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"Spatially Speaking" is the official MAPPS blog providing information on topics related to the association and profession and MAPPS involvement with the issues.

 

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Privacy Update and Request for Information

Posted By John Palatiello, Thursday, July 10, 2014

MAPPS has for some time been working on the issue of individual citizen privacy as it applies to geospatial data.

Specifically, the Federal Trade Commission, and legislation in Congress and some state legislatures, seek to regulate the collection, use, storage, and dissemination of "precise geolocation data", and in most instances, fails to define that term.

MAPPS has held sessions at its conferences, "lobbied' the issue before Congress, presented testimony before Congress, and educated the community through blogs and trade magazine articles.  

Recently, Senator John Thune (R-SD) questioned the FTC Chair on this issue.  Attached are his questions and FTC's responses.  This is significant because the extent of the government's regulatory interest is narrowed by a doctrine of  “context of the interaction” that had not previously been shared with MAPPS or others in the geospatial community (e.g. COGO or the FGDC)  exempts a large percentage (but not all) of what our members do.

The FTC challenged associations to develop a "best practices" guide for its members in its report, "Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change".
MAPPS, under the leadership of Susann Marlow (Smart Data Strategies, Franklin, TN), our Cadastre Task Force Chair and MAPPS President-Elect, we are attempting to draft such a "best practices" guide.

If your firm has a guide, policy or any other document regarding privacy and the data you collect, store, apply, or disseminate, I would be grateful if you would share it so we might consider it in the development of a MAPPS document for the good of the profession and the public we serve in the marketplace.

Please send your policy, guidance, standard, etc. to me and to Susan.

Thank you in advance for your contribution to your profession.

Tags:  Congress  Data  Federal Trade Commission  FGDC  FTC  Geospatial  John Thune  Privacy  Technology 

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Where are the Parcels? 5 Years Since Mortgage Crisis, Key Tool Not Used

Posted By John Palatiello, Thursday, September 19, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
 
This week is the 5th anniversary of the financial crisis that led to the worst economic downturn since the great depression.

The crisis had mortgages at its root.
 
There was widespread evidence that the severity of the crisis was at least in part caused by the inability of the United States to have an early warning system to detect anomalies and negative trends in the mortgage market -- a national parcel based system.
 
There are a number of experts, including Dr. Ian Williamson at the University of Melbourne and The Honorable Gary Nairn, a member of Parliament in Australia and a professional surveyor, have been critical of the United States for the lack of a national parcel system.
A national summit of geospatial stakeholders on the mortgage crisis was held in May of 2009.

One recommendation that emerged from that meeting was to amend the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) to collect mortgage transaction data at the parcel level.
 


MAPPS promoted that recommendation in Congress, and the result was enactment of such a provision in the Dodd-Frank banking reform legislation.  Dodd-Frank also created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which was given the authority to implement the enacted legislative provision.

While the rate of foreclosure in the U.S. is declining, 10.7 million homeowners nationwide — representing 26 percent of all outstanding homes with a mortgage — are still seriously underwater, meaningthey owed at least 25 percent more on their home than what it was worth.
  
The question today, on the 5th anniversary of the mortgage crisis is - "are we any closer to a national parcel system than we were in September 2008?"


Not according to Susan Marlow, President of Smart Data Strategies (Franklin, TN), President-Elect of MAPPS and chair of the association’s Cadastre Task Force. "It is unfortunate to admit that any progress towards a national parcel system has only been in the areas of education and awareness.  Five years later we still don't have an action plan for putting a useful system in place to monitor and prevent another housing meltdown,” said Marlow.

A year before the mortgage crisis began; the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences issued a report, National Land Parcel Data: A Vision for the Future, recommending a national parcel system.  Ms. Marlow was a member of the study panel. The Chair, Dr. David Cowen, professor emeritus of the geography department at the University of South Carolina, also served as chairman of the federal government’s National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC).  He notes with frustration that a parcel system was "recommended by NRC panel and endorsed by NGAC”, but still not implemented the federal government.

Indeed, the CFPB is not even a member of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), the interagency committee tasked by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) with coordinating the development, use, sharing, and dissemination of geospatial data on a national basis.
 


Tags:  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  FGDC  Geospatial  Mortgage  National Spatial Data Infrastructure  NSDI  Parcels 

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GPS is Being Threatened, LightSquared Update

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Monday, July 25, 2011
Updated: Thursday, August 11, 2011
GPS is being threatened. An application to the Federal Communications Commission by the firm LightSquared, to gain spectrum access for a planned wholesale 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) wireless broadband communications network integrated with satellite coverage across the United States, has raised concerns from a broad cross-section of GPS users due to LightSquared’s interference with GPS.

Earlier this year, MAPPS filed a comment with the FCC in opposition to the LightSquared application.

Additionally, MAPPS was active in gaining unanimous approval of the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) for a letter in opposition to LightSquared and FGDC or NGAC

An excellent resource for information on this issue is the Coalition to Save Our GPS.

While FCC previously granted LightSquared a conditional waiver, the FCC also directed that LightSquared conduct tests to determine the extent of the interference with GPS.

The Technical Working Group (TWG), which consisted of LightSquared and representatives from the GPS user and manufacturer communities tested more than 100 different GPS devices. The tests, conducte in several test environments, found network deployment proposed by LightSquared would indeed cause interference to millions of GPS users. FCC released the report on June 30 and issued a new call for comments. Such comments are due July 30.

MAPPS has again submitted comments. Individual geospatial professionals, as well as MAPPS member firms, are encouraged to submit comments of their own.

Meanwhile, Congress is moving to prevent FCC approval of the LightSquared application. The appropriations bill to fund the FCC for fiscal year 2012 (which begins October 1, 2011) includes a provision limiting FCC’s funding until it resolves the concerns of possible widespread harmful interference to the GPS system before giving final approval to the application.

Tags:  COGO  Comment  FCC  FGDC  GPS  LightSquared  NGAC 

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Potpourri

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Thursday, June 9, 2011
Updated: Thursday, August 11, 2011

MAPPS has been deeply involved in a number of important issues of late, so this blog post will be a potpourri on several topics of interest to the private geospatial community.

The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) met in Washington, DC on June 8.  Surprisingly and disappointingly, it was the first meeting of the group responsible for coordination of federal geospatial activities since President Obama took office 2½ years ago. The agenda was long on reports and short on votes, decisions, and actions.  In fact, no votes were taken or policy decisions made.  A lot of frustration was expressed and promises were made for action before the next meeting, the date of which was not established.  I was pleased to be recognized by Acting Chair, Assistant Secretary of the Interior Anne Castle, to express concern for three threats to the geospatial community – government service and private practice alike.  Those were the threat the LightSquared application to the FCC poses for interference with GPS signals and all GPS users, the FCC "privacy” rules that propose to limit the collection, storage and use of "precise geolocation data” without defining that term, and the criminalization of directing laser pointers at aircraft or their flight path, with LiDAR manufacturers’ interpreting the definition of the term "laser pointer” to include LiDAR.  Fortunately, Ms. Castle took note of all three and agreed to follow up on each.

Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have introduced a Senate version of the Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act, to provide a current, accurate inventory of all land owned by the federal government, and to have an inventory of existing inventories conducted to identify those that are out of date, obsolete, redundant, non-interoperable or can otherwise be eliminated in favor of the new, current, accurate GIS-based cadaster.  S. 1153 is a companion to H.R. 1620, which was introduced in the House earlier this year by Rep. Ron Kind (R-WI) and Rob Bishop (R-UT).  ACSM and NSGIC are among the groups that have joined MAPPS in support of the bill in the past.  The bill was also recommended by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences.  The NRC/NAS report recommendations have in turn been endorsed by the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC) and the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO).

The issue of government duplicating and competing with the private sector in the performance of commercially-available activities is getting a lot of attention these days.

The tragic tornado that hit Joplin, MO has also stirred up a storm of controversy.  NOAA dispatches an aircraft from Tampa, FL to capture aerial imagery.  Problem is, such digital aerial imagery had already been acquired, days earlier, by two private firms in Missouri, Surdex and MJ Harden.  The NOAA aerial photography unit has been documented by the Commerce Department Inspector General as being inferior to the private sector in cost and quality and privatization of the government capability has been recommended.  Moreover, a federal law, known as the Economy Act, implemented in the Federal Acquisition Regulation, requires an agency proposing to provide a service to another agency to prepare a determination and findings (D&F) that "the supplies or services cannot be obtained as conveniently or economically by contracting directly with a private source.”  It is not known if NOAA prepared the D&F or if it did, how did it justify being more convenient or economical than aerial imagery already acquired.

The U.S. of Representatives has tackled two aspects of government performing commercial activities.  An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Bill for 2012 by Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-NY) puts Congress on record as being opposed to insourcing - an Obama Administration program to convert work currently performed by private sector contractor firms to performance by Federal government employees.  In her speech in the House debate, Rep. Hayworth mentioned mapping as an example of a commercial activity that has been insourced in some agencies.  The Hayworth amendment was approved on a voice vote. 

A provision in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill for fiscal year 2012 was stripped of a provision that would have prevented DHS from contracting out activities currently carried out by government employees, even if commercially available.  The amendment to remove the anti-free enterprise language, offered by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), was approved by a 218-204 vote.

More news about MAPPS activities will be available next week in our bi-montly newsletter FLIGHTLINE, a link will be posted on the blog. Additionally, MAPPS is gearing up for a full program at the 2011 Summer Conference June 26-30 in Bolton Landing (Lake George), NY.

Tags:  A-76  Congress  Defense  DHS  FCC  FGDC  FLAIR Act  LiDAR  LightSquared  NOAA 

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