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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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FAA Announces Six Unmanned Aircraft Test Site Locations

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Monday, December 30, 2013

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced the six sites for testing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The test site operators include the University of Alaska, the State of Nevada, New York’s Griffiss International Airport, North Dakota Department of Commerce, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi and Virginia Tech.

"In selecting the six test site operators, the FAA considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience and risk. In totality, these six test applications achieve cross-country geographic and climatic diversity and help the FAA meet its UAS research needs,” said Michael Huerta, FAA Administrator, in a statement and on a conference call with media.

"The announcement of the six test sites is a welcomed gift to start the New Year as businesses in the geospatial community see unmanned aircraft systems as a revolutionary new platform to provide critical information and geographic data to the citizens of the United States,” said John Palatiello, MAPPS Executive Director. "MAPPS congratulates the six operating locations and commends the FAA for this announcement.”

The FAA stated the intent of the test sites is for research and development of safety standards and these facilities and locations are to be open for commercial users.  The ability to access the six test sites by commercial entities must be brokered directly with each test site operator.

 "MAPPS members are encouraged to work with these test site operators to research and develop their UAS platforms, data acquisition systems, and applications, as well as to assure full commercial participation in order to prevent unfair university or government competition,” Palatiello said.

Some interesting items to note:

  • The University of Alaska includes test site locations in Hawaii and Oregon;
  • Virginia Tech’s selection includes a MOU with Rutgers University in New Jersey;
  • As mandated in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2012, the first test site will be operational within 180 days. The test sites will be operation through the end of the current authorization that expires in 2017. This will overlap with the mandated introduction of UAS in the national airspace in 2015;
  • The FAA is not providing funding for the test site locations. Each of the test site operators are providing operational funding through their own means


Tags:  Aircraft  FAA  Geospatial  Policy  UAS  UAV  Unmanned Aircraft Systems 

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MAPPS Minute - Holiday Greetings

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Thursday, December 26, 2013
Updated: Monday, December 23, 2013

A special message from the MAPPS Board of Directors and MAPPS 2013 year in review. Check out a list of a few of MAPPS accomplishments in 2013

We wish all of our members, friends and partners a Happy Holiday and New Year. We hope you will join us at one of our events in 2014.

Tags:  2013  2014  Accomplishments  geospatial  Happy Holidays 

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Action and Advocacy - Woolpert Welcomes Congressman to Open House

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Monday, December 23, 2013

On November 22, MAPPS member firm Woolpert opened the door to its new Atlanta office to clients and other guests at an open house. The firm recently relocated its Atlanta operations to a new suite in the same building to accommodate growth. This open house provided a great opportunity to reach out to the local community and the firm’s Atlanta clients. Among those in attendance was Congressman Jack Kingston, First District of Georgia, who is also a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated in 2014 by Senator Saxby Chambliss. Woolpert staff met with Congressman Kingston and discussed some of the firm’s Federal geospatial policy interests. 
"Through outreach to Congressional representatives, we can continue to educate them on geospatial issues at the federal level and build on the support needed to preserve and advance the integrity of the profession, serve our clients, and grow the market. Our goal is for these efforts to not only benefit Woolpert, but promote MAPPS and the geospatial community at large,” said Jeff Lovin, Woolpert’s Director of Geospatial Services & Senior Vice President and a past president of MAPPS.

Lovin was a witness during a Congressional hearing on December 5 before the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources of the House Committee on Natural Resources. He presented views on H.R. 1604, the Map It Once, Use It Many Times Act, a bill by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) to enhance the use of geospatial data, products, and services and increase the efficiency of Federal geospatial activities, as well as H.R. 916, the Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act, a bi-partisan bill by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) to improve Federal land management by developing a multipurpose cadastre of Federal real property and eliminating duplicate and out of date land inventories. Lovin testified as the Chairman of the Coalition for Geospatial Organizations (COGO) of which MAPPS is a member.

"It is more important now than ever for members of Congress to understand the importance of geospatial data. Through engagement at the local level our firms help with the advocacy MAPPS conducts on our behalf in Washington, D.C,” said Lovin. Woolpert also hosted Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) at its Dayton, OH in August.

If your firm is interested in hosting a member of Congress, contact MAPPS Government Affairs Manager John "JB” Byrd. Have you recently hosted a member of Congress? Pass along photographs and a brief description to Nick Palatiello, Assistant Executive Director for External Affairs.

Jeff Lovin and Rep. Jack Kingston

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MAPPS Considers Bylaws Change - Seeks Feedback

Posted By Jeff Lower, Thursday, December 19, 2013
Updated: Thursday, December 19, 2013
According to the MAPPS bylaws, the association has two primary membership categories

A "Regular Member Firm” is defined in the bylaws as "any firm having office(s) located in the United States of America and is engaged in the geospatial profession… "Engaged in the geospatial profession" means any private, for-profit organization where one of its purposes is the creation, collection, dissemination and application of geo-referenced graphical or digital data to depict natural or manmade physical features, phenomena, or boundaries of the earth, geospatial intelligence, and any information related thereto, including any such data that comprises a survey, map, chart, geographic information system, remotely sensed satellite or aerial image or data.”  

An "Associate Member Firm” is defined in the bylaws as "any firm engaged in the manufacturing and/or supplying of geospatial equipment, services, supplies, hardware or software, that supports but is not engaged in the geospatial profession, any firm not engaged in but with an interest in the geospatial field, and any firm meeting the definition of "Engaged in the geospatial profession" whose office(s) is located outside of the United States of America”

These categories (there are others, but this discussion only affects these two) was established when MAPPS was formed in 1982.  At that time, there were clear distinctions between firms that performed mapping services and those that sold hardware, software or supplies (e.g. aerial film).

Today, those distinctions have become blurred. A number of service firms also sell software, and a number of the hardware/software firms have services divisions.

At a recent strategic planning retreat, the MAPPS Board discussed these categories and their relevancy in today’s market.
There are three (3) differences between Regular and Associate firms in MAPPS -- there are different dues structures, only Regular firms have a vote in MAPPS, and only individuals from Regular members can serve on the MAPPS Board of Directors.

Should this change?  If so, how should it change?  Should the definitions above be merged?  Should there be one dues schedule?  Should Associates be permitted to vote and hold office?

The MAPPS Board would like the members’ feedback.  Please use this space to offer comments.  Based on the feedback, the Board will decide whether to schedule a special membership business meeting at the Winter Conference in San Diego in February. If there is sufficient support, a bylaws change will be prepared, notice to the membership will be provided, a session will be held for discussion, and a vote on a bylaws amendment will be conducted.

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Jeff Lower, MAPPS President with a MAPPS Minute

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What Has MAPPS Done for You Lately? Check out MAPPS 2013 accomplishments. We thank you for your membership in MAPPS!

Tags:  2013  Accomplishments  Thank You 

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MAPPS Minute December 6, 2013 - MAPPS Testifies Before Congress

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Friday, December 6, 2013

John "JB" Byrd, MAPPS Government Affairs Manager, provides an overview of MAPPS testimony before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources of the House Committee on Natural Resources. A recording of the hearing can be seen here.

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MAPPS Minute - November 20, 2013

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Learn about what the MAPPS Board of Directors discussed at their Fall Meeting held last week. 

Take advantage of Early Registration for the 2014 Winter Conference, deadline is this Friday, November 22.

Tags:  2014 Winter Conference  Associations  Geospatial  MAPPS Board of Directors  Strategic Plan 

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Veterans Day MAPPS Minute

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Monday, November 11, 2013

Thank You Veterans!
MAPPS will host a special "Team Up For Our Troops" charity event at the MAPPS 2014 Winter Conference to be held February 9-13, 2014 at The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California. 

The event will support current active duty military personnel deployed overseas. We are compiling information - name, rank, and duty station location of a military service person who is a member of your family, a family friend, or a family/friend of an employee of your firm.  For more information, visit our "Team Up for Our Troops" page.

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Are labor unions trying to infiltrate the surveying and mapping market?

Posted By John "JB" Byrd, Thursday, November 7, 2013

In recent months, we have seen evidence of increased activity on the part of a national labor union, and its locals, affecting the geospatial community generally and survey crews in particular.

The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) is attempting to influence survey firms/survey crews or labor policy affecting surveying and survey crews.  Earlier this year, the IUOE convinced the U.S. Department of Labor to reverse 50+ years of federal policy and define members of survey crews as "laborers and mechanics”, subjecting them to the "prevailing wage” provisions of the controversial Davis-Bacon Act.  Soon thereafter, the Department of Labor began to create a union-sponsored "apprenticeship” program occupation of rodman/chainman. The Operating Engineers then succeeded in getting a state department of transportation (DoT) to impose a statewide prevailing wage mandate for survey crews on all its projects.  Finally, there has been an attempt to impose "project labor agreements” (PLA) on firms employing survey crews on state transportation projects.

A Spatially Speaking Blog post earlier this year explained the issue. MAPPS filed a letter with Congress for a hearing on Davis-Bacon, opposing the Labor Department ruling.

We have been asked by the Committee on Education and Workforce of the U.S. House of Representatives to compile other instances of union activities in our field.  This will be helpful to the committee’s oversight and investigation of these activities.

Davis-Bacon and union organization of surveying and mapping firms is unnecessary.  As NSPS Executive Director Curtis W. Sumner, LS, said in his testimony before Congress, employees in the surveying and mapping field are well compensated and in high demand.  The administrative burden and recordkeeping that will be imposed on small businesses in the field will be exorbitant. There is no evidence that workers in the geospatial workforce need union representation. 

If you have had any recent experience with the IUOE or any other union making an inquiry, initiating an activity, or otherwise increasing its presence in the surveying, mapping and geospatial field, please provide details to John "JB” Byrd, MAPPS Government Affairs Manager or leave your experience below in our comments section.

Thank you in advance for your input.

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

Tags:  Congress  Davis-Bacon  Geospatial  Labor  Mapping  NSPS  Surveying  Unions 

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MAPPS Minute October 31, 2013

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween! We have a number of treats for you this week! Check out the MAPPS events and other blog posts to be able to register for the MAPPS 2014 Winter Conference and for the MAPPS-USACE webinar on November 20!

Before you head out trick-or-treating, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube page and connect with us on social media:


Tags:  2014 Winter Conference  San Diego  WRRDA 

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