NGAC releases transition documents

January 13, 2017
Julie Sweetkind-Singer
2016 NGAC

The National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC) has released three documents of interest to the geospatial community.  Two of the documents were written to aid in the transition to a new administration in Washington, DC.  The third document is an overview of emerging technologies that will impact the geospatial landscape in the near- and mid-term future.  Taken together, these works provide a broad overview of the thinking of the NGAC members as they look forward to the next few years in the geospatial sector.

The NGAC has released a white paper and an infographic to aid President Trump's transition team as they prepare learn more about the work of the Department of the Interior, the Federal Geographic Data Commitee (FGDC), and the role of the NGAC.  The two documents provide background information about the value of geospatial information and infrastructure and provide five specific actions the administration should take in order for the United States to stay at the forefront of this important sector of the economy.  The NGAC "urges the Administration to commit to a strategic investment in geospatial programs and technologies to underpin and support the health, safety, security, and efficiency of the Nation."  The white paper and infographic lay out the following recommendations:

  • Fund and support the development of critical national datasets. Efforts are currently underway that will create and support a more robust geospatial infrastructure. This investment will have a national impact far beyond the Federal sphere. We urge the Administration to support efforts to establish a National Address Database, implement the 3D Elevation Program, and develop a national imagery program.
  • Update the national geospatial policy framework. The NGAC strongly supports updating Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-16 and the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). An updated national geospatial policy framework will better support federal geospatial investments and activities, ensuring that the information needed in the public sector is cultivated to produce the greatest return on investment.
  • Champion the expansion of the National Geospatial Platform. is the national registry for geospatial data and maps. It is a powerful tool for collaboration and dissemination of data that supports better governing through transparent accessible information. National Geospatial Data Assets are subsets of the many geospatial datasets used daily and account for a large portion of Federal geospatial data used across multiple programs, Federal agencies, and partner organizations.
  • Develop new geospatial partnerships to address national priorities. Under the leadership of the FGDC, expand and leverage partnerships with state and local governments, tribal nations, and the private sector to address critical national issues. Continue to align Federal data needs with data production at all levels. Building the NSDI must be the work of a team, and incentives should be considered to create the best possible infrastructure.
  • Support the coordination and leadership of national geospatial activities. The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) is an interagency body (32 members) designed to foster coordination across disparate agencies and with non-Federal partners. The FGDC works horizontally across agencies and with other partners to find and support cross-cutting initiatives that leverage shared infrastructure and goals. We recommend the Administration provide active support for the FGDC and hold agencies accountable for full participation in achieving national geospatial priorities.

The NGAC has also released a white paper based upon the guidance from the FGDC in 2016 "to provide perspectives and advice on how new technologies will impact the geospatial community."  The report, titled Emerging Technologies and the Geospatial Landscape, looks at a time horizon of about 5 years reviewing both the near- and medium-term future.  Five overarching technology trends are identified that impact the geospatial community:

  • Real-time spatiotemporal data creation and interaction
  • Miniaturization of technologies
  • Proliferation of new mobile geospatial sensor platforms
  • Expanding wireless and web networks
  • Advances in computing speed and capacity for geospatial research and applications

The report then examines how these impacts will affect the core geospatial activity areas of data collection and generation, data analytics, infrastructure, access, and workforce.  The NGAC is hopeful that the information will be of use to the Federal government as it plans for the future in a world where geographic science and technologies are "transforming every aspect of our economy and government, providing benefits to our nation and to the world."