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MAPPS Minute - September 13, 2013

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Friday, September 13, 2013



Nick Palatiello, MAPPS Assistant Executive Director for External Affairs,  provides an update on MAPPS activities. Welcome new member firm, recording of webinar with USGS on 3DEP, meeting with the Federal Aviation Administration on LIDAR issues, program announcement for the Geospatial & Engineering International Conference and a new blog post on the status of a FY14 budget.

Tags:  3DEP  Congress  FAA  LIDAR 

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Congress to Consider Continuing Resolution for FY14

Posted By John "JB" Byrd, Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 12, 2013

Update Sept. 12
Consideration of the Continuing Resolution (CR) in the U.S. House of Representatives has been postponed until next week due to disagreements over funding for the new health care law.  

Later this week, the U.S. House of Representatives will consider a "Continuing Resolution" (CR) to provide funding for Federal agencies once the new fiscal year (FY14) begins on October 1.

The CR is necessary because Congress has completed action on regular appropriations bills for FY14.

The CR, H.J. Res. 59, provides funding at the current year, FY 2013, level.  See Sections 101 and 106 in particular, which provide funding until December 15, or until a regular appropriations bill is enacted. 

Current programs will be funded at current levels.  New programs, or those which are slated for increases in regular FY14 appropriations bills, will not be funded until a regular appropriations bill is enacted into law.

The CR assumes continuation of sequestration.

Here is more information from House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY).

We hope this update is helpful.

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

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Candidates Sought for FEMA’s “TMAC”

Posted By John Palatiello, Wednesday, September 11, 2013
In July of last year, Congress passed and President Obama signed the "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act”, commonly known as "MAP-21”.  Public Law 112-141 included the highway bill, student loan reform, and provisions reforming the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood insurance and mapping program.  MAPPS was deeply involved in securing several mapping reform provisions, which we’ve discussed in a previous blog post.

One provision in that law re-established the Technical Mapping Advisory Council, or TMAC, to provide advice and recommendations to the FEMA Administrator on the flood mapping program.  This week, I received a letter (attached to this post) from FEMA seeking nominations of candidates to represent the mapping profession on the TMAC.

I must submit MAPPS nominations BY THIS FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 13.  If you are interested in being a candidate for this advisory committee, please send me a C.V. immediately.

 Attached Files:

Tags:  Congress  FEMA  MAP-21  Mapping  President Obama  TMAC 

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MAPPS Minute - Thursday, August 29, 2013

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Thursday, August 29, 2013


John Palatiello, MAPPS Executive Director, welcomes new members and invites members to participate in a webinar featuring Vicki Lukas of USGS.

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August Advocacy – Members of Congress Learn About Geospatial

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Friday, August 23, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013
The dog days of summer, especially in August, can be slow times. Being around the DC area this is especially true as members of Congress  "escape the heat” and return to their State and Congressional districts during the month, commonly referred to as "August Recess”. 

MAPPS encouraged member firms to take this opportunity to invite their elected officials to their offices and educate politicians of the many benefits geospatial data, products and services provide to the district, state and nation.  Firms have heeded the call and had productive meetings during the month.

Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA, 9th District) visited the offices of Tuck Mapping Solutions, Inc. earlier this month in southern Virginia. Bobby Tuck, President of Tuck Mapping provided a tour of the companies’ facility and provided demonstrations of some of the services the company provides. During the visit Mr. Tuck explained how broad privacy policies can have a negative impact on the products and services geospatial professionals provide. This could include limitations for services ranging from E-911 and emergency response, environmental protection, master planning to trash collection among many other commercial and governmental applications. 

Bobby Tuck (center) explains the process creating and benefits of aerial photogrammetry
and geospatial products to Rep. Morgan Griffith (right) 

MAPPS has advocated that Congress and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) more narrowly define the term "precise geolocation data” or provide an exemption to privacy legislation that would not impact the geospatial profession.

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) visited Woolpert’s office to meet with different organizations and business leaders. Former Congressman Hobson also joined the gathering in support of the future of geospatial possibilities. With the topic of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) at the forefront of discussions, Woolpert hoped to show different, more inventive ways of using UAS technology in the geospatial profession.
In a closed session for Woolpert employees, Senator Portman discussed several concerns that many employees shared, including sequestration. As well as explaining happenings on the federal level, he answered some tough questions from the audience.
Shane Imwalle escorted the senator around the office and showed him their extensive mapping and surveying work.

Sen. Rob Portman (center) with Woolpert employees Steve Phipps (left) and Shane Imwalle (right)

These are just a few of the interactions MAPPS members have had with their elected officials this August. Other members attended town hall meetings or participated in constituent outreach programs. 

Just because August is coming to an end, your firm has not missed its chance to engage with your elected officials. Members of Congress are regularly in their districts. Prepare an invitation today. If you need help, contact John "JB” Byrd, MAPPS Government Affairs Manager, who can assist in preparing invitation or creating a program for the visit.

As we say each year at the MAPPS Federal Program Conference, "advocacy is not an event, it’s a process.”

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MAPPS Minute August 23, 2013

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Friday, August 23, 2013


MAPPS Executive Director, John Palatiello provides an update on MAPPS activities. Upcoming deadlines for the MAPPS Geospatial Products and Services Excellence Awards Competition, a webinar with USGS on 3DEP, elected officials visiting MAPPS member firms in August and the Geospatial & Engineering International Conference.

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MAPPS Minute - August 16, 2013 - UAVs

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Friday, August 16, 2013


For a full recap of MAPPS activities addressing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), check out yesterday's blog post: Thoughts from the AUVSI Convention

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Thoughts from the AUVSI Convention

Posted By John Palatiello, Thursday, August 15, 2013

This year, for the first time, MAPPS had a presence at the annual convention of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), held August 12-15 at the Washington, DC convention center.

Our participation stems from a lunch meeting MAPPS President Jeff Lower, Assistant Executive Director Nick Palatiello and I had with AUVSI President Michael Toscano, Government Affairs Manager and General Counsel Ben Gielow and State Government Affairs Manager Mario Mairena at which a liaison between our respective organizations to work collaboratively on legislation and policy issues was discussed.  As a result, Mairena spoke at the MAPPS Summer Conference in Maine in July and I was invited to speak this week at the meeting of the AUVSI government affairs committee.

MAPPS has opposed restrictions on civil, commercial use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), which are likely to soon become a commonly used platform for aerial geospatial data acquisition.  While working with AUVSI to defeat onerous anti-UAS legislation, MAPPS has also sought and in some cases succeeded in securing exemptions for mapping operations.  (See, for example, in Congress S.1057, Georgia SB 200, and Idaho SB 1134.)

A Congressional staff panel discussed UAV issues with MAPPS members on Aug. 14

MAPPS also hosted a policy luncheon at Microsoft’s beautiful technology and innovation center, just one-half block from the DC convention center.  Government Affairs Manager John Byrd assembled an outstanding panel of key Congressional staff with direct involvement with UAS-related legislation and policy.

There were a number of "hot topics” discussed during the conference. I attended a session on privacy that was broadcast by C-SPAN.  I was able to comment on the MAPPS membership and our interest in UAV and privacy issues, which can be seen at 1:23:30.

There was discussion at the MAPPS luncheon and in other venues that the word "drone” should be stricken from our vocabulary.  This may be a difficult term to overcome. However, we can paint a better picture for the practical uses of UAVs for surveying and mapping. If your firm is working with a UAS outside of the United States or with a domestic partner with a COA and  have examples of how systems are used for agriculture, oil and gas, or other applications that highlight the safe and responsible benefits of the emerging technology, MAPPS would like to know.

Another topic that attracted considerable attention is the ever-present specter of unfair competition, manifesting itself in various forms.   Several MAPPS members and others in attendance at the conference expressed frustration that certificates of authorization (COAs) are being granted to government agencies and universities while the private sector awaits the Federal Aviation Administration plan for civil, commercial COAs for UAS, as required by Congress in sections 332-336 of the Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act, Public Law 112-95. There is concern that agencies and universities are acquiring UAS and utilizing them on projects that can otherwise be accomplished by the private sector. Many MAPPS members recall a Predator from the Customs and Boarder Patrol being diverted from its core mission guarding the U.S.-Canadian border to capture data on a flood in the Red River in North Dakota and Minnesota, resulting in a loss of business for private geospatial firms under contract to the Corps of Engineers, USGS, and other federal mapping agencies. Moreover, while current law and regulation permits private citizens and firms to operate UAS for a "hobby”, there is no effective enforcement to prevent abuse of such authority for commercial purposes.  Finally, several conference attendees see an emerging problem – the "dumping” of an estimated 7,500 surplus military UAS to government agencies in the U.S. resulting from the draw-down of combat missions and activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At the MAPPS luncheon, Congressional staff presented views on the competition issue, including the need to assure agency conformance with the Economy Act and the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) that regulate agencies’ authority to perform services for other agencies.

In preparation for the AUVSI Government Affairs Committee meeting, John Byrd reminded me the first presentation on UAS at a MAPPS meeting was at the Winter Conference in Palm Springs, California in 2008.  Our association has continuously kept the membership appraised of UAS policy, technology and opportunities for more than five years.  
It goes to show that "in an economy where you are counting every dollar, it is good to know you can count on MAPPS” is not just a slogan, it is a fact.

Tags:  Drones  Economy  FAR  Government Competition  Privacy  UAV 

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FGDC Seeks Comments on Updated Strategic Plan for the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI)

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Monday, August 12, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 9, 2013

MAPPS has been working with the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) and other partners in the Federal and non-Federal geospatial communities to develop an updated strategic plan for the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI).  

MAPPS staff participated in two NSDI Leaders Forum meetings in March and June and provided comments and suggestions as the FGDC staff developed the strategic plan. The revised draft of the NSDI plan (Version 2) was released for public comment on July 31. The public comment period will be open until August 21.

The revised plan, along with instructions for providing comments, is posted at:  MAPPS encourages members to review the updated draft and provide your own feedback and reactions to the MAPPS staff or directly to FGDC. 

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MAPPS Minute - August 9, 2013

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Friday, August 9, 2013
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