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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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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 Seeks Member Input on Strategic Plan and Advocacy at Winter Conference

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Monday, January 20, 2014

MAPPS to provide forum for members to provide input on strategic plan and government affairs topics at the 2014 Winter Conference.

 Find out what will be discussed and how to provide input. MAPPS will be reaching the entire membership on these topics and the Winter Conference is meant to be the first public forum.

Tags:  advocacy  legislative affairs  MAP-21  Non-Profit  Privacy  Strategic Plan  Transportation  UAV  University Competition  Unmanned 

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August Action & Advocacy - Issue 2

Posted By John Byrd, Monday, August 13, 2012



Continuing your legislative advocacy this month, you will have additional opportunities to engage your Members of Congress on legislation important to the geospatial profession. Congress has adjourned for the August recess, and Members of Congress will spend significant time back in their states and districts meeting with constituents, such as you and your employees, over the next few weeks. With the November elections looming, this recess is an excellent opportunity to meet or reconnect with your respective U.S. Senators and Congressman. Whether you’re hosting your member of Congress for a tour of your headquarters or a related facility, or attending a town hall meeting, or luncheon hosted by a civic group, take a few minutes to discuss issues important to your firm, the profession, and to MAPPS.

This week’s focus will be on the Federal Prison Industries (FPI) Reform legislation. The Federal Prison Industries Competition in Contracting Act, H.R. 3634, requires Federal Prison Industries (also known as UNICOR) to compete for its contracts minimizing its unfair competition with private sector firms and their non-inmate workers and empowering Federal agencies to get the best value for taxpayers’ dollars. Reforming FPI through this legislation would prevent Federal inmates from engaging in geospatial activities including GIS and CADD services.

Has your member of Congress cosponsored H.R. 3634 or the soon to introduced Senate companion legislation?

If so, please thank them for cosponsoring this bill. If not, please ask them to cosponsor utilizing these talking points.

If your member of Congress proves tough to reach this week, then make sure to communicate cosponsorship of FPI Reform with their staff either in the district or state, or the Congressional staff based in Washington, DC. When you receive a commitment to cosponsor the FPI Reform, or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach me.

Tags:  Advocacy  Congress  FPI 

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Congressional Action Could Create New Demand for Geospatial Data

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Updated: Thursday, August 11, 2011
Two pieces of legislation working their way through Congress could create new demand for geospatial data that may result in more business opportunities for MAPPS member firms.  Provisions adding guy-wires and freestanding towers as features shown in FAA aeronautical charting data and adding x,y, and z coordinates to structures on FEMA flood insurance rate maps have received initial approval in the U.S. House of Representatives.

FAA Authorization

Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) had noticed that in recent years, low-flying aviators have faced an increased threat of uncharted, man-made obstructions that are difficult to see and avoid. There have been a number of pilot fatalities caused by collisions with unlit and unmarked guy-wire and freestanding towers. The most recent fatality occurred on January 10 when an agricultural aircraft collided with a guy-wire tower in Oakley, California.

Aviators who routinely operate aircraft at low altitudes face the threat of colliding with these structures, some of which have a diameter of only six to eight inches and are secured with guy-wires that connect at multiple heights and anchor to the ground. Affected pilots include Emergency Medical Services, firefighters, agricultural crop dusters, fish and wildlife service aircraft, mosquito control and many others.

Rep. Neugebauer offered an amendment to H.R. 658, the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act, to direct the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct a feasibility study on the development of an internet-based public resource that would list the exact height, longitude, and latitude of potential low-altitude aviation obstructions. The provision of this data would enable the public and pilots who fly at low levels to know where these structures are located. The data would allow aviators to obtain the information necessary to avoid these structures in their flight plans.

MAPPS supported the amendment.   When FAA conducts the study, we will have a seat at the table.  H.R. 658 subsequently passed the House.  A companion bill, S. 223, has passed the U.S. Senate, without the tower and guy-wire provision.  A House-Senate Conference Committee will soon meet to reconcile differences between the two chambers’ bills.

FEMA Flood Insurance Reform

The House Financial Services Committee has begun work on H.R. 1309, the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2011, introduced by Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), chair of the Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity.  The Subcommittee reported the bill to the full committee on April 6 with a provision approved as an amendment offered by Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) to study the collection display of the vertical positioning of structures on FEMA flood insurance maps. The bill re-establishes a Technical Mapping Advisory Committee (TMAC), of which there would be members from the private mapping community.  The Stivers Amendment asks the TMAC to do an analysis of collecting vertical positioning data.

To view the webcast of the subcommittee mark-up, go to, where the Stivers amendment can be found at 5:45 to 10:25.

This was the result of Ken Scruggs' (Midwest Aerial Photography, Galloway, OH) visit with Congressman Stivers during the Federal Programs Conference.

This is evidence that grass roots, individual citizen/MAPPS member contact with your elected representative WORKS!
Good work, Ken and JB (and everyone else who helped).

Tags:  Advocacy  Congress  FAA  FIRM Act 

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