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Spatially Speaking
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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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Top tags: Congress  Geospatial  LIDAR  Privacy  UAV  FAA  3DEP  Mapping  MAPPS  Surveying  Economy  FCC  FLAIR Act  USGS  Advocacy  Business  Exporting  FGDC  FTC  Jobs  MIO-UIMT  NOAA  Tax  USACE  2014 Winter Conference  Accomplishments  Aviation  COGO  DHS  Digital Coast 

Astaeus Aerial Exemption to Allow UAS for Entertainment Filming.

Posted By Beth Hawley, Friday, October 10, 2014
Read more about it here.

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MAPPS Calls For Examples of Academia Engagement in Geospatial Activities

Posted By Beth Hawley, Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Congress is preparing to reauthorize the Higher Education Authorization (HEA), the Federal law that establishes policy and reauthorizes Federal programs in support of colleges and universities. MAPPS has long advocated for colleges and universities engage in preparing the next generation of professionals and technical leaders. This preparations should largely consisted of education, training, and basic research. However, all to often universities stray from education and basic research by engaging in commercial activities, including geospatial production work, in direct and unfair duplication and competition with private sector geospatial firms.

At the request of the Committee on Education and the Workforce of the U.S. House of Representatives, the MAPPS staff has been tasked with collecting examples from the MAPPS membership where the academic community successfully partners with the private sector for geospatial education and research, as well as examples of where the academic community performs clearly commercial geospatial work that is already available from or conducted by the private sector.

Please take a few minutes to contact MAPPS staff John "JB" Byrd and provide him with the following information. The deadline to respond is October 15, 2014.

For the benefits of successful education and basic research partnerships, please include the following:
Name of the college/university; Client/agency/source of revenue; dollar value of the program/project; Scope of the education and/or training provided to students; and any additional documentation or weblinks (including online promotion of the effort by the college/university, or media coverage).

For the problems with unfair university competition, please include the following:
Name of the college/university; Client/agency/source of revenue; dollar value of the program/project; Scope of work including location mapped; and any additional documentation or weblinks (including online promotion of the contract or project by the college/university, or media coverage). There are often incidents where the university fails and the project is suspended. If you are aware of such incidents, please provide details.

None of the details you provide will be attributed to you or your firm. This data call is your opportunity to provide MAPPS staff with recent and relevant examples of engagement by academic institutions that are both helpful and harmful to the private sector geospatial community, and will provide actionable information that Congress can use to write provisions in the Higher Education Act to help focus colleges and universities on their core mission, while reducing or eliminating unfair university competition with the private sector in our field.

Marvin Miller, Chair
MAPPS Forum on Unfair Government and University Competition

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Where is the market growing? Exports!

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Thursday, September 04, 2014
Updated: Thursday, September 04, 2014

When MAPPS started planning an international conference, we knew that exporting was a growth market.

Now the latest government data confirms our assumption - exports are driving U.S. economic growth and job creation.

Don't miss out on this opportunity to keep or create jobs, increase revenue, open new markets, and establish new clients.

Register today for the Geospatial and Engineering International Conference, September 25-26 at the Westin Hotel in Alexandria, VA. 

Registration Discount Offer Extended!

Book your hotel room at the Westin Alexandria and receive a promotional code to take an extra $50 off the already reduced early registration fee. Once you have booked your hotel room, email MAPPS to receive the promotional code! This offer has been extended to September 12.

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MAPPS Minute - Awards and Special Offer

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Friday, August 22, 2014

Check out the "MAPPS Accomplishments" video produced for the 2014 Summer Conference.

Pictures from the MAPPS Summer Conference have been posted on the MAPPS Facebook page. While you're there, don't forget to "LIKE" our page!

Special Offer for Geospatial & Engineering International Conference - REGISTER AND SAVE TODAY!

Conference attendees are eligible for a $50 discount in addition to the early registration fee by making a hotel reservation at the Westin Alexandria (Alexandria, VA). Once an attendee has reserved a room, contact MAPPS to receive a special promotional code to receive the $50 discount. This offer will expire on September 4.

The full program and registration are available at

Tags:  Accomplishments  Exporting  FLAIR  Global Trade  International  MAPPS Summer Conference  UAV 

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Contact U.S. Senators to cosponsor the Digital Coast Act

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Congress is on its August recess, meaning Representatives and Senators are in their home states meeting with constituents and taking part in events. MAPPS members should use this time period to contact their Senators and urge them to cosponsor the soon-to-be-introduced "Digital Coast Act of 2014." Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) plans to introduce the Senate companion to H.R. 1382, a bipartisan bill in the U.S. House by Representatives "Dutch" Ruppersberger (D-MD) and Don Young (R-AK). This bill would formally authorize the highly popular “Digital Coast” project in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that provides geospatial data to our coastal communities.
Current cosponsors include Senators Mark Begich (D-AK), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Angus King (I-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA). From this list, you will see that no Republican Senator is listed. The challenge is for MAPPS members from coastal states (including the Great Lakes), or branch offices in these states, with a Republican Senator to contact your respective Senators and urge them to join Sen. Baldwin in cosponsoring this important bill. Visits, meetings and communications should be focused on Republican Senators from Coastal states.  

Targeted Coastal Republican Senators are: AL: Sessions, Shelby; AK: Murkowski; FL: Rubio; GA: Chambliss, Isakson; IL: Kirk; IN: Coats; LA: Vitter; ME: Collins; MS: Cochran, Wicker; NC: Burr; OH: Portman; PA: Toomey; SC: Graham, Scott; TX: Cornyn, Cruz; and WI: Johnson.

You can also contact these Senators’ legislative staff in Washington, DC. To help identify staff, or for further assistance, please contact MAPPS government affairs manager John "JB" Byrd at or 703-787-6996.

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Support for 3DEP Growing

Posted By John Palatiello, Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Support is growing for 3DEP, the USGS program to develop nationwide elevation coverage of the United States.

MAPPS led the effort to generate stakeholder support for 3DEP funding on Congress.  MAPPS Government Affairs Manager John “JB” Byrd coordinated letters of support from MAPPS and numerous other groups and I had the privilege of testifying before the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. The effort bore fruit. Last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year 2015 bill and included the following in its explanatory committee report (page 38), “Core Science Systems.—The Committee recommends $106,151,000 for core science systems, $2,656,000 below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $3,249,000 below the budget request.  The Committee recommendation includes the requested increases for the Big Earth Data Initiative; Ecosystem Information; the 3–D Elevation Program; the Alaska mapping project; and the National Map Modernization effort.” The figures in the President’s request are $5 million for 3DEP, $236,000 for Alaska Mapping, $1.9 million for The National Map Modernization, and $60,428,000 for the National Geospatial Program. 

There was also a very exciting announcement from the White House this week. The Obama Administration announced a climate change data initiative that includes 3DEP. John Byrd and I met with a member of the White House staff, Bina Venkatarman, Senior Advisor for Climate Change Innovation, to discuss the role 3DEP and other geospatial data play in verifying, validating, monitoring and measuring the alleged effects of climate change. The White House initiative provides, “Developing advanced mapping data and tools. The Department of the Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey and other Federal agencies today launched a $13.1 million 3-D Elevation Program partnership designed to bring Federal agencies, academia, corporate entities, states, tribes, and communities together to develop advanced 3-dimensional mapping data of the United States. These data and related tools will be used in the areas of flood risk management, water resource planning, mitigation of coastal erosion and storm surge impacts, and identification of landslide hazards as an essential component of supporting action on climate resilience. 

3D Model provided by Woolpert, Inc. of the southern side of Fire Island, Long Island, NY. 

On July 18, 2014, the USGS issued a Broad Agency Announcement that provides detailed information on how to partner with the USGS and other Federal agencies to acquire high-quality 3D data. Information and contacts are now available at FedBizOps. Offerors may contribute funds toward a USGS lidar data acquisition activity or they may request 3DEP funds toward a lidar data acquisition activity where the requesting partner is the acquiring authority. Federal agencies, state and local governments, tribes, academic institutions and the private sector are eligible to submit pre-proposals.

USGS is holding a Congressional briefing on its 3DEP program Friday, July 25 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.  

The 11:00 am briefing on the House of Representatives side of the Congress/Capitol is open to Congressional staff, MAPPS members, and other supportive groups from the general public.  It will be in 2325 Rayburn House Office Building.

An afternoon briefing on the Senate side is CLOSED to the public and is limited to Senate staff.  It is at 2:00 pm in SD-366, Dirksen Senate Office Building.

All MAPPS members are welcome to attend the morning session.  Please encourage any Congressional staff with whom you are familiar or have relationships to attend their respective sessions (House staff in the morning, Senate staff in the afternoon).  In particular, follow-up with all staff with whom you met during the MAPPS Federal Programs Conference and encourage them to attend the briefing.

MAPPS is a sponsor of the event and will host lunch at the House event.

Tags:  3DEP  Climate Change  Congress  Conservation  Elevation  Elevation Data  Emergency Response  geospatial  LIDAR  Technology  USGS 

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Privacy Update and Request for Information

Posted By John Palatiello, Thursday, July 10, 2014

MAPPS has for some time been working on the issue of individual citizen privacy as it applies to geospatial data.

Specifically, the Federal Trade Commission, and legislation in Congress and some state legislatures, seek to regulate the collection, use, storage, and dissemination of "precise geolocation data", and in most instances, fails to define that term.

MAPPS has held sessions at its conferences, "lobbied' the issue before Congress, presented testimony before Congress, and educated the community through blogs and trade magazine articles.  

Recently, Senator John Thune (R-SD) questioned the FTC Chair on this issue.  Attached are his questions and FTC's responses.  This is significant because the extent of the government's regulatory interest is narrowed by a doctrine of  “context of the interaction” that had not previously been shared with MAPPS or others in the geospatial community (e.g. COGO or the FGDC)  exempts a large percentage (but not all) of what our members do.

The FTC challenged associations to develop a "best practices" guide for its members in its report, "Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change".
MAPPS, under the leadership of Susann Marlow (Smart Data Strategies, Franklin, TN), our Cadastre Task Force Chair and MAPPS President-Elect, we are attempting to draft such a "best practices" guide.

If your firm has a guide, policy or any other document regarding privacy and the data you collect, store, apply, or disseminate, I would be grateful if you would share it so we might consider it in the development of a MAPPS document for the good of the profession and the public we serve in the marketplace.

Please send your policy, guidance, standard, etc. to me and to Susan.

Thank you in advance for your contribution to your profession.

Tags:  Congress  Data  Federal Trade Commission  FGDC  FTC  Geospatial  John Thune  Privacy  Technology 

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MAPPS News on UAS Exemption, Federal Contracting and Nominations

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Thursday, June 05, 2014

Today, MAPPS is announcing it will host a webinar to review the Section 333 application process of the FAA Modernization Act of 2012 for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for private sector geospatial firms and solicit interested MAPPS member firms that want to be part of the application.  Time, date and registration will be announced by email and on the MAPPS website shortly.

The ability for MAPPS to address this and other aviation related issues is due to the contributions of firms to our Aviation Legal Plan. MAPPS members are encouraged to make a minimum donation of $250 to participate in the Plan. Contribute online now

The MAPPS Summer Meeting is July 27-31 in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.  At the conference we will have a special “UAS Day” which is focus on the systems, sensors, data, application and regulations for UAS.  Don’t miss this unique opportunity. Register today!

On June 25, the Council on Federal Procurement of Architecture and Engineering Services, COFPAES, of which MAPPS is a member, will host an introductory webinar to Federal Contracting of Professional A/E, mapping and related services. If your firm is interested in expanding your business through Federal contracting, you will not want to miss this session. MAPPS members receive a discount registration of $49.00.  Register at

A final reminder, individuals who wish to be considered for election to the MAPPS Board can submit a statement of interest in writing to the chair of our Nominations, Pamela Nobles, by close of business Thursday, June 5. 

MAPPS continues to be an advocate for market growth and private sector geospatial firms.

In an economy where you are counting every dollar, it is good to know you can count on MAPPS.

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MAPPS Minute: Memorial Day Message and Advocacy Update

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Thursday, May 22, 2014

This week's MAPPS minutes focuses on MAPPS events, deadlines and advocacy. Click on the video above to learn more about MAPPS activities.

We hope all our members have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Weekend.

As a reminder, the MAPPS offices will be closed on Monday, May 26.

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MAPPS to Host Member's Only Webinar on Highway Bill Reauthorization

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Thursday, May 15, 2014

One of the things MAPPS members most like about our association is the fact that MAPPS works to make the pie bigger. MAPPS is the only association working in Washington, DC to grow the market for geospatial services, data and technology.

One market that has always been at the top of the list for MAPPS member firms is transportation … and highways in particular.

Working with the MAPPS Infrastructure Forum and our Legislative Affairs Committee, we have been developing proposals for Congress for inclusion in this year's “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” or MAP-21 legislation. That law expires on September 30.  Congress must act this year to reauthorize the Federal role in our national highway program.

Now is your chance to provide input to the MAPPS recommendations. MAPPS will host a Member's Only webinar on Monday, May 19, registration information is being sent via email to the MAPPS membership. 

We'll provide an overview of the legislation and its prognosis in Congress, present a draft MAPPS recommendation, and solicit your input!

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