Thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas. Another definition of thought leader is an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded.
Today, as it has throughout its 35-year history, MAPPS is a thought leader in the geospatial community. The association’s views and input are regularly requested by Congress, government agencies, other associations, the market, and the membership itself.
At our Summer Conference, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), a not-for-profit organization that partners with insurers and law enforcement agencies, chose MAPPS as the venue to unveil its proposed national imagery and geospatial data program. This program, that may result in millions of dollars in services from scores of MAPPS member firms, was briefed at a MAPPS event because the association and its members are considered both thought and technical leaders in the field.
When MAPPS members recognized that a void existed in education and training of the next generation of business leaders in geospatial firms, they came to MAPPS, for the establishment of an Emerging Leaders program. Our organization was viewed as a trusted source above any other association. Today, MAPPS has such a program.
Congress has viewed MAPPS as a thought leader on the FLAIR Act, Digital Coast, 3DEP, FEMA flood mapping reform, and a variety of other important issues. MAPPS is the “go-to” association on geospatial legislation. When the Geospatial Data Act was introduced in Congress, the senior professional staff of the Senate Commerce Committee, the panel to which the bill was referred, immediately came to MAPPS for input and recommendations.
For more than nine years MAPPS has been at the forefront of education policy, technology, and information related to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Our input has regularly been sought by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and we‘ve had members appointed to three UAS advisory committees: beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), registration, and controlled airspace. No other geospatial organization has had such input into UAS policy and regulation. MAPPS was the only geospatial organization invited by the Obama Administration to participate in last year’s Workshop on Drones and the Future of Aviation and was invited by the White House to participate in a stakeholder process on Promoting Economic Competitiveness While Safeguarding Privacy, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties in Domestic Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems. MAPPS was also asked to participate with the National Conference of State Legislatures in the development of research on “Current Unmanned Aircraft State Law”.
The MAPPS position as a though leader extends to the states as well. MAPPS was named in a bill in the Pennsylvania legislature that has become law for a seat on the State Geospatial Coordinating Board (GeoBoard), MAPPS was asked to testify before the Wisconsin state legislature on UAS, and MAPPS is assisting the surveying licensing board in Maryland with regulations on mapping.
It was an idea born in MAPPS, to pre-position contracts for imagery and other geospatial data for emergency response, that resulted in the awarding of the Remote Sensing to Support Incident Management and Homeland Security (RSIM) contracts by the Department of Homeland Security.
When the federal government’s Homeland Infrastructure Foundation-Level Data (HIFLD) subcommittee organized the 2016 “Parcels for the Nation” Summit, it partnered with MAPPS. The Federal Highway Administration consulted MAPPS on implementation of Federal law regarding utilization of the private sector for surveying and mapping by state departments of transportation. The Corps of Engineers sought the assistance of MAPPS when resolving difficulties regarding management aircraft and aerial imagery and contracting.
In recent months, the office of the Secretary of the Interior, White House staff, and other leaders of the Trump Administration solicited input from MAPPS on LANDSAT commercialization, regulations, privatization, and government consolidation and reorganization.
When data initiatives such as the Imagery for the Nation (IFTN), Transportation for the Nation (TFTN) and others proved abortive, the USGS came to MAPPS for guidance on launching a national program that would be a success. Today, 3DEP is being funded and is gaining widespread support based on the strong MAPPS-USGS partnership, and we continually collaborate with USGS on 3DEP strategy.
As an association of member firms, MAPPS is a thought leader because of the firms, and their principals, who are members. These are just a few of the more recent examples of where the input, recommendations and thought leadership of MAPPS has been sought, and where we have impacted policy, legislation, professional practice and the market. This thought leadership shows that the benefit of membership in MAPPS is not just what a firm receives, but how the association is a vehicle and forum for giving back to the profession and our Nation.