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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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Voice of Geospatial Surveying and Mapping Firms Heard in Congress

Posted By John "JB" Byrd, Thursday, October 31, 2013
On October 23, the House passed H.R. 3080, the "Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2013" by a 417-3 vote. MAPPS supported an amendment, sponsored by Reps. Don Young (R-AK) and Tom Petri (R-WI), to increase the Corps of Engineers' reliance on the private sector in surveying and mapping. The Young-Petri Amendment would have authorized the Corps to rely on the private sector for surveying, mapping and geospatial services to the maximum extent practical. MAPPS members contacted their members of Congress and urged the U.S. House of Representatives to vote "Yes" on the Young-Petri Amendment.
During floor debate, Reps. Young, Petri, and John J. "Jimmy" Duncan, Jr. (R-TN), three senior members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, spoke passionately in favor of the amendment. Subcommittee Ranking Member Tim Bishop (D-NY) and House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) voiced their opposition. Shuster used the term "reluctant opposition". Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) voiced her opposition earlier in the day. Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Gibbs (R-OH) and Committee Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-WV) did not oppose. Based on opposition to the amendment by Chairman Shuster, a decision was made not to demand a roll call vote. Watch the 10 minute debate from C-SPAN - 4:27:25-4:36:30.

The good news for private sector geospatial firms is that your voice was heard by Congress! In addition, Reps. Young and Petri received letters and messages of support and endorsements for this amendment from MAPPS as well as the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), Business Coalition for Fair Competition (BCFC), Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT), American Conservative Union (ACU), Heritage Action, and National Taxpayers Union (NTU). The House Republican Study Committee (RSC) also posted information on the Young-Petri Amendment. Opposing the amendment was the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the Transportation Trades Department (TTD), and the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers (IFPTE).
The amendment was necessary because MAPPS members have been concerned over the increasing duplication of and competition with the private sector by the Corps of Engineers. Traditionally, the Corps had been one of the leading agencies in the use of the private sector for surveying and mapping services. However, over the last few years, USACE has not lived up to that tradition. Our continuing concern is over the extent to which the Corps is increasingly (1) insourcing work traditionally performed by the private sector, (2) failing to utilize the private sector for a broad range of surveying and mapping activities, and (3) purchasing equipment, including hydro boats and a UAV to support in-house performance of services that are commercially available by contract from the private sector, including small business. MAPPS will continue to advocate the issue to help private sector geospatial surveying and mapping firms.

Tags:  Amendments  Congress  Contracting  Corps  Mapping  Sureveying  USACE  WRRDA 

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Call for Presentations for MAPPS Winter Conference

Posted By John Palatiello, Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 29, 2013
The 2014 MAPPS Winter Meeting will be held February 9 to 13, 2014 at the Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, San Diego, California.

The MAPPS Program Committee, chaired by Mike Tully (Aerial Services, Inc., Cedar Falls, IA), is hard at work organizing an outstanding program of sessions and presentations. While the committee scans the profession to identify topics and speakers, we want to reach out directly to our members.

If you have a presentation you would like to make, we would welcome those offers and ideas.

Presentations can be --

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

management: markets, human resources, finance, legislation, or public policy.

Please submit your suggestion with a title, 50 word abstract, and name of the presenter to me by November 5 (one week from today).

This post has not been tagged.

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MAPPS Minute - Legislative Action Alert!

Posted By John "JB" Byrd, Tuesday, October 22, 2013

MAPPS Legislative Alert - Contact Your Member of Congress and Urge a "Yes" Vote to the Young Amendment on "Surveying and Mapping" to H.R. 3080 the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2013

MAPPS members have been concerned over the increasing duplication of and competition with the private sector by the Corps of Engineers, particularly in the field of surveying, mapping and geospatial activities. Learn more.

MAPPS supports an amendment to H.R. 3080 to increase the Corps' reliance on the capable, qualified and efficient private sector in surveying and mapping. MAPPS is pleased to announce that Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) will offer an amendment to H.R. 3080 that would authorize USACE to rely on the private sector for surveying, mapping and geospatial services and activities to the maximum extent practical.
Debate and consideration for H.R. 3080 is scheduled to being Wednesday, October 23, contact your Representative today! This action is in the House not the Senate.

Tags:  Insourcing  Mapping  Surveying  USACE  Water Resources  WRRDA 

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MAPPS Minute - October 18

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Friday, October 18, 2013

MAPPS announces appointment to the Board of Directions, postponement of the Geospatial & Engineering International Conference and announcement of dates for the 2014 Winter Conference at The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, CA.

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Tags:  Board of Directors  Exporting  Geospatial  Winter Conference 

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MAPPS Minute October 4, 2013

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Friday, October 4, 2013



We cover a lot in this week's MAPPS "minute"! As announced in the video, MAPPS will host a webinar on Thursday, October 10 with our guests being representatives from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reviewing the draft Geospatial Concept of Operation (CONOPS). Learn more about our involvement with a joint letter to Congress opposing a government shutdown, meetings with USACE, BLM, USGS, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and more!

Tags:  CFPB  Congress  DHS  Exporting  Geospatial  USACE 

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MAPPS Minute - Jeff Lower - September 27, 2013

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Friday, September 27, 2013

MAPPS President Jeff Lower provides this week's "MAPPS Minute". Interested in joining a committee? Sign in to the website with your username/password and go to "MAPPS Groups" in the navigation bar. Select "Committees" to take a look at the variety of topics MAPPS is addressing.

Tags:  Committees  MAPPS  Membership  Professionalism  Volunteer 

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MAPPS Participates on Digital Coast Panel Focus on Coastal Resiliency for Planning Professionals

Posted By John "JB" Byrd, Thursday, September 26, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 7, 2013
On September 30, I participated on a panel of experts focused on "Federal Agency Support for Resilient Communities" during the American Planning Association (APA)'s Federal Policy Conference. My presentation focused on Federal programs, such as NOAA's Digital Coast and 3DEP within USGS, as well as legislation impacting "Resiliency" such as MAP-21, WRDA, and how accurate elevation and geographic data generated by geospatial technology, services, products can benefit planning for resiliency at the local, state and Federal levels of government. Also participating with MAPPS on the panel were Kathy Nothstine (NACo), Samantha Medlock (ASFPM) and moderator Kara Drane (APA)-- each of these organizations are members of the Digital Coast Partnership.
Original Post - Sept 26, 2013

MAPPS staff continues to advocate for the Digital Coast Act (H.R. 1382) before Congress in collaboration with members of the Digital Coast Partnership. This past July, MAPPS participated in a Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill before a packed room of Congressional staff (House & Senate) and stakeholders. During this briefing, MAPPS HSIA/Oceans and Coastal Mapping Committee and Legislative Affairs Committee Chair Kurt Allen, discussed the benefits of the Digital Coast program that can be realized through the utilization of the private sector’s capabilities. 
One member of the Digital Coast Partnership is the American Planning Association (APA). I have been invited by the APA to participate on a panel before their DC Policy Conference, where I will discuss the capabilities of the private geospatial profession to support community "resiliency”.. This will also provide an opportunity to advocate for MAPPS legislative policies and explain how communities benefit from MAPPS’ members expertise. 

The state floodplain managers (ASFPM) and National Association of Counties (NACO) will also participate on my panel.
To prepare for this presentation, I am seeking examples, applications and imagery to highlight capabilities and benefits provided by private sector geospatial firms. The audience will be professional planners, mostly in local and state government. Again, I am asking for images for a PowerPoint presentation that depict geospatial data, products, services, and applications related to  Digital Coast to showcase how planners can use geospatial products and services in their coastal communities to  support  "resiliency”.

Please contact me directly prior to the close of business on Friday, September 27.

Tags:  Congress  Digital Coast  Geospatial  Planning  Resiliency 

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MAPPS Minute September 20, 2013 - Geospatial & Engineering International Conference Update

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Friday, September 20, 2013



Brian Raber, CMS, GLS, GISP (Vice President, Merrick & Company) Program Chair of the Geospatial & Engineering International Conference provides an overview of the program and what attendees will learn and experience at the conference. MAPPS members, don't delay in registering and making your hotel reservations. Lock-in your early bird registration of only $450!

Not a MAPPS member? Professionals that are members of the conference's supporting organizations; AAG, ASPRS, CIRT, GSDI, NSPS, and URISA, receive a registration discount. Click here to register!

Tags:  Engineering  Exporting  Geospatial  International Conference  SBA  USAID 

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Where are the Parcels? 5 Years Since Mortgage Crisis, Key Tool Not Used

Posted By John Palatiello, Thursday, September 19, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
This week is the 5th anniversary of the financial crisis that led to the worst economic downturn since the great depression.

The crisis had mortgages at its root.
There was widespread evidence that the severity of the crisis was at least in part caused by the inability of the United States to have an early warning system to detect anomalies and negative trends in the mortgage market -- a national parcel based system.
There are a number of experts, including Dr. Ian Williamson at the University of Melbourne and The Honorable Gary Nairn, a member of Parliament in Australia and a professional surveyor, have been critical of the United States for the lack of a national parcel system.
A national summit of geospatial stakeholders on the mortgage crisis was held in May of 2009.

One recommendation that emerged from that meeting was to amend the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) to collect mortgage transaction data at the parcel level.

MAPPS promoted that recommendation in Congress, and the result was enactment of such a provision in the Dodd-Frank banking reform legislation.  Dodd-Frank also created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which was given the authority to implement the enacted legislative provision.

While the rate of foreclosure in the U.S. is declining, 10.7 million homeowners nationwide — representing 26 percent of all outstanding homes with a mortgage — are still seriously underwater, meaningthey owed at least 25 percent more on their home than what it was worth.
The question today, on the 5th anniversary of the mortgage crisis is - "are we any closer to a national parcel system than we were in September 2008?"

Not according to Susan Marlow, President of Smart Data Strategies (Franklin, TN), President-Elect of MAPPS and chair of the association’s Cadastre Task Force. "It is unfortunate to admit that any progress towards a national parcel system has only been in the areas of education and awareness.  Five years later we still don't have an action plan for putting a useful system in place to monitor and prevent another housing meltdown,” said Marlow.

A year before the mortgage crisis began; the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences issued a report, National Land Parcel Data: A Vision for the Future, recommending a national parcel system.  Ms. Marlow was a member of the study panel. The Chair, Dr. David Cowen, professor emeritus of the geography department at the University of South Carolina, also served as chairman of the federal government’s National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC).  He notes with frustration that a parcel system was "recommended by NRC panel and endorsed by NGAC”, but still not implemented the federal government.

Indeed, the CFPB is not even a member of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), the interagency committee tasked by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) with coordinating the development, use, sharing, and dissemination of geospatial data on a national basis.

Tags:  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  FGDC  Geospatial  Mortgage  National Spatial Data Infrastructure  NSDI  Parcels 

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Offshoring Revisited

Posted By John Palatiello, Friday, September 13, 2013


In light of a recent court case, it is timely and instructive for MAPPS member firm principals to be aware, and to make all employees aware, of certain laws related to sending work to offshore subcontractors.

When the offshoring phenomenon began over a decade ago, particularly given the heightened awareness of data security after the attack of September 11, 2001, MAPPS took actions to guide and educate the membership on best business practices, as well as legal obligations and restrictions. A MAPPS task force looked into this matter. The association secured a legal opinion in 2004, outlining the applicable law affecting firms, particularly on contracts with Federal agencies. The Task Force made a presentation to the members and its final report, which was adopted by the MAPPS Board of Directors in 2006, provided numerous best practices recommendations for voluntary implementation by member firms.

Materials on this topic can be found on the MAPPS website under Government Affairs.

Tags:  geospatial  globalization  offshoring  services 

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