December 12, 2013
From Sensors and Systems:
“Is my property being taxed fairly?”
“Are zoning variances being granted in a consistent manner?”
“Is my flood insurance rate justified?”
These are the types of questions concerned citizens may ask, both in their own interest, and in the interest of maintaining a responsive and equitable democracy. Our democratic system of government is supposed to conduct the public’s business fairly and consistently within the explicit directives of the citizens’ elected representatives. But how can citizens know if that is happening? And how can citizens know that their representatives are actually conducting “the people’s business” rather than their own? Transparency is required for maintaining our governments’ accountability to its citizens.
Transparency means giving citizens access to their governments’ records, to the same information that government agencies themselves use to make decisions and conduct operations. With it, interested persons can understand, verify, and possibly challenge a governmental action. Since most governmental actions impact specific locations, geographic information is critical to governmental accountability, and GIS technology and professionals are critical to analyzing that information.
- See more at: http://www.sensorsandsystems.com/article/features/32431-democracy-depends-upon-access-to-government-geodata.html#sthash.BL6JWJAy.ZjdkA9g7.dpuf
October 3, 2013
Todd Sears, Bethel, VT (excerpted from the VT Council on Rural Development Web Site, see link below)
“…C+ is actively exploring ways by which information technology (IT) and web functionality can enable and enhance the role of the citizen during an emergency. This could involve how to best harness social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Front Porch Forum and others like them to expand and add an extra layer of communication and trust to the information created and used about the disaster by the affected municipality. Where yesterday we were concerned with the conventional media outlets and actions, today we must embrace and take advantage of other more progressive options as well.
One of the more exciting applications C+ is experimenting with is called Ushahidi, a freeware, crowd-sourced geospatial information application which allows near real-time plotting of various forms of media onto a map from the field. Imagine a scenario where a stranded neighborhood member, after the worst of a disaster has passed, walks his or her area to take stock of the situation, comes across a neighbor with an injury, a fallen power line, a washed out road, or a collapsed bridge. With a smartphone loaded with a free app and a few button clicks, that person can take a picture (or a video, or write a text narrative) of the situation, and immediately have it plot out onto a web-based map in the municipal Emergency Operations Center or Incident Command Post. An icon appears on the map where the incident has occurred; the operator at the workstation clicks on it, and sees a photo of the phenomenon, with amplifying descriptive information. The implications for immediate response and future planning are staggering.”
More here: http://vtrural.org/programs/digital-economy/updates/citizens-plus-in-bethel
September 20, 2013
We have 4 webinars scheduled for late October and November. There are three slots open in December if anyone has a topic they would like to present! Dates and times are very flexible, I am just trying to schedule one per week (other than holiday weeks).
Please get in touch if you would like to present or have a suggestion (firstname.lastname@example.org)! In the meantime, check out what we have scheduled so far…
Getting Started with ArcGIS Online for Organizations – Mark Scott, ESRI
Introduction to Quantum GIS (QGIS), Leslie Pelch, VCGI
Quantum GIS: Data Acquisition and Transformation, Leslie Pelch, VCGI
Using GPS and Bringing the Data into GIS, Leslie Pelch, VCGI
September 3, 2013
Leslie Pelch, VCGI
The Vermont Open Data Summit on October 8 in Montpelier will bring together Vermonters interested in learning and talking about Open Data in the Green Mountain State. Learn more about Open Data and the Summit here (and register!): http://vcgi.vermont.gov/events/open_data_2013
August 30, 2013
Young Hacks Academy was an exciting day camp for 10-12 year-olds to explore programming basics and create interactive stories.
Young Hacks Agents developed collaborative problem-solving skills through daily missions in front of and away from a computer. By weeks end, graduates of Young Hacks Agent Training had sharpened their powers of creativity and communication, while making some new friends along the way.
As teams of three, students walked around Colchester High School in search of 6 Young Hacks Academy “geocache” containers. Inside each container was a riddle that related to the location of the next container on the list of waypoints. The kids had a blast using their tracking devices as a compass.
Here are some pictures of the kids using VCGI’s GPS units (available for free loan to towns, nonprofits, and schools/camps!):
August 30, 2013
Leslie Pelch, VCGI
VCGI asked constituents to provide feedback about their priorities for the future VCGI Data Warehouse through a 100 point exercise. They were each given 100 points to distribute among the various user requirements in order to indicate which were of greatest importance. The results of that survey can be viewed here: Data Warehouse Survey Results
The top ten user requirements based on average scores:
- As a User, I want “authoritative” datasets to be discoverable and clearly identified.
- As a User, I want access to aerial photos (eg: VT orthos) with no downloading required (ie: as a web service).
- As a User, I want a robust and easy-to-use search engine to help me find the geospatial data, web services, and web/mobile/desktop applications.
- As a User, I want access to historical aerial photos.
- As a User, I want a browser-based Data Warehouse solution that does not require a browser plug-in.
- As a User, I want to download aerial photos (eg: VT orthos) so I can use them on my computer.
- As a User, I want access to VT GIS data layers with no downloading required (ie: as a web service).
- As a User, I want to download VT GIS data layers in ESRI shapefile format.
- As a User, I want access to imagery organized by year (whether for download or web service).
- As a User, I want all data that I find to be available for download (not just a link to an external website).
July 30, 2013
VCGI is working with the State’s Enterprise GIS Consortium (EGC) to redesign and rebuild Vermont’s GIS Data Warehouse. A Warehouse Redesign Workgroup has been setup to spearhead this initiative. The current GIS Warehouse has been around for nearly 12 years! The Workgroup believes that needs and expectations have changed significantly over time, but we want to know what you think.
The Workgroup has put together a survey to help us prioritize the functions that are critical for a new data warehouse to store Vermont GIS data. There are a lot of features that could be built into the future data warehouse, but picking the most important means prioritizing among a range of good options.
We need to hear from you! What are your needs and priorities? Please let us know by completing this survey (you might even win a cool prize!).
Please complete the survey by Friday, August 9th.
Prize? If you complete the survey you’ll be entered into a prize drawing. Prizes include one license of ArcGIS Home Edition and a really cool Map Atlas coffee table book (total of 2 prizes). Thanks to ESRI for donating both of these prizes!! You must enter a valid email address to be entered into the drawing. You must also complete the survey by 5PM August 9th.
Thanks for the feedback!
May 9, 2013
Geography · Economics · Visualization
The party is over.
During the 1990s anything related to IT was expensive and fat profit margins were easily procured. Post-9/11 was very good for geospatial contracting with both the escalation of defense spending to support three wars as well as the mushrooming requirements of the Department of Homeland Security. But now sequestration–and its impacts on the DoD in particular–are the unmistakable sign that a golden era of contracting has drawn to a close.
But over the last decade another geospatial industry sprung up–the one we’re all familiar with: Internet-based, massive high-performance platforms taking full advantage of the plunging costs of computing to elevate mapping to its current status as a core component of the everyday web experience.
After a couple of decades of easy living, what would you do when confronted with the prospect of competing against lower-margin, faster-paced innovation?
You wouldn’t settle for half-measures, that’s for sure. No, you too would get your lobbying group MAPPS busy helping draft something like H.R. 1604 “Map It Once, Use It Many Times”: a private sector takeover of Federal mapping activities in the United States.
Read the rest of this article here: http://mapbrief.com/2013/05/08/geospatial-contractors-cynically-attempt-to-take-over-us-federal-mapping/
March 28, 2013
Incident Command Training Recommended!
How can the wider community of GIS professionals make their skills available to state and local organizations during an emergency? Zach Borst, Regional Outreach Specialist at DEMHS, has been helping VCGI understand that one of the big barriers to any member of the general public helping at any Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is lack of familiarity with the Incident Command Structure (ICS). This affects both attitudes and ability to function in the midst of a potentially chaotic situation. People who have this training are seen as potential assets to the folks running an EOC, whether at the state or local level.
So, in an effort to follow-up on the interest expressed by many members of the GIS community to “DO MORE” the next time an emergency happens, we are passing along information about some online and upcoming live (Free) ICS training. If you want to be in a position to be as helpful as possible, consider the following (we will pass along future opportunities as they come up!):
ICS 100 – Online Intro Course – Free – everything you need is downloadable from the web site – this may be required before you can attend additional trainings like the one below: http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/courseOverview.aspx?code=IS-100.b
ICS 200 - Incident Command System for Single Resources & Initial Action Incidents
February 27, 2013
VCGI, in collaboration with VT’s Enterprise GIS Consortium (EGC), has developed a portfolio of “web services” which allow users to bring map layers and imagery into their GIS projects or map mashups without actually downloading any data. By connecting to the service of choice via the internet (a live internet connection is required in order for the images to appear in your GIS project) users can access a variety of resources.
VCGI provides Web Map Services (including a basemap and contours), Imagery Services (black and white, color, infrared, various ages and resolution levels), and Geocoding Services. Services are often available in two forms: 1) cache and 2) non-cache. Cached services (*_CACHE) are designed to be used in browser or mobile web applications which utilize imagery at specific scales and need the fastest rendering performance. Non-cache services (*_NOCACHE) render the imagery to the client application dynamically; this allows clients such as ArcGIS Desktop to ask for the data in different ways (eg: different stretch or band combinations). Many of the services are also available in VT State Plane or Web Mercator projection/coordinate systems.
Services available and information on how to connect is available at the VCGI website: http://vcgi.vermont.gov/warehouse/web_services