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Home > Meetings > 2008 Meetings > November 20, 2008

November 20, 2008 Meeting Minutes and Agenda


1. Approval of the October 15th meeting minutes – Chair

2. Integrated Land Records Information System – Rich Sutton

3. Message to the Board – Richard Thompson CIO

4. Strategic Plan – Bruce Oswald

5. Subcommittee Reports
• Financial – Larry Harwood
• Policy & Marketing – Marilyn Lutz
• Technical
Status of the GeoPortal – Mike Smith


William Hanson, Chair
Nancy Armentrout
Michael Smith
Robert Marvinney
Marilyn Lutz
Greg Copeland
Gretchen Heldmann
Kenneth Murchison
Paul Hoffman
Stu Rich ( by phone)
Jon Giles
Aimee Dubois (by phone)

Larry Harwood

Richard Thompson, Chief Information Officer, Office Information Technology (OIT)
Dan Walters, US Geological Survey (USGS) & Maine GIS Users Group ( MEGUG )
Bruce Oswald, James W. Sewall Co Project Team ( by phone)
Rich Sutton, Reference Standard, JWS Project team ( by phone)

The meeting was called to order at 10:06

1. Approval of the October 15th , 2008 meeting minutes
The Chair entertained a motion to approve the minutes. Mike Smith moved to approve the minutes as written. Ken Murchison seconded. The Board voted 9 in favor, none opposed, the Chair abstained. The motion carried. (The Chair traditionally abstains unless needed to break a tie.)

4. Strategic Plan
The Chair moved item 4 to next on the agenda. Bruce Oswald on the James W. Sewall Project Team, gave a brief report on the progress with the Strategic Plan. On the Oct. 28th the conceptual framework of the plan was completed and by Nov. 4 he had received comments back from the project team. Unfortunately a bout of illness intervened and slowed progress. The draft of the plan was completed and sent Monday ( Nov. 17) to the consultant firm Somers-St.Claire GIS Management Consultants for review then returned to Sewall. The plan will go to the Geolibrary Project Team within a week and a half for final review. Bruce plans a presentation at the December meeting of the Board. Within the next 30 days the Strategic Plan and the Research Document & Conceptual Plan for the Integrated Land Records part should all be ready to present to the Board.
Q: The plan document is in two parts is it not?
A: Sort of, the first section is the actual plan, about 50 pages and the second part is the appendix and details, about 160 pages.
Q: But they all go together in the final version?
A: Yes of course, this is just for convenience.
Q: Will the plan be circulated to the wider GIS community?
Mike Smith: Yes, we will send out links to it on the list servers and put copies on the Geolibrary and MEGIS websites.

5. Subcommittee reports
There was one change. The $8,000 that had been previously appropriated to pay for security enhancements to the GeoPortal had not been used after all. The total amount still under discussion is now $75,370.50

Policy and Marketing
Marilyn Lutz had provided 3 policy documents earlier by e-mail and paper copies were at hand for the Board. First was the Maine Geolibrary Mailing List Guidelines or in other words the Geolibrary list server policy. This had already been voted on and was provided for everyone’s convenience. The Maine GIS Users Group (MEGUG) is now running the list server and is in the process of updating the listing.

Second was the Maine GeoPortal Policies document. This had been seen before in draft form and discussion was minimal.

Mike Smith moved to accept the Maine GeoPortal Policies document as written. Gretchen Heldmann seconded. The Board voted 11 in favor, none opposed, Chair abstaining. The motion carried.

Third was a policy on Submission of Data Sets to the Geolibrary from Sources Outside State Agencies. Marilyn reviewed the main points and the changes as hi-lited.

Q: Section 2 under definitions which says in part the “The Geolibrary…will host these data sets…”; would the hosting of some data by University of Southern Maine (USM) require a change here?
A: Probably not as the storage will be invisible to the users when they are using the portal.
Q: Should there be specification as to data type: raster, vector, tabular?
A: Probably not needed we can accept any type.
Q: Can people who have submitted data “delete” it afterwards?
A: Yes
Q: How about different data formats like AutoCAD, MapInfo, other lesser known formats? On page 2 section 4 gives the impression that “staff” will verify formats.
A: The metadata is the key thing. If the data providers properly fill out the full Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) standard everyone will know what is there and how to use it. Mike Smith added that we do not have the staff to evaluate the data in any way nor to give any help with creating the metadata only to verify the submitted metadata.
Q: With respect to that last, how do we guard against “inappropriate content” and would we be responsible for it?
A: Good question. We probably cannot. The Chair added that the Board is protected from that sort of legal liability by the enabling legislation.
Q: Who is the “data custodian”, the Geolibrary? It is used inconsistently.
A: It is. We will need to change that.
At this point the general consensus was that no action was going to be possible on the document in this meeting. The Chair tabled this item till the next meeting.

Additional Item – USGS Grants
Dan Walters, Maine USGS liaison, reported on the progress of grant applications. The small ad hoc committee on future grants had fairly well established that long term Partnership Grants were not on the card. How those might play out would depend on the success of the bonding initiative. They are recommending that the Board apply for the grants under the Cooperative Agreement Program as follows.

Category 1: Metadata Trainer and Outreach Assistance provides assistance to organizations with National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) expertise knowledge and experience in assisting other organizations with the training and implementation of metadata. This is a $25 K grant requiring a match of $12.5 K in cash or work in kind.

Category 6: FGDC Standards Development and Implementation Assistance and Outreach (excluding Metadata Standards) will provide funding to organizations to assist in the development of and/or implementation of standards in the FGDC standards program of work other than those for metadata ( CAT 1 ). This was thought to be a good match up with the ILRS work. This is a $25 K grant requiring a match of $12.5 K in cash or work in kind.

Category 7: Demonstration of Geospatial Data Partnerships across Local, State and Federal Government The vision for the NSDI includes the integration of all levels of government including the processes for local data to feed into State holdings, which then feed into Federal programs such as The National Map. This is a $75 K grant requiring a match of $37.5 K in cash or work in kind.

The Board decided to apply for the grants and asked for volunteers to draft the proposals. The following people volunteered:

Geolibrary/MEGIS experience and capacity for the narratives of all proposals – Larry Harwood, Dan Walters and Mike Smith.

Category 1 - Marilyn Lutz and Gretchen Heldmann

Category 6 - Jon Giles and Greg Copeland

Category 7 - Nancy Armentrout, Paul Hoffman, Ken Murchison, Steve Weed (Bar Harbor Assessor) and Diane Godin (Somerset Register of Deeds)

Dan Walters agree to assist each committee as needed.

2. Integrated Land Records Information System (ILRS)
Rich Sutton began by explaining that contrary to representations in the agenda he had only a short report to make today. He has been heavily engaged in the framework of the ILRS and working with the project Committee. This has left him slightly behind on his Milestones but he expects to have everything wrapped up by January 09. Some additional points:
• He is working on the “10 goals” of the ILRS along with the Committee
• There is a proposal for tax parcels at the county level
• The document mentions the CAP grant (as described above)
• He will attend both the December and January meetings but is not sure just yet when he will present the final document to the Board.
The CIO not having arrived yet, the Chair returned to the subcommittee reports

5. Subcommittee reports
Status of the GeoPortal.
Mike Smith reported that he and Christopher Kroot had been to USM to meet with the Research Computing Group and their part of the work is on schedule. Unfortunately the 9.3 version of the ESRI portal is almost entirely different from the previous version. They are considering using a product called GeoNetwork, an open source software, and Mike has been experimenting with both softwares . Notwithstanding, they expect a functional portal by February 2009.
Q: Is the federal Geospatial One Stop (GOS) going to upgrade to version 9.3?
A: They will have to although they may run version 9.2 for a while.
Q: Can you give us a simple chart comparison of the pros and cons of each type of software?
A: We will take that back to the Technical Committee but the answer is a qualified yes.
Christopher Kroot will report more in detail on the USM part of the project at the next meeting.

Additional Item
Mike Smith reported that the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) has an unorganized towns parcel viewer that has stopped working due to version changes. This was a third party software and the source codes are not available. It is estimated that it will cost as much as $8,000 or as little as $1,000 to create a replacement. The two softwares being considered are ArcServer , and ESRI product and MapServer and open source software. This could be used as a template for other parcel viewers and an agreement with LURC would allow the Geolibrary to serve all its parcel data on that site.

Mike Smith moved to appropriate $9,000 to create a parcel viewer to be built with either ArcServer or MapServer ,whichever is cheaper. Bob Marvinney seconded.

Q: Could the Dept. of Transportation (MDOT) viewer be used instead?
A: Possibly, it depends on many things.
Q: What would be the appearance and functions of such a viewer?
A: Very similar to the state webpages.
Mike sketched out a design on the drawing board and point out some basic features.
Q: Who would pay for the maintenance costs?
A: LURC would, they are already paying for that.
There was considerable concern on the part of some members about the maintenance costs. Also how much faith could be put in LURC agreeing to pay these costs

Mike Smith amended his motion to appropriate $9,000 to create a parcel viewer to be built with either ArcServer or MapServer ,whichever is cheaper, pending a financial agreement with LURC for them to pay for the long term support and maintenance. Bob Marvinney seconded the amendment.

There was still concern about the LURC commitment and how much LURC was willing to support this effort. There were suggestions that a representative of LURC attend the next meeting and discuss their commitment. Mike Smith withdrew his motion. A representative of LURC will be invited to attend the next meeting and discuss their commitment.

3. Message to the Board - CIO
Richard Thompson, Chief Information Officer, said he wished to inform the Board of a number of recent developments that effected the Geolibrary. He particularly wanted to explain in person “where things stood”.

First, the proposed additional federal member of the Board was not agreed to by the Governor. The draft legislation and supporting documents were sent to the Governor’s office but the Governor decided not to put in a bill on this matter. The thinking was not to further increase the load of proposed legislation and not to disturb the political situation right now. He suggested that one of the state agency designees could be a federal employee.

Second, the proposed bond issues for the Geolibrary are “still in the game”. However the pressure for additional bonds this year will be extreme and the odds are long. He suggested that any support the Board can muster should be brought to bear as soon as possible.

Third, everyone is aware of the extraordinary budget problems the state is having. Programs are being cut and funding is being reduced all over state government. Unfortunately the funding of State GIS by appropriation, at which he has been relatively successful, has been cut significantly. The previous budget of $2.3 M has been cut to $600 K and MEGIS has lost all of its appropriation. Rather than “close up shop” MEGIS will be funded for now as an overhead component, like the CIO’s office. As for IT generally, the CIO’s office will continue. In the Office of Information Technology management impacts and more efficiencies are being looked at. Vacant positions will be eliminated but no layoffs are expected as of now.

Q: Is the issue of a federal representative done?
A: I would suggest dropping it. Dan Walters is usually here in any case and he represents the federal side well. Changes in management may change the state designees and a new manager has the option of designating a federal.
Q: If the bonds are still in play, what are the chances?
A: The problem will be competition. At each hurdle, i.e. Governor’s Office, State Planning Office, legislative committees, a good argument will have to be made for keeping those in the package.
Q: How do we communicate with them?
A: An immediate step would be a fact sheet explaining plainly 1) why it is important, 2) what will these specific investments return for the state. The first step is to get onto the Governor’s list.

There was some additional discussion of how to promote the bond proposals. It was pointed out that there is a chicken-or-egg dilemma here. Federal agencies look favorably on applications that carry guaranteed state funding in their van but state bonding can be conditional on drawing down a federal match. It was also noted that the Maine congressional delegation frankly has more power in Washington due the election results.

The Chair thanked Mr. Thompson for taking time to address the Board.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:30