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Posts Tagged ‘coordination’

The use of administrative data to improve state decision-making, with connections to GIS

August 20, 2018 1 comment

An article on the use of administrative data to improve state decision making has, I believe, key implications for those of us involved with creating, coordinating, and using geospatial data.  “As state leaders seek to harness data in innovative ways, what common themes, noteworthy successes, and notable challenges have the 50 states in the USA experienced across a broad cross section of issue areas? To address these questions, The Pew Charitable Trusts interviewed state leaders across the U.S. in 2016 and reviewed relevant laws, documents, and policies in all 50 states. This report is the culmination of that research, and the first comprehensive overview of how data is being utilized in all 50 states.”

Using data from over 350 interviews with key state officials, the report highlights ways in which some government leaders have employed sophisticated data analytics, to craft policy responses to complex problems, improve service delivery, manage resources, and examine program effectiveness.  The five key actions identified that state leaders could take are:  Plan ahead, including the use of data!, build the capacity of stakeholders to use data, create meaningful information from data, and sustain support for data efforts.  The complete 61 page report is linked to the above summary.

The report’s thoughtful recommendations go far beyond the “hey, let’s employ data driven decisions” that we hear so much about these days.  For large organizations such as state or regional government agencies to effectively use data, data literacy needs to be built in that organization, so that people can make sense of that data, and those efforts need to be supported and funded.  I would even go beyond this and say that the efforts of the education outreach team on which I serve at Esri and all those involved with GIS education play a key role, because the development of geographic literacy takes time and must include all levels of education–primary, secondary, university, and lifelong learning, and include formal and informal settings.

I will also state that while geospatial data is not mentioned in the summary, and only a few times by name in the report itself, GIS is the force behind and needs to be recognized as the force behind each one of these data initiatives.   Examples of the importance of GIS are all over this report, from the vehicle crash incidents map in Indiana, to natural hazards assessment in Oregon, to opioid overdoses in Massachusetts.  But I would also say that it is up to us in the GIS community to make sure we draw out the importance of GIS in reports and recommendations such as this in the presentations we give, meetings we attend, and items that we author.   As GIS becomes more of an enterprise solution, embedded in the day-to-day work that organizations do, I am concerned that GIS could get “buried” or taken for granted.  I believe that it must be continually cited so that it is supported and funded into the future.

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Transportation is one obvious ongoing need that large government agencies will need to address into the future with data and GIS technology, but there are many others, identified by the Pew Trust’s report that I describe here.  Photograph by Joseph Kerski, sitting at a dead stop along Highway 60 in California.

 

 

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Reflections on Geospatial Information and Consolidation Options for the US Federal Government

April 19, 2015 1 comment

GIS analyst Nathan Lowry has written a paper on geospatial information coordination and consolidation options for the US Federal government.   The paper examines recent reports by the US Government Accountability Office that criticize federal departments and agencies for their lack of progress on supporting, managing, and coordinating geospatial information, and analyzes these criticisms and the effectiveness of these and other proposed solutions.

Mr. Lowry begins the paper by providing an extensive background of US federal government involvement in mapping, through the formation of the Federal Geographic Data Committee and the National Spatial Data Infrastructure, with each section of the paper, provides thorough references. As such, this section is an excellent supplement to Chapter 5 of our book, where we discuss national and state data portals and metadata standards.

Mr. Lowry cuts right to the heart of the matter in statements such as “centralization never seems to work out the way it’s planned” and the focus by the GAO on three large government data producing agencies “may indicate some systematic issues, but will never redirect the redundant efforts of the federal government as a whole because the scope is too small”.  He recommends that “If the problem is that the US federal government wastes money by duplicating expenditure for geospatial data(and hardware, software and personnel) required across many agencies and underfunds activities that could most effectively and efficiently meet those needs (my assertion), then more time needs to be spent understanding the problem culturally, procedurally, organizationally and comprehensively in order to craft the right solution”.

One of the most interesting sections of the paper is an analysis of several models for geospatial portfolio management, beginning with the concept of the Geographic Information Officer for the state of California, and other states, federal agencies, and local governments, continuing with a consideration of how the US intelligence community funds and staffs its geointelligence activities, and discussion of principles of intergovernmental relations as a way to implement the NSDI.

As a fellow resident of the same state in which Mr. Lowry resides, I can attest that he is a strong proponent of geospatial technology and a valued member of our GIS community, and his comments and reflections about the problems surrounding geospatial data coordination are thoughtful and insightful.  In other words, he knows what he is talking about, he cares deeply about the value that geospatial technologies brings to decision making, and he’s not afraid to make strong recommendations.  I hope that many decision makers read his paper… and act upon his recommendations.

Federal Geospatial Information Coordination and Consolidatioin

Nathan Lowry’s paper on federal geospatial information coordination and consolidation. Photograph by Joseph Kerski.