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Issues with the Geospatial Data Act of 2017

The Geospatial Data Act of 2017 has been making news in the geospatial community since its introduction in May of this year by Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. You can find the full text available at https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1253.  As of early August, the bill had been introduced in the Senate, and referred to the Commerce, Science and Transportation committee.  Earlier this summer the organization NSGIC (https://www.nsgic.org/) posted on their site that they were supporting the bill and had assisted in drafting some of the language in the text.  The stated goal is focused on strengthening efforts at building the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) and to reduce duplicated efforts by various agencies in authoring geospatial data.  While these are certainly goals that are shared by many in the wider geospatial community (including UCGIS), several organizations, such as COGO and AAG, have noted that some of the language in the bill is unnecessarily vague and may be interpreted to exclude many institutions and individuals currently producing geospatial data for the government.

More specifically, the bill assigns “geospatial data” with the same definition as “survey and mapping” and then provides a very broad use of the definition as it relates to the Geospatial Data Act.  The definition language used in the bill is based on the Brooks Architect-Engineers Act (cite) that requires that work falling under the definitions above are awarded exclusively to A&E firms with professionally licensed staff.

Some examples included in the Geospatial Data Act include:

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new GIS&T Body of Knowledge website

The digital version of the Geographic Information Science & Technology Body of Knowledge (BoK) is now online at gistbok.ucgis.org! This dynamic, digital platform supports more innovative and applied uses of this knowledge. We have put in place a stable information architecture  combined with robust strategies for content management and curation.The Editorial Team invites subject matter experts with interests in writing or reviewing Topics to contact them.