National Geospatial Advisory Committee holds June meeting

July 13, 2018
Julie Sweetkind-Singer
Mural from South Interior Room

The National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC) held their summer meeting June 26-27, 2018 at the Department of the Interior, Washington, DC.  The NGAC is a Federal Advisory Committee (FACA) to the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC).  The role of the NGAC is to provide advice and recommendations related to the national geospatial program and the development of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure.  Full minutes of the meeting, PowerPoints, and lightning talks are available on the NGAC website.

Andrea Travnicek, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science at the Department of the Interior started off the proceedings discussing the current focus of her work including infrastructure, permit streamlining, the Landsat program, and the Geospatial Platform.  Ivan DeLoatch, the Executive Director of the FGDC, presented the report on recent FGDC activities.  He noted that Dr. Tim Petty, Chair of the FGDC, sent a memoradum to Federal agencies asking them to designate a Senior Agency Official for Geospatial Information (SAOGI) to oversee, coordinate, and facilitate the agency's implementation of the geospatial-related requirements, policies, and activities.  These  SAOGIs will sit on the FGDC Executive Committee.  Mr. DeLoatch noted that the second COGO (Coalition of Geospatial Organizations) Report Card is well underway and that it is due to be released this summer.  The Report Card focuses on the state of the nation's geospatial infrastructure.  The first one was published in 2015.  

Mr. DeLoatch noted that the call for nominations to the NGAC is now open.  Information about the nomination process may be found on the FGDC website here.  Nominations are due August 27, 2018.  Speaking from personal experience, there is no better way to increase both the depth and breadth of your knowledge about the impact and reach of geospatial information on our day-to-day existence than to serve as a member on this committee.  Members are able to make important and significant contributions to our nation's geospatial infrastructure by participating in this group.  Please consider nominating those within your spheres who would find this work both interesting and challenging.

Steve Lewis, Geospatial Information Office with the Department of Transportation, updated the group on the National Address Database.  Version 1 has been released with nearly 36 million records.   The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has agreed to fund a developer to continue this effort starting in October 2018, but as of now there is a lapse in funding to continue work on the project until then.  Mr. Lewis continues to look for state partners.  If your state is interested in participating in this important effort, please contact him directly at

Deirdre Bishop, Chief of the Geography Department at the Census Bureau gave an update on the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM).  The group is working on the development of the agenda to promote the use of geospatial information to address key global challenges.  There is interest in shared principles, standards and policy frameworks.  

The NGAC as a whole has been reviewing the Geoplatform and providing input to the development team.  The FGDC hosted two webinars and facilitated this in-person session to gather feedback from the group.  This will result in an internal short report from the group to the Geoplatform lead on possible changes and feature development.  The committee was updated on the status of the development of the NSDI strategic plan and gave feedback on the goals and objectives going forward.

Vice-Chair of the NGAC, Keith Masback, hosted a spotlight session focusing on innovative user communities in the field.  The group heard presentations by and about the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the Private Railcar Food and Beverage Association, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's GEOWorks Initiative, and the GSA Earth Observation Solutions.  We expect to hold other sessions like this in the future to broaden the NGAC's understanding of the reach of geospatial information across a variety of sectors of the economy.

All four subcommittees presented updates on their work.  

  • The Data as a Service Subcommittee presented a draft paper entitled, "Geospatial Data as a Service."  The report examines key issues and opportunities that will be of importance to the Federal government agencies using data as a service to support online access to, an use of, geospatial data.  It will focus on areas such as discoverability and access, authoritativeness, driving data to decisions, licensing, and public-private partnership pathways.  The report is expected to be completed by the the September meeting.  It will include case studies currently under development.
  • The Cultural and Historical Resources Subcommittee is conducting interviews with federal contacts to understand the documented policies and procedures that are in place regarding the protection of geospatial data assets that have cultural and historical significance within US federal government departments and agencies. These interviews will continue over the summer with initial results reported to the NGAC at the September meeting.  A final report is expected in early 2019.
  • The Landsat Advisory Group is working on a report on the possibilities for fee recovery or cost sharing for Landsat data.  The report will focus on three areas: charging for "traditional data", charging for value-added products and services, and private-public parternship structures.  The USGS has established an email account to receive comments from the user community at  All comments will be passed along to the LAG and incorporated into the final report.
  • The Infrastructure Subcommittee  is developing a report that will outline the ways that geospatial technologies and data can and do improve the way infrastructure is developed and renewed.  They are producing a number of products in addition to the report including use cases to further explain how infrastructure development and renewal could benefit from use of geospatial data and technology, an infographic to visualize the issues, and a best practices document outline how to move forward in this space.

The next NGAC meeting will be held September 5-6, 2018 in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.