinar on Cybersecurity

Posted By Beth Hawley, Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Cyber-attacks represent increasingly dangerous and consequential threats facing businesses. As our reliance on information technology steadily grows, our digital infrastructure remains vulnerable to the mounting intrusions by independent cybercriminals and state-sponsored operations. This puts almost all aspects of American life, and our firms, at risk.

U.S. computer networks have already sustained numerous high-level security breaches, including the hack of Sony Pictures last fall. These intrusions have cost American businesses hundreds of millions of dollars, while giving foreign entities access to sensitive intellectual property.

To help MAPPS member firms understand and address this growing threat, we are hosting a webinar on how to secure your cyber network and prevent data breaches.

Also, you will learn about new requirements imposed on Federal contractors to enhance cyber security.

Join us as Robert Dix, VP of Global Government Affairs and Public Policy for Juniper Networks, and Rebecca Lawson, Senior Director of Product Marketing for Juniper Networks, lead a conversation about how the market is delivering innovation to address the cybersecurity challenge and how you can help in the adoption of best practices and technologies to reduce the risk of cyber intrusions in your own environment.

You'll leave with:

  • A better understanding of the policy and technical elements of cybersecurity risk management;
  • A look at innovations to address the cybersecurity challenge that are coming down the pike;
  • Instructions on how you can help in the adoption of best practices and technologies to reduce the risk of cyber intrusions in your own environment.

The webinar is Thursday, April 30 at 2:00 PM EDT.

For further information and to register, click here.

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MAPPS Discusses UAS at Small Business Administration

Posted By Beth Hawley, Friday, April 10, 2015

At the urging of MAPPS, the Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy, hosted a roundtable meeting to discuss the Federal Aviation Administration’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) on April 9.

MAPPS Executive Director John Palatiello was invited to be the spokesman for small business.  He was joined by FAA Assistant General Counsel Mark Bury (see Bury.FAASmall UAS attachment below) in presentations on the proposed rules, with an emphasis on its affect on small business.  Mr. Palatiello presented (see JMP MAPPS SBA UAS attachment below) an overview of the geospatial profession and comments on UAS and the rules.

A MAPPS task force is drafting the association’s comments on the NPRM. This will soon be shared with the membership. Comments on FAA’s proposed rule are due to FAA by Friday, April 24, 20015.

 Attached Files:

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MAPPS Minute

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 24, 2015

MAPPS Minute for February 24, 2015

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MAPPS Continues to be Active on UAS

Posted By John Palatiello, Monday, February 23, 2015

As I am sure you are aware, earlier last week, the Federal Aviation Administration issued its long-awaited notice of proposed rulemaking on commercial unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

For the benefit of MAPPS members, our Special Aviation Counsel, Gregory Winton, Esq., has prepared a memorandum that summarizes and analyzes the proposed rule and provides information on filing comments with the FAA. All MAPPS members are encouraged to submit comments.

Additionally, MAPPS released a public statement regarding the proposed rule.

I hope this information is helpful. Given the transformative impact UAS will have on the geospatial community, MAPPS has been engaged in issues on this matter for more than six years. And, we will be providing the most comprehensive information and education anywhere in the geospatial community at the Drone World Expo in San Jose, California on November 17-18.


John M. Palatiello
MAPPS Executive Director

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NOAA Briefing on President's 2016 Budget Rescheduled

Posted By Beth Hawley, Monday, February 23, 2015

NOAA Stakeholder Briefing on the President’s FY 2016 Budget Request

February 24, 2015, 12:30 - 2:30 p.m. EST
**rescheduled from February 17

Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA Administrator
Dr. Holly Bamford, NOAA Acting Deputy Administrator
Gary Reisner, NOAA Budget Director
NOAA Line Office Assistant Administrators

U.S. Department of Commerce Auditorium
1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230
(Please enter through the main entrance on 14th Street)

Dial: 1-800-369-2170 / Passcode: 2352829

Download presentations here.

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Call for Presentations for National Surveying and Mapping Conference

Posted By Beth Hawley, Wednesday, February 18, 2015

“Collaboration: The Map to the Future”  is a surveying, mapping and geospatial conference will serve as an umbrella featuring a “conference within a conference” format in which participating organizations will hold respective meetings and sessions. The hosts are MAPPS and NSPS, with events during the conference by the National Geodetic Survey of NOAA, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Geospatial Management Office of the Department of Homeland Security.

The conference will include general sessions, an exhibit hall, and social/networking activities designed to create synergy among the many vertical segments (technical disciplines, applications, and sectors) of the surveying, mapping and geospatial community. It will bring together all stakeholders, constituents, and levels of government in the surveying, mapping, and geospatial field.  It will be a forum for a discussion of issues and policies, sharing of information and provision of education, and collaboration.

For the general sessions, this “Call for Presentations” is being issued to invite thought leaders in the community to share their knowledge and facilitate discussions on issues in the profession.

Proposals for individual presentations, panel discussions, and “town hall meetings” are requested on topics such as:

Government Coordination

Public-Private Partnerships

Data Acquisition, Processing, or Applications

New and Emerging Technology

New Markets




Mobile Mapping

Cloud Computing



The conference organizers particularly encourage firms that are exhibitors to propose presentations on technologies to be the subject of their exhibit booths.

Presentations can be --

Technical: an emerging technology, applications, data collection or processing,

Government Programs: data collection initiatives, contracting, legislation, or public policy, or


Business and Professional Practice: management, ethics or operations issues in a surveying, mapping, or geospatial firm, agency or organization.

If you have a presentation you would like to make, or session you would like to organize, we would welcome those offers and ideas. Please submit your suggestion or expression of interest, along with a title, 50 word abstract, and name of the presenter, to John Palatiello, MAPPS Executive Director, by March 1.

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MAPPS Members Approve Bylaws Amendment Giving Board Seat to Associate Members

Posted By John Palatiello, Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The MAPPS membership approved an amendment to the association's bylaws at a special meeting held held January 28 during the MAPPS Winter Conference.

That amendment provides a non-voting, ex officio seat on the MAPPS Board of Directors for an individual from a MAPPS Associate Member Firm, to be elected by and from the Associate Members.

A conference call meeting of Associate Members will soon be scheduled to elect the Director.

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Strategic Plan Update Adopted by MAPPS Board

Posted By John Palatiello, Tuesday, February 17, 2015

MAPPS has been guided by a Strategic Plan since the 1980s and a robust 4-year update cycle since 1998.

During 2014, the MAPPS Board engaged the membership in a process for soliciting member input and revising the association's plan. A session was held at the Winter Conference in February, 2014, an on-line membership survey was conducted in June, a session was held at the Summer Conference in July, and the plan was sent to all committee and forum chairs for review by their panels, all to provide opportunities for the membership to make its views known to the Board. A final strategic plan, incorporating the feedback received from that outreach, as adopted by the MAPPS Board at its meeting at the recently-held 2015 Winter Conference. Thanks to all members who provided comments and suggestions.

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