Strategic Business Planning Workshop Survey Responses

In preparation for its October 12-13 Strategic Planning Workshop, the Washington Geographic Information Council invited interested stake holders to respond to a few questions designed to help Workshop participants to broaden their discussion.  We thank the individuals who've taken time to share their thoughts with all of us, and invite you to review and consider the issues they raise.

1. What questions do you hope this workshop and the strategic business planning process can help answer for you, and for your project or organization? What specific outcomes or products would you like to see the workshop generate? 

2. Can you provide a list of activities or plans - including very brief descriptions - within your organization that impact the GIC and our strategic business planning objectives?  Also, please give us some idea of what your personal role is in the development or implementation of these activities. 

3. Do you have areas of experience to contribute to the Workshop? What kind of experience or specialized knowledge have you acquired in your work with data partnerships? How could this be of value to the rest of the participants and contribute to the workshop purposes? 

4. Do you have documents you can share with other participants to help them learn about your project or organization? Can you share a project plan, inventory of (current or desirable) applications, or other document? Please provide either a digital attachment to your Email, or a URL (an FTP address or Web server).



Organization / Affiliation 

Greg Babinski, Manager Metro King County GIS Center
David R. Brower, Cartographer USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service
Karl Herzog, Manager -- Public Lands Inventory Project Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation
Shane Hope, Managing Director -- Growth Management Community, Trade & Economic Development
David Jennings, Source Water Protection Program Manager WA State Department of Health -- Division of Drinking Water
Tom Nolan, GIS Manager City of Seattle
Jean Postlethwaite, GIS Coordinator/Analyst Chelan County
Richard Rutz, Senior Planner San Juan County Planning Department 
David Steele, PLS -- Survey Manager Washington DNR
Larry Sugarbaker, GIS Manager Washington DNR
David Wilson, Manager PUD Automation Services


Greg Babinski:
    1) We are interested in working toward a future GIS environment where data is not only shared within the county and nearby region, but also where data development and data maintenance efforts are pooled.  We are interested in developing an environment where every jurisdiction uses GIS for local government business purposes.  We are interested in standardization and cooperation on an even wider regional basis to help support GIS use for applications that address problems that confront the Sound, the State, and beyond. We are also interested in standardizing and sharing application development efforts on a regional basis.  And lastly we are interested in looking at sharing and cooperation with other jurisdictions in wider Information Technology areas as well...not just GIS.  A desired outcome of the Workshop would be discussion and suggestions on the concepts outlined above and incorporation within the WAGIC Strategic Plan.

    2) I manage the King County (KC) GIS Center, responsible for coordinating and supporting GIS activity within 12+ county departments.  The following activities are currently underway, in anticipation of future progress toward the regional GIS environment outlined in item 1, above:
*       KC will complete initial development of baseline GIS capability within the next year.
*       KC will implement distributed maintenance of GIS data within the next year.
*       KC will begin pursuing cooperative regional GIS agreements during the next year.
*       KC will begin accelerated development of 'phase 2' GIS data, application, and access.

    3) I have past experience with cooperative GIS data development, maintenance, and sharing.  Some of the pitfalls of past experience in this area relate to overblown concepts of data ownership.  A key factor in ensuring success is buy-in from the three levels typically involved in a local government GIS...the technicians, the department manager, and the politicos.

    4) Visit our public Web Site!

David R. Brower:

    1) Create a website for listings of available Washington State datasets and links to federal, state and local agency contacts. Make sure to publicize this site so that all interested GIS entities know where to access it.

    2) We are working with Oregon and Idaho GIS stakeholders on a coordinated national hydrologic unit (HUs) digitizing effort. Our responsibility will be Washington State. We have met with the Regional Ecosystems Office (REO), BLM, Forest Service and NRCS in both states to initiate a cooperative effort to create the HU data layer. We received Washington Department of Natural Resources draft WAU coverage for review, and will be scheduling a teleconference to discuss its merits.

We have an ongoing soil survey digitizing program with target dates for completion of individual surveys, and a list of those already completed. As part of this effort, and for other NRCS programs, we are acquiring digital orthophotography for the state as it becomes available.

The Washington State Association of Conservation Districts and NRCS are partnering to provide GIS data, software and computer systems to our Field Service Centers located in each county. We have been cooperating with the Kittitas and Thurston County Conservation Districts to provide free introductory Arcview training for district and NRCS field employees under a Washington Department of Ecology grant.

We will be finalizing our Washington State NRCS Long Range GIS Plan shortly.  This will provide information on our strategic goals and actions items through the year 2002.

We would like to express our desire for WAGIC to become more concerned with the state's Eastside issues instead of primarily Westside/urban issues.

    3) We do have expertise in many areas (such as GIS hardware, software, and analysis, as well as data partnerships) that can contribute to these workshops. We regret not being able to attend this one.

    4) Washington NRCS -

NRCS National Headquarters -

NRCS West Region -

    5) See below for contact information:

Karl Herzog:
    1) I hope that the workshop can generate a cohesive vision for GIS in Washington state to better support the critical environmental and economic development issues we are currently facing.  It seems GIS is at an important, but challenging, juncture in Washington - analogous to a teenager moving to adulthood.   On a policy basis we are beginning to ask fairly sophisticated questions (e.g. salmon recovery while maintaining economic vitality, buildable lands / growth management planning, land inventories, etc.) that are best answered by GIS, but our statewide GIS infrastructure is only at mid-puberty (some parts are more developed than others).  The IAC's Public Lands Inventory Project is, by default, relying on relatively archaic tabular data because GIS cannot yet support a statewide inventory effort.  We are destined to get more of these types of macro policy questions in the future, and it seems prudent to at this time lay the foundation for answering them, though the challenges will not be small.  Also driving this equation are the day to day business needs of small agencies across the state.  Washington has more political jurisdictions than any other state in the country, and there is a crying need for a more efficient way to make the technology and information provided by GIS more uniformly available.  As I said, these are not easy issues.

    2) We will be including two chapters in our Public Lands Inventory Report to the Legislature that are related to the GIC's strategic planning effort.  First, we will be discussing the historical and current methods used for measuring land and capturing cadastral information, and how these methods impact projects such as our inventory effort and GIS databases in general.  Second, we will be developing, with the assistance of a special committee, descriptions of current systems for collecting and reporting public and land ownership data, and a discussion of the issues surrounding both current and future systems. The status of GIS in Washington will be integral to both pieces.

    3) I am currently managing the inventory effort, but my background and experience lies in the area of budget, policy, and planning.  I am not a technician, though I have a growing appreciation of the technical capabilities of GIS.  I spent 10 years working for the Legislature as an analyst, and have some ideas related to legislative and budget process, presentation of ideas and concepts, policy formulation, etc.

Our inventory project represents a fairly large data partnership effort.  The IAC surveyed just under 1000 public agencies and tribes, requesting both inventory data and descriptions of their data systems.  We are also obtaining GIS, tabular, and narrative data from a number of public agencies and private businesses in order to conduct an assessment of public and tribal lands for our report to the Legislature.

    4) You can find out more about the inventory project, as well as our GIS coverage of public motorized boat launches through the IAC's web site.

Shane Hope:
    1) I hope the strategic planning process will help:

  1. Identify the key policy questions for which state and local governments need coordinated geographic information;
  2. Develop some priorities and timeframes for being able to collect and share information:
  3. Name the main opportunities--and obstacles--to doing this:
  4. Identify alternative approaches to coordinating geographic information, keeping in mind the priorities, opportunities, and obstacles.
  5. Estimate the costs of each approach and determine which to follow;
  6. Develop a set of actions to implement the preferred approach or approaches.

Note: Some key data for policy questions that GIS can help answer are:

    2) CTED has various cognate activities, including:

My role is to provide leadership on the Buildable Lands and Growth Management Mapping projects. I am the policy and budget manager, not a GIS technical specialist. In addition, I am a representative on the Infrastructure Study Committee.

    3) My experience is strong on the communication, coordination, and policy development side of the picture. I am familiar with both local governments and state agencies, especially related to land development and conservation issues.

    4) I have already passed on to other members in WAGIC the GIS strategy we did for our own agency and could bring some extra copies to the workshop. In addition, I will bring copies of a fact sheet about the Buildable Lands Program.

David Jennings:
    1) We are attempting to set up a data sharing network with local governments that will support an internet based public browsing system (MapObjects). For this to work, even partially, will require a strong coordinated approach to GIS data storage and information transfer mechanisms. Questions are focused on existing data and its availability. Desired outcomes of the workshop on Oct 12-13 are a better understanding of 1) who the various players are and 2) how we can make coordination and mutually shared standards work.

    2) I am best able to speak, not for my agency as a whole but rather for Environmental Health Division in general terms and more specifically for the Division of Drinking Water / Source Water Assessment Program. We are initiating a GIS based project to geocode all public water intake points in the state, digitize their source water protection areas, conduct an inventory for significant potential sources of contamination, characterize the susceptibility / vulnerability of the source water (water in the environmental that will supply a public drinking water system in the near future), and make all of this information available to the general public through the use of any computer with internet access and a web browser. We are also constructing our GIS system to access related environmental health data sets for assessment purposes.

    3) I have little experience working with GIS data specifically, but have been involved in several multi-agency MOUs, MOAs and contracts that included data collection and management.

    4) A general overview of the SWAP program can be found at: Existing well head protection area delineations for selected public water systems in Washington State can be found at To open / use them, an interested party must have ArcInfo or other GIS software on his/her machine.

Tom Nolan:
    1a) Questions I hope this workshop and  planning process can help answer. Where should WAGIC members from all government levels be working together?

    1b) Specific outcomes?
Standard elements of a strategic plan as well as strong emphasis on priorities over the next 1-3-5 years.  Priorities should try to address both our common needs as well as the disparate needs of local, regional, state, and federal members.

    2a) List of activities within your organization that impact the GIC?
As far as I can figure, there is little the City of Seattle does that has impact on the GIC.  Maybe I'm missing the point here.

    2b) Personal role : GIS Manager for the City of Seattle, based in Seattle Public Utilities.   My group of 40+ GIS professionals maintains the City's extensive base map and utility GIS layers, provides GIS applications, products, and services to all City departments and utilities as well as many external entities including other governments, schools, citizens, the media, private contractors, surveyors, architects, developers, private utilities and a host of other businesses and non-profit organizations.

    3) Areas of expertise to contribute?  Experience with data partnerships?

    4) Documents about our project or organization?

Jean Postlethwaite:
    1) I'd be interested in learning how the GIS community can cooperate more effectively in developing standards for sharing meta data.

    2) We've just completed our GIS parcel database and are now beginning to develop other related parcel layers for the Assessor/s office as well as coordinating efforts with other County departments for specific projects, such as redistricting, flood zones, land use etc.  We also just entered into a data sharing agreement with DOT in addition to existing agreements with the Chelan County P.U.D., Cascade Natural Gas, the U.S. Forest Service and local municipalities.  As of 1 week ago, I will be the GIS Coordinator/Analyst for Chelan County.

    3) Our experience in data partnerships is limited but has been successful. There have been a few hurdles such as projection and data definitions, quality and standards.

    4) I don't have any documents, digital or hard copy to share at this point, mainly because I'm still examining the file cabinets and computer files.

Richard Rutz:
    1) To answer this question, I have to speak to the concern which generated my call to Carol. For San Juan County, with a population of 6,000-12,500 (depending whether you count year-round or seasonal population), GIS is expensive. It's all well and good for the GIC site to speak of the enormous value of the information and the ability to use it, and how that justifies the cost of the GIS -- the county staff are very aware of this. But the cost of ESRI licenses for ARCInfo is prohibitive. Even the cost of a few licenses for ARCView has been difficult to get funded. So, the software that is being used for the main digital work in our county is INFOCAD. The limitations of this software, its lack of supportive materials (especially for end users such as myself), and the problems in moving data between INFOCAD and the ESRI products are a continuing source of problems for myself and other staff and for interaction with the state systems.

One of the best things you could do for us would be to get us some cheap or free ARCInfo licenses, and the ESRI training for our core GIS staff. Without that, I think that your statewide GIS planning will be largely irrelevant to me or to other county users. I or other staff will occasionally make the effort to get some particularly pertinent piece of information and "shoehorn" it into our system, and occasionally supply digital information to state agencies for their use (which they'll have to tinker with to fit into their format), but the difficulties of the import/export between the systems will mean that the interaction and exchange will be minimal. With the current cost of ARCInfo, I don't believe that our county will find the resources to move to that in the near future.

I'd like to see the GIC Plan actually address the GIS software and hardware funding problems of the small jurisdictions, and to allocate some dollars to the small counties for this purpose. That, and/or crack the monopoly pricing of ESRI. And in general, how does this big statewide planning effort relate to the small jurisdictions with limited means?

    2) As I indicated above, I am not part of the core GIS group. That function is handled by the GIS group in the Department of Public Works. I work with the GIS in comprehensive planning, and the development of the Official Maps of land use and residential density.

    3) & 4)  I haven't any experience or knowledge that would be of interest to you. You really need to talk with Manfred Rose, who manages the GIS group at Public Works, at (360) 378-2114.

David Steele, PLS:

    1) I have participated in the last two strategic planning workshops and have found the networking to be enlightening and creative.  We work in a data rich environment, but find it difficult to share that information easily with other agencies.  Building information systems cooperatively is cost efficient, yet this goal is not easily attainable with inconsistent data.  Data standards are great until the reality of meeting those objectives costs more than we can afford.  As a member of the WAGIC Standards Workgroup and the Framework Workgroup, I have seen an evolution in systems that is very positive.  These efforts should continue with many of the regular workgroup attendees in addition to some new blood.  We need to find a way to attract more people into the work groups where the work gets accomplished.  New people tend to keep the interest high, but unless they stay involved and interested their efforts dwindle.  How can we charge up our projects and sustain the energy to get the work done?

    2) The DNR is active in the development of a new Cadastral database and coordinating the Cadastral Framework Workgroup.  This project is directed by our Information Technology Division, but as the State Surveyor, I am involved as a project sponsor.  With this system, we are integrating efforts of our Survey, Land Records, Resource Mapping, and Aquatic Resources Ownership Sections along with the huge effort by other agencies, local government and private companies.  Much of the data will be developed for internal use as well as shared through our cooperative framework activities.  DNR is also involved with the Hydro and Transportation Framework projects, both without my involvement.  I have also chaired a committee with the Washington Council of County Surveyors, which has developed a generic survey control database.  Microsoft Access was used to build a standardized template for anybody to use while they collect and store information about horizontal and vertical control and public land survey points.  This template will allow sharing of data with others, including the Cadastral Framework Project and has been reviewed by the WAGIC Standards Workgroup.  The Public Land Survey Office (PLSO) within the DNR is the statewide survey records repository and indirectly managed by me.  The PLSO is converting all survey maps to digital images in a statewide cooperative effort.  This work is coordinated with the County Auditors' Recording Offices with whom these maps are recorded, then forwarded to the PLSO for imaging.  Our future evolution will include this type of information within the GIS as well as serving customers over the INTERNET.

    3) I represent the Profession of Land Surveyors in Washington in a quasi regulatory and guidance role.  The relationship between land surveyors and GIS has been fairly distant in the past and it needs to be improved.  As GIS matures to where it represents and contains accurate information with metadata, land surveyors will embrace and feed these systems more cooperatively.  I work with many different groups that can play a greater role in GIS in the future.  One of my data partnership efforts was described in item 2 above, working with the county recording offices.  We currently have MOU's with 15 counties and 7 more are ready.  These MOU's are for data exchange and provide a two-way exchange of hard copy and digital information.  I am also the Washington State Global Positioning System (GPS) User Group liaison to WAGIC.  The cooperative efforts of the GPS User Group is communicated to WAGIC since this technology is an integral tool to many GIS systems.

    4) Documentation can be provided upon request for the PLSO imaging project and the generic database.  The Cadastral Framework Project and the GPS User Group meeting minutes are posted on the WAGIC INTERNET server.

Larry Sugarbaker:
    1) Do we have the appropriate state level policies (including laws) and support infrastructure in place to support the current and emerging business needs of Washington state?  I would like to see a report and summary document which clearly lays out a future direction for GIS in Washington that is the result of a multi-organizational collaborative process.

    2) Plans and activities at Washington DNR

    3) I have worked at the strategic and policy levels on numerous federal and state level GIS activities.  I will be assisting in what ever way I can at the workshop.... but primarily I will be a participant.

    4) DNR will be providing a number of documents.

David Wilson:
    1) Snohomish County PUD #1 is considering revisions to the current Geographic Information System that would include increased accuracy in the landbase. The PUD's need is not for land management but for a landbase that can accurately locate electric facilities. A mechanism would be useful to coordinate needs with other organizations for cost and data sharing.

    2) Budget is being proposed to enhance the current Geographical Information System, including the landbase. I developed the budget and will develop the project.

    3) I was Chairman of the Central Iowa Automated Mapping group, a consortium of nine governments and four utilities, with the purpose of sharing landbase cost and data. I participated in the joint landbase project in Blackhawk County, Iowa and in Sioux City, Iowa, representing the electric utility. I was one of two private business members of the Iowa Geographic Information Council.

    4) The PUD's project is not adequately developed for specific documentation. 

Last Updated: October 8, 1998

Contact: Carol Pendleton, WAGIC Administrative Support