Image11.gif (16979 bytes)gic.gif (13960 bytes)

Washington State Geographic Information Council (WAGIC)

February 18, 1999
Teleconference originated from
DIS Interactive Technologies, Lacey, WA

Introductions – Larry Sugarbaker (Dept. of Natural Resources, WAGIC Chair) From Lacey, Larry Sugarbaker welcomed members in Seattle, Pasco, Vancouver, Spokane, and Bellingham.

Larry reviewed the agenda and noted that while it was short, it would be intensive. Larry then introduced Bruce Westcott, from the State of Vermont, the Strategic Planning Consultant who is joining the Lacey group today. Larry then turned the meeting over to Jeff Holm to discuss the agenda. Jeff noted that today we would be presenting the Outstanding Service Award to Tom Nolan, past WAGIC Chair and that would be done at the end of the meeting.

Jeff also indicated that Larry Sugarbaker's first term as Chair comes to an end in June and that the Council would need to address election options at the April 15th meeting. Jeff reviewed the bylaws and reminded members that a chair can serve two consecutive, one-year terms. Election options include opening the floor for nominations and/or, a motion to re-elect the current Chair to a second term. If the re-election motion is put forward, (in the absence of other nominations) a voice vote of the voting membership will be conducted. Tom Nolan was elected to his second term by a similar process two years ago.

Jeff asked the nominating members to verify that their nominee is willing and able to serve prior to nominating them for Chair. Larry echoed what Jeff said and asked for serious considerations for nominations in April. WAGIC has ambitious objectives and the Council will need effective leadership to accomplish those objectives.

Strategic Business Plan

Larry reviewed the background of the Strategic Planning Committee and the steps that the committee, comprised of five members, took to arrive at the plan we have today. Today's presentation would consist of 1) an overview, 2) a review, 3) a discussion regarding the ballot process for ranking action items, and 4) an open discussion of the plan and feedback from members. Larry encouraged council members to interject comments during the presentations and turned the floor over to Bruce Westcott.

Bruce greeted the council and noted how pleasurable the process has been. He also mentioned the small team of people who really worked hard throughout the course of this process. He hoped that members had an opportunity to visit the web site to review the draft plan. Bruce reviewed the layout of the draft, Planning a Geographic Information Infrastructure - A Strategy for Using GIS Technology in Support of Washington's Quality of Life. Bruce noted

this is a living process and gave an overview of the presentation being:

By incorporating feedback from WAGIC Constituents, a draft plan was developed consisting of:

Bruce then turned the meeting over to Jim Eby for a review. Jim noted that the Strategic Planning Committee was an outcome of the retreat at Snoqualmie and that through a series of teleconferences, the discussions regarding the plan eventually developed into the draft which incorporated various comments from members. Also, it was realized that a small group was needed to write and draft the plan, that group being Larry Sugarbaker, Jeff Holm, David Reed, and Jim Eby plus Bruce in Vermont. This group met weekly concentrating on format, basic content, and organizational plan. Later, the work was divided, with the Olympia group working on the action items while Bruce worked on the other sections. The action items came directly from a list developed at the Snoqualmie meeting. The last item of business was the task of developing the prioritization process.

Bruce then continued with discussion on the Responsiveness to Public Comments noting:

Bruce then reviewed The Vision Statement that focuses on improving and

maintaining the following:

The Vision Statement is then followed by a discussion of What do we Need to Do:

The next section of the draft, Building a Geographic Information Infrastructure for Washington includes key infrastructure elements such as:

In the plan, three specific goals are identified in the Statement of Goals:

The Objectives are identified as five groups of Action Items:

  1. Framework Data Development – Produce essential multi-use statewide databases (property ownership, transportation, surface waters, land cover, and others) through the shared efforts of public and private organizations, both local and statewide.
  2. Improved Data Sharing – Develop Standards, Guidelines, and Procedures which increase the ease and efficiency of sharing data resources with the organizations responsible for addressing statewide and localized policy issues and with the public.
  3. Support for Enabling Technologies – Ensure establishment and maintenance of key technology infrastructure components.
  4. Policy Review & Advocacy – Ensure GIS awareness across a range of public policy and decision-making settings.
  5. Information Exchange & Education – Foster exchange of information, knowledge, and skills within the GIS community, and provide outreach to public schools, citizens, businesses, and government

Jeff Holm explained how the priorities were recently established through an advisory prioritization process. The original list of 40 action items was refined by the planning team to 27 items and grouped by the strategic objective they addressed. Organizations were asked to identify their priorities within these 27 items. Jeff stated that the organizations that took part in the polling were voting members of the council (as determined by participation in the voluntary funding program) with the addition of several organizations that have been active participants in the Strategic planning process. Each polled member was given 15 weighted tokens to assign according to priority: 1) Critical - C, 2) Highest Priority - H, and 3) Medium - M. Of the twenty-two organizations polled, fifteen responded establishing the following priorities:

Bruce then reviewed the results of the poll for Establishing Priorities for Implementation:

  1. Framework Data Development
  1. Improved Data Sharing
  1. Support for Enabling Technologies
  1. Policy Review & Advocacy
  1. Information Exchange & Education

Bruce then noted that with the 15 organizations that responded, every action item got at least three votes and almost all the organizations used all of their tokens.

He then identified the top Five Objectives Identified with the Top Priority Action Items (11 of the 27 Action Items):

(None of the three action items identified under this objective were in the top eleven)

Bruce noted that the planning committee was concerned that all 27 items had received support and that the group that was polled was not representative of all the WAGIC constituents.

Bruce turned the meeting over to Larry for discussion and questions about the process. Larry stated the meeting was then at the "so what" stage noting that a tremendous amount of work had gone into the process. The results and objectives have been an excellent process but what have we really got, and what does it mean for us as a council and in terms of commitment; what does it solve? Larry opened the floor to general discussion. Joy Denkers asked what the committee was hoping to accomplish? Was the ranking a means to get the list down to manageable level? Larry said the committee believed every issue is important. The key is that it does not represent absolute priorities as to what has to be done but other items are predecessors. The intent is not to discard any items but to focus initial efforts. Joy said it was obvious in the ranking that some items did not receive much support so, would eliminating those unsupported items help focus on higher ranked action items?

Larry said that was a good point and asked Jeff to read the action items. Larry said members were agreeing that all were important in the long-term success. As a council, should we be letting items go or looking at the whole spectrum?

Andy Norton mentioned that there is a certain amount of organic creation of Framework layers that does not exist and if more effort was put into editing the council would come up with an easier way to implement the Framework data. Larry paraphrased that better networks would facilitate the creation of the Framework data sets.

At this point, Don Eginton noted that Tom Nolan would not be in attendance today and that he sends his regrets. Don said that if he had to summarize the five areas of discussions it would be talking about the data sharing that the Framework entails. With issues such as the Growth Management Act and ESA coming, his concern is the proliferation of bunny coverages: (coverages popping up everywhere) i.e. many versions of data with the least common denominator. Until we have a data set that can be shared, there will continue to be a proliferation of different data sets. The Framework efforts need to focus on the data sets to make them work better. Don noted that there can be all the tools, mechanisms, and vendor technical assistance, but there are institutional issues such as funding which need to be considered in order to make the Framework work right.

Larry mentioned that the issue of land use/land coverage received the second highest vote. Other than at local government levels there is no effort to generate a land use/land conversion. Joy concurred that it is definitely a problem area. Don Eginton noted that he sat in on meetings with counties and land use/land coverage issues are a real problem as in scale code.

Larry asked Eastern Washington for comment. Ian voiced concerns that the plan sounded too much like a state plan and not local enough. Larry asked if we had achieved a broad-based plan? Ian said it has come a long way in making government more efficient. In relation to enabling technology, our expertise in GIS is in developing data and applications, not driving the tools. Because funding is limited, we need to focus needs to be on data and data development. Larry noted that there are key people watching this effort and we should not take on a sense of limited accomplishment. If we need an improved infrastructure or network, an expansion of the K20 network might be possible. One action item is to increase outreach efforts to solicit more local government interaction. Ian noted that all 27 action items are important and valid but in ranking, certain ones would come to the front, it doesn’t mean the others are not important. Joy suggested that if items are not deleted, then list them according to the ranking vote.

Bellingham then stated the need for more local involvement by public officials, perhaps using education to spur an interest in GIS. Some jurisdictions are involved in GIS and perhaps members could share ways to involve GIS at the local level. How are other jurisdictions successful at this?

The TriCities group felt that they needed to take another look at the document, that in some ways the document was relevant but also very state centric. Larry asked for the review very soon. The Tri Cities said that the draft caused no serious "heartburn" there. Bruce thanked Ian and Tom Nolan for their work on the sidebar that addresses GIS use in local jurisdictions. They drafted narrative that highlights implications for local government. Bruce asked that member please go through the draft and enhance any verbiage and/or plans.

Larry asked if TriCities had a copy of the latest draft and then asked members to respond to the draft in one week.

Vancouver responded that the draft looked good they will review it with their GIS people and respond back in the same timeframe as the Tri Cities group.

Larry then moved on to the last step. How do we incorporate local and county people and convey in a meaningful and interesting way to parties? He then asked for ideas on how to package and deliver this information. Ian in Spokane offered an example of outreach involving WSU and DNR. The products that came out of that project worked to focus attention on the relevant information. Larry remembered that the pilot project sold on front counters and highlighted information about Spokane County. The challenge is to find a way to sponsor products that provide real data.

Bellingham stated that the local assessor emphasized GIS and it has been a useful tool. Can other jurisdictions share successes from use of GIS? Larry suggested that maybe a PowerPoint presentation for council members to use or perhaps glossy brochures to use in presentations.

Bellingham said that any tool would be helpful and asked for assistance in making presentations such as help from WAGIC administration. Larry suggested a professional lobbyist to train council members to make presentations. Ian said the outreach of peers talking with peers and seeing GIS used in successful areas was the most basic of presentations.

Ben in Vancouver suggested information in a weekly mailer and he would be happy to entertain a presentation and a visit by the administration. Don Eginton agreed that reinforcement was very important and pointed out that nobody cares about hydrography and casdastral data until they see how it helps them automate and save money in terms of business functions such as expediting processes at the front counter. That will get the attention of top officials. Larry noted linking action items with high-level business functions is the key.

Specific comments should be received in the next week and will be reviewed. Larry thanked Jeff Holm, Jim Eby, David Reed, and Bruce Westcott for their tremendous amount of work including the number of hours and staff time. They will be meeting again to assimilate this information to take care of the action items. Larry asked for help in determining those items. Ben and Ian volunteered and Larry asked for one more member to help.

Bruce had one more slide to present titled Next Steps which were outlined as:

Larry announced that WAGIC had received a letter from John Moeller, FGDC Staff Director dated January 19th stating that the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) has formally recognized WAGIC as a Cooperator with the FGDC in building the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). Larry will be participating in the FGDC sponsored Cooperator’s conference next week and also be representing the Council at the NSGIC Mid-Winter meeting in March in Chicago. Please contact Larry if there are specific issues you would like addressed.

Don reminded council member of the WAURISA meeting February 22nd and 23rd. Plans were for 60-70 different presentations, six vendor seminars, and an attendance of over 200 people which would double last years attendance.

Clearinghouse Update – Jeff Holm provided an update on the Clearinghouse and a grant opportunity. One year ago when the Clearinghouse was first introduced, there were three organizations reporting. Now there are 238 data descriptions contributed by 45-50 participating organizations resulting in a significant increase in the information content of the Clearinghouse.

Work proceeds on two new enhancements to the Clearinghouse.

  1. Enhancement to the Metadata Entry System (MES) which makes posting and creating metadata very easy. Jeff demonstrated the proposed new look and feel of the system such as better use of white space, and a better arrangement of information. The new system will have a help function, which is meant to be a skeleton function. The system also added attributes to the metadata entry system so as to express metadata about species. These changes were driven by the Olympic Natural Resources Center (ONRC) in Forks and focuses on forest and natural resources issues. They and their clients needed an NBII extension of metadata and it was added as an expanded set of attributes. The intent is to find additional information sections that may be appropriate. The ultimate goal is to provide an online way of collecting metadata that would serve many organizations. The new system also offered a delete function and a draft flag.
  2. The other enhancement activity is the creation of a data-viewing capability for the clearinghouse. The current system does not allow one to peruse data before downloading. A demonstration project is being conducted utilizing ESRI MOIMS and ArcExplorer. Jeff said he would be interested in comment offline.

Jeff then addressed the recent FGDC grant announcement "Don’t Duck the Metadata". This years grant program encourages organizations like the Council to submit a ‘consolidated’ for the state or major geographic area. The FGDC program announcement encourages individual organizations to contact their state coordinating bodies (WAGIC). As WAGIC Coordinator, Jeff is currently in the process of preparing a consolidated proposal for groups that have indicated they want to be part of a consolidated proposal. The common need across these organizations appears to be training and acquisition of metadata collection tools. Jeff stated that there are sixteen organizations that are willing to be involved. The window to apply is narrow in that the proposal must be mailed FED EX by next Friday, February 26th. Please contact Jeff for the necessary documents if you wish to be involved.

Larry reminded the council that last year there was some discussion on formalizing the process used by the council to endorse proposals. Larry intended to make the process more known by council members. The challenge in this particular instance is that FGDC program announcement was delayed and made public February 1 and required response by March 2. This did not allow time to create a proposal and test a new council endorsement process. Larry asked members to voice any concerns they might have at that time – subsequently accepted their silence as an indication they had none. If members want to be involved in the ‘consolidated’ proposal, please speak with Jeff as soon as possible.

Meeting Close - Larry Sugarbaker

Larry asked for closing comments and Gene Thorley, USGS at the Seattle VC Site said he was very impressed with the videoconference and quality of graphics. Larry briefly welcomed Gene as the USGS representative from the newly created Washington State office. Gene will be making a presentation at a future meeting. The next WAGIC meeting is scheduled for April 15, 1999. Larry encouraged everyone to bring a guest to the next meeting.