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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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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 5, 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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MAPPS Minute: World Trade Month and Infrastructure Week

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Friday, May 9, 2014

Did you know May is World Trade Month? Did you know U.S. exports set an all-time record in 2013, reaching $2.3 trillion despite significant economic headwinds.  

The Obama Administration has made it a top priority to improve the conditions that directly affect the private sector’s ability to export – working to remove trade barriers abroad, help firms overcome hurdles to entering new markets, and assist with financing.

MAPPS, in partnership with other professional organizations, will host the Geospatial and Engineering International Conference September 25-26, 2014 in Alexandria, VA. The conference program has been designed specifically to help your find your next client and project.  Register today at

May 12-16 is Infrastructure Week. The need for investment in American infrastructure is well know.  Our roads, bridges and other public works are in need of repair and expansion.

The American Society of Civil Engineers give’s our Nation a grade of D+ on its infrastructure report card.  And it estimates some $3.6 trillion will need to be invested by 2020 to bring it up to a passing grade.

That’s a huge market for MAPPS member firms!

Congress is working on a new Highway bill, known as MAP 21. To coordinate provisions that will benefit your firm, MAPPS will host a free conference call and webinar to discuss this legislation and proposals MAPPS may make to Congress. Details will be available soon.

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Support 3DEP by Contacting Congress Today!

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Friday, May 2, 2014

In a recent column in LiDAR News, I wrote about the need for the geospatial community to contact Congress in support of the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) 3D elevation program, commonly referred to as 3DEP. In the article, I highlight the importance of this national program and the benefits that can be realized:

3DEP will satisfy the growing demand for consistent, high-quality elevation data and a wide range of other three-dimensional representations of the Nation's natural and constructed features. Among the applications that will benefit from 3DEP data are flood risk management, agriculture, water supply, homeland security, renewable energy, aviation safety, and other areas. Indeed, USGS has identified more than 600 applications that would benefit from such enhanced elevation data. 3DEP will promote economic growth, facilitate responsible environmental protection and resource development and management, assist with infrastructure improvement, and generally enhance the quality of life of all Americans.

In an effort to educate Congress, a letter has been prepared for the geospatial community to send to your Congressmen and Senators. The letter is attached to the bottom of this post.

To identify your Congressman and Senators, use this helpful link, using your zip code. Remember, your home and office may be in two different Congressional districts, so be sure to write both Representatives. 

Here are some other key points to remember in writing to your legislators:

Email or fax are the preferred communication methods (not regular U.S. mail)
Be courteous and respectful in all communications. Don't use threats.
Cover only one issue per letter. Don’t add other issues to this letter!
Explain how the issue would affect you and/or your organization or community.
Limit your comments to one page or two at most. Elected officials hear from hundreds of constituents’ daily so a brief letter is more effective than a multi-page document.

The letter provided below should be used and edited to insert your name and organization, as well as the name of the Congressman or Senator. We have highlighted the areas that you should amend. 

MAPPS, the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS), the National Digital Elevation Program, National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO), the Association of American State Geologists (AAGS), the National Digital Elevation Program (NDEP), and the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC) have endorsed 3DEP. However, Congress still needs to hear from the broad geospatial profession. 

This is an issue that unites every segment of the geospatial profession from public to private sector. We urge you to take a moment to write your Congressmen and Senators and ask them to work with the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, respectively, to assure the President’s requested level of funding for these activities, if not increase them.

Now is the time to contact Congress, do not delay! 

 Attached Files:

Tags:  3DEP  Advocacy  Congress  Elevation Data  LIDAR  MAPPS  NSPS  USGS 

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MAPPS Minute: Nominations Committee and Summer Conference Early Registration Deadline

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Wednesday, April 30, 2014

MAPPS President Jeff Lower has appointed Pamela Nobles of 3DS (Tallahassee, FL) chair the MAPPS Nominations Committee. The committee will recommend candidates for 3 seats on the MAPPS Board of Directors. Volunteers to serve on the Nominations Committee are being sought. If you wish to help select the slate of candidates for the association’s board, please contact President Lower by Thursday, May 1.

The full Nominations Committee, along with a call for nominations, will be announced on May 5.

The election of Directors will take place at the annual business meeting of MAPPS during the Summer Conference, to be held on July 27-31, in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

The discounted early bird registration rate for the conference expires this Saturday, May 3. 

Mike Tully and his Program Committee are developing another timely and informative line-up of sessions and speakers. We’ll feature a special UAV Day that will include some hands-on exposure to UAV technology.  It will provide everything you need to know to enter this game-changing facet of the geospatial business.Sessions will also focus on new and emerging technologies in LIDAR, a panel on effective marketing communications and key strategies from small and large business to effectively create teaming partnerships that are mutually beneficial. 

More sessions will be announced shortly, but make your plans to attend TODAY by taking advantage of the early bird registration and making your hotel reservation.

Tags:  Business  Contracting  Elections  Geospatial  LIDAR  MAPPS Strategic Plan  Nominations  Small Business  Summer Conference  Teaming  UAV 

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MAPPS Minute: Congressional Testimony and Upcoming LiDAR Webinar

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Tuesday, April 22, 2014

MAPPS testified in favor of 3DEP funding before the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives on April 10 indicating the strong support within MAPPS for national LIDAR data that will provide a very positive return on investment and serve of variety of elevation needs for government at all levels, as well as the private sector.

President Obama has included funding for 3DEP in his budget request to Congress, and MAPPS testimony urged Congress to fund that request, or increase the amount if possible.

USGS has updated its national LIDAR specification to reflect the 3DEP program and other revisions.  MAPPS will host a webinar with Karl Heidemann, USGS EROS Center, on the USGS Base LIDAR Specification this Thursday, April 24 at 1:00 PM Eastern Time.  Register here

All members have been notified of the schedule for the 2014 MAPPS Geospatial Products and Services Excellence Awards competition.

Entries are due August 8 and winners will be announced at the Geospatial & Engineering International Conference on Thursday, September 25, 2014 in Alexandria, VA.

Tags:  3DEP  Appropriations  Congress  Excellence Awards  Funding  Geospatial  International Conference  LiDAR  USGS 

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MAPPS Minute: Federal Programs Conference Recap

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Last week’s Federal Programs Conference was a great success.  This is the premier event on the annual MAPPS calendar and MAPPS is the only organization in the entire geospatial community that engages with Federal agencies and Congress in this manner.

Presentations are available to MAPPS members. Pictures from the event can be viewed on the MAPPS Facebook page.

And MAPPS members were great citizen lobbyists on Capitol Hill.  As a result of meetings with Congressmen and Senators, we added Republican and Democrat cosponsors to the FLAIR Act; secured a Senate sponsor and several cosponsors for the Digital Coast Act; got a commitment for geospatial provisions in the new MAP-21 -- the Highway bill -- and added cosponsors to the Freedom from Government Competition Act.

For MAPPS members that attended, please do not forget to complete your Hill Visit Evaluation.

Our next event is a webinar on April 24 when we host the USGS discussing their LIDAR specification. Click here for more information and registration.

The MAPPS Summer Meeting is July 27-31, 2014 in beautiful Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.  The MAPPS Program Committee is issuing a call for presentations.  If you have knowledge or expertise on a management, technology, application, or policy issue, please send an email to John Palatiello, MAPPS Executive Director, with a brief abstract of your proposed session.  Early registration is now open for the conference.

Entries are now being accepted for the 2014 MAPPS Geospatial Products and Services Excellence Awards Competition.  The deadline for entries is August 8.  Winners will be announced at the MAPPS Geospatial and Engineering International Conference to be held on September 25 and 26 in Alexandria, Virginia.

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MAPPS Minute: Federal Programs Conference Preview

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Friday, March 28, 2014

Next week MAPPS will host the annual Federal Programs Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 1-2 in Washington, D.C.

MAPPS member firm principals will hear presentations by Federal agency officials on programs, budgets, and upcoming geospatial contracts. We’ll also host a series of liaison meetings with key agencies.

Members gain valuable insights into business opportunities with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Departments of Interior, Energy, Agriculture, and Homeland Security, as well as USGS, US Army Corps of Engineers, NOAA, Forest Service, BLM, Census Bureau and Small Business Administration.

Our luncheon address will be presented by Randy Willis of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Office of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). He will discuss the plan for the safe integration of UAS into the national airspace, the opportunities available to private sector firms for system and safety procedure testing through the six national test sites, and how private geospatial businesses can become authorized to engage in commercial UAS operation.

 MAPPS members will be on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, April 2, visiting some 200 Congressmen and Senators. We will advocate for the geospatial profession in Congress and have a significant and positive impact on public policy by educating elected officials on geospatial technologies and the professional services available from the private sector.

Among the members of Congress who will speak to MAPPS members during the two-day conference will be Senator David Vitter of Louisiana,  Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia, Rep. Ted Poe of Texas, Rep. Bill Huizenga of Michigan and Rep. Todd Young of Indiana.

It is not too late to register for the conference or make a contribution to the MAPPS PAC and join the Inner Circle to attend Tuesday's PAC Dinner.

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