STIA Praises U.S. Senate for Including GIS and Geospatial Data Provision in the Homeland Security Bill

Legislation Aids Public and Private Sector Efforts to Advance Geo-information Government and the National Spatial Data Infrastructure

Washington, D.C., September 25, 2002--The U.S. Senate voted by unanimous consent last week to include an amendment, co-sponsored by Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Fred Thompson (R-TN), in the pending National Homeland Security and Combating Terrorism Act of 2002 which advances the use of geographic information systems (GIS) and geospatial data.

The legislation will provide significant new federal government support to public and private sector initiatives to coordinate, and establish standards for, the building, maintaining, and sharing of geospatial data. It also ensures that GIS will have an important role in federal government programs to enhance the security of the nation and modernize the delivery of government services.

Fred Corle, President of the Spatial Technologies Industry Association (STIA), said, "Senator Lieberman and Senator Thompson understand that GIS and geospatial data provide some of the most powerful decision-support capabilities available to government from the commercial information technology industry. I applaud the diligent and visionary work of Senator Lieberman and Senator Thompson to expand the use of GIS and geospatial data in governance."

"The progress of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure and the ongoing integration of commercial GIS, geospatial data, Global Positioning Satellite equipment, the world wide web, IT systems, and location-based services have created a distinct type of e-government called 'geo-information government.'"

"This bi-partisan legislation will greatly assist successful public and private sector efforts to enable and expand geo-information government in homeland security programs and basic services. STIA is committed to assisting the integrated geospatial industry to promote public policy that meets the most important needs of the nation," added Corle.

The provision for GIS and geospatial data is in Section 210 of the Electronic Government Act of 2002 which was adopted as an amendment to the pending Homeland Security legislation in the Senate. The E-Government bill authorizes the establishment of an e-government office within the White House Office of Management and Budget. It would bring the federal government more fully into the electronic age by improving citizen access to government information and services.

"I commend Senator Lieberman and Senator Thompson for advancing the use of GIS to strengthen the security of the nation as well as to improve the performance and management of government, and for supporting the first responder community," said Jack Dangermond, President and Founder of ESRI.

The legislation was originally introduced by Senator Lieberman and Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) in May 2001. An amended version sponsored by Senator Lieberman and Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN) was voted out of the Government Affairs Committee in March 2002 and approved by the Senate during June. As a result of Senate action last week, the E-Government bill is now part of the pending Homeland Security bill.

Susan Marlow, CEO of Smart Data Strategies, said, "GIS and geospatial data have become essential tools for effective and efficient government. Senator Thompson's strong leadership on this important legislation is helping to ensure that Tennessee and the entire nation will have the geospatial capabilities necessary to save lives and protect property in emergency situations while also improving routine public services."

Mark Tuttle, Director GIS Services in the Office for Information Resources State of Tennessee, said, "Faced with an ever increasing number of complex social, fiscal, political, and environmental issues as well as a greater demand by citizens for better services, government must implement ways to manage information and resources more efficiently while making smarter, faster decisions."

“Tennessee state and local governments are partnering to make a major investment in state-wide GIS to meet these challenges. Federal agencies need the resources and directive to substantively participate in this type of partnership, and hopefully the work of Senator Thompson and Senator Lieberman is an excellent step in that direction. I’m encouraged that the Congress recognizes the importance of GIS and geospatial data to achieving good government at the local, state, and federal level," added Tuttle.

Section 210 of the E-Government bill directs the e-government office to coordinate with, and support, the initiatives of the Federal Geographic Data Committee; state, local, and tribal government; and the geospatial industry to expand the utilization of GIS and geospatial data. The section will also aid activities to establish new standards to make geospatial data easier to obtain and use. In addition, it supports geospatial industry-led efforts to enhance the interoperability of GIS software.

"Standards play a vital role in advancing the ability of GIS software and geospatial data to achieve the goals of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). Standards also help to grow the supply of, and demand for, commercial geospatial products and services. This legislation will help the OpenGIS Consortium's industry-led efforts to better address the important interoperability goals of the NSDI and critical programs such as Homeland Security," said David Schell, President of the OpenGIS Consortium.

Preetha Pulusani, President of Intergraph Mapping and GIS Solutions, said, "The ability to interoperate between many different types of data is the key to successful applications for Homeland Security. The country will rely on this new department to quickly formulate a strategy that thoroughly integrates local, county, state, and federal geospatial government data together with the National Spatial Data Infrastructure."

"The responsibility of protecting our citizens and critical assets will demand the 'spatial assistance' from the GIS industry in ways not required in the past. I am encouraged by the thoughtfulness and seriousness that Senator Lieberman and Senator Thompson are giving this important matter. I concur and support their position, and I compliment them on their efforts," added Pulusani.

The version of the Homeland Security bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives does not include language that expressly pertains to GIS and geospatial data, although a number of sections in the legislation promote the development of standards for, and use of, advanced information technology and systems. If the currently pending Senate version of the Homeland Security legislation were approved by the full Senate, a House-Senate Conference Committee would resolve all differences in a consensus bill. The final compromise legislation would then have to pass both chambers of Congress prior to White House consideration.

"The Homeland Security legislation clearly has a long way to go in the legislative process, but STIA is leading a coalition of public and private sector interests to ensure that provisions for GIS and geospatial data are included in whatever version of the bill is ultimately passed by Congress and sent to the President," said Greg Karmazin, STIA Vice President for Policy and Partnerships.

"STIA is dedicated to making certain that the commercial geospatial industry has the opportunity to build a sustainable and market-driven National Spatial Data Infrastructure that will meet the needs of all levels of government for homeland security and many other high priority purposes. The Homeland Security and E-Government bills represent important progress toward this goal."

"During the past two years, STIA has been working with allied organizations to develop consensus on the creation of a new federal initiative to fund the building and maintenance of the NSDI. Many leaders in the geospatial community have suggested that this initiative be modeled on the Federal-aid Highway Program which made the National Highway System in America one of the most successful infrastructure programs in the world. Following the tragic events of September 11th, many experts now believe that the NSDI can aid the country to achieve preparedness in the War on Terror in a manner analogous to how the National Highway System became a vital asset for readiness during the Cold War. I welcome all to support STIA and our coalition partners in this vital endeavor," added Karmazin.

About STIA

Founded in 1996, the Spatial Technologies Industry Association (STIA) is a private industry trade association with a membership of more than 60 leading companies. STIA is dedicated to increasing the participation of the integrated geospatial industry in public policy decision-making, the legislative process, and regulatory actions that directly affect the vitality and success of commercial geospatial technology companies in the United States.

STIA supports sound public policy that advances geo-information government and commerce -- the use of commercial geospatial technologies and data to enable more informed decision-making, greater efficiency, increased accountability, and better management. For more information, visit the STIA web site at .
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