Response to RFI for US Gov GeoSpatial

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This is a wiki version of the questions we need to answer for the RFI. Please feel free to start answering questions, and to edit the existing stuff, even without asking. It's all versioned, so we can roll back if a new change that we don't like is in. Be sure to read the full RFI, that has more about what they're looking for, at:

Right now we have four people who've thrown their hats in to work on this, feel free to add your name.

  1. Chris Holmes (interspersed time till start of may)
  2. Ned Horning (little time this week, start of may)
  3. Dave McIlhagga (start of may)
  4. Mike Davis (interspersed as workload permits)
  5. Bob Basques (as workload permits)

Notes to use

Just ran across this, which may be helpful as a citation of sorts: It's about a report 'examining open standards, open source software, and "open innovation." The report concludes that openness should be promoted as a matter of public policy, in order to foster innovation and economic growth in the U.S. and world economies.'

Bibliography of OS and Geo information

Notes on submission

Submission of RFI Responses Responses to the RFI must be submitted by e-mail to GSA by 5:00 p.m. EDT, May 5th, 2006. In responding to the RFI, please use the template labeled Part II: RFI Questionnaire. This template is also available at the following URL: Place your responses in-line in the document, retaining the question number and question text before each answer. Your e-mail should be clearly marked in the subject line with reference to RFI-GSV06PD00089 and your organization. You are required to include a point of contact for your organization. E-mail your response in Word (version 2000 or higher) to Please do not include marketing materials with your response at this time and ensure that any sensitive or protected information is marked as such. The government will ensure this information is not released externally. The overarching objective for this RFI is information gathering and not development of possible government acquisition of products or services.

  • So someone's going to have to paste from this wiki back in to the original document, and email it in.

More notes

Place any additional notes about our information here...

Note that we don't have to respond to every question. The RFI says 'If you choose not to respond to a question, indicate “no response” and identify the rationale.'

RFI Questionnaire Section 1: Respondent Information

Please provide the following information about your organization. Responding Organization Name: Open Source GeoSpatial Foundation

Are you responding as a:

User organization from experience coordinating the use of geographic information or optimizing related spatial data activities

Vendor or consultant from experience providing products or services to help other organizations coordinate the use of geographic information or optimize related spatial data activities



Type of organization (e.g. Federal agency, non-profit, state, private): Non-Profit

Contact information (provide a point of contact, phone number and e-mail address):

Lifecycle Activities

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-161 provides direction for Federal agencies that produce, maintain, or use spatial data either directly or indirectly in the fulfillment of their respective missions. OMB Circular A-16, Section 8 describes Federal agency responsibilities and reporting requirements for collecting, using, or disseminating geographic information or carrying out related spatial data activities. These activities are identified as lifecycle activities for the purposes of this RFI.

Please answer the following questions from the perspective of an overall solution and approach for coordinating the use of geographic information and/or optimizing related spatial data activities. Lifecycle activities are being defined as (1) acquire, (2) process, (3) distribute, (4) use, 5) maintain, and (6) preserve spatial data. Be sure to include innovative practices, the applicability of these practices to Government and any relevant past experience.

2.2.1 In which data themes of national importance is there opportunity for increased effectiveness, efficiency, and cost savings potential across the Federal Government, and what is the recommended transition approach? OMB Circular A-16 framework data themes and other data themes of national significance are (1) geodetic control, (2) orthoimagery, (3) elevation and bathymetry, (4) transportation, (5) hydrography, (6) cadastral, and (7) governmental units.

2.2.2 What are the critical change management issues and best practices for successful transition to and full implementation of common solutions? A fundamental change management issue is to promote and adapt open standards for the collection (protocols), storage (file formats, media, and metadata), access, and processing of geographic data. A recently released report by the Digital Connections Council of the Committee for Economic Development, “Open Standards, Open Source, and Open Innovation: Harnessing the Benefits of Openness” ( highlights the benefits from adapting open standards. This report found that openness can be used effectively to build effective standards that in turn can be used to enhance interoperability.

Available open source solutions to allow organizations to 'try out' new open standards with lower barriers to entry.

Ability to modify the source code allows organizations to alter the common solutions to be compatible with their legacy systems, so that transition can proceed at a more natural pace, running new and old systems side by side.

2.2.3 What cultural impediments and training issues are paramount at which stages of the transition? What are the solutions to them?

Cultural Issues

  • Data Ownership vs. Data Stewardship
  • Drawing Centric vs. Data Centric (especially in CADD shops)

2.2.4 From your experience, please describe the cost/benefit of coordinating the use of geographic information or optimizing NSDI components and related spatial data activities across all sectors and levels of government.

2.2.5 What are the top three critical factors for successfully coordinating the use of geographic information or optimizing related spatial data activities?

  • Data Consistency
  • Ease of Access
  • Data Currency

2.2.6 What are the top three risks in coordinating the use of geographic information or optimizing related spatial data activities? How do you mitigate these risks?

  • Data Accuracy
  • Data Availability
  • Data Compatability

The three biggest risks when building business practices based on shared geospatial information reflect the critical factors mentioned in 2.2.5. For shared systems to work, each proponent must be willing and able to meet a certain standard level of service that ensures the reliability and consistancy of the data provided. These data must be available in a format that is accessable to the end user regardless of software package or vendor.

2.2.7 What are the key performance indicators related to coordinating the use of geographic information or optimizing related spatial data activities? What metrics can be obtained to measure performance and how?

While data accuracy can be a difficult metric to measure shared spatial data by, it is probably the most important factor when relying on such data for business processes. Easier to measure is the level of consistancy maintained by shared spatial data. Data that follows an established standard (ie. SDSFIE) can be graded based on how well it follows and implements said standard. Another important metric for shared spatial data is the length of time required for changes made by the data steward to be reflected in the shared dataset. Minimizing this refresh time is critical if the shared datasets are to be considered an authoritative source of information.

2.2.8 How do you retain the advantages of competition while reaping the benefits of geospatial coordination and optimization?

Common standards, and clearly defined metrics of success create an environment in which entities can compete on a level playing field.

2.2.9 How do you ensure and manage ongoing innovation in geospatial coordination and optimization?

2.2.10 What are the incentives and disincentives for participation in geospatial coordination and optimization as a collaboration partner, a customer and as a service provider?

2.2.11 How do you achieve and sustain senior management involvement and commitment to coordinating the use of geographic information or optimizing related spatial data activities?

Display all Geographic Data in bright shinny colors... Kidding

Sustained commitment from senior management within an organization can be assured in two ways:

  • Funding
  • Mission

Tying funding to an entities' ability to create, maintain, and distribute geospatial information is the most immediate way to ensure the interest of senior management. For long term success, the organization must evolve to embrace the geospatial data lifecycle as a key component of its mission.

2.2.12 What governance model do you use or would you recommend for coordinating the use of geographic information or optimizing related spatial data activities?

2.2.13 What is the best approach for assembling and using multiple data sets from diverse fields where scale, units of analysis and data types differ?

2.2.14 What geospatial cross-cutting services, best practices, interoperable technologies, and data standards exist but are not necessarily coordinated or optimized by the Federal government?

2.2.15 What key issues and challenges must be considered when geospatial lifecycle activities occur in a foreign country that may or may not share borders with the US? What solutions do you propose to overcome these issues and challenges?


Scenario 1 - Emergency Response:

The U.S. is experiencing an “Incident of National Significance”, as defined by Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5 (HSPD-5) that has required activation of the National Response Plan (NRP). The NRP provides a framework for the coordination of Federal, state, local, private, volunteer, and Non-Governmental organizations to work together in real time to respond effectively. Under the NRP, significant Federal geospatial data and assets are mobilized and made available to the responding homeland security (HLS) community. However, significant geospatial data and assets are available at the state and local level that are not immediately available to responding Federal Departments and agencies.

2.3.1 Please describe the types of non-Federal geospatial data that are available at the state and local government level, as well as from private utilities and other entities that might improve the effectiveness of the NRP.

In your response please address any issues regarding licensing of data, the need for information sharing agreements and similar impediments to other than full and open sharing of geospatial data within the HLS community.

2.3.2 What activities need to be undertaken during the Preparedness phase of the emergency lifecycle to assure emergency managements are aware of the potential of geospatial data and assets to support emergency response?

2.3.3 What activities need to be undertaken during the Preparedness phase of the emergency lifecycle to assure that geospatial technology subject matter experts and data stewards are aware of the emergency response requirement and standard operating procedures?

2.3.4 During response to an Incident of National Significance, what needs to be done to assure geospatial data and assets are made available to all participants in the NRP? In particular, please identify issues that must be addressed to assure state and local geospatial data and assets can be made readily available to all participants in the response?

2.3.5 What activities to coordinate geospatial data and assets for emergency management applications are you aware of?

2.3.6 What activities do you suggest be undertaken to coordinate the use of geographic information or optimize related spatial data activities for emergency management?

2.3.7 Geospatial data can also play a critical role in performing analyses to support pre-disaster mitigation plan development and implementation as well as support of recovery operations. Please describe key aspects of the use of geospatial data and assets for pre-disaster mitigation and recovery.

2.3.8 What are the key components – organizational, training, business, and technical (including fixed and mobile technology) – that establish an environment that is ready to respond (preparedness), able to respond (incident management), capable of supporting pre-disaster mitigation and post-disaster recovery analysis, and provides enhancements or lessons learned for future event management?

Scenario 2 - Long Term Research Scenario:

The U.S. perceives societal benefit in performing long-term research. Research is being conducted in numerous social and physical science fields such as demographics, public infrastructure, climatology, health care, economics, and crime, etc.

2.3.9 How can we enable the use of geospatial assets, including both structured and unstructured data (e.g. statistical, geographic, imagery, narrative, etc.) and services for the types of research described in scenario 2? 2.3.10 How can the use of geospatial data, technologies and spatial data analysis be leveraged in this scenario? 2.3.11 What are the key components – organizational, training, business, and technical – that establish an environment that is capable of leveraging geospatial data and assets to achieve research objectives?

Scenario 3 - Administration and Resources Management:

Federal agencies and other organizations, both individually and collectively, manage billions of dollars of resources that traditionally have not exploited geospatial assets. This encompasses human resources, facilities, supplies, and finance (including grants, contracts, and intramural resources). In the grants management arena, Federal agencies are often required by OMB and Congress to assess and report on the efficiency, effectiveness and return on investment of multiple grant programs and other expenditures made annually to meet mission goals and provide service to citizens. 2.3.12 How can we establish the effective and efficient use of geo-referenced or geo-enabled data and assets across organizations, for the types of activities described in scenario 3? 2.3.13 How can the use of geospatial data, assets and spatial data analysis be leveraged in scenario 3? 2.3.14 What are the key components – organizational, training, business, and technical – that establish an environment that is capable of leveraging geospatial assets to achieve operational administrative and resource management objectives?

Additional Information

Please feel free to provide additional information, beyond the questions found in Section 2.2 and 2.3 that you feel should be considered to meet the goals and objectives of the Geospatial Line of Business.