Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Congressional Action Could Create New Demand for Geospatial Data

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 http://financialservices.house.gov/Hearings/hearingDetails.aspx?NewsID=1838, 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).

MAPPS Host 20th Annual Federal Programs Conference

Numerous policy and market opportunity pronouncements were unveiled at the 20th annual MAPPS Federal Programs Conference, held March 15-16 in Washington, DC. More than 90 MAPPS member firm principals, owners, partners and senior pro- fessionals converged in the nation's capital for briefings and meetings with more than 20 Federal agency officials, as well as more than 150 vis- its to the offices of Represen- tatives and Senators in the U.S. Congress.

At the Federal agency briefings on March 15, MAPPS members were treated to first-look information that could lead to upcoming business opportunities for private geo- spatial firms. The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency’s (NGA’s) Dennis Morgan announced that its request for proposals for Geospatial Intelligence (GeoINT) Data Readiness (GDR) contacts, the successor to the current Global Geospatial Intelligence (GGI) contracts, will be issued later this year. Additionally, FEMAs Paul Rooney noted the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its request for qualifications from firms for contracts for Remote Sensing to Support Incident Management and Homeland Security days be- fore the MAPPS session.

While MAPPS was in Washington, the Small Business Administration (SBA) released its proposal to revise “size standards” or definitions of small businesses in a variety of Professional, Technical, and Scientific Services categories. The classification for surveying and mapping, as well as architecture and engineering, is proposed to rise from $4.5 to $19 million in gross annual receipts, measured on a three year average.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provided an update on its role in producing a national broadband map, compiled from individual state mapping efforts, and plans for a next-gen 911 system. Michael Byrne, the Geo- spatial Information Officer (GIO) of the FCC, assured MAPPS members that the FCC is well aware of the GPS interference posed by the LightSquared application, that the FCC understands the concerns expressed by MAPPS and others in our community, and that the LightSquared application will either be rejected or amended to assure no interference with GPS. While noting he could not comment on an ongoing investigation, Byrne said FCC’s inquiry of certain Google activities will not result in regulation of the broader geospatial community. He reported the caution provided by MAPPS was helpful in educating the FCC on the activities of the private geospatial profession. The privacy issue was also addressed by Karen Siderelis, GIO of the Department of the Interior and chairman of the Federal Geographic Data Committee’s (FGDC)’s executive committee. She reported on a meeting between FGDC and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) staff in which the FTC said it was “flooded” with comments on proposed regulations prohibiting the collection, storage or use of “precise geolocation data" without a citizens' prior approval. Siderelis said the FTC admitted it inappropriately used the term, resulting in an “unintended consequence” that would be corrected in the final rule. FTC is also considering a work- shop with the geospatial community to identify ways to implement privacy protections against phishing and cyber stalking, without disturbing the legitimate activities of geospatial firms.

Both Siderelis and BLM Chief Cadastral Surveyor Don Buhler predicted a demand in boundary data on Indian lands resulting from settlement of the Cobell case. Buhler reported the Interior Department’s Inspector General found “the Bureau of Land Management's Cadastral Survey program was missing the opportunity to identify and perform surveys on high risk lands where significant potential revenues could be collected by the Department or Indian tribes. Proper survey and management of high risk lands with antiquated surveys has the potential to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from lands with valuable resources.”

Bureau shared information on research and development opportunities for the 2020 Census to exploit technology on a secure (web) exchange process for ad- dress and spatial data, ways to ingest spatial and address data from partners, products and services that may facilitate the exchange of spatial and address data from Census to partners, and the use of imagery and change detection methods. She also said that the current Census policy that Title 13 restrictions prohibited sharing of master address file (MAF) and building structure point data is being reviewed.

David Kennedy, Assistant Administrator of NOAA for the National Ocean Service, provided details on a more than $80 million program for base mapping and charting activities, hydrographic surveys, integrated ocean and coastal mapping, and shoreline mapping. He also said an investigation was being launched in response to a MAPPS com- plaint about a recent bid for professional LiDAR data collection services in California that violated the Brooks Act and was awarded to a university.

On Wednesday, March 16, MAPPS members traveled to Capitol Hill to visit their Congressional delegations. As a result of the MAPPS efforts, ten cosponsors were secured for FEMA flood risk map reform legislation, seven lawmakers committed to cosponsoring the Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act, providing a current, accurate, GIS-based inventory of Federal land ownership, nineteen Representatives and Senators pledged to cosponsor the Freedom from Government Competition Act and five members of the House agreed to introduce a bill to reform governance and coordination of Federal geospatial activities, known as the Map It Once, Use It Many Times (MIO-UIMT) Act.

MAPPS provides copies of the presentations from speakers to Members Only. For more information on how to join MAPPS, click here.

Virginia Governor Signs Bill Creating Inventory of State-Owned Land

Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell signed into law SB 1257 and HB 2003 providing for an inventory of state-owned land on April 2.

This bill by Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel and Delegate Jim LeMunyon, requires the Department of General Services (DGS) to conduct an inventory of all real property owned by state departments, agencies and institutions by January 1, 2012, and update the inventory at least annually thereafter.
The bill requires DGS to provide a listing of surplus properties on the Department's web site to include parcel identification consistent with national spatial data standards in addition to a street address.

Although McDonnell ordered all agencies to inventory all Old Dominion real property, such an action had not previously occurred since a Blue Ribbon Strike Force on Government Reform appointed by then Governor George Allen recommended in 1994 that “all state agencies should inventory and justify the retention of each individual real estate holding.”

Such inventories have been successful in other states. For example, Georgia now operates the Building, Land and Lease Inventory of Property (BLLIP), providing an interactive web-based geographic information system (GIS) designed to enable registered users to query, search and generate reports using real time information about state owned and leased properties and buildings. Ohio has implemented a Comprehensive Inventory of State Real Property, a database of 53,010 distinct state-owned parcels located throughout all of Ohio's 88 counties.

A comprehensive list of land and assets, up-to-date with their current use, will allow Virginia to assess whether public property is being used and maintained in the most efficient manner possible. It will help save the state money by identifying properties that can be sold, collecting upfront cash and expanding the tax base by letting the private sector develop and use the land and assets that the Commonwealth no longer needs.

Delegate LeMunyon and Sena-tor Vogel worked with MAPPS on the bill and LeMunyon spoke on his legislation at a January 2011 MAPPS Washington Policy Luncheon.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Temporary No-Fly Zone over Williamsburg, Virginia

If Congress is able to pass a budget today (Friday), the Obama family plans to have a short vacation in Williamsburg, VA. According to reports, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) established a no-fly zone over Williamsburg that will be in place today through Monday.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

From POB Magzine: The Business of MAPPS - PODCAST

From POB Magazine:

April 4, 2011

The world of professional associations is becoming increasingly complex. How can you choose which organizations are the best fit for you and your firm? A new podcast series goes behind the scenes with the executive directors to help you navigate the labyrinth. In this episode, POB talks to John Palatiello, executive director of MAPPS, who explains why the organization is described as focusing on "the business of maps."

Listen to the Full Podcast: Association Series, Episode 1 - The Business of MAPPS