Geographic Information Council (WAGIC)

June 14, 2001

Teleconference originating from

DIS Interactive Technologies, Seattle, WA


Introductions – Ian Von Essen, WAGIC Chair – From Spokane, Ian opened the meeting and welcomed council members in Bellingham, Tri-Cities, Vancouver, Seattle, and Lacey.  Carrie Wolfe from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) introduced the agency’s new GIS Manager, Bob Wright.


Meeting Theme: GIS in support of Health


WA State Department of Health

GIS Activity at the Department of Health – Craig Erickson


Craig Erickson from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) reviewed GIS activity and the organizational structure at DOH.  DOH consists of six divisions: Information Resource Management; Health Systems Quality Assurance; Environmental Health; Community and Family Health; Epidemiology, Health Statistics and Public Health Laboratories.  Five of these divisions currently use GIS with approximately twelve staff members working actively with GIS.   DOH is currently using Arc/INFO, ArcView, Map Objects, ArcIMS and MapInfo.


Craig provided an overview of several DOH projects including:

·        The Duwamish Waterway  - The waterway is listed as a super fund site and DOH site assessment staff are utilizing GIS

·        EMT Response Areas - DOH is looking at fire district coverage for the state in order to perform a better job at analyzing traffic and response times and determining areas of under service.

·         Bio-Toxins – The Bio Toxins and Shellfish and Food Safety program is developing a web application that will deliver on-line bulletins and alerts of closure areas for recreational and commercial shellfish harvesting.

·        Health of Washington State – This report is released every two years that aggregates sensitive health data to county boundaries including national and state rates of diseases such as HIV.

·        Radiation – This protection program is currently coding their own MapObjects applications looking at the Hanford area-observing compound such as soil, ground water, food and air samples. 

·        Disease Investigations - Deals with calls from concerned citizens

·        VISTA-EPI/QMS – These are web applications that aggregate sensitive data to some other geography.

·        Drug Labs - Works with the Department of Ecology in dealing with incidents of drug related dumping and mapping of drug labs.


To encourage the use of GIS at DOH, an effort has been made to focus on key business needs and deployment of on-line GIS applications using MapObjects. Craig demonstrated various applications dealing with data navigation, geocoding, tobacco retailers, toxic waste sites and some internal applications.  Copy of the DOH presentation is available at .


Craig can be contacted at (360) 236-4271 or



Protecting Drinking Water – David Jennings   

David reported on one of the major GIS applications that DOH’s Division of Drinking Water has invested in, The Source Water Assessment and Protection Program.  This program was mandated by the 1996 amendment to the Federal State Drinking Water Act.  What developed from that amendment was the need to provide data that was geographic in nature and accessible to anyone. The challenge was how to provide that service with existing staffing levels and a geographic information system approach that could be accessed through a web browser front end appeared to be an efficient approach.


This assessment and protection program is a pollution prevention program designed to look at water in the environment available for current and future drinking water supply. The program looks at surface water intakes: where the drinking water is coming from; who is going to be using it; where are the wells located; what are potential contaminants sources and how does it affect us.  GIS is allowing DOH to make this data understandable and available.


The term “source water” refers to water in the environment that is a current or future drinking water supply.  Ground water is looked at in terms of the “foreseeable future” meaning where is the water now that will be in the drinking water system 5 -10 years from now.  Surface water moves much more quickly than ground water and is analyzed 12 - 24 hours upstream to insure emergency management processes are in place.  The Department is responsible for information regarding wellhead protection areas and sharing that information with various entities including federal agencies, the private sector, and the general public.  A web browser environment makes this possible.


DOH’s vision is to provide understandable data so that decision-makers can proactively turn this data into knowledge and get it into the hands of the people who care – citizen activists, local agencies, elected officials.  A susceptibility assessment of drinking water supplies is currently being conducted looking at geology, past water quality, sampling and surrounding land use.


The Department is utilizing GIS is to improve the communication between the web users and DOH.  The web site will provide information to citizens and users such as who does source water assessment in state of Washington and how to contact local health jurisdictions.  The web site will provide data in a tabular way as well as a visual way and make applications available in several formats.  It will also provide the option of linking to other types of applications.


David can be reached at


Overview of the National State Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) Mid-Year meeting – Ian Von Essen

Ian Von Essen reported on the National States Geographic Information Council’s (NSGIC) mid-year meeting held in April. 


WAGIC is a member of NSGIC and the similarities between the two organizations are many.  NSGIC is also reviewing their strategic plan, discussing and strengths weaknesses, and reviewing financial considerations.  NSGIC does work with geographic information councils at state levels and other organizations such as the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO).  NASCIO is composed of information services chief operating officers representing all fifty states.  Individuals in these key roles are vital contacts in obtaining support for state level GIS endeavors.  For example, the CIO from Tennessee is credited as being a key advocate in recent legislation supporting statewide data collection.  As a result of the legislation Tennessee has initiated  work on a 30 million-dollar project to support digital ortho-photography and a cadastral database.


The USGS gave a presentation at the mid-year meeting.  The organization was facing budget cuts ranging from 10-15%.  One of the new concepts the USGS promoted was the National Map initiative.  Another national level initiative discussed at the NSGIC mid-year meeting was the GeoData Alliance.  The GeoData Alliance is a chaordic organization that allows numerous multi-organizational data consortiums, either public or private to focus on a particular data theme around a common business function. This allows data to be developed at the local level.  The possibility of WAGIC joining the GeoData Alliance will be discussed at future meetings. Please see the GeoData Alliance web site is at  for details about principles, goals and membership.



Another topic of discussion at the meeting was the concept of I-Teams, which is another tool to implement the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI).  I – Teams are multi-sector teams that have agreed to develop coordinated implementation plans to accelerate development of Framework data initiatives nation wide.  Both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state of Utah have set up I-Teams.  Utah invested over 600 staff hours in a framework IT plan. 


Also, NSGIC in conjunction with the FGDC has created a CD to be used in promoting GIS.  “Using GIS to Support the Business of Government” can be downloaded from the NSGIC web site at  The CD uses contemporary issues to show how GIS is used to solve those problems.  



Presentation of the 2001 – 2002 WAGIC Budget – Jeff Holm

In reviewing the budget for the coming year, Jeff Holm began by highlighting the changes the Council will be looking at in several of the typical line items including memberships in other organizations.  The expectation is that NSGIC dues will increase to $3,000 per year and will represent a significant change to the WAGIC budget.   In the past, the Council has also covered travel expenses for the Chair to attend two NSGIC conferences.  An amount of $2,500 has been previously budgeted and an increase of $300 in that line item will be reflected in the proposed budget.


Video conferencing expenses are expected to remain at current levels. If additional sites are added, the cost goes up by about $300 per site per meeting.  Additional new expenses can be anticipated for activities associated with I-Team and GDA memberships and participation. Jeff encouraged members to go out to the WAGIC website and review the current budget.   Without special project funding, the operating budget is typically $25,000 per year not including the projected increases as discussed.


The question was asked if the calendar year was used determining the budget cycle.  Jeff responded that the budget ran concurrently with the chair’s term.  In the past, an outgoing chair has on occasion been involved in the budgeting process thereby not allowing for input from the new chair. In the future, the Council may need to look at the by-laws to address such “housekeeping” issues.


Update on Strategic Plan activities initiated in Ellensburg – Jeff Holm

Jeff provided an updated on activities since the March 29th planning session in Ellensburg.  During this meeting, representatives from 26 organizations focused on discussions that helped identify changes in those organizations since the strategic plan was created 1998.  As a result of this meeting, an ad hoc planning committee was formed to come up with a list of recommended changes to be made to the existing strategic plan.  Based on the information that was shared in Ellenburg, the committee categorized information from the brainstorm sessions into three areas: leadership and funding; framework and data sharing; and outreach and mentoring.   Over a series of five meetings the ad hoc planning committee developed a series of recommended updates to the existing plan, those changes can be found at:

These are posted for review and comment by interested parties.  Comment and review period is open through July 30, 2001.   Provide you comments or questions to Denise Ertman ( or Jeff Holm ( )


Members of the ad hoc planning team provided overview of changes:

Dan Dickson, County Round Administration Board (CRAB) for the "Leadership & Funding" workgroup.   In discussing leadership and funding issues, the group believes that the Council has reached a point where formal recognition from the executive and/or legislative branches is needed in order to move efforts to the next level.  The planning group has crafted some specific wording to aid in this strategy and in addressing priorities, mainly the Council’s ability to capture the funding necessary to accomplish goals such as the framework project and consistent coordination between agencies. 


George Spencer from WSDOT gave an overview on the framework and data sharing part of the plan.  While the current strategic plan addresses the framework aspects very well, three action items were added with the hopes of going beyond framework in the sense that framework acts as a base for adding other data (themes), bringing in new information and developing guidelines for technical specifications.  Secondly, the group would like to see a coordination role added for development of data requirements to support other activities such as salmon recovery, growth management, public lands inventory and emergency management.  Finally, in order for framework to be successful, the group seeks to broaden participation by working with local agencies to help those agencies build the business case for involvement in this activity.


Vivian Queija, USGS reported on the outreach and mentoring portion of the planning session.  As outreach is integral for promoting the framework initiatives, a solution was proposed that under the fostering of outreach, WAGIC work with local jurisdictions in framework activities by sharing data and collection costs.  Those outreach activities would include a feedback process in order to include input from the local jurisdictions to ensure standards and data layers meet their community needs and encourage development of other multi-layer data consortia beyond current framework activities. 


Additionally there is interest in addressing the GIS digital divide issue through development of a mentoring program to help local areas that are without a GIS department develop a business case to implement GIS and promote improve decision making processes through the use of GIS. 


Jeff reminded members the document is posted on the website for an open review period until July 30th and asked that comments or questions be sent to Denise Ertman.  Those comments will be forwarded to the planning committee for review and revisions to the document and brought to the August meeting.  The committee will continue to review the rest of the plan and discuss updating and broadening the scope of this document.


Closing Site Roundtable – Ian Von Essen

Ian noted that the August meeting will focus on GIS in support of transportation.  It was asked if there were any GIS related issues raised during the current legislative session. Jeff responded that Senate Bill 5532, a bill that was designed to update DNR’s state based mapping legislation, was not included in that agency’s request package.  While that bill was eventually submitted, it was not successful due to a variety of concerns.  Several in the GIS community have agreed to work with the committee staff in an effort to strengthen the bill for the next legislative session.


Also, in the current version of the budget, there is funding reflected for the Salmon and Watershed Information Management (SWIM) coordinating position which is currently filled by Lynn Singleton.  However, there is not funding for the Natural Resource Data Pool, money proposed for data collection and management activities as it relates to natural resources.  An amendment may be offered that would restore those monies. 


Jeff gave a quick update on the Washington State Remote Sensing Data Consortium pilot project, which is the purchase of statewide coverage of Landsat7 data.  The order was recently submitted and a sample scene will be sent to the consortium for verification.  If approved, the remaining fifteen scenes will be processed in groups of five over a six-week period.  If Council members are interested in joining the consortium, please contact Jeff at


The meeting was adjourned at 12:00 p.m.

Next meeting – August 16th at 10:00 a.m.