GIC logoWashington State Geographic Information Council

October 1994 Meeting Minutes

Members in attendance at:

Olympia: Steve Hillesland (Chair), Frans Arnold, Ann Breghent, Representative for Gary Bodeutsch, Tim Brown, Liz Caldwell for Clare Donahue, Representative for Juliet Eenwyk, Jim Haskett, Carol Jenner, Frank Marek, Sara Steel, Larry Sugarbaker, Joy Denkers for Tom Tooley

Spokane: Ken Palmer

Pasco: Jim Cooper

Organizations Represented: Central Washington University, University of Washington, County Road Administration Board, Department of Information Services, Department of Ecology, Department of Health, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Transportation, Department of Community Trade and Economic Development Office of Archaeology, Department of Community Trade and Economic Development Emergency Management, Department of Social and Health Services, Employment Security, Office of Financial Management, Washington, Puget Sound Water Quality Authority, State Library, City of Kennewick, City of Richland, City of Seattle, City of Spokane, Benton County Central Services, Snohomish County, Spokane County, Stevens County, Washington Library Network, Washington Water & Power


Steve Hillesland, Chair, welcomed Mt. Vernon, Pasco, Seattle, Spokane, and Vancouver sites. He announced the IPMA (Information Processing Manager Associates) Fall Forum and reported it would include GIS topics and demonstrations by IBM and Pierce County. He also announced a joint meeting of the GIC Local Government and Standards Committees to discuss the metadata standards on November 26, 1:00 - 4:30 p.m., at DIS, Jefferson Building, in Olympia. August 1994 minutes were accepted unanimously.


In Clare Donahue's absence, Liz Caldwell, DIS, made this presentation. She reported the statutes that authorize cost beyond duplication for Office of the Administrator for the Courts and the Department of Health. She reported no corresponding statutes for DNR, but rather that their unique status with state trust lands and revenues serves as the authorization.

Liz presented the first draft of the proposed GIS Access Policy. She advocated a wide distribution and requested comments be returned to her by November 20. Electronic copies are available upon request to LizC@DIS.WA.GOV. Larry Sugarbaker, DNR, raised a concern about the definition of duplication costs. He also requested an open forum for discussion of the final version.

Liz reviewed a number of existing Attorney General's Office opinions, including a newly discovered one. This opinion dealt with situations where a government organization receives data from another organization. This receiving government organization is then responsible for determining disclosure for public records requests on that data when requests are directed to them. This is as opposed to referring requesters to the originating organization. This has implications for redistribution restrictions currently used by some government organizations. Jim Cooper, Benton County, requested these AG Opinions which Liz reported were covered in the document.

Liz described a court case from Dade County Florida in which the government had difficulty getting access to GIS data for disaster relief during Hurricane Andrew. This GIS data had been created by a private utility in partnership with a government organization. The government organization provided the source data in hardcopy while the utility retained ownership of the electronic data and copyrighted it.

Tom Nolan, City of Seattle, reported on a process to develop proposed GIS legislation. It is streamlined from previous attempts and includes a number of compromises.

  • It supports free access to public records, but looks for full recovery of costs for copying-but not production.
  • It views "custom products" developed by a government organization as different from public records.
  • It does not seek a distinction between "commercial" and "non-commercial" because this is too difficult to define.
  • It includes some recovery costs for maintenance on requests for electronic datasets.

    Eleanor Chase, UW Library, reported on the GIS literacy project that came out of a meeting between librarians and ESRI. ESRI provided librarian training and USA and World datasets. Experience so far shows that users want local data that is not yet generally available. Libraries prove to be a valuable outlet for government data freeing GIS staff resources. This also adds value to libraries. The free period for Arc View was helpful, but equipment is still expensive for library budgets. Educating librarians and the public about geographic data continues to be a challenge.

    Tom Nolan, City of Seattle, reported on a partnership for providing access to their GIS data through libraries. The City of Seattle Engineering handled GIS data issues, Seattle City Library defined delivery issues, and the UW helped create delivery systems in exchange for data access. The project has been very successful, freeing the City's GIS staff. Most users view their own property and neighborhood patterns, e.g., crime rates. The City Library provides display, query and map production. Unresolved issues still exist around transfer of electronic data.

    Arc View II has arrived and is the software of choice because of its unique capabilities. However, for ease of use, the City has turned off a number of the options. They are writing Visual Basic custom interfaces which are specific to City data. ESRI will begin charging $500 for the World and USA datasets which is prohibitive for schools and small libraries. Tom encouraged people to express their concerns to ESRI. Learning Arc View II has been valuable for the City Library because of data delivery at other sites in City government. Arc View II has also been very helpful in providing data to politicians for decision making.


    Curt Stucki, DIS, reported on the summer GIS Literacy Institute at the University of Iowa and librarian issues. Washington Library Network, WLN, has done some Internet training and is providing Internet access throughout the State. Curt will assist librarians in finding on-line geospatial data. He recommended the ORES (On-line Resources Earth Science) file produced by Bill Thoen,

    Joe Barreca, Stevens County, reported his experience at a local library was disappointing. He suggested putting BBS's at local libraries to increase data availability. He asked about the measures of success and strategies for making local data available to the National Data Infrastructure through local libraries. Curt reported there are library efforts to make local data available. One option is to put local libraries on list servers at NCGIA in UC Santa Barbara and SUNY.

    Jim Haskett, CWU, reported the education system is starting to provide Internet access and is considering offering private connections through libraries. He recommended a GIS forum on the State Education BBS and a GIC presence on the World Wide Web with a hypertext link from the DIS Home Page. Curt reported WLN. will implement, but not maintain, a group list server for $200/year.

    E: Committee Reports:

    Local Government: In Robin Trenbeath's absence, Ken Palmer, Spokane County, reported that the local government work group was interested in the GIC cost recovery legislation advocated by the Association of Cities during the Ellensburg Open Records Workshop.

    Education: Jim Haskett, CWU, reported that the committee is reconvening after the summer and has a meeting in November that will include old and new participants. He encouraged interested parties, both from education and other areas, to participate.

    Standards: Tim Brown, DSHS, presented the committee's discussion draft of the "Washington State Geospatial Data Guidelines: Understanding and Sharing Geospacial Data." He distributed copies and advocated that it be widely distributed.

    Elizabeth Kohlenberg, DSHS, reviewed the document that is a "Buyer Beware" policy. It advocates disclosure of metadata about available data, but leaves data use and responsibility in the hands of the user. This metadata can be either electronic or hard copy. It is to be available separately from the map data so a user can evaluate without obtaining the whole data set. The data quality report can also be available as an overlay to show the nature of data in different parts of a map.

    She noted that the standard can help organizations organize their information internally as well as document it for exchange. The samples of metadata included a Data Dictionary and a Data Quality report on simple datasets. The committee solicited other examples, including ones from the DOT and DNR. Ian VonEssen, City of Spokane, promised to produce an example from their GIS parcel layer.

    GPS: A GPS committee was formed with chair Franz Arnold, DOT (206) 705-7608. Jim Haskett volunteered a representative from CWU. Rick Vermeers from Washington Water Power, which operates a Spokane GPS base station, volunteered. Robin Trenbeath, Snohomish County, was suggested in absentia. The State Patrol may be interested since it is moving to GPS technology. Ecology reported existing Federal base stations on the Hanford Reservation. Don Edgington from Snohomish County Public Works questioned whether GPS points can be established by non-surveyors. He noted there were PC GPS systems available for under $500 in the latest issue of PC Magazine. The Association of County Surveyors plans to make recommendations on this issue. The GPS committee will report on the goals, issues and activities at the meeting December 15, 1994.


    Jim Cooper, Benton County, recommended coordination among organizations working on public access issues. He also recommended more coordination among WA sites with geospatial data. He suggested a hypertext link from the WWW DIS home page as a possible strategy for this.

    Don Edgington, Snohomish County, suggested using WWW broswers like Mosaic for metadata.

    Liz Caldwell, DIS, requested GIC mailing list renewals be returned by November 10, 1994.

    Next meeting: December 15, 1994

    For information contact the GIC Coordinator
    Jeff Holm--DIS
    Send E-mail to Jeff Holm

    Last updated: December 19, 1995