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Washington State Geographic Information Council (WAGIC)

December 17, 1998 Meeting Minutes

Videoconference meeting originated from: Lacey, WA

Introductions- Larry Sugarbaker (Dept of Natural Resources, WAGIC Chair)

From Lacey, Larry Sugarbaker welcomed members in Seattle, Pasco, Vancouver, Spokane, and Bellingham. He also welcomed Bruce Westcott, the Strategic Plan Consultant, who video-conferenced with the group from Vermont.

Strategic Business Plan- presentation of the first draft of the plan- Bruce Westcott (Strategic Business Plan Consultant)

Larry said in 1996 WAGIC recognized the need to develop a state GIS plan. In August 1998, the council started planning this process. They brought in a consultant, Bruce Westcott, to help develop this plan. Bruce facilitated a meeting in October where approximately 30 people came together to develop the high-level business needs and actions items in Washington State. Since that meeting, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee has worked with Bruce to develop the first draft of the strategic plan. Once the first draft was completed, the council members were given the opportunity to review the plan. After reviewing the comments, Bruce prepared the second version of the document, which he will present today (due to time constraints all of the comments have yet to be incorporated into this version).

Bruce said his role is to complete three tasks for the group:

  1. Gather information and facilitate the October workshop
  2. Compile comments and draft the plan
  3. Work with the council to develop a final report, make a final presentation, and help decide on next steps

The plan is titled ‘Planning a Geographic Information Infrastructure – A Strategy for Using GIS Technology in Support of Washington’s Quality of Life’. The purpose of the plan is to emphasize business needs in Washington State and using GIS as a tool to help meet these business needs.

The plan consists of: 1) a vision statement (what the future will look like if people/organizations use this document); 2) the business problems: needs to be addressed; 3) a response to the business needs and; 4) central goal statements relating to the use of GIS in the state.

Vision Statement Section

Bruce said they are trying to address a couple of key issues in the vision statement. These issues include, effectiveness of services in the public sector, emphasizing that the use of technology can impact Washington’s quality of life, and increasing awareness of the spatial relationship between human activities and the environment.

What do we Need to Do Section

This section focuses on how people can use GIS to address complex public policy issues.

Building a Geographic Information Infrastructure for Washington Section

In this section, we acknowledge that Washington State is seen by many other states as a leader in GIS. However, there is still a need to identify the components of a GIS infrastructure that emphasizes developing Framework data, addressing legal, technical, and organizational hurdles to data, and accessing data.

Statement of Goals Section

The goal statements relate back to the vision statement. The purpose of the goals is to get tangible and measurable achievements and results.

Statement of Objectives Section

The first three objectives are Framework Data Development, Partnership Growth, and Improved Data Sharing. These objectives represent a continued commitment to areas that the council has already been working on and has had some success. These objectives are also in line with current federal government objectives.

Support for Enabling Technologies: the state needs an infrastructure and technology that will support GIS activities.

Policy Review and Advocacy: ensure that GIS awareness is brought into a range of decision making settings -- legislatively and at the state and local level.

GIS Leadership: activities of WAGIC or other groups

Information Exchange and Education: both at the local/community level and the GIS user community level

Bruce encouraged people to review this document and send their comments to him at The plan is available for review on the WAGIC website at Bruce said the comments are also available for people to view on the WAGIC website.

Bruce said the council needs to think about a process for sustaining involvement in this plan if it is adopted. It will need to be continually reviewed and updated to ensure that the business needs are met.

Questions and/or Comments:

Larry Sugarbaker said that the plan is really slanted towards public service orientation and government orientation, and there was not a lot of private sector focus. Larry asked the audience if the plan needs to focus more on the private sector.

Don Eginton (Snohomish County) said he does not have an answer to that question, but he does have a couple of comments. First, he thinks the plan is wonderful and the people involved deserve credit for pulling this all together. Don said he could take this document, change a few words here and there, and pass it along to Snohomish County’s sponsors as an illustration of the way we want to have cooperation happening at the local government level.

Don suggested that this plan also look at what GIS does for business systems. In Snohomish County, we are concerned about hydrography, streets and lines, and Cadastral data, which relates to our business functions. He thinks an important point to make is that we now have the tools to drive GIS more into the business functions of state and local government.

Larry repeated what Don said to make sure he understood it correctly. What Don said was, there is a wide arena of Information Technology business systems that could use this technology more effectively and we have not tapped into that arena. Larry asked Don if he interpreted him correctly.

Don said that was correct.

Bruce Westcott said the point he took is that a real strategic issue is to think about who the users are, and to drive the answer down to the business user level as opposed to the technical specialist. He thinks the biggest benefit if they accomplish this is that when they use the tool they will give you feedback and help drive the demands for improving the data.

Ian VonEssen (Spokane County) agreed with an earlier comment that the environmental focus dominates the document. Ian said the environment is not as big an issue in Eastern Washington. Issues such as Growth Management, Endangered Species, Water Resources, and Transportation Planning are state and federal plans to which local governments have to respond. Ian said all those things, as far as local governments are concerned, are looked at as unfunded mandates. People in local government and Eastern Washington want more control of their own world. Local government, at least in Spokane, is focused on making government more effective and then trying to deal with these federal and state mandates. Ian said he would almost want to flip this thing on its head and say the first priority is governmental effectiveness, but at the state level, this currently makes perfect sense.

Ian also commented that we should better highlight the wonderful GIS programs in the state. He thinks the state’s big challenge is that in some respects, although agencies and jurisdictions communicate with each other, the programs are autonomous from each other. One of the issues we want to look at is, how do we integrate GIS work in the state.

Finally, Ian said he is concerned about the role DIS is going to take in integrating GIS in the state. He is concerned that DIS, except for doing metadata and all the work that Jeff Holm does, does not have an active GIS program. Ian thinks other agencies, such as DNR and Ecology, should help advise DIS.

Joseph Barreca (Map Metrics) said the biggest problem he finds in his business is finding people on the inside of an organization who can use GIS effectively. He said if we are going to be effective as a statewide operation we need to enhance the ability of the ordinary person to find and use the information effectively. To do this you need people to deal with the issues and money to support it. Joseph also said we need expectations on the outside, from the media, that says GIS is sexy, GIS works -- If you’re a person in an organization that is trying to be effective you should use GIS. I do not see anything about the media or people in the plan.

Larry said he has been surfing the Internet lately and has noticed that you know GIS is working in the background but you really don’t have to know anything about GIS. He asked if the everyday person really needs to know they are using GIS.

Joseph replied that the first thing he has to teach people is to move files around, use the operating system, and understanding the relationship between programs and data. Without knowing these things, you cannot make the information work for a organization.

Andy Norton (Puget Sound Regional Council) asked if there was anything in the plan about the support of basic research.

Tom Nolan (City of Seattle) said he wanted to echo Don’s comments. He’s seen this plan come a long way since Snoqualmie Pass. He’s very impressed that Bruce, and everyone else involved, was able to whittle the list of 100 items down to 20 or 30 doable and practical items. He is particularly impressed with the Land Use/Land Coverage objective because he thinks that is something people are interested in.

Tom also commented that a lot of GIS in the state, like the city of Seattle, is utility based, but he does not see the word utility in the document. He told Bruce he can send him a couple spots where he might want to add utility.

Tom said his main concern is that partnerships evolve where they’re needed, not when there’s a grand vision, such as in this plan. He thinks that the partnership area needs to be strengthened and funding for partnerships needs to be identified. Tom said he also agrees with Don in regards to linking the plan to business systems.

Tom also responded to Larry’s question regarding the plan addressing the private sector. Tom said he thinks there’s already more in the plan than we can hope to accomplish, and instead of adding more we should look at what’s already included.


Larry answered Andy Norton’s question about research. He said the education action item identifies research but it is not very clear. Larry said they might be able to reword that objective to address Andy’s concerns.

Jeff Holm reviewed the timeline with the council:

December 17- Presentation of the Initial Draft to the Council (this is taking place currently)

December 23- Additional comments will be accepted until this date

January 20- Final Draft will be available on the website for public comments

February 1- Plan comment period closes

February 18- Present the final plan to the Council for adoption

Update on DFW/GAP metadata/clearinghouse activities- Jim Eby (Department of Fish & Wildlife (DFW))

This project is funded by the FGDC as part of the grant process for their National Spatial Data Infrastructure Initiatives. DFW is working with a number of different partners on this project: WAGIC, DNR, UW. When DFW started this project, they knew they needed a Clearinghouse activity to fit in with their business plan because they wanted to disseminate information and data sets to their partners around the state. However, they did not have a good idea of how they were going to accomplish all their goals. Fortunately, WAGIC was already doing Clearinghouse/ Node establishment and they were able to take advantage of this.

Project Goals

GAP Data - "Land cover and wildlife species data for biodiversity planning"

Clearinghouse Architecture

The Clearinghouse Homepage address is (the University of Washington is hosting the Washington Clearinghouse). You can also link to this site from the WAGIC webpage. There are links to the FGDC and Alaskan gateway off the Clearinghouse Homepage.

Jim demonstrated how to search the Clearinghouse. There are two ways to do a metadata search: 1) a Java based interface; 2) a forms based query. People can put together a query and search by geographic location, place names, or bounding coordinates. People can also specify a period of time and specific text fields (either just the metadata fields or anywhere in the metadata entry). When you submit your search, you can also choose a specific Clearinghouse. When your results come back, you get the entire metadata entry.

Jim said in the next few months DFW is planning on getting their data server up and running and will be moving the final versions of the metadata to the Clearinghouse. By the end of January, DFW wants to have the GAP data organized and in place. DFW’s long-range plan is to use this strategy for more fish & wildlife data, not just GAP data.

Questions and/or Comments:

Larry Sugarbaker asked if the GAP program is continuing to gather extensive amounts of new data. Jim said the GAP project data sets are currently a static set of final products. He said as new knowledge accumulates DFW will provide new views of GAP data but the static set will be maintained and archived.

LizardTech- MrSID demonstration of their powerful file/graphic compression technology- Lauri Young

Lauri said the goal of this presentation is to share LizardTech’s technology and the applications it has towards GIS. The LizardTech Homepage is

MrSID stands for Multiresolution Seamless Image Database. MrSID is a powerful wavelet-based compressor, file format and image environment for massive raster images that enables instantaneous viewing and manipulation of massive images locally and over networks, while maintaining maximum image quality and manageability.

History of MrSID

MrSID Commercialization

ESRI & LizardTech Partnership

Additional Partnerships

MrSID Product Overview

MrSID product line

Platforms Supported

MrSID Features

MrSID Benefits

MrSID Multiple Resolutions

Lauri demonstrated MrSID in ArcView 3.1.

Questions and/or Comments:

Someone asked if people would be able to retrofit MrSID into ArcInfo 7.0 on UNIX Systems. A person from URISA said they did not have any plans currently to look at 7.0 implementation.

Jim Eby said DFW has a library of DRGs/Quad maps and he said they were not happy with the way MrSID handled those. Lauri asked specifically why there were not happy with them. Jim said they lost too much information when they compressed the images. Lauri said the image quality can vary depending on the image you start with.

Tom Nolan said the City of Seattle has been using MrSID for about 6 months and they really like it. They have been using it to put standard map sets on their internal web. The thing he is most excited about is getting City of Seattle’s Surveyors involved.

Don Eginton said they have already purchased a server and MrSID compressor and they are going to put the DNR USGS orthoimagery on their Internet in the January/February timeframe. He asked if there is an Active X control that enables them to put the imagery in a browser environment and deliver it that way? Lauri said there is a control and it is available on the LizardTech website for download.

Interorganizational Resource Information Coordinating Council (IRICC) Update- Larry Sugarbaker

Larry is the Washington State representative on IRICC. This federal council has been charged with developing coordinated GIS capabilities and datasets across a multistate area to implement the President’s forest/ecosystem plan.

Larry said there is a need to have people participate in five different activities of IRICC:

  1. Delineate 5th and 6th field Watershed Boundaries
  2. Develop a common reporting format and a capability to store salmon restoration activity project data
  3. Coordinate an effort to develop common standards and protocols for the hydro framework
  4. Participate in Phase 2 of the Fish Hydro Standards Development activity- how they capture information related to fish habitat
  5. Initiate a Transportation/Roads Framework activity

If anyone is interested on working on any these projects please contact Larry at (360) 902- 1546.

Cadastral Framework Project update- Greg Tudor (Dept of Natural Resources)

This project is an effort to identify, develop and populate a standard data model for the commonly needed and maintained Cadastral data among federal, state, local, and private organizations throughout the state. Project partners will develop a new way of doing digital data business; where partners share responsibilities, commitment, benefits, and control. The resulting Cadastral Framework data will be distributed and updated via an Internet application.

There are project partners from a number of organizations that are interested in integrating data into the database and bringing the datasets together.

The Cadastral Homepage is at Users must logon to gain access to the website (they are going to revise the system security soon). Once you logon you will go straight to the project page. The project page contains benefits, updates, partner contacts, and overview of the website. After you logon you can get to the ArcView IMS application, which displays Cadastral data. This application displays Counties, PLS Townships, Township Subdivisions, Non PLS Subdivisions, State Ownership Parcels, and State Land Surface.

Key Objectives

Phase 1: September 1997-September 1998

Phase 2: September 1998-September 1999


Greg Tudor

Project Manager

Dept of Natural resources

(360) 902-1542

Questions and/or Comments:

Don Eginton commented that Steve Liedel from their Assessor’s Office is very impressed with the system. This is a positive step for them because he thinks it is very important that the Assessor’s Office get involved in this effort.

Meeting Close- Larry Sugarbaker

Jeff Holm informed the council that the Thurston Geodata’s Parcel Query tool has a new URL, which is

URISA is looking for nominations for officers for WAURISA. If you are interested in being an officer or would like to nominate someone, please contact Andrew Kinney at (360) 754-4455. Don Eginton mentioned that the upcoming URISA conference is scheduled for February 22 & 23. If anyone needs more information about the conference contact Jeff Holm or Don Eginton. You can also visit the conference website at to gather information.

The next WAGIC meeting is scheduled for February 18, 1999. Current topics include a Strategic Plan review and a presentation from DOT on their High Precision Transportation Network project and other projects. Larry encouraged everyone to bring a friend to the February meeting.