Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Census Data - American Community Survey

Note - This is a re-post from the NSGIC News blog

Posted: 20 Dec 2010 12:53 PM PST
Small area data is now available from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. A New York Times website provides instant mapping capability, nationwide for 22 demographic and housing variables. The site is called Mapping America. It is incredibly fast and easy to use.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mountain Empire Regional GIS - MERG

The Mountain Empire Regional GIS (MERG) was officially launched yesterday Thursday, December 9, 2010 at the Southwest Higher Education Center in Abingdon, VA.  Nadine Culberson, Deputy County Administrator for Washington County welcomed everyone and introduced the keynote speaker Karen Jackson, Deputy Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth of Virgina.  See press coverage by TriCities.com here.

The MERG project is a regional model in Virginia that demonstrates the benefits of collaboration amongst localities and state government by leveraging innovative tools in technology to improve data sharing and services. The project began when the counties of Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth and Washington along with the City of Bristol identified a need to improve emergency response to 9-1-1 calls. The focus of the project was to design a system to share current GIS data across jurisdictional boundaries to enhance emergency response for mutual aid and regional responses, something that has hampered emergency response times in the past. The project received grant funds from the Virginia Wireless E-911 Services Board through the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Grant Program.  The MERG system also shares the regionally aggregated GIS data to the Virginia Geographic Information Network, supporting VGIN's efforts to establish a statewide GIS Clearinghouse.

ESRI Technical Certification

On Tuesday ESRI announced some more steps in implementation of its Technical Certification program. The certification website lists qualifications, skills measured and training resources for a number of the planned certifications. Registration opens January 17, 2011. The cost of certification will be $225. Persons who took and passed a certification exam at the 2010 User Conference may now announce their certification.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Celebrate Geography Awareness Week and GIS Day

"Geography Awareness Week" occurs this week November 14-20.  Learn more about this National Geographic Society sponsored activity at this link.

Today, Wednesday, November 17 is also "GIS Day".  This event is sponsored by organizations such as ESRI, the National Geographic Society, the Association of American Geographers, University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, the United States Geological Survey and the Library of Congress, has been embraced for several years by many localities in Virginia.  Events are occurring in Northern Virginia, Richmond area, Tidewater and more.  Check with your local jurisdiction to see if they are having an event and go out and support this interesting and fun activity.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

FGDC Seeks Input on Geospatial Platform

The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) is seeking input on its plan to modernize the National Spatial Data Infrastructure with The Geospatial Platform. As defined in the plan the Platform "... will offer a managed portfolio of common geospatial data, services and applications contributed and administered by trusted sources and hosted on a shared infrastructure".

The initiative is intended to increase information sharing across various levels of government and industry. The initiative will use a managed portfolio approach, be implemented using a service-oriented architecture, and will use open and interoperable standards and technology. The Platform will be governed by a Managing Partner and a Partner Network of federal, state, local and private sector organizations.

There is some confusion in the blogosphere over how the Platform relates to the National Map, the GeoLoB (Geospatial Line of Business), Data.gov, and the NOAA web mapping application for the BP Oil Spill response www.GeoPlatform.gov/GulfResponse. The FGDC plan explains the connections and notes that the existing NOAA application is a prototype for one type of application to be supported by the Platform. NOAA appears to be taking a larger role than in previous NSDI efforts that tended to be primarily USGS.

The Platform has been endorsed by the National Geospatial Advisory Committee. The FGDC is welcoming feedback on the plan via an IdeaScale website or by emails to geoplatformcomments@fgdc.gov through December 2010.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Geospatial Revolution Project Video - Episode Two is Released

Episode Two is now out on YouTube.  Click here to view on YouTube.  See version one from a previous GISVirginia Blog Post.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Geospatial Occupations Q & A - Part Two

See some of the questions and answers related to "Geospatial Jobs  and Job Titles" in Part Two of the webinar hosted by Penn State University and Directions Media.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Geospatial Occupations Questions and Answers

This is a repost of a Directions Magazine article that provides detailed answers to questions asked during a webinar held by Penn State University and Directions Media entitled "The New Geospatial Jobs and How to Be Ready for Them".

Part 1 Webinar was about the Geospatial Technology Competency Model (blogged here in a previous post), education and certification,  has been archived and can be downloaded.

Part 2 will be held Wednesday, October 27 and will address jobs and job titles

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

GIS Analyst Job Ranks Well in National Survey

CNN Money.com has published a Top Ten list of jobs in nine different categories.  In the "Low Stress" category, a GIS Analyst job has ranked fifth in the "least stressful" category, with an overall ranking of 97 out of 100 of the "Best Jobs in America 2010".  Read about the GIS Analyst ranking here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Virginia Base Map iPhone app

VGIN has released its first application for the iPhone, called "VA Map", now available through the Apple App Store. The app highlights two VGIN services, the VBMP orthophotography and the Virginia Base Map. If you have an iPhone, go to the App Store and search for "VGIN" or "VITA" and download this free app and give it a test drive!

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Geospatial Revolution Project Video is released

"The Geospatial Revolution Project is an integrated public service media and outreach initiative about the world of digital mapping and how it is changing the way we think, behave, and interact."

This GIS educational video may be of benefit to you with your decision makers.

Click Here to see the video

Friday, September 10, 2010

GIS a Winner at COVITS

A number of GIS applications were recognized with Governor's Technology Awards at the 2010 Commonwealth of Virginia's Innovatve Technology Symposium (COVITS) on September 7th.

Chesterfield County was a winner in the Online, Not in Line category for its CitizenGIS web application.

Earning honorable mention in 3 of the remaining 5 categories were:

Congratulations to our GIS colleagues for this well-deserved recognition.

Friday, August 27, 2010

FOR PUBLIC COMMENT: Proposed Urban Area Criteria for the 2010 Census

Courtesy of Randy Fusaro, Chief of the National/State Geographic Partnership Branch, US Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau announces publication of the "Proposed Urban Area Criteria for the 2010 Census" in the Federal Register of 8.24.2010, available on the Federal Register's website. The Census Bureau is seeking public comment on these proposed criteria. Comments, suggestions, or recommendations regarding the criteria should be submitted in writing, no later than 11.22.2010, to Timothy Trainor, Chief, Geography Division, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC 20233-7400.

The Census Bureau's urban-rural classification is fundamentally a delineation of geographical areas, identifying individual urbanzed areas of 50,000 or more people and urban clusters of at least 2,500 and less than 50,000 people; "rural" encompasses all population and territory not included in urban areas. The Census Bureau's urban areas represent densely developed territory, and encompass residential, commercial, and other non-residential urban land uses. Additional information about the Census Bureau's urban-rural classification is available on the Census Bureau's website.

The proposed urban area criteria for the 2010 Census as well as summaries of the proposed changes, are available on the Census Bureau's website.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

GIS Strategic Planning Opportunities

Following the Strategic Initiatives of the GIS Strategic Plan 2010-2015 and the guidance of the VGIN Advisory Board, VGIN is establishing two Strategic Planning workgroups.

Geospatial Clearinghouse

From the Strategic Plan: “Oversee the development of a Commonwealth-wide geospatial clearinghouse that connects all levels of government and other VGIN Stakeholders”.

Summary: The Virginia Geospatial Clearinghouse (VGC) will be a geospatial information gateway that provides access, either directly or through links, to geospatial data holdings in Virginia. Stakeholders include all levels of government, academia, non-profits and the private sector.

Date for Kick-off Meeting: August 18, 2-4 PM

Location: Chester (VITA Offices) Webinar will be provided

Meeting agenda and details will follow.

GIS Education

From the Strategic Plan: “Facilitate Geospatial Educational Opportunities”

Summary: The geospatial community in Virginia has identified a need for heightened coordination efforts in communicating the value and need for GIS, coordination of GIS as an educational curriculum, and the coordination of specialized GIS training for practitioners.

Date for Kick-off Meeting: September 21, 2-4 PM

Location: Chester (VITA Offices) Webinar will be provided

Meeting agenda and details will follow.

We are seeking motivated representatives from all Virginia GIS stakeholder groups who will proactively participate. If you are interested in participating, please send an email to vbmp@vita.virginia.gov indicating which workgroup you want to participate in.

Friday, July 23, 2010

VBMP 2011 Seminars - Next Two Weeks

The VBMP program is scheduled to fly the western half of Virginia in 2011. VGIN and Sanborn staff will be holding a series of information session across the state from July 27 - August 4. These sessions will explain the program and all available upgrades and options. You are encouraged to attend to find out all the details including how to order.
  • Abingdon, Tuesday, July 27, 1-3 p.m., Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, Room 233, One Partnership Circle, Abingdon, VA 24210

  • Roanoke, Wednesday, July 28, 9-11 a.m., Roanoke Higher Education Center, 108 N. Jefferson St., Roanoke, VA 24016

  • Staunton, Thursday, July 29, 9-11 a.m., 18 Government Center Lane, Verona, VA 24482

  • Winchester, Thursday, July 29, 1:30-3:30 p.m., Timbrook Public Safety Center, Community Room – 3rd Floor, 231 East Piccadilly St., Winchester, VA 22601

  • Richmond, Wednesday, August 4, 9-11 a.m., VITA CESC Multipurpose Room # 1222, 11751 Meadowville Lane Chester, VA 23836

The eastern half of the state was flown in 2009 but localities in the eastern portion may also request to be flown at the same time.

The invitation extends to parties in your organization or private entities that may benefit from the program. Please feel free to share the invitation. RSVP to vgin_seminar@sanborn.com

We hope to see you there.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Special Achievements in GIS - Virginia Style

Three Virginia GIS organizations were recognized for their Special Achievements in GIS at the 2010 ESRI International User Conference. Congratulations to Henrico County recognized for their enterpise integration, Loudoun County recognized for their GIS Land Records System, and the Virginia Department of Transportation recognized for their Enterprise GIS plan.

Friday, June 11, 2010

New Virginia.gov Website Includes Interactive Mapping

The new release of the Virginia.gov website now includes interactive mapping from a variety of state agencies. Utilizing both the VGIN base map webservice and VITA HW/SW platform called the GEP (Geospatial Enterprise Platform), users can interactively navigate to view details of up to 15 layers provided by Virginia state agencies. The data range from VEC Employment Offices, DMV Offices, Public Boat Ramps, to Hospitals and ABC Stores. The interactive map also be yet another method to access information about a given locality.

Take a look and be sure to provide feedback at the bottom of the map!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Chesterfield Launches Online Mapping Site - CitizenGIS

Chestefield County launched a new online mapping application this month. Using ArcGIS Server and Silverlight the CitizenGIS site allows the public to view property, street, environmental, easement, utility, political, topographic,planning and special layer information. Additionally, political and school information is provided in text format. Three years of VBMP imagery (2002, 2007 and 2009)can be viewed. In a press release GIS Manager Nancy Parker stated "One of our goals was to make the online mapping features as intuitive as possible for users." My quick review of the site confirms they hit that goal dead on.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Elevation Framework Data - Kickoff

The Elevation Framework Initiative Action Team (FIAT) met May 20th in Charlottesville to start efforts to improve the quality and availability of elevation data in Virginia. Over 35 individuals, representing local governments, state and federal agencies, universities and the private sector, participated in person or by web conference. An overview was given by VGIN, the hosting agency. Dewberry gave an informative presentation on its LiDAR project for over 3,000 square miles of coastal Virginia. FEMA talked about the requirements and benefits of better elevation data to flood risk map modernization. Sanborn presented on LiDAR data analysis and visualization. USGS presented on the National Elevation Dataset and CLICK, the LiDAR information and data clearinghouse. I hope to make these presentations available in a later post after I receive them. The group settled on a business objective and started work on a charter and work plan. Stay tuned for future posts about the initiative.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Big Apple gets LiDAR Scan

A New York Times article published yesterday reports on a LiDAR flight designed to "yield the most detailed three dimensional picture of New York City to date." The article mentions numerous uses for the data including maps of solar energy potential and flood zones. Sanborn flew nine 6-hour missions at night from April 14 to April 30th at an altitude of 3,500 feet.

A quick update on the 2010 LiDAR projects for coastal Virginia - all 3,000+ square miles have been successlly flown in separate missions by Dewberry and Sanborn. Some preliminary data are expected in the next few months and we should be on schedule for final product deliveries before the end of the year. Thanks are due to USGS, The Nature Conservancy and the University of Virginia LTER project for providing the funds.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

NAIP 2008 Imagery - Revised Mosaics Available

In 2008 the Virginia Geographic Information Network (VGIN), the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Virginia Department of Forestry partnered with USDA to acquire leaf-on, color-infrared, 1-meter resolution, digital imagery for all of Virginia. VGIN has made compressed county mosaics available for download here.

In the first versions of the JPEG2000 mosaics the infrared band (band 4) did not display properly in ArcMap 9.3.x. This is a known bug for certain versions of JPEG2000 headers. USDA has revised the header to allow proper display for most of the Virginia mosaics. VGIN has recently made the new versions (identified as Countyname.v6) on the VGIN download page. If you are using the old mosaics you may wish to update to the new version. If v6 is not appended to the county name only the uncorrected version is available at this time.

VGIN has also received from USDA the NAIP 2008 imagery in quarter quad tiles in GeoTIFF format. If you have a need for uncompressed imagery for specific areas feel free to contact John Scrivani for access to this public domain imagery.

An excellent example of the uses of leaf-on-infrared imagery is the Urban Tree Canopy Analysis being done for various communities by the Virginia Department of Forestry and the Virginia Geospatial Extension (VGEP) at Virginia Tech.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Boundary Improvements along WV - VA State Line

Plaques commemorating boundary improvements along the Jefferson County West Virginia and Loudoun County Virginia state line have been presented to the Virginia and West Virginia State Commissions and the Jefferson and Loudoun County Commissions. Pictured is a presentation of the plaque installed in Leesburg. Loudoun County's GIS Manager Larry Stipek is pictured on the right.

Though the plaques were commemorated last week, the effort to survey and improve the boundary definition was completed and adopted by both state legislatures in 1997. The Leesburg Today recently covered the story with an article.

The indefinite nature of the West Virginia - Virginia state line, which mostly follows ridge lines of the Blue Ridge Mountains, generally does not get highlighted until issues of development arise (see previous blog post about the windfarm controversy in Highland County, VA). When the issue does arise, surveying is required and is challenged by historical descriptions going back 150 years or more to the political processes that created the boundaries.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Transportation For The Nation - TFTN

Last week at the GIS for Transportation symposium - GIS-T - in Charleston, WV the strategic planning effort for TFTN was initiated. The GIS-T symposium is a gathering of mostly state and federal DOT officials that provided an opportunity to obtain the input of this stakeholder group. Throughout the year the TFTN strategic planning team will be soliciting input from various stakeholder groups from across the nation. The idea for TFTN was started by the National States Geographic Information Council - NSGIC - and was born out of the same notion of Imagery For The Nation. Essentially, these data are being collected multiple time by many different parties for various purposes. Why not collaborate so that we can collect transportation data once and use it many times? Makes too much sense. The challenge is of course in the collaboration of all the diverse business needs.

TFTN is important to Virginia GIS because it follows what we already have established, a "Transportation for Virginia" if you will, through the Virginia Road Centerline efforts. Thanks to data sourced from local governments who provide updated local transportation data to VGIN, who then combines the data statewide and includes VDOT data, Virginia has the most complete and comprehensive road network available in Virginia. These data are then leveraged with federal and private collaborators. An example of how the US Census is using Virginia RCL for the 2010 Census was demonstrated by this presentation from the US Census in slides 14-20.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Elevation for the Commonwealth

Elevation or topography data is a key framework data layer in any spatial data infrastructure. The existing National Elevation Dataset (NED) for Virginia is too old and not precise enough. LiDAR data is the recommended way to update elevation data to modern standards.

VGIN has coordinated three projects this spring to collect LiDAR for over 3,233 sq miles of coastal Virginia according to the latest USGS National Map LiDAR specification (funding was provided by USGS, The Nature Conservancy and University of Virginia). The map shows these projects as well as some existing LiDAR data sets for coastal Virginia.

To help coordinate the development of better elevation data for Virginia, VGIN is forming an elevation working group, or Elevation Framework Initiative Action Team (FIAT). This group will:

  • Conduct an inventory of existing elevation datasets
  • Recommend elevation data standards and best practices
  • Promote coordination and collaboration on the development of new elevation datasets
  • Promote data sharing and incorporate elevation data in existing clearinghouses

If you are interested in serving on this working group please contact me, John Scrivani, on or before April 26th. To learn more about elevation efforts in Virginia you may want to look at my presentation to the VGIN Board from April 7th.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Geospatial Technology Competency Model - Public Comment Period

The U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration and the National Geospatial Technology Center have posted for public comment until May 1, 2010 the Geospatial Technology Competency Model. The draft document is available for download. It does require that you first register and set up a user name and password prior to download.

From the draft model:

The Geospatial Technology Competency Model (GTCM) is depicted in a pyramid graphic with nine tiers. This shape illustrates how occupational and industry competencies build on a foundation of personal effectiveness, academic, and workplace competencies. Each tier is comprised of one or more blocks representing the skills, knowledge, and abilities essential for successful performance in the industry or occupation represented by the model.

All interested parties are encouraged to submit feedback as this has the potential to eventually trickle down from the US Department of Labor into our Human Resource departments.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Virginia Receives Broadband Mapping Grant

From the NTIA Press Release from March 5:

"NTIA has awarded the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology $1,799,979 for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a two-year period in Virginia, bringing the total grant award to approximately $2.3 million. The Virginia Center for Innovative Technology is the designated entity for the state of Virginia.

Awardees will collect and verify the availability, speed, and location of broadband across the state. This activity is to be conducted on a semi-annual basis in the next two years, with the data to be presented in a clear and accessible format to the public, government, and the research community."

Partners with CIT include the Virginia Geographic Information Network (VGIN) and Virginia Tech.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Recent News Articles about GIS Web Portals

Three recent news articles about GIS web portals in Virginia have been published.

Middlesex County

A nice article in the Southside Sentinal about Middlesex County's new GIS web portal, including a discussion by VGIN Advisory Board member Stan Hovey on the value of orthophotography and GIS education.


The City of Waynesboro has unveiled their new online GIS. See the article in the NewsVirginia.com

James River Association

The James River Association was recently profiled in NBC12.com discussing their new "Runoff Calculator", which allows citizens to assess your impact on the James River watershed.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

GovTech Magazines 2010 "Doers, Dreamers and Drivers"

Virginia has several names listed in Government Technology Magazine's ""2010 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers" article. Leading the list is Deputy Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson, who has been the key driver behind Virginia's Broadband and Broadband Mapping efforts. Other notable Virginians mentioned in the article are Wanda Gibson, CTO, Fairfax County, Bill Greeves, communications and IT Director, Roanoke County, and Bill Hobgood, project manager, City of Richmond. With four of the twenty-five names listed, the most for any one state, Virginia is once again showing the way with its leadership.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Data Sharing Issues: What Works and What Doesn’t

This is an interesting post from "NSGIC News" that discusses GIS data sharing issues. Originating from South Carolina, it is a compilation of input from GIS Coordinators from across the country.

NSGIC News: Data Sharing Issues: What Works and What Doesn’t

Sunday, January 10, 2010

GIS Strategic Plan Official

The VGIN Advisory Board unanimously approved the VGIN 2010-2015 GIS Strategic Plan at their quarterly meeting on January 6, 2010. Draft Advisory Board minutes and other materials from the meeting can be accessed here.

The Advisory Board action marks the end of a year long effort by VGIN to establish a stakeholder driven strategic plan. Now that the plan is "official" we enter the next phase, which is to formulate plans that address the strategic initiatives identified in the plan. "My thanks go out to all those that contributed to the process. Stay tuned for opportunities in 2010 to participate in work groups (Initiative Action Teams) to address the strategic initiatives" - Dan Widner, VGIN Coordinator.