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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 for 3DEP Growing

Posted By John Palatiello, Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Support is growing for 3DEP, the USGS program to develop nationwide elevation coverage of the United States.

MAPPS led the effort to generate stakeholder support for 3DEP funding on Congress.  MAPPS Government Affairs Manager John “JB” Byrd coordinated letters of support from MAPPS and numerous other groups and I had the privilege of testifying before the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. The effort bore fruit. Last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year 2015 bill and included the following in its explanatory committee report (page 38), “Core Science Systems.—The Committee recommends $106,151,000 for core science systems, $2,656,000 below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $3,249,000 below the budget request.  The Committee recommendation includes the requested increases for the Big Earth Data Initiative; Ecosystem Information; the 3–D Elevation Program; the Alaska mapping project; and the National Map Modernization effort.” The figures in the President’s request are $5 million for 3DEP, $236,000 for Alaska Mapping, $1.9 million for The National Map Modernization, and $60,428,000 for the National Geospatial Program. 

There was also a very exciting announcement from the White House this week. The Obama Administration announced a climate change data initiative that includes 3DEP. John Byrd and I met with a member of the White House staff, Bina Venkatarman, Senior Advisor for Climate Change Innovation, to discuss the role 3DEP and other geospatial data play in verifying, validating, monitoring and measuring the alleged effects of climate change. The White House initiative provides, “Developing advanced mapping data and tools. The Department of the Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey and other Federal agencies today launched a $13.1 million 3-D Elevation Program partnership designed to bring Federal agencies, academia, corporate entities, states, tribes, and communities together to develop advanced 3-dimensional mapping data of the United States. These data and related tools will be used in the areas of flood risk management, water resource planning, mitigation of coastal erosion and storm surge impacts, and identification of landslide hazards as an essential component of supporting action on climate resilience. 


 
3D Model provided by Woolpert, Inc. of the southern side of Fire Island, Long Island, NY. 



On July 18, 2014, the USGS issued a Broad Agency Announcement that provides detailed information on how to partner with the USGS and other Federal agencies to acquire high-quality 3D data. Information and contacts are now available at FedBizOps. Offerors may contribute funds toward a USGS lidar data acquisition activity or they may request 3DEP funds toward a lidar data acquisition activity where the requesting partner is the acquiring authority. Federal agencies, state and local governments, tribes, academic institutions and the private sector are eligible to submit pre-proposals.

USGS is holding a Congressional briefing on its 3DEP program Friday, July 25 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.  

The 11:00 am briefing on the House of Representatives side of the Congress/Capitol is open to Congressional staff, MAPPS members, and other supportive groups from the general public.  It will be in 2325 Rayburn House Office Building.

An afternoon briefing on the Senate side is CLOSED to the public and is limited to Senate staff.  It is at 2:00 pm in SD-366, Dirksen Senate Office Building.

All MAPPS members are welcome to attend the morning session.  Please encourage any Congressional staff with whom you are familiar or have relationships to attend their respective sessions (House staff in the morning, Senate staff in the afternoon).  In particular, follow-up with all staff with whom you met during the MAPPS Federal Programs Conference and encourage them to attend the briefing.

MAPPS is a sponsor of the event and will host lunch at the House event.

Tags:  3DEP  Climate Change  Congress  Conservation  Elevation  Elevation Data  Emergency Response  geospatial  LIDAR  Technology  USGS 

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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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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: 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 Launches Legislative Issues Webinar Series

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Friday, February 28, 2014



Want to learn more about the four issues MAPPS will be taking to Congress as part of the 2014 Federal Programs Conference? Register for one of our three remaining webinars! Each issue will be discussed Thursday afternoons at 3:00 PM (Eastern) through March 20. Register today!

The Federal Programs Conference is open to MAPPS members only. MAPPS members April is at the peak of the Cherry Blossom festival in Washington, DC. Reserve your hotel room and register today!

Tags:  Congress  Digital Coast  Federal Programs  FLAIR Act  Geospatial  GIS  Highway Bill  Land Inventory  Reauthorization  Webinars 

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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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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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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 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 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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