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Home > Meetings > 2008 Meetings > January 16, 2008

January 16, 2008 Meeting Minutes and Agenda


Approval of the December 19th  meeting minutes – Chair

GeoPortal Hosting

  • University of Southern Maine
  • Office Information Technology

Subcommittee Reports

  • Financial – Larry Harwood
  • Policy & Marketing – Marilyn Lutz
  • Technical
  • Orthoimagery Project /Parcel grants – Larry Harwood
  • Status on the GEOPortal – Christopher Kroot

CAT 3 grant  – Nancy Aremtrout

Geolibrary Yearly Report - Board


William Hanson, Chair
Dan Coker, Co-Chair
James Page
Marilyn Lutz
Gretchen Heldmann
Elizabeth Hertz
Christopher Kroot
Nancy Armentrout
Ken Murchison (by phone)
David Blocher
Greg Copeland

Larry Harwood

Richard Thompson, Chief Information Officer
Tom Wood, University of Southern Maine ( USM )
Glen Wilson, University of Southern Maine ( USM )
Dan Walters, US Geological Survey ( USGS )
Mike Smith, Office Information Technology ( OIT )
Carl Nylen, Environmental Systems Research Institute ( ESRI )

The meeting was called to order at 10:06 a.m.

2. Geoportal Hosting
University of Southern Maine

USM has proposed to collaborate with the Geolibrary on the initial build and implementation of the Geolibrary Portal. Due to time constraints the Chair moved the USM presentation to the first item. 

Tom Wood, Director of Operations - Research Administration, opened with some general comments. USM is always looking for partners and external funding sources to make its programs more cost effective. They are also well versed in applying for grants and have a good record of awards as a percentage of applications. They are committed to open source format applications wherever possible. They use research as, among many other things, a means to optimize uses of existing and proposed applications.

Glenn Wilson, Director of Research Computing Group, gave the technical presentation. This was fairly extensive and for the purposes of the minutes is best described in outline.
An Overview of the Research Computing Group
1.    Research and Development

  • Bioinformatics/Statistics
  • Environmental Science
  • GIS
  • Marine Informatics
  • Public Health

2.    Information Technology Support

  • Environmental Toxicology Lab – “MCTEH”
  • Aquatic Systems Group – “ASG”
  • GIS lab
  • MDEP Stormwater Project – “ThinkBlue”

3.    Education and Training

  • Environmental Education Initiative
  • Research Experience for Undergraduates Support

The RCG Mission

  1. Create and pursue basic and applied information science research, development, and commercialization initiatives
  2. Provide high level, advanced, specialized technology consulting, collaboration, and support for research and development at USM and beyond
  3. Develop, administer, and deliver technology and computer related education and training programs

RCG’s interest in and support for GIS at USM

  1. Funds licenses, technical support and development for USM-GIS
  2. Designs and maintains systems, servers, archiving, and backup for USM-GIS
  3. Funds GIS Laboratory Director’s Salary
  4. Supports development of open-source solutions for USM’s GIS users
  5. Supports GIS innovation in departments beyond USM-GIS
  6. USM GIS group synergies.

Dr. Wilson listed USM faculty members using GIS, institutions partnering with USM in GIS enterprises and linkages between USM and other Maine based GIS groups.
The RCG and MLGI shared objectives

  1. Develop State-of-the-Art Geospatial Data Structures
  2. Develop Customized and Optimized web Delivery Solutions for Complex and Specialized Data Sets
  3. Disseminate Data and Solutions to the Widest Possible Constituency
  4. Support Innovation in Education, Outreach, and Community Service
  5. Develop and Support Technology Infrastructure in Maine

RCG’s seeking external funding.

  1. National Science Foundation (NSF)
  2. Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) including NSF and NASA
  3. National Institutes for Health (NIH)
  4. Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
  5. National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)

At this point Tom Wood took over to conclude with the financial part of the presentation: 
RCG’s business practices

  1. 1989 Cooperative Agreement Established by Governor and Chancellor.
  2. M.S.R.A. Title 5 – Special Status of Qualified Cooperative Agreements.
  3. USM governed by OMB Circulars.
  4. Monthly reporting and reconciliation.
  5. Annual volume of Cooperative Agreements with Maine State Agencies: 150 to 200 agreements and > $13 Million.

RCG’s financial structure

  1. Core enabling funding – Research and Development Funds (Restricted funds for Research, Development, and Commercialization) from the Maine Economic Improvement Fund (MEIF).
  2. University faculty funded by the University.
  3. Externally funded programs with sponsors and cooperating agencies

In conclusion, can the Research Computing Group help create the GeoPortal?

Discussion & Questions

Some Board members speculated pessimistically on how or if the Geolibrary could fund USM in hosting the GeoPortal. This generated some alternative ideas, for example could the RCG be funded to build additional Web Mapping Services or other “value added” services. Other suggestions were the loading and/or storage of non-state agency data

With the arrival of Dick Thompson, the state Chief Information Officer ( CIO ) , discussion immediately turned to the funding issue. Mr. Thompson said he had talked to the state Controller, Ed Karras and he was quite specific: no bond funds could be expended on operating expenses, only on purchases.  That meant that the operation of the GeoPortal could not be funded by the Geolibrary bond funds, wherever it was housed. Notwithstanding, USM was still interested in pursuing some sort of partnership with the Geolibrary on aspects of the GeoPortal or other internet based projects. 

2. Geoportal Hosting
Office of Information Technology

Mike Smith, recently installed as GIS Manager, presented a proposal for hosting the GeoPortal at OIT. The installation and basic customization for the GeoPortal, a one time expenditure thought to be allowed from Geolibrary bond funds, would be about $9,950.00. The remaining costs will be absorbed by OIT but tracked. The technical hosting – server, software, ect – will be $325/month or $4,516.00 per year. The portal manager/metadata manager is difficult to estimate but OIT will cap support at 25% FTE ( full time equivalent ) of a GIS Coordinator or about $24,000.

Q: Is this using ArcIMS not ArcServer?
A: Yes, until we switch to version 9.3 ( of ArcInfo )
Q: The $4,000 and $24,000 costs are paid by OIT?
A: Yes, bond funds cannot be spent for those costs but all costs will be tracked.
Q: The costs projected by OIT are per year?
A: Yes, all totals are for a year.
Q: Can USM run ArcInfo 9.3?
A: We don’t know – haven’t gotten that far yet.

There was continued and wide ranging discussion of the GeoPortal and what its functionality should be. The main points brought up can be summarized as follows.

  • The Geolibrary should be the sole proprietor of the GeoPortal but is hamstrung by the funding restrictions and its organizational structure. The Geolibrary funding sources are not assured under its authorizing legislation.
  • The basic “out of the box” functions of the GeoPortal would be metadata storage, metadata search and perhaps web mapping services ( WMS ) but not data storage or data downloads
  • USM or another ‘outside’ entity could contribute WMS or data storage, especially non-state agency data
  • What would a municipality need to do to be part of the GeoPortal: 1) the municipality creates metadata 2) the portal administrator approves and loads the metadata 3) the municipality uploads the data to a spatial data warehouse 4) the data can now be discovered using a metadata search.
  • The important thing is to get the basic GeoPortal up and running first, then work on partnerships with others
  • State government will not be storing non-state agency data nor providing WMS for non-state data.
  • WMS can be created “on the fly” from uploaded data

Christopher Kroot moved to appropriate $10,000 to complete installation the GeoPortal at OIT. Liz Hertz seconded. The Board voted 10 in favor, none opposed. The motion carried. ( Note: unless otherwise indicated the Chair abstains from all votes )

During this discussion, Dave Blocher made the following notes on the wallboard for the benefit of the Board and visitors:
     1) complete installation of portal - $11,000 bond funded
     2) ongoing metadata management - $20,000 OIT funded.
          yearly expense - $4,000 OIT funded
     3) non-state metadata
     4) host non-state metadata/data
         USM or other partnership
         Web mapping services

Dick Thompson observed that 3 and 4 ( above ) were matters to be decided in the future not right away. He suggested the Board might seek cooperative agreements with USM, UMO or state government. Marilyn Lutz volunteered, as representative of the UM system, to inquire about other UM resources that might be interested in hosting or contributing to the GeoPortal. The University of Maine InfoNet for example might be an alternative option for the GeoPortal or “Maine’s geospatial one stop”. If possible the Board would like a short list of what can and cannot be offered by the UM system whether UMO or USM by the next meeting.

Christopher Kroot moved that the Board accept the OIT offer to host the GeoPortal as described by item #2 on the wallboard and work with OIT on the costs. Liz Hertz seconded. The Board voted 9 in favor, none opposed. The motion carried.

1. Approval of the December 19th,  2007  meeting minutes
The Chair entertained a motion to approve the minutes. Greg Copeland moved to approve the minutes as written. Christopher Kroot seconded. The Board voted unanimously in favor. The motion carried.

3. Subcommittee Reports
The Chair moved to item 3 on the agenda.

There were some minor changes to the amounts expended for town parcel grants. This plus the discovery of a small math error put the remaining uncommitted funds at $100,415.00

Policy & Marketing
There was nothing to report from the Policy Committee

Orthoimagery & Parcel Grants
There was nothing new to report on the orthoimagery or parcel data.

Status on GeoPortal
In addition to the already extensive discussion, there were three short items to report. First, the contract with ESRI has been signed. Second, the Technical Committee hopes to have the portal up and running by April. There have been some changes at MEGIS, most notably the installation of Mike Smith as GIS Manager, but this should cause no problems for the portal. Third, Gretchen Heldmann reported that she needs digital photos to complete the new Geolibrary logo.

4. CAT 3 Grant
The ad hoc contract committee has gotten a late start. They are working with the selected vendor, James W. Sewall Co., to get information and complete writing the contract. For example, how can the project manager track donated time on the project. The objective is to have the kick-off meeting on the contract in mid February, possibly at the next Board meeting. There was some discussion of the project manager, which was considered to be of strategic importance. As has been discussed before, bond money cannot apparently be spent on project management. As in the past, there was some opinion that a certain percentage of bond funds could be dedicated to general management. The state Controller Ed Karras will be asked about this.

5. Geolibrary Yearly Report
The report was briefly discussed with some minor changes pointed out. The aerial photo on the cover will be replaced by the new Geolibrary logo.
Jim Page moved to accept the 2007 yearly report as written subject to grammatical and spelling corrections. Liz Hertz seconded. The Board voted 9 in favor, none opposed. The motion carried.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:20 PM.