May 4, 1999 FGDC Coordination Meeting Summary

Persons Attending:
Gerry Barton (NOAA), Nancy Blyler (Facilities WG), Fred Broome (Cultural & Demographic SC), Kim Burns-Braidlow (FGDC Staff), Bruce Cahan (Guest-Urban Logic, Inc.), Kathy Covert (FGDC Staff), George Cross (Earth Cover WG), Greg Elmes (UCGIS), Gary Fitzpatrick (LOC), Alan Gaines (NSF), Hank Garie (NSGIC), Mike Goodchild (Guest-UC Santa Barbara), Tom Gunther (DOI), Eric Goods (FGDC Staff), Peggy Harwood (USDA-FS), Greg Johnson (Guest-USDA-NRCS), Win Lyday (NACo), Lance McKee (OpenGIS), Anne Hale Miglarese (Bathymetric SC), M.K. Miles (Facilities WG), John Moeller (Chair), David Morehouse (DOE), Mark Naftzger (Base Carto SC), David Painter (FGDC Staff), Barbara Poore (FGDC Staff), Doris Reinhart (Guest-Chesapeake Consulting, Inc.), Bruce Spear (Ground Transportation SC), Christine Ulrich (ICMA), Tom Usselman (MSC), Alan Voss (TVA -via phone), Lonnie Weiss (Guest-Weiss Consulting), Dorsey Worthy (Earth Cover WG), Rick Yorczyk (Geodetic Control SC)

Information items:

1999 CAP Funding Program Update:
David Painter briefed the coordination group on the status of the 1999 funding program. Due to concerns expressed at a previous Coordination Group meeting, only FY99 funds will be used to fund this year's program. A total of 108 proposals were received, totaling $6.8M in requested funding. The $1.7M available from the FGDC was not enough to fully fund all the projects submitted. Mr. Painter said that as many projects as possible will be funded, however, many proposals will be funded at reduced amounts. A question was asked if proposals were being funded at a flat rate, to which Mr. Painter responded that each proposal was based on its merits. The next steps include notifying the applicants and completing the agreement documentation by June 4, 1999. The grant recipients will be formally announced at the Geodata Forum, June 7-9.

Proposed Subcommittee on Spatial Climate Data:
John Moeller began by stating that subcommittees are established by OMB and if we agree to start a new group it would initially be a working group. Working groups are set up for one year then reevaluated. If they are thematic in nature a request would go forward to OMB to have it permanently established as a subcommittee.

Greg Johnson provided an overview of why he submitted the proposal. He has worked on spatial climatology activities for the last few years, and he knows there are similar efforts elsewhere being performed. Dr. Johnson said that climate is at the forefront of several issues today including global change. Looking at the FGDC structure, it seemed that climate is a key theme.

The new group is proposed to facilitate the exchange of data, establish standards for climatic layers produced now, and in the future, and aid in the transfer of this data. Dr. Johnson said they would like to raise the awareness of climate data in a spatial world. They have recently produced a set of 3 CD-ROMs containing monthly and annual precipitation coverages for the entire US.

Questions - Alan Gaines said that the proposal indicates that the principle focus would be on ground-based data. What is the relationship, if any, with space-based global data? Dr. Johnson replied that currently there is none, but they do see that it could be included under the purview of this new group and be a coordination point for those types of data sets being merged in. Mr. Gaines said at this point it would seem to be counter productive not to include space-based data discussions in the new group. Bruce Spear said that the question needs to be asked what is inherently different in the type of data that is ground-based vs space-based. And if one of the functions of this working group is to deal with standards to support the exchange of that type of data and if space-based data is totally outside the realm of those standards then there may need to be coordination but not a complete integration of the two within the working group. If one of the major emphasis of this working group is to facilitate the exchange of ALL climatic data then Mr. Spear agrees with Mr. Gaines.

Dr. Johnson said that he is not aware of any coordination at this time and that any such effort would be a start in the right direction. David Morehouse commented that dealing with climate data needs to be dealt with in 4-dimensions. Barbara Poore added that the function of this group could be outreach to the global change community.

Mr. Spear said he is opposed to a random proliferation of more subcommittees and working groups and he asked what is the real purpose of this new group. If the purpose is a recognition that there are certain standards that need to be developed with respect to ground-based climatic data and that is going to be the main focus then the integration of all these other things is perhaps less important at this time. With the expectation that it may be expanded. He's looking at it from the standpoint of ground transportation. That is exactly what they have done because they recognize that there are certain standards that apply to ground transportation that are not necessarily consist with NOAA air charts and bathymetric charts. But if the purpose is to provide a provide big picture of climate data then he would agree with Mr. Gaines that this working group needs to be more broad based. The decision of which is more important is one that Dr. Johnson needs to make. The structure of the working group will be very dependent on what Dr. Johnson conceives to be the primary focus. Dr. Johnson said that their focus has been on the distribution of ground data and that is why the proposal was written as such. He added that if other players want to step forward and be a part of this process he can certainly see it be an all encompassing climate group. But even with that, he can see that there would be some differences, resulting in a need for subgroups.

Gerry Barton said NOAA is very interested in these topics and he knows many groups are working on these issues. He referred to the FGDC Metadata standard, thinking there may be fields that can be generated, similar to the Biological extensions, possibly having a Climate extension.

Fred Broome said that the issue seems to be the title versus the third paragraph. He likes the idea of a spatial climate working group that would be a focal point for climatic data and standards whether the data is coordinated at an international level or actually create them at a national level. His suggestion is go to the third paragraph and take out the words 'at or near ground surface'. The title of the standard would thus identify the data and the Dr. Johnson and the experts in the group would be the focal point for all the other data that may be under their jurisdiction. Mr. Moeller said that through that process extensive discussions would need to take place with the Global Climate Change group and others.

Mr. Gaines added that he will be going to a Data Management Working Group later today and one of the discussion there will be a proposal to create a global environment change information service center. It would presumably be a global change equivalent of the clearinghouse.

Mr. Broome said if we can generalize the proposed proposal at this time it could cut down the number of FGDC groups. George Rohaley asked if there is a relationship between the proposed group and the Spatial Water Data subcommittee? Dr. Johnson said he did look at their charter and the only overlap was the word 'precipitation'. Mr. Moeller added that the Spatial Water Data subcommittee is a good example of something that could happen with the new proposed group. It is jointly sponsored by the Interagency Advisory Committee on Water Data and the FGDC so it serves several purposes. This working group could serve several purposes as it evolves and develops by being a group for the Global Climate Change Research Program and others.

Mr. Moeller said that he hears a consensus to move forward with this working group. Mr. Moeller asked Dr. Johnson to take it forward to the next step. Dr. Johnson agreed and asked for direction and help on the next steps. Mr. Moeller asked for an agency to step forward with the assistance. Mr. Barton said he thought NOAA would be interested but would need to check with his people. Dr. Johnson will work with Kim Burns-Braidlow to put out a call to agencies and stakeholders to get them involved and set up a meeting. Anne Hale Miglarese mentioned to Dr. Johnson the opportunity to look within the state agencies for some support, particularly within the Regional Climate Centers.

    Decision: A Spatial Climate Data Working Group will be established. Dr. Greg Johnson has the lead on this activity.

Task Groups identified during Shepherdstown retreat:
Mr. Moeller reminded the group that at the Shepherdstown retreat 6 items were identified as necessary were develop into ad hoc task groups. With the facilitation contract FGDC has with Chesapeake Consulting, Inc. there is additional time in the contract to help facilitate, set up goals, develop implementation plans, etc. Mr. Moeller offered Chesapeake's services to with the new groups in an effort to move these tasks forward. New Task Group chairs let Kim Burns-Braidlow or Doris Reinhart know if you are interested in using their services.

USACE's Steering Committee representative:
Carl Enson welcomed the group to the Corp's facility. Mr. Enson is the Chief of the Engineering Construction Division for the Civil Works portion of the Corp. Mr. Enson has been in his present position for about 7 months. His first experience to the dilemma of data and how it is moved around occurred when he was in the Los Angeles district. Mr. Enson gave examples of his past experiences that demonstrated the need for compatible systems, standards, and for coordination of data efforts. Mr. Enson stated that he believes what the FGDC is doing is extremely important. Mr. Enson said that the Corp has a CAD GIS center in Vicksburg, MS that puts standards in place.

GeoData Forum Thread Presentations:
Geospatial Decision Support Systems - Tom Gunther stated that the primary message he would like to see discussed during the thread is the state of the art of decision support systems. In that regard, he can think of three areas - 1) the development of computerized systems built on GIS to include tools to do simulation scenarios, 2) make the distinction between decision support systems and those models from the decision process and looking at the decision process and how people go about framing the problem and identifying the data needs they have, and 3) distinguishing between the technical judgement and the value judgement sides. Mr. Gunther hopes to take highlights of the threads discuss to a roundtable discussion the following day.

Finance and Commercial Aspects of NSDI - Bruce Cahan stated that the thread will start with a proposition that spatial data is as much infrastructure as any other physical infrastructure might be. They plan to show in their thread that the communities who invest in spatial data area reflection of their mandates. They will discuss strategies that the NSDI should take advantage of that have yet to be uncovered and discuss mechanisms for making spatial data cheaper, better, and more accessible. The thread will include some unique, real-world presentations, as well as they will encourage full audience participation in the afternoon.

"No Limits" Information Technology for Livable Communities - Lance McKee stated that the theme they would like to get across is the new paradigm technology. It is not the isolated desktop workstations doing GIS that they will be interested in discussing. Today's workstation, data and software are now on or are served from the Internet creating a 'web' of resources. OGC's members will demonstration 'no-limits' technology that are available to GIS users now, and what will be available in the future. The format will be kept fairly loose with demonstrations, followed by a question/answer session, and following lunch presentations and possibly a panel discussion by the sponsors of the Geodata Forum to discuss their perspectives on this new technology paradigm.

Geodata Challenges for Research and Education in the 21st Century - Greg Elmes stated that the session will have two primary threads and one of the things they want to stress is the integrated nature of research and education and not think of these as two separate activities: 1) How do researchers and educators engage with community efforts to enhance the use of NSDI and its advances, and what are the links and 2) How do we build technically and spatially enabled workforce and population in this country. There is a growing reluctance for American students to enter technically challenging fields despite the opportunities in our workplaces to provide them jobs. This is a real challenge. The thread will be broken into several parts: 1) the morning session will include examples of how NSDI is enhanced by research, data sharing and research challenges, 2) A student's perspective of the same sort of thing, they are bringing in a group of students from the Virginia Commonwealth University who are working with the Richmond Local Initiative Support Corporation on the quality of life and livable cities, 3) Reviewing a report made recently to the National Science Foundation on national needs in research. Another part of the session will focus more directly on educational needs and builds on the UCGIS Educational Summit. Dr. Elmes also encouraged everyone to attend the reception that UCGIS is sponsoring at the National Geographic Society.

Accessing Data - Mike Goodchild stated that the theme of this session is on distributed geolibraries and data access. They hope to have a discussion on data access with in that framework of distributed geolibraries and clearinghouses. This will be somewhat less technical than Lance McKee's group but more technical than some of the others. Motivations will be discussed, including the assumption this group will make that we don't do a good job today; reasons and things we can do to improve will also be discussed. The thread will be organized into four topics 1) Accessing data today, 2) What do we know about how people share data, 3) Economic, institutional, and technical impediments to sharing data, and 4) Sharing data in the future. Desirable outcomes to the thread will include the opportunity to share experiences, success stories, lessons learned and develop well-crafted actions.

Geodata Organizational Issues - Hank Garie and Lonnie Weiss stated that organizational issues are things most of us have dealt with over the years. To assist in their thread design, they have recruited veterans in organizational wars. If you think of organizational issues, these range from issues within a stakeholder group, such as what are my roles and responsibilities, and what do I need to coordinate. There really are not any organizational rules that either have been jointly developed and adopted, we are all learning as we go along. The other issue is cross-stakeholder group interaction and coordination, how much structure do we need to effectively implement the NSDI? These are some of the topics they want to deal with in their thread. Mr. Garie would like to make progress in defining logical roles for stakeholder groups within the NSDI and carry these role definitions to the policy roundtable discussion. The thread will attempt to do an open-space thread. Dee Hock will help focus direction and start the session. Lonnie Weiss stated that the open space event will be a moderated design. This will provide an opportunity for people to kick ideas around and not simply follow what is presented as the latest greatest new ideas but to inform themselves of the other possibilities that are around.

Pillars of the Community: Framework Data and Product Development - In Fred Corle's absence, Eric Goods stated that he believed Mr. Corle will deal with the development of a thread that will touch on crime mapping, and some of Community Demonstration Projects that are on-going to be presented in panel discussion. These will flush out development of a framework and its need. Mark Naftzger asked if past FGDC funded Framework projects had been consider for this thread. Mr. Goods said that he believed there would be some framework presentations for general community benefits.

Questions discussions.
Win Lyday asked what is the purpose of the forum? John Moeller said the general purpose was to raise discussions to a policy level of establishing NSDI, discuss what policy level implications need to be raised to decision makers and executives. Also to bring these discussions forward to present to those on Capitol Hill during the policy roundtable on the last day of the Forum. Ms. Lyday said she sees a notable absence of federal, state and local representation on the program. How will this coalesce for a unified approach? Hank Garie said that it would be worth our while to double check the fundamental direction of the forum with our unified vision and make sure there is a consensus on the messages that are being sent. We should check now before we get there. Greg Elmes said that during the Steering Committee's preliminary meetings the emphasis was always on encouraging participation from the audience on what THEY need us to do. We need to ensure we have people in the audience to have interactive discussions with. Ms. Lyday asked why counties were not placed on the panels. The comment was made that it was assumed that counties would be in the audience. Peggy Harwood stated that she had concerns that local communities are not going to come unless they are invited and given a role because they have lean budgets. Dr. Elmes said that our roles is that of outreach to get these people involved. Ms. Lyday asked to see an attendance list to see how many of people are attending the forum.

Bruce Spear asked what does he say to his boss and senior DOT officials to make them want to come to the Forum? None of the speakers are his direct constituents. This is real tough sell for him. Fred Broome asked how much involvement of congressional staff will be at the Forum? If we have a lot of these people it is an easier sell. Bruce Cahan said that in his thread Congressman Kanjorski will participate. Dr. Elmes said that UCGIS is putting their congressional outreach energy into the Geodata Forum. Last year, they had 100 congressional staffers and are hoping that based on their past experience they will have a large turnout. Mr. Moeller said that from a federal program managers perspective the Finance and Commercial Aspects of NSDI would be potential very important. Mr. Moeller added that all these threads are intended to be open dialogue with the intent to develop ideas to be taken forward.

Tom Gunther said that the theme to him is barriers. Communities are already empowered politically now to make decisions. The feds, in particular, are stove piping the requirements of the guidance. The threads are identifying the breadth of barriers that are slowing them down. To agency heads the reason to come is to provide better support to obtain your underlying missions by working with other agencies in some way to coordinate all this information. This is also an attempt to make the supply side met the demand side.

The question was asked of the current status of registration. Kathy Covert said we were well ahead of schedule and encouraged everyone to register. Ms. Covert said f you register today, make a note "Kathy said it was okay" and you can pay the early registration amount. Hank Garie said that when the forum's steering committee began discussing the forum, they wanted the forum to attract policy makers and effect change to move the NSDI forward. Mr. Garie said the structure of the forum provides an opportunity that we have not had before. On Tuesday of the Forum, we need to bring our issues to discuss at the roundtable. As stakeholders, we really must encourage people to attend. If members would call their constituents who are within a commuting distance it would be helpful.

Interagency digital earth working group meeting update:
Lance McKee reported that it was an interesting meeting. The Digital Earth initiative is following on an Al Gore speech which discussed making spatial data available to everyone. It's at a cross roads of whether it becomes a one agency program vs an FGDC-like program. Mr. McKee is optimistic that it will come around. FGDC has been doing critical infrastructure activities without calling it Digital Earth and OGC has been promoting these activities as have been several others. OGC has been involved because they have something at stake and their mission, as is FGDC's, and that is interoperability. Digital earth will promote our efforts if it is conceived correctly. Gerry Barton said he has suggested that FGDC could possibly have a Digital Earth working group. Alan Gaines said there is potential of making this a federally funded initiative but it must not compete with the current on-going efforts. There needs to be involvement from all communities and it needs to be built upon the NSDI.

Next meeting location:

Tuesday, June 1, 1999 from 9:00 am to Noon
National Academy of Science
21st and Constitution
Washington, DC

Entry is at the "C" St. doors between 21st and 22nd (immediately opposite the State Department). There may be visitors parking in the above ground lot (entrance off of 21st St. immediately south of "C" St.) on a first-come basis. The building is about a 4-5 minute walk from Main Interior or about an 8-10 minute walk from the Foggy Bottom Metro station.