Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Text of Section 11 - The Geospatial Data Act (GDA) of 2017 (S.1253)

Although the title of my last blog post "The Geospatial Data Act (GDA) of 2017 (S.1253) intends to kill our jobs" may sound dramatic and unlikely, a quick read of section 11 in the bill shows that it is clearly not.  The vast majority of GIS professionals are not licensed engineers, surveyors, and architects.  While I very much appreciate the work that these folks do the implications of Section 11 of this bill are big.  This bill essentially means that geological maps will be made by engineering firms rather than by structural geologists.  Habitat mapping will be done by engineering firms rather than federal, state, and academic biologists.  Weather maps won't be made by NOAA and NWS any more.

 
SEC. 11. USE OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR.

    (a) In General.--The Committee and each covered agency shall, to 
the maximum extent practical, rely upon and use private individuals and 
entities in the United States for the acquisition of commercially 
available surveying and mapping and the provision of geospatial data 
and services. The Federal Government shall not commence or continue any 
surveying and mapping activity to provide, duplicate, or compete with a 
commercial product or service if the product or service is available on 
a more economical basis from a commercial source
    (b) Definition.--For purposes of selecting a firm for a contract 
under chapter 11 of title 40, United States Code, the term ``surveying 
and mapping'' shall have the meaning given the term ``geospatial data'' 
in section 2 of this Act.
    (c) Modification of Federal Acquisition Regulation.--Part 36 of the 
Federal Acquisition Regulation (48 C.F.R. 36.000 et seq.) shall be 
revised to specify that the definition of the term ``architectural and 
engineering services'' includes surveying and mapping services and the 
acquisition of geospatial data, to which the selection procedures of 
subpart 36.6 of such part 36 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation 
shall apply. 

The Geospatial Data Act (GDA) of 2017 (S.1253) intends to kill our jobs

Nevada's own senator, Dean Heller, is sponsoring legislation that will make it illegal for anyone but a licensed engineer to procure federal government contracts having to do with anything geospatial.  The language of this act is very broadly worded.  In fact, it is so broadly worded that it actually would apply to "all information tied to a location on Earth".  This is clearly a money grab on the part of the surveying and engineering community, and an attempt to squash GIS and remote sensing as we know it.  Please take a look at the statement released by the Association of American Geographers - http://news.aag.org/2017/06/the-new-plot-to-hijack-gis-and-mapping/ and please take a look at the full text of the bill at - https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1253/text?format=txt .  Finally, if you live in Nevada contact Dean Heller at https://www.deanheller.com/contact/ .  GIS and geospatial data goes way beyond engineeringor surveying.  It affects virtually every corner of science and social science.  Please make your voice heard.  Orrin Hatch of Utah, Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Mark Warner of West Virginia are also co-sponsors of this money-grab legislation.  Please let you congressional delegation know that you oppose this legislation.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

New masters students in the Weisberg Lab

These past two weeks have seen the addition of two new lab members joining the Great Basin Landscape Ecology Lab.  Joe Brehm and Anna Knight are both starting master's programs in natural resources. Joe comes to us from the Great Basin Institute where he worked as a data administrator.  Anna comes to us by the way of USGS in Moab, UT. Joe's thesis will take our cheatgrass die-off mapping to the next level. In addition to extending the analysis to Skull Valley, Utah, there will be methodological improvements to the remote sensing and a more thorough assessment of the spatial pattern of die-offs.

Anna's project is aimed at understanding which watersheds in the Great Basin are susceptible to long-term degradation, like erosion and incision.  Dave Board and myself have already calculated watershed morphometrics for thousands of watersheds in the Great Basin, which will help feed into Anna's analysis.

Congratulations Anna and Joe.  I look forward to getting to work with both of you.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Spatial join to transfer attributes in ArcGIS

Having uniform attributes can be imperative to ensuring that datasets are compatible with one another. Recently I found a nice quick trick to transferring attributes in ArcGIS without using the "transfer attributes" tool in the Spatial Adjustment toolbar.  Simply pick two non-overlapping vector layers and run the Spatial Join tool with the target layer as the layer that does not yet contain the field that you want and the join layer as the layer with the fields that you want.  Voila.  You end up with all of the fields from the join layer in the target layer, but with empty attributes waiting to be populated.