May 5, 1998 FGDC Coordination Meeting Summary

Persons Attending:
Bruce Ambacher (Historical Data WG), Gerry Barton (NOAA), Nancy Blyler (USACE), Larry Brandt (NSF), Don Buhler (Cadastral SC), Kim Burns-Braidlow (FGDC Staff), Mike Callahan (USGS/NMD), Dave Catlin (EPA), John Crow (Base Carto SC), Jay Donnelly (USGS/NMD), Andrew Euston (HUD), Gary Fitzpatrick (LOC), Alan Gaines (NSF), Hank Garie (NSGIC), Leslie Godwin (Cultural & Demographic SC), Ken Loudon (NIMA), Win Lyday (NACo), M.K. Miles (Facilities WG), John Moeller (FGDC Staff), Jan Morton (Geological SC), Tom Palmerlee (UCGIS), Charles Roswell (NIMA), Gale TeSelle (NRCS), Gene Thorley (Chair), Tom Usselman (Mapping Science Committee), Dave Wolf (EPA), Rick Yorczyk (Geodetic Control SC)

Information Items:
Kim Burns-Braidlow reported Vegetation, Earth Cover and SIMNRE Subcommittee and Working Groups have not submitted 1997 reports of accomplishments or 1998 work plans. All Subcommittee and Working Group reports are going to be combined into one single document and these reports are needed if they are to be included in the combined report.

The National Association of Counties has appointed members to all the Subcommittees and Working Groups to work on standard issues. The FGDC Chairs are asked to follow-up with these NACo appointed individuals.

The FGDC newsletter is seeking items of interest. Consider activities that your subcommittee or working group is involved with and use the newsletter to highlight these activities. Submit information to Dave Painter ( or phone 703/648-5513.

The summer edition of the FGDC member directory is coming out in June. Please provide any update information to Jennifer Fox by May 22 to be included in the upcoming printing.

A number of times in partnership meetings with States and Counties, it has been noted that we need contact information, particularly at the state level, that they can go to to work with. To facilitate this, we need to pull together such a list that is available on the web. This will then be turned over to the state people so they can facilitate with these contacts. If the states can find out who a good federal field contact is, the states can then invite these people to relevant local meetings.

Southeast Federal Field Office/State Council Coordination Briefing
John Moeller stated that at a previous Steering Committee meeting, value was placed in trying to establish a federal coordinating mechanism within the states to interface with the state councils. Florida submitted a request to the FGDC for doing this for Florida. Mike Callahan is now the liaison in Florida for NMD, it has since grown into a larger enterprise.

Mike Callahan identified the group with the Natural Resources Leadership Group (NRLG). It is a coordination group in the Southeast that is composed of 9 Federal Agencies (NPS, FS, FWS, USGS, NRCS, NOAA, TVA, EPA, and USACE) that get together to talk about issues of mutual concern.

Mr. Callahan stated that in March 1997 a letter from the Florida Geographic Information Board was submitted to the FGDC requesting a Federal Interagency Committee be established in Florida. This was done for two reason, 1) Florida did not know what the Fed's were doing in Florida and 2) they wanted to know what programs are ongoing and being planned in their state. They basically wanted to exchange data and get in early on projects happening in their state and impact some activities on what is being done in Florida. Mr. Callahan stated that other states began requesting the same information as Florida. The Geographic Information Work Group was formed as a result. The NRLG was given the regional oversight of this Work Group. They were charged to develop recommended operational and procedures and guidelines for regional and state committees, report on progress and present initial recommendations to the NRLG, and support the formation Florida Interagency Coordination Committee as a prototype for the southeast. The Work Group began working on the tasks and this raised several issues. 1) Q. What is the Southeast? A. AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, PR, SC, TN, TX, VI, VA. 2)Q. When should state committees be formed? A. It was decided when there is a need to communicate - it is just good business, 3) Q. Inclusion of non-NRLG agencies? A. From the state standpoint they want every Federal agency who has an interest in or an active program in GIS is being invited to join. 4) Q. What is the role of the Geographic Information Work Group? A. They looked at the functions of the FGDC and decided: coordinate and facilitate the formation of the individual state Federal Coordination Committees to supply consistency, be a funnel of concerns and comments to the FGDC, assign a committee member as the point of contact to monitor operations of the state committees, and establish forums for Federal and State data producers and users to share information. 5) Q. What are the guidelines for State committee formation and operations? A. Provide a forum for geographic data producers and users to: share data, technology, and procedures; exchange information on current and future GIS programs; exchange geographic data between Federal and State partners; minimize duplication efforts among the partners.

Mr. Callahan stated that to create similar regional groups you need to have enthusiastic individuals as well as include groups that already exist that have a desire and need to coordinate.

    Action: Identify groups that exist regionally who are involved in GIS coordination activities, such as the Colorado Plateau and the Columbia Basin Management Plan, which could be built upon to create similar activities to what Mike Callahan is working on with the Southeast Region. Provide information to Kim Burns- Braidlow. Due date: May 22

The list will be reviewed by the Coordination Group to identify the potential locations for activities similar to the Southeast Region.

Mr. Callahan's biggest concern right now is that they are ready to have a Florida meeting but he does not have points of contact for most of the agencies at today's meeting. He would like to have the meeting in June and needs these POC's as soon as possible.

    Action: Provide Mike Callahan ( your agency's Florida POC names for an upcoming meeting in June. Due date: May 14.

    Action: Provide your agency's regional GIS POC information to the FGDC Web Due Date: May 15.

    Action: Mike Callahan will provide the Executive Secretary a copy of his overheads from today's meeting.

Digital Government Workshops Briefing
Larry Brandt stated that the idea behind the Digital Government Program is to make connections between the computer science/research community and federal agencies that have major information service elements to their missions. The goal of the Digital Government Program is to foster research and collaboration between agencies, academia, and the industry, and to fund and demonstrate cross-agency cutting edge applications. Potential Digital Government Project types include new research, enhancements of existing research technologies to demonstrate them in Federal missions, create pilot projects and testbeds, perform human resource exchange, planning grants, feasibility studies, workshops, digital magazines, and other community building, technology exchange, or clearinghouse mechanisms.

Mr. Brandt stated that he does many of these presentations offering to bring the computer science community to the table if there is an agency willing to jointly fund a workshop. The agency would bring their domain to the table and together they will develop a research agenda. There is a big gap currently between the two because agencies are interested in things that work right now that has 24 hour a day support versus the academia community that believe if you understand something well it's time to start working on something else. Mr. Brandt thinks they can develop something between the two.

Mr. Brandt remarked that Federal agencies can participate in the Digital Government Program by helping to identify and energize important cross-agency service domain, contribute funds to the Program, aid in proposal development - matchmaking, aid in peer review, aid in post award management and oversight, and participating in proposals as performing partners. They really want active participation.

A Report from the Workshop on Research and Development Opportunities in Federal Information Services is now available for review at:

Mr. Brandt said that proposals are due in August for the May 1998 Program announcement, with awards late in FY98.

Communication and Education Working Group Update
Gerry Barton reported they had their first meeting on April 14th. The Co-Chairs for the group are Millington Lockwood and Barbara Poore. The charter is out for comments and the work plan is being developed, it is anticipated that they will be complete by mid-summer. Mr. Barton reported at the April 14th meeting several ideas were suggested for the working group, including have a series of congressional breakfasts on different topics relating to geospatial data. Another suggestion was to use the group as a vehicle to work with all the Subcommittees and Working Groups, particularly getting out the activities dealing with standards. Professional public relation personnel were suggested as potential members to this committee. The focus of this group is not just communication but also education. Potential goals of this group include raising the visibility of the NSDI, educate about the progress of the NSDI, existence and importance of standards, and communicate what is happening between and among subcommittees. Mr. Barton distributed a survey that is an assessment of communication, education and outreach activities that have already been tried. A question was raised since many members represent agencies as well as working groups or subcommittees, what perspective should they fill this out for? It was decided that they should be filled out for each appropriate affiliation. The next meeting of this group is May 27 at the Department of Interior building from 1:00-3:00.

    Action: Complete the Assessment of Communications, Education and Outreach efforts for the NSDI survey. Comments to Barbara Poore ( by May 20.

    Action: Gerry Barton will send a copy of the group's Charter.

A comment was made that at the ESRI conference a poster was given out, Geography Matters, and it was an outstanding poster. There was interest in having a similar poster created by the FGDC on NSDI.

    Action: Gary Fitzpatrick will work on a non-proprietary Geography Matters poster.

What's Next - 1997 Reports
John Moeller reported we have several subcommittee and working group reports for the 1997 NSDI Accomplishments. We would like to have a combined document to disseminate to a broad audience as well as our requirement to submit an annual report to OMB. It was suggested we get a group together to decide what and how to present this information. Gene Thorley, Gerry Barton, Rick Yorczyk and Don Buhler volunteered to help Kim Burns-Braidlow determine what's next for these reports.

    Action: Kim Burns-Braidlow will notify those who volunteered of the date and time of a meeting to discuss these reports.

Report from April Steering Committee Meeting
John Moeller reported the FGDC Policy on Access to Public Information and the Protection of Personal Information Privacy in Federal Geospatial Databases was endorsed at the April meeting. This policy is available on the web. A workshop is being planned on dealing with the privacy issues. The ISO Metadata standard was discussed to reinforce the importance metadata and to let the Steering Committee know that the FGDC activities do carry weight in the international arena. The FY2000 Initiative reached general conclusions that this is a timely issue which can be built around Climate Change, Global Disaster Information Network, and Digital Earth. It was decided to continue working on the proposal to flesh out the details by May 15th. Additionally, Mr. Moeller stated that the guidance he's been given is that agency's must participate in Component 1 of the Initiative in order to participate in Component 2.

The Framework Survey meeting was discussed by Hank Garie. All 50 states are participating in the survey and the results are exciting. Mr. Garie did not want to get in to much of the details of this meeting because of the lack of time to adequately present the background necessary. Mr. Garie did offer to present for the group the informational handouts that were presented at the meeting, as well as powerpoint overheads used.

    Action: Hank Garie will provide handout materials from the Framework Survey meeting.

Digital Earth
Tom Kalil of the National Economic Council has been working on the Digital Earth Initiative. Mr. Kalil reported that Vice-President Gore's big interests are those related to the environment and to information and communications technology and when you combine those - watch out because the Vice-President gets excited. In the context of the Digital Earth, the Vice-President visualizes that a child can view a 3-D image of the earth from space and then zoom in to varying degrees of resolution. All the while adding various geospatial layers of information. The Vice- President believes this is necessary for a couple of reasons: 1)Clearly the amount of information we are staring to collect, the Mission to Planet Earth example was given that will create a terabyte of data per day, the traditional ways of interacting with this data and visualizing the data (windows, icons, menues, pointers (WIMP)) is no longer adequate, 2) a number of technologies necessary, whether improvements in mass storage technology, modeling and simulation, broad band networks to transmit the information, and the Administration's decision to allow the licensing of civilian systems capable of 1 meter resolution satellite imagery, could be built upon. Mr. Gore believes a number of the building blocks for this initiative are already available and were we able to do this it would have an incredible range of applications, not only in education but also biodiversity, climate change, environmental decision making, etc. What Mr. Kalil is trying to do at this point is to decide who will pick up some of these pieces and run with them. Mr. Kalil presented 8 questions that need to be answered:

  1. What are core data elements you would like to see in this system?
  2. What are key architectural and technical decisions that need to be made?
  3. Relevant and appropriate mix of public domain vs. free data?
  4. What is the long term vision and research agenda to reach Digital Earth?
  5. What is appropriate management structure.
  6. What are potential application scenarios?
  7. What are policy issues, such as privacy, national security, etc.
  8. Identify existing activities that support the Digital Earth concepts that could be built upon.

These are some of the questions they are grappling with. They are anxious to get as much help on these issues as possible. Mr. Kalil stated that his strong inclination is to not spend 3 years creating a requirements document but rather build a couple of prototypes and testbeds.

Hank Garie remarked that from a State's perspective the Digital Earth is a cool idea but we are trying to work on a Digital United States. He asked Mr. Kalil strategically how can we marry these ideas of the NSDI as being a necessary step towards the Digital Earth and can we leverage these concepts and tie pragmatic ideas to a politically cool idea. Mr. Kalil said the Vice- President has a strong stake in the vision and he is open to ideas about how to get there. When President Kennedy said we are going to put a man on the moon, he didn''t say ".. And I think the fuel mix..." He looked for the technical talent to do that. The situation is similar here. We aren't going to do the entire planet at one meter right away - it makes sense to focus on priorities. The global data will be tricker than the US data. It does make sense to say lets get the entire planet at some resolution and then lets do the US at a higher resolution with various geospatial data layers. The resolution will depend on the application.

A question was raised as to whether international cooperation is planned for creating these data layers. Mr. Kalil said yes international cooperation makes sense but the sequencing is important. It will take the US time to get its act together first. Mr. Kalil hopes that once we start the Digital Earth it will catch on, similar to the World Wide Web craze.

The one meter resolution was questioned as to the level planned. Mr. Kalil said the Vice President mentions it all the time. Gale TeSelle asked "Would the other data levels be at this resolution?" That would depend on the application. This project is really unbounded - however to move forward we have to make decisions on the priorities. Education is clearly a priority and environmental decision making is another. Mr. Kalil asked if the group was advising the Vice President about what concrete steps are next to make this a reality, what would it be.

Mr. Kalil was asked of what he knew about the NSDI does he think there is a one to one to fit with the Digital Earth. Mr. Kalil said at this point he doesn't know much about the NSDI but it is clear at this point that no one agency is going to have "Digital Earth" as a mission. The different agencies that participate in the NSDI have missions that allow them to collect data to provide building blocks. How do you get the fit between the high level national goal and the concrete agency missions. John Moeller said that is part of what they are wrestling with in the NSDI - intergration of mission and greater nationals goal along with state, local, academic, and tribal contributions.

Mr. Kalil is looking for comments to his 8 questions in a month. The next major deadline is the preparation for the Administration's FY2000 budget. It would be useful for agencies to discuss their budget and what dollar amounts are perceived as necessary to move the Digital Earth Initiative forward.

M.K. Miles asked how to get the private sector interested in this and 'being' the technology. He said if Bill Gates were interested in this initiative and he took all this government data he could probably put something together but he would look at what is his profit motive in doing so. When Kennedy said let's put a man on the moon - he had NASA. The NSDI is mostly data, the technology is farther away. The fed's aren't going to give you that - it's the MIT's and the Microsoft's of the world that will do that. Mr. Kalil agreed this is not going to managed and executed by government agencies. If the government plays its cards right we can dramatically accelerate the introduction of new technology, the development of the Internet is an example. The question is what can we do to ignite the spark.

    Action: Provide comments to Kim Burns-Braidlow in response to Tom Kalil's 8 Digital Earth questions:

  1. What are core data elements you would like to see in this system?
  2. What are key architectural and technical decisions that need to be made?
  3. Relevant and appropriate mix of public domain vs. free data?
  4. What is the long term vision and research agenda to reach Digital Earth?
  5. What is appropriate management structure.
  6. What are potential application scenarios?
  7. What are policy issues, such as privacy, national security, etc.
  8. Identify existing activities that support the Digital Earth concepts that could be built upon.
Due date: May 22

Next Coordination Group Meeting:

June 2, 1998 from 9:00 - Noon

Bureau of Land Management
7th Floor - signs will be posted for room number
1620 L Street, NW
Washington, DC


1620 L Street is mid-block on the south side of L Street.

1 1/2 blocks east of Farragut North (red) L Street exit
2 blocks north, and 2 blocks east of Farragut West (blue/orange) 17th Street exit
2 blocks north, and 1 1/2 blocks west of McPherson Square (blue/orange) 16th Street exit