"Geospatial information has been brought into the daily lives of all Americans, whether they know it or not" while "geospatial activities across the Federal government are ever-present and on the move"
July 31, 2017 – Colorado Springs, Colorado – "The use of geospatial data is expanding rapidly, the methods for acquiring geospatial data are growing, and the ways geospatial data are being used are diversifying in the business community and throughout local, state, and federal governments," said U.S. Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO) as he began his keynote remarks during the keynote session of the MAPPS Summer Conference held at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The MAPPS Summer Conference, held July 23-27, 2017, celebrated the 35th anniversary of the national association of private sector mapping and geospatial firms.
Rep. Lamborn represents the Fifth Congressional District of Colorado, which includes his hometown of Colorado Springs. One of the leading advocates of geospatial technology in Congress, Rep. Lamborn is a senior member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, where he is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans (jurisdiction over the Bureau of Reclamation and NOAA), and is a member and past chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources (jurisdiction over USGS). He has been the sponsor of the "Map It Once, Use It Many Times" Act, a bill to improve the governance, coordination and management of Federal geospatial activities, including provisions to enhance the utilization of the private sector. He is also a member of the Armed Services Committee, which writes legislation affecting the entire Department of Defense.
Earlier this year, Rep. Lamborn’s Subcommittee on Natural Resources was tasked by House Speaker Paul Ryan to develop the Committee’s provisions that will be included in the comprehensive infrastructure bill. "This is an area where I believe improved mapping of underground utilities and updated elevation data can play an import role," Lamborn commented.
Covering a wide array of public policy issues related to geospatial data, technology and services, Congressman Lamborn made the following comments during his keynote address:
· On geographic information systems (GIS) technology – "The power of GIS lies in the ability to combine geospatial information in unique ways. By using layers or themes, GIS can interpret information that would otherwise be very difficult to visualize and analyze"; "This new information and the ability to look at it collectively has literally unlocked the world."
· On the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) in the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) –
"The size and breadth of improvements for the Nation’s infrastructure and construction management needs also call for an efficient, systematic approach to acquiring foundational 3D elevation data. This is why I believe the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) is critical in responding to the growing need for high-quality topographic data and providing more current data than is available in the National Elevation Dataset … A fully funded and implemented 3DEP would provide more than $690 million annually in new benefits to government entities, the private sector, and citizens, resulting in a 5:1 return on investment."
· On why geospatial coordination and expenditures need additional oversight in Congress and attention by Federal decisionmakers – "There are currently dozens of Federal agencies engaged in geospatial activities. But neither the agencies nor the Office of Management and Budget have a comprehensive understanding of which agencies are involved in geospatial activities. No one in the Federal government has a current, accurate accounting of annual geospatial expenditures … Agencies acquire equipment, such as planes, ships, or computer equipment, rather than contracting with private sector companies that specialize in conducting state of the art geospatial surveys when in fact, Colorado is home to many outstanding geospatial and mapping companies who are anxious to work with the federal government to meet our geospatial surveying needs."
· On the need for a current, accurate Federal land inventory – The federal government owns an estimated 640 million acres of land, although, amazingly, the actual acreage number is not definitively known. The sad truth is the Federal government does not know what it owns, where it owns it, what condition it is in, what its appraised or market value is, what its characteristics are, whether it is still in the public interest for the government to own it, whether it should be surplused and disposed, or what its designated use should be".
· On Congressional oversight of Geospatial activities – "Despite extraordinary growth and the near-ubiquitous presence of geospatial data in government and the private sector, Congress does not have a committee or subcommittee with primary jurisdiction over geospatial activities. Rather, the responsibility for oversight and authorization of Federal geospatial activities is spread among more than 30 House and Senate committees and subcommittees" and renewed a call for a subcommittee with oversight of Federal geospatial activities.
As a MAPPS keynote speaker, Rep. Lamborn joins the likes of other notable public servants such as former Vice President Dan Quayle, former Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY), former Congressmen Joe Garcia (D-FL), Jack Kingston (R-GA), Bob Livingston (R-LA), Nick Rahall (D-WV), Richard Stallings (D-ID), and current Governor Paul LePage (R-ME), Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN), and Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) among those who have also spoken at the association’s past summer or winter conferences.
In closing, Lamborn commended MAPPS’ leadership in not only advocating for efficient use and coordination of geospatial activities and expenditures at the Federal level of government, but also for providing opportunities for professional growth and technological advances for its members and the geospatial marketplace. Lamborn concluded, "For the past 35 years, MAPPS has led the way in growth, advocacy, political activism, professionalism, and technological advancement in the mapping and geospatial community."
Formed in 1982, MAPPS is the only national association exclusively comprised of private firms in the remote sensing, spatial data and geographic information systems field in the United States. The MAPPS membership spans the entire spectrum of the geospatial community, including Member Firms engaged in satellite and airborne remote sensing, surveying, photogrammetry, aerial photography, LIDAR, hydrography, bathymetry, charting, aerial and satellite image processing, GPS, and GIS data collection and conversion services. MAPPS also includes Associate Member Firms, which are companies that provide hardware, software, products and services to the geospatial profession in the United States and other firms from around the world. Independent Consultant Members are sole proprietors engaged in consulting in or to the geospatial profession, or provides a consulting service of interest to the geospatial profession. MAPPS provides its member firms opportunities for networking and developing business-to-business relationships, information sharing, education, public policy advocacy, market growth, and professional development and image enhancement. For more information on MAPPS, please visit www.MAPPS.org.