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Home > Meetings > 2008 Meetings > August 20, 2008

August 20, 2008 Meeting Minutes and Agenda

Date: Wednesday, August 20th , 2008
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Place: Burton M. Cross Building, Conference Room 105.


AGENDA


1. Approval of the July 16th meeting minutes – Chair

2. Focus group interview-statewide educational needs asssessment – Tora Johnson

3. Additional members of the Board – Gretchen Heldmann

4. Subcommittee Reports

• Financial – Larry Harwood
• Policy & Marketing
Proposed policy on GeoLibrary listserver
• Technical
Status on the GEOPortal – Mike Smith, Christopher Kroot


NEXT SCHEDULED MEETING: Wednesday, September 17th, 2008 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Burton M. Cross Building, Conference Room 105.

Meeting Minutes

Board Members Present
Michael Smith
Greg Copeland ( by phone)
Gretchen Heldmann (by phone)
Ken Murchison ( by phone )
Paul Hoffman
Jim Page
Jon Giles ( by phone)
Aimee Dubois
Christopher Kroot
Staff
Larry Harwood
Visitors
Tora Johnson, University of Maine Machias ( UMM )
Angela Brady, UMM
Dan Walters, US Geological Survey (USGS) & Maine GIS Users Group ( MEGUG )
Vinton Valentine, University of Southern Maine (USM) & MEGUG
Bruce Oswald, James W. Sewall Co Project Team ( by phone )
Rich Sutton, Reference Standard, JWS Project Team (by phone)
David Blocher, DHHS

The meeting was called to order at 10:02. Jim Page as acting Chair.

1. Approval of the July 16th , 2008 meeting minutes
The Chair entertained a motion to approve the minutes. There was one correction; Jon Giles was added as being present. Mike Smith moved to approve the minutes as amended. Paul Hoffman seconded. The Board voted 7 in favor, none opposed. The motion carried. (NOTE: unless otherwise indicated the Chair abstains from voting)

Reports on CAT3 Project.
The Chair gave Bruce Oswald and Rich Sutton the opportunity to make very brief reports on the Fifty States Initiative aka the “CAT3 Project”. For a number of reasons their session with the Board had been postponed to the September meeting. Bruce reported that he was working on 1) the priority listing of future or expanded data layers 2) the update of the Strategic plan 3) the update of the GIS stakeholders listing. All of these have been forwarded to the project committee for review and approval. He also had a discussion with Mathew Bampton from USM about academic input in this process. At the next meeting he will ask for specific recommendations for the strategic plan. Rich reported he was working on “three fronts”, the research outline, and progress reports to the project committee and working on the real estate tax form with Maine Revenue Service (MRS). He was particularly concerned to have a “cohesive strategy” in place before talking to the counties next month. The progress reports and other materials will be available on the Geolibrary website. Rich also agreed to make ‘executive summary’ reports for more general consumption.

2. Focus Group interview- statewide educational needs assessment.
Tora Johnson began the presentation. This project is essentially aimed at transforming GIS education in the state, more specifically “a new collaborative model for geospatial technology education in a rural model.” Maine was selected partly because it is a rural state with limited resources and a need for an educated work force. It is funded by a 3 year grant from the National Science Foundation, Advance Technology Education Program and involves 6 public colleges and universities. The University of Maine at Machias and University of Southern Maine are conducting the workforce study portion of the project. Other partners on the project as a whole include Southern Maine Community College, University of Maine- Augusta, KennebecValley Community College, and Washington County Community College.

There are four initiatives:

• Workforce Study
• New Programs & Curriculum
• Outreach & Student Competition
• Virtual Geospatial Technology Department

The Workforce Study:

• How are people using GIS?
• What content, schedules, formats and programs do people need?
• What skills or training are in demand in the workplace
• How can we best help people get started with GIS and advance their skills
• What are colleges and universities doing right
• What is missing and what can be improved?

The Workforce Study in detail:

• Focus group interviews
• Surveys
• Follow-up focus group interviews
• Develop recommendations with advisory council
• Report on findings and recommendations
• Incorporate findings and recommendations in programs and curriculum

At this point Tora handed out a Participant Questionnaire & Focus Group Consent Form to be filled out by the Board members. She also asked if the session could be recorded and explained the use of the data and certain aspects of the survey process especially the confidentiality of the data collected. There was concern that confidentiality would violate the open meeting policy of the Board. After brief discussion the Chair announced that the meeting would remain open, minutes would be taken as usual and if anyone had confidentiality issues they could talk directly to Tora about it. Tape recording began at 10:36.

Tora asked if anyone did not want to participate; there were no replies. Second, she invited the Board to give any personal observations on the cadastral ( tax map ) project and the research being done to merge cadastral data and land records. The responses were wide ranging and can be summarized as follows:

• In Maine cadastral data has no uniformity due to the individual assessing by towns
• In the private sector, what is needed are “analyst level” people capable of critical thinking as opposed to technicians skilled in specific technologies.
• Technical training is good but we need more “user based” education of the general public
• Training is needed by many of the managers in state government, especially the older ones still not familiar with new technology.
• The problem with these discussions is a lack of specific detail – what exactly are we talking about for training and education.
• The surveying community in particular is trying to attract young people to surveying, mapping and spatial technology.
• Northern Maine has the classic rural problem, interest but no experience.
• Maine has an unusual workforce, 99% of graduates go into entry level positions, and there are very few professional spatial analyst positions.
• Interns tell us that they are not happy with the current state of education as regards ‘critical thinking’.

What should be taught in the courses?

• Topological mathematics is not taught or at least not widely
• An interdisciplinary faculty is needed along with visitors from all sectors to demonstrate GIS use.
• The schools should study policy makers who use GIS as a tool.
• It is critical to teach understanding of data accuracy vs. expected outcomes, the appropriate scale of data related to the desired results
• Good question, we need to find out what really is needed

How did those present learn to use GIS?

• Most of us came by way of mapping, especially natural resource mapping
• Many of us were self taught and learned by trial and error and personal development and training.
• We have all evolved on the job, the older among us having gone thru many software and hardware changes
• All true, but we now need ‘mission people’ as opposed to just technical competence.

What would be the best form for delivering GIS personal development?

• One of the most effective methods has been on-site training using actual working data used by that shop
• Second that, we funded a similar operation at an agreed upon fee based on the number of seats. It was very effective.
• It would be very desirable to have classes in the evening or on weekends or perhaps one longer class one day a week. Workers have trouble getting time off during regular business hours.

At this point due to time constraints on members being available for voting, the Chair asked that this session be suspended until business had been concluded. For the same reasons, items on the agenda requiring votes would be dealt with first.

4. Subcommittee Reports
Status of the GeoPortal
The team reported that a security issue had been discovered. The outside password is not encrypted. This could allow unauthorized access to the GeoPortal. The vendor, Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) estimates that it may cost about $8,000 to fix this issue.

Christopher Kroot moved to appropriate $8,000 to pay ESRI to encrypt the password for the GeoPortal. Greg Copeland seconded. Discussion followed.
Q: Why do we need to pay ESRI to fix their software? Isn’t this their problem?
A: It’s more complex. First ESRI doesn’t consider it a problem and other states use the portal as is. Second remember that the Board paid nothing for the portal kit itself which was donated by ESRI.
Q: Who will administer the contract?
A: OIT, same as our other contracts,
Q: Can we split the cost with someone else or get some buy in to reduce the expense?
A: Possibly, but it may not be needed. This is a “backup appropriation”. ESRI may be persuaded to fix this problem at no charge or reduced charge.
Q: So there will be an attempt to get ESRI to do this at no charge?
A: Yes, at least Christopher will try his best with them.

Christopher accepted a friendly amendment to his motion: “To appropriate $8,000 to pay ESRI to encrypt the password for the GeoPortal, if talks with them to do this free of charge are not successful.” Mike Smith seconded this amendment. The Chair called for the vote by roll call due to the number of members on conference call. The vote was 7 in favor, 1 opposed, the Chair abstaining. The motion carried.

3. Additional members of the Board
Gretchen Heldmann, attending by phone, had provided handout materials for this topic. One was a draft of proposed legislation re-configuring the Board membership to include 3 additional members, A) 1 federal representative , B) 1 member representing the forest industry and C) 1 member representing the surveying profession. The second handout explained the reasons for adding B & C. First, “(The) Forest industry is the largest in the state and is a collection of landowners that own the most acreage in the state. They utilize GIS on a daily basis and are powerful players in the political arena”. Second, “The fields of surveying and GIS have been in a long and heated debate for years over many issues and it is time that we bring these two groups together to work towards our common goals and settle our differences”.

The Chair reminded the board that if approved this proposal would supersede the previous motion to add a federal representative only and add two additional ones. If not approved the previous motion would remain in force. Greg Copeland moved to authorize the addition of two members as proposed: 1) a member of the forest industry, to be appointed by the Maine Forest Products Council and 2) a member of the surveying profession, to be appointed by the Maine Society of Land Surveyors. Ken Murchison seconded. Discussion is summarized as follows:

• It does not seem justified to select these two industries when there are so many more, fisheries for example
• This would open it up to any number of interests asking to be represented.
• Attendance has been getting much better, perhaps it is better to wait on this
• We all except that inclusion is good but we need more research. This is very complex.
• We have Board members who happen to be surveyors, but the surveying profession needs to be represented as such on the Board.
• In other states the surveying community leads and regulates GIS activities
• Is there a time limit? Yes, Sept. 1st.

The Chair called for the vote by roll call. There were 3 in favor, 5 opposed, the Chair abstaining. The motion failed.

Gretchen Heldmann moved to instruct the Policy Committee to study the membership issue and report back to the Board by July meeting (2009). Christopher Kroot seconded. The Board voted 7 in favor, none opposed, the Chair abstaining. The motion carried.

Gretchen had also prepared a proposed policy for the use of the Geolibrary list server (see attachment A). After a brief reading there were no objections and minimal discussion. Mike Smith moved to accept the policy as written. Christopher Kroot seconded. The Board voted 7 in favor, none opposed, the Chair abstaining. The motion carried.

There was a very brief financial report. Essentially little had changed but there appeared to be more unappropriated funding than previously calculated. The Chair returned the meeting to the UMM presentation and interviews.

Focus Group interview- statewide educational needs assessment Conclusion
There was some discussion of “non-traditional” venues for GIS training, i.e. public safety, emergency medical services, health services, epidemiology, etc. The idea being to “embed” GIS training or at least familiarization into curricula not usually thought of as involved in GIS but having a definite geographic/spatial component. Some additional points covered in the concluding discussion:

• Technical expertise in academia is somewhat upside down, those at the apex of their departments being more familiar with previously used technologies
• The faculties are difficult to re-train and the hierarchy is very difficult to change
• One way to alleviate the above issues is “life long learning”, continuous re-education.
• These issues are much larger than just supplying an adequate workforce.
Wrapping up, Tora thanked all participants for their feedback and recommendations. The program will be back in touch with the Board members in 6 to 8 weeks.

The meeting adjourned at 12:30