Washington State Geographic Information Council (WAGIC)

February 1997 Meeting Minutes

Meeting Orginates from Pasco, WA, Chair is in Lacey

Introduction and Site welcome: Tom Nolan, WAGIC Chair

From Lacey, Chairman Tom Nolan welcomed members from Spokane, Pasco, Vancouver, Seattle, and Mt. Vernon.

Legislative Issue: House Bill 1721: Clare Donahue, Deputy Director, DIS

House Bill 1721 will be heard tomorrow, 2/21. This bill creates a commission to regulate agencies' (state and local government) commercial activities. It proposes to prohibit governmental entities from competing with private enterprises in providing goods and services to the public and other government agencies. Clare is concerned that the bill might effect members ability to sell their data. The language of the bill includes local jurisdictions as well as state agencies. Clare suggested that members take a look at the bill and, if appropriate, provide input to the hearing process.

Tom Nolan - WAGIC Chair and Corporate GIS Manager City of Seattle added his note of concern 'Does this mean Seattle would have to get out of the electric and water business?'

Clare Donahue - This legislation is not very specific about what constitutes 'services'. Many WAGIC members sell data to private industries and other government agencies.

(Paul Taylor - Senior Policy Advisor, DIS, wrote part of the bill analysis for DIS, so any specific questions can be directed to him.)

Ellensburg Planning Workshop Overview , WAGIC Coordinator, DIS

The annual WAGIC planning session was held in Ellensburg, Feb 6th and 7th. Twelve members took part in the workshop with a good mix of state, local and federal representation.

The two major objectives of the workshop were to:

  • 1) Develop recommendations for updating the project and activity focus for the council, for the next 12-18 months and,
  • 2) Develop recommendations for a near term, transitional funding strategy for the council.
  • The process the planning team used for the two day workshop was to:

    On the top ten list are 5 major projects that have to do with GIS infrastructure. The council only has resources to focus on 1 or 2 of these projects in the next 12-18 months.

    A voting process open to all listed Council members will be conducted (via fax) next week to prioritize the 5 major projects. Other 5 items (on the 'top ten' list) are essentially continuations of activities that WAGIC is currently involved in, and we will be looking for approval today to continue with those projects.


    First set of recommendations: Minor changes in current by-laws for wording clarification.

    1) Proposed change in Article 1

  • Add the words 'data, people, technology, and policy' in parenthesize after geospatial information infrastructure. The purpose here is to clarify what is meant by this phrase.
  • 2) Proposed change in Article 3, section 6 (goals for the council)

  • Change the word "develop" to "maintain", to recognize the fact that we have done a lot to develop the leadership role.
  • 3) Article 4 (wording changes) membership section

  • We're going to wait on this until we finalize the funding membership issue.
  • Tom Nolan discussed the five large project candidates. (See attachment for description of recommendations presented to voting members)

    1) Fund development of a strategic business plan (long term planning 3-5 years) for WA geospatial information and GIC.

    The proposal is to put together a strategic plan that defines the statewide infrastructure needed to support GIS technology in Washington State into the 21st Century. The plan will focus on a 5 year planning horizon, identify: the key geospatial information needs, appropriate role(s) for the council, the opportunities to work together, and identify how to reduce the overall costs of collecting and disseminating geospatial data. Robin Trenbeath - Chairman of Local Government WorkGroup, Manager Central Services, Snohomish County added that we need to know where we are going and how we are going to get there in order to reach the council's goals.

    Clare Donahue posed a question about how recommendation "One" was going to be accomplished. Robin Trenbeath said the planning team didn't get into the solution mode. He knows that they need an expert or consultant to work on the development of a strategic business plan for WA geospatial information and GIC. The planning team didn't talk about how they are going to get the funding for this. But, they do recognize that if the project is accepted, it will need to be staffed with the proper expertise.

    2) Continue to support our framework activities.

  • Larry Sugarbaker provided information to Jeff about this proposal. Larry suggested there were three things that would be a logical part of this proposal: initiate new framework related projects and support existing activities through the Washington Framework Management Group (WFMG); seek special funding (grant opportunities) to assist with these projects and activities; and encourage organizations to participate in the WFMG. There are currently discussions going on to get several pilot projects going under the direction and coordination of the WFMG that will utilize the FGDC's Framework concepts.
  • 3) Adopt standard data model for Cadastre, Hydrology and Transportation data layer. There is much to be gained by developing standard data models and there appears to be an opportunity to leverage data models being developed as part of the FGDC's Framework workgroups efforts

    4) Get the census bureau to adopt local data layers for tiger line file in the upcoming census 2000.

  • Ian Von Essen - GIS Manager, Spokane County- We maintain a street file, we give it to the Census Bureau, they try to incorporate this data into the Tiger File. But, when we get it back, none of it fits our existing data because it's in a different geometry. We both end up doing redundant data maintenance. It would be nice if we maintained our own geometry and have a partnership with the Census Bureau for the maintenance of that information.
  • Andy Norton - Puget Sound Regional Council, Seattle- GET may want to hear what GIC has to say about accepting your own data sets. If the Census Bureau is unwilling to accept local improvements that we have here and that Ian has in Spokane then maybe we should shoot for the 2010 Census to get their cooperation.
  • 5) Education Project.

  • Educating people about the council, what GIS is, how it can help them, and how it can effect them. We've discussed developing a document that identifies the 25 most asked policy questions (and answers) and the importance of standards and guidelines. Continue promoting outreach to the tribes.
  • We will give members an opportunity to look at information about the top five recommendations and then vote on them next week through a balloting process. We hope to get a motion today to adopt the smaller projects.

    Jeff Holm discussed the five smaller projects. These projects are essentially continuations of the logical extension of activities that are currently underway.

    1) Continue to implement and promote the Metadata Clearinghouse concept.

  • Allow us to put in place a production Clearinghouse on the internet, distribute the metadata tool to a wider audience, and provide training in its use.
  • 2) Enhance and maintain the WAGIC web site.

  • We need to keep it updated and put new materials and resources on the site as they become available.
  • 3) Promote use of the WAGIC list server.

  • The server is currently used in a limited way. We need to promote its use and provide education on how to use it. All listed members (that have e-mail) are currently 'subscribed' to the list server.
  • 4) Resolve the council funding issue.

  • This will be done with the fax ballots.
  • 5) Increase vendor participation in the council.

  • We've had some success with this in the last year, but we could do better. ESRI was an active partner last year, and we want more vendors participating in the council activities.
  • A motion was presented and seconded to continue work on the five smaller projects.

    Bi-Annual GIS Conference:

    Tom Nolan said that at the workshop the planning team discussed holding the conference every other year instead of once a year so the council can spend more time on these issues.

    WAGIC Funding Recommendation:

    Robin Trenbeath discussed the funding recommendation. This proposal is short term. The council is trying to move toward a voluntary tiered membership. The goal for the first year is $20, 000. ($15,000 would go toward operating expenses. $5,000 would be set aside for special projects and activity funding.) DIS would act as the accountant for GIC. The excess revenue would be placed in interest baring accounts.

    Voting memberships: Sponsoring Organization.- $5,000 and up

    Supporting Organization.- $2,000 to $4, 999

    Associated Organization.- $1,000 to $1, 999

    (Associated Organization range amended during the meeting to $500 to 1,999 per the discussion below)

    Non-Voting membership: Individual- $20

    Student - $10

    There was concern from members in Pasco about the range for Associated Organization's. Randy Mills, Benton County PUD, Pasco thought the Associated level started at $200. Jeff Holm said he could go back and check the notes, but he thought this amount was pulled from the notes taken during the discussion. The Pasco group will probably go for lowest level of the voting membership. Pasco said they would be able to pay $500. During the course of the discussion it was agreed to amend the proposal so the Associated Organization amount was changed to $500 to $1, 999.

    Randy asked how will the membership invoicing be taken care of? Initially, DIS will send out the invoices. DIS accounting is looking into the possibility of serving as the accounting agent for the membership funds. If they are unable to take this on (due to RCW restrictions) then the council might want to consider adopting a legal identity to allow it to receipt and disburse the funds.

    (Voting for this funding recommendation will be part of the upcoming balloting process.)

    Commercial Access to Government Records: Paul Taylor, Senior Policy Advisor - DIS

    Executive Order 9701 changes the way state agencies deal with business use of personally identifiable information. The statutory authority of agencies to release this information for business use does not change. For the first time, state agencies will be required to put in place contract mechanisms that specify authorized use while prohibiting the secondary use of personally identifiable information that is outside the scope of the contract.

    This executive order has been incorporated into House Bill 1891. There are two categories currently in the open records act: 1) public access and 2) commercial use.

    1. Public access: Inspection and copying at cost of all records are subject to disclosure; paper, tape and on-line access; funding-existing resources.
    2. Commercial use: Direct contact for profit making purposes is prohibited. HB 1891 creates a new category in the open records act-"legitimate business use".

    Under the bill, "legitimate business use" is defined as: being authorized by the legislature, necessary for running a business in a safe and legal manner, provides safeguards on personally identifiable information, and delivered through enhanced electronic access. Cost recovery is based exclusively on the cost of providing enhanced electronic access, not charging for records.

    The hearing for HB 1891 is expected next week. (Update: bill passed out of Government Operations Committee, March 5th to Rules for second reading)

    Tom Nolan thought this was started as an issue to protect people's privacy. He said one of the more interesting developments was the model for cost recovery that redirects public subsidy that now goes to business back to system refurbishment and public access.

    Question from Seattle site -- Does this bill cover city and county activities as well as state agencies? It was developed with state agencies in mind…Paul said he will get an answer to this. (Update: The bill amends RCW 42.17, the provisions of which apply to local governments but are permissive (not mandatory) in their application.)

    City of Seattle's use of GIS to manage response to recent storms: Tom Nolan

    GPS Survey Control Point Database- An Overview: Gary Perasso, National Geodetic Survey/ WSDOT, and Chair of GPS Users Group

    The GPS Users Group has been working with Pierce County, Snohomish County and DNR to develop a generic data base format that would be acceptable to state and local jurisdictions for the purpose of recording survey control point information. The work is being coordinated by a GPS User Group Workgroup chaired by Dave Steele (DNR). The intention is to first agree on a suitable format (being developed as an MS ACCESS database environment) then develop and distribute a data collection tool. Eventually, the data will be consolidated at a centrally located website for on-line accessibility. In few weeks they intend to have templates for the database available.

    (Jeff Holm added that the GPS User Group meeting minutes are posted on the GIC Website.)

    Other Business:

    Tom Sturm, USGS, introduced a new member of his team, Nancy Tubbs. Nancy will be working out of USGS's Water Resources District Office in Portland. Tom indicated he was pleased to finally find the right person to help better serve Oregon and Washington state.

    Jeff Holm brought up the issue of possible new meeting formats- Tom Nolan said one idea was to have an hour of the normal business issues (what takes place now), and devote the second hour to the workgroups. This wouldn't occur at every meeting, only at a few. Video-conferencing the workgroup meeting could make them more effective and more people could get involved in workgroups.

    Tom stated if people want to send ideas and comments back to us in writing they would be helpful.

    Joy Denkers, Department of Ecology- Likes the idea of the changes in the meetings. Wants the meetings organized so participants know before the meeting what is going to occur and when (business issues vs. workgroups). Some people are not able to attend the full 2 hour meetings, but they may be able to come to one hour or the other.

    Lakeside School project - Peter Hayes, manager of the Thornton Creek project, has been invited to give the GIC an update on the project in early fall. The project involves Middle Schools and the use of GIC products to study watersheds. The students learn about biology, ecology, politics, and other things that concern the life of a stream in Seattle using GIS data and products.

    Adjournment: 12:00 pm - Next Meeting, April 17th, 10 am.