Home > Public Domain Data > Potential positive or negative impacts to the GIS industry from a proposed Geospatial Data Act (GDA) bill (S.1253)

Potential positive or negative impacts to the GIS industry from a proposed Geospatial Data Act (GDA) bill (S.1253)

The provision of GIS data and services, and the consumption of those data and services in a modern economy is linked to a system of laws about copyright, commerce, licensing, and much more.  In this blog and in our book, we discuss the ever-changing landscape of GIS, including laws and potential laws that have and could impact GIS in positive ways or in negative ways.  The proposed Geospatial Data Act (GDA) bill (S. 1253) has been receiving attention in recent months for what many in the GIS community say would limit who can provide GIS and mapping services to licensed architects, engineers, and surveyors from federal government contracts.  Opponents of the bill, including the American Association of Geographers, state that it “would result in a significant loss of jobs throughout the U.S., and would cripple the dynamic and innovative American GIS, IT, and mapping companies and communities that have developed GIS and internet mapping, and now power its continued innovation and growth in jobs and new technologies.”  Proponents of the bill say it will “improve coordination, reduce duplication, and increase data transparency in the acquisition of geospatial data” and is a re-introduction of a bill originally proposed in 2015.

Aligned with our continued messaging here of “be critical of the data” and “conduct the research necessary so that you understand the issue”, we encourage the community to do just that.  The original bill as introduced by the US Senate is here, with the US House version here, along with position papers by the American Association of Geographers, URISA, and GITA, and an article with some recent tweets from GIS Lounge. 

The latest word, as as reported by GIS Lounge, is that the parts of the Act that would limit federal contracts in GIS to licensed architectural and engineering (A&E) firms have been removed.  The folks at GIS Lounge point out that the new revised bill promotes several good ideas:

  • Section 2 defines the term ‘geospatial data’ for the US federal government.
  • Section 3 clarifies the role of a Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC).
  • Section 4 clarifies the role of a National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC).
  • Section 5 describes the importance of a National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI).
  • Section 8 describes the creation and operation of the ‘GeoPlatform’ as an electronic service that provides access to geospatial data and metadata for geospatial data.


The proposed Geospatial Data Act is a proposed bill that originally raised concerns about limiting the GIS industry but now may benefit the industry.  Investigate the bill yourself with these resources and, as always, make an informed decision. 

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  1. October 4, 2018 at 2:50 pm

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