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A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science at the United States Geological Survey 4 Realizing USGS’s Vision for CEGIS The success of the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Center of Excellence in Geospatial Information Science (CEGIS) will depend on the relationships and network it develops to conduct its research and establish national leadership. From a small and lean beginning, and through such a network and relationships, CEGIS is envisioned to “conduct, lead, and influence the research and innovative solutions required by the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI)” by conducting, supporting, and collaborating in “research to address critical Geographic Information Science questions of importance to the USGS and to the broader geospatial community” (CEGIS, 2006). This is a grand vision toward which USGS and CEGIS can build. This chapter presents ideas on CEGIS’s first steps toward fulfilling its vision. LEADERSHIP In creating CEGIS, USGS recognizes that it needs a research “hub” that identifies and prioritizes geographic information science (GIScience) research challenges, finds answers available in the geospatial community, and sponsors new research projects to develop new answers and field solutions. Such a center provides an opportunity to develop a research culture, a sense of identity, a place in which to mentor young researchers, and a proactive intellectual community (McMahon et al., 2005). In addition, CEGIS has the opportunity to lead the way in showing how such a center can provide an enterprise solution to geospatial challenges confronting an entire organization. “CEGIS should be a model for the world of how to organize a GIScience research agenda” (Michael Goodchild, University of California, Santa Barbara, personal communication, 2006). Not only would CEGIS provide the
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A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science at the United States Geological Survey structure to conduct research—its approach could establish GIScience leadership for the USGS. Indeed, in proposing that CEGIS be established, McMahon et al. (2005) stated, “The USGS must redevelop and reassert its leadership role in GIScience.” Until the 1980s, the USGS was the nation’s leader in collecting, processing, producing, and distributing spatial data. USGS researchers drove the national research agenda, and several of the major research conferences, including the early Auto-Carto events, were cosponsored by the USGS. The geospatial community looked to the USGS as a source of high-quality spatial data and maps, for coordination of access to spatial data, and as a place where some of the world’s best ideas emerged on spatial processing, projections, uncertainty, and visualization. In recent years, however, the USGS has undertaken several transitions that have weakened its national leadership in these aspects of GIScience. Although other entities such as the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) have stepped in to coordinate national-level geospatial research, they have even more limited resources than USGS to do so. A dynamic, nimble, cutting-edge research unit at CEGIS could lead a nationally important GIScience research agenda that more effectively focuses and harnesses the nation’s GIScience assets in academia, industry, government, and nongovernmental organizations. Also, even though The National Map will be the initial impetus for identifying research challenges (Chapter 3), solutions to these problems will be of broader interest and be applicable throughout the geospatial community. MODELS FROM WHICH CEGIS CAN LEARN No two mapping agencies are identical because each has different demands and constraints. Nonetheless, the committee received a range of information on how research is conducted within mapping organizations around the world and within the United States, and drew upon the lessons of these organizations as it deliberated on ideas for recommending an approach that CEGIS might follow. Case studies from three such organizations are presented in this section. The Conception Objet et Généralisation de l’Information Topographique (COGIT) Laboratory in France (Box 4.1) and the research unit within the Ordnance Survey (OS) in the United Kingdom (Box 4.2) are both successful research laboratories that support foreign national-level mapping capabilities. The Basic and Applied Research Office of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) (Box 4.3) supports U.S. geospatial intelligence provision capabilities.
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A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science at the United States Geological Survey BOX 4.1 Institut Géographique National COGIT Laboratory The COGIT Laboratory is the research unit of France’s Institut Géographique National (IGN). Over the past 15 years, the laboratory has tackled some of the thorniest problems in GIScience including automated generalization—a topic in which it is viewed as the international leader. Its research, although basic in nature, also supports the IGN production units. Its reputation throughout the European research community is one of excellence. COGIT is supervised by IGN and funded directly from France’s Ministry of Research. It has a staff of approximately 20, including the director, 7 Ph.D.-level scientists, 7 Ph.D. students, and several engineers who mostly come from the IGN school. The laboratory also can sponsor visiting faculty members and has brought in international researchers to work on key projects, often for periods of one to three weeks. Some of COGIT’s research projects are developed in collaboration with other European agencies and the private sector. Every five years the laboratory creates a research plan that is approved by the IGN through a series of consultative meetings. Research teams of two to five people focus on problems identified in the plan. Currently, five such research teams are in place, working on research issues including (1) helping access to geographic information; (2) colors and legends; (3) automation of generalization; (4) integration and multiple representation; and (5) spatial analysis. Increasingly, COGIT researchers are presenting their work at international conferences such as the International Cartographic Association, and they are evaluated, in part, on the quality of their publications. SOURCE: Anne Ruas, COGIT. BOX 4.2 Research at the United Kingdom Ordnance Survey The research facility at the U.K. Ordnance Survey (OS) provides an engine of innovation and insights. It is a knowledge store for the organization and positions the OS as a thought leader. The facility functions as a radar screen for new technologies that will impact the organization and its partners. Its research is internally focused on the needs of the organization, which generates all of its operating revenue from licensing its information products and services. The research unit comprises 30 researchers and support staff. The majority of staff consists of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. A shift toward a higher percentage of postdoctoral fellows over graduate students is under consideration because of the likelihood of a tighter research focus and speedier return on investment in the case of postdoctoral scientists. The annual budget of the research unit is approximately $4 million (approximately 2 percent of OS’s revenue), of which one-quarter goes to research contracts with universities that are primarily located in the United Kingdom. The unit collaborates on research with other U.K. government agencies and with other European mapping agencies. In addition, it has joint industry research projects. Having previously followed a product development approach to managing its research needs, the facility has, in the last two years, adopted a “portfolio” approach. This approach includes short-, medium-, and long-term goals that are generated internally within the research unit and taken to the OS governing council, which weighs their value to the OS business. The approved goals then define a series of research priorities, and the balance of investment on each topic is influenced by the likely level of success. As part of its goal development process and to cement its role as a thought leader, the research unit hosts “Terrafuture”—an annual conference that focuses on societal challenges over the next 10 to 15 years and how they could affect research. The current foci of research within the unit are on data capture, data modeling, and semantic technologies. SOURCE: Duncan Shiell and Ed Parsons, U.K. Ordnance Survey.
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A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science at the United States Geological Survey BOX 4.3 Basic and Applied Research Office at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency The Basic and Applied Research Office (BARO) “executes cutting-edge scientific research, providing the foundation for … solutions to NGA’s most difficult technical challenges.” BARO addresses NGA’s “unsolvable” problems, investigates the scientific issues and basic phenomena surrounding “hard” problems, and demonstrates rapid proof of concept based on basic and applied science. The office draws no hard line between basic and applied research—it prefers the term “use-inspired research.” Research priorities within BARO are initially considered by its senior scientists. These priorities are then reviewed by senior agency officials and subsequently scrutinized by the broader intelligence community (the ultimate users of NGA’s geospatial intelligence products) when NGA presents its budget case. Priorities emerge in three areas: (1) technical and methodological capabilities that might lead to breakthroughs, (2) exploiting new data sources, and (3) pressing concerns among geospatial intelligence analysts. Because NGA is operations driven, item 3 tends to carry the greatest weight. In general, the research priorities are influenced by where investments will make the biggest difference. NGA performs research in many ways (NRC, 2006). Most research is contracted out, and the in-house technical staff consists predominantly of program managers. BARO’s academic connections focus on funding research, attracting talent, and training. With respect to research funding, BARO supports NGA University Research Initiatives, Historical Black College and University-Minority Institution Research Initiatives, and Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Fellowships. Recipients of awards under all three initiatives gather annually to report on progress and share ideas. To attract talent, BARO utilizes a visiting scientist program that brings young scientists from undergraduate to postdoctoral level to work in a classified environment at NGA facilities. This helps NGA to enhance technologies, tools, and methods; leverage academics specializing in NGA’s scientific areas of interest; build long-term relationships with top universities; build recruitment opportunities for NGA; and obtain experienced Ph.D.-level scientists on a temporary basis to augment in-house expertise. As part of its efforts to strengthen the academic base through training, NGA supports three academic centers of excellence, four service academies (e.g., U.S Air Force Academy), and ten intelligence community academic centers of excellence. In addition to its academic partnerships, BARO collaborates with other government entities such as the Defense Advanced Research Project agency (DARPA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and Department of Energy laboratories. NGA works with USGS on domestic emergency response in an operations context, but does not currently collaborate on research. SOURCE: Beth Driver, NGA. CONSIDERATIONS FOR BUILDING AND OPERATING CEGIS Karen Siderelis (Associate Director for Geospatial Information, USGS) encouraged the committee to think in terms of what is needed for CEGIS to succeed and, while being practical, not to be constrained by the current dimensions and budget of the center. In pondering how CEGIS might achieve its vision, the committee considered a series of points, many of which were raised during discussions with presenters (Appendix B) at the first two meetings. At the general level, CEGIS is essentially a new start. This presents a rare opportunity for those framing its future, and their initial actions will set a tone for CEGIS’s business practices, performance expectations,
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A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science at the United States Geological Survey and accountability. Other points fall under one of two categories: research portfolio or research management. Research Portfolio Early “wins” for CEGIS will be important for establishing confidence in the activity, developing a track record, experiencing the full “life cycle” of a research project, and obtaining feedback. A research portfolio that balances this early-win research with longer-term, and perhaps more risky, research works well for the U.K. Ordnance Survey (Box 4.2). Such long-term research may require different approaches than the shorter-term research. The research portfolio will need to concentrate most resources on operational research projects that have research objectives with performance outcomes and milestones. This will provide a baseline for realistic management decisions about budget (what can CEGIS afford?), staffing (who should CEGIS hire, and can it afford them?), and opportunities to work with other organizations inside and outside USGS (with whom should CEGIS work, and why?). Developing a research portfolio will also provide CEGIS and other program management personnel with “practice” in setting priorities and working together. A tight focus of CEGIS’s initial research activities on supporting The National Map would provide a purpose that reinforces, and does not distract from, other program activities. It also provides access to problems of partners and customers that generate new CEGIS research activities and demonstrates the need for the activity. One such partner and customer for CEGIS is the National Geospatial Technical Operations Center (NGTOC). Operational challenges faced by NGTOC would need to be presented to CEGIS in the form of research questions on which to develop solutions. NGTOC would then implement those solutions into the structure and operations of The National Map. In addition, CEGIS staff would be involved in the system design team for The National Map, and this process would also provide research questions for CEGIS. Other partners and customers that may develop research questions for CEGIS include the water, geology, geography, and biology disciplines of the USGS and, as the agency forms relationships with other agencies that come to depend heavily on The National Map, potentially the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and others, these agencies could also provide input to the research agenda of CEGIS. Research Management The Office of Management and Budget provides criteria for managing research. These include relevance, quality, and performance (Box 4.4). To fully benefit from
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A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science at the United States Geological Survey the wealth of GIScience research in science, technology, and operations, CEGIS will need to follow investments made by others and look for opportunities that could be adapted with CEGIS involvement to support USGS operations. This approach has an added advantage of allowing CEGIS managers to learn best practices for managing a larger portfolio of technology and scientific research as resources permit and needs require. In relation to managing resources in particular, opportunities to reduce overhead costs and maximize the allocation of resources to research activities will maximize the benefit of the initial budget. To ensure that the external research component is managed appropriately, CEGIS needs to plan for a ratio of internal to external resources of no more than 3:1. In addition to practical experience of this being an effective balance in the context of a 6- to 20-person GIScience lab, the rationale behind this ratio is the desire to achieve continuity across multiple projects (milestones) and to advance in-house capabilities to remain at the leading edge with respect to designing, managing, and conducting new and innovative research. Such in-house capabilities could be further enhanced if CEGIS scientists are given “space” to become established by not requiring them to pursue outside funding. BOX 4.4 Office of Management and Budget Management Criteria for Research and Development Activities Relevance: “Investments must have clear plans, must be relevant to national priorities, agency missions, relevant fields, and ‘customer’ needs, and must justify their claim on taxpayer resources … Review committees should assess program objectives and goals on their relevance to national needs, ‘customer’ needs, agency missions, and the field(s) of study the program strives to address.” Quality: “Programs should maximize the quality of the research and development (R&D) they fund through the use of a clearly stated, defensible method for awarding a significant majority of their funding. A customary method for promoting R&D quality is the use of a competitive, merit-based process.” Performance: “R&D programs should maintain a set of high priority, multi-year R&D objectives with annual performance outputs and milestones that show how one or more outcomes will be reached. Metrics should be defined not only to encourage individual program performance but also to promote, as appropriate, broader goals, such as innovation, cooperation, education, and dissemination of knowledge, applications, or tools … Programs must demonstrate an ability to manage in a manner that produces identifiable results. At the same time, taking risks and working toward difficult-to-attain goals are important aspects of good research management, especially for basic research.” SOURCE: Espinosa, (2006) REALIZING CEGIS’S POTENTIAL The committee envisions a small core of world-class, dedicated GIScience researchers within CEGIS coupled to a well-orchestrated network of researchers and
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A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science at the United States Geological Survey resources at university centers; geospatial centers of excellence at other federal,1 state, and local agencies (perhaps with unique foci relevant to their specific missions); and professional societies with their extensive constituencies of the best and brightest in the field (Figure 4.1). Collaboration with other agencies and organizations doing GIScience research is crucial to realizing a need of the nation to integrate these activities and is also crucial to establishing the leadership of CEGIS and the USGS in GIScience for the nation. CEGIS’s external network serves two purposes. First, it enables CEGIS to retain a broad perspective across the GIScience field so that it can identify and exploit relevant technology advances that may not necessarily happen within the core team at CEGIS. Second, by sponsoring and participating in these external research activities, CEGIS and the USGS will provide the cohesive leadership needed in GIScience in the United States and will, in turn, be recognized for this important contribution, thereby regaining that leadership role. The following sections describe the potential components of CEGIS’s network in more detail. These include the CEGIS core within USGS and connections to academia, government, and industry. Some types of external connection are not new to USGS and CEGIS (see Chapter 1), and in these cases, CEGIS can carry forward and build on the experiences and lessons learned. FIGURE 4.1 Conceptual diagram of CEGIS’s key relationships 1 For example the NGA, DHS, Census Bureau, Department of Transportation, USDA, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
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A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science at the United States Geological Survey The Core Research of CEGIS The scientific core of CEGIS will initially consist of a group of approximately six to eight Ph.D.-level scientists. These scientists would be a mix of full-time USGS employees, visiting professors and other visitors (as with COGIT—Box 4.1), and/or postdoctoral researchers. The visitors would provide cross-fertilization with work outside USGS (Box 4.3; Michael Goodchild, University of California, Santa Barbara, personal communication, 2006). Each of CEGIS’s research foci would be addressed by teams built from this initial group of scientists. The teams would be tightly coordinated and they would balance a focus on the small number of research topics with regular dialogue across these topics to raise ideas and share efforts so that the entire center is committed and dedicated to overall execution and results. RECOMMENDATION 6: CEGIS should initially comprise six to eight Ph.D.-level scientists working in teams of at least two on the high-priority topics identified in Recommendations 3 to 5. Each team would comprise a mix of USGS scientists and visiting scientists and/or postdoctoral fellow(s) as appropriate to the topic. Their location should not be constrained to USGS facilities if the most efficient progress could be made in another setting (e.g., an academic center of excellence). The core science group will, as momentum builds and demands expand (and as budgets allow), grow to between 12 and 20 scientists over the next five years. The initial range of six to eight is the minimum critical mass to produce significant work on the handful of high-priority topics discussed in the previous chapter. The larger range of 12 to 20 would bring CEGIS’s dimensions in line with what is needed to address the broader range of research identified in Chapter 3 and is comparable to that of research groups supporting other mapping agencies (e.g., Boxes 4.1 and 4.2). Details on how such a program would be led are for the USGS to decide, but the committee sees the need for two leadership positions: (1) a director who focuses on administering the center and providing national leadership, inspiration, and enthusiasm for CEGIS programs and their development as well as maintaining a liaison role with outside cooperative agreements, and (2) a deputy director who manages the research portfolio (and who would be one of the Ph.D.-level scientists mentioned earlier). These leaders would, as is already the case, be supported by administrative personnel (e.g., administrative assistants, computer support staff).
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A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science at the United States Geological Survey Connections with Academia CEGIS can foster fundamental research in academia. Three types of connection to academia are envisaged: establishing and supporting academic centers of GIScience excellence that focus on USGS-related research (e.g., Box 4.3), placing USGS researchers within these academic institutions, and providing grant support through competitive or sole source means (e.g., Box 4.3). The visiting professors and postdoctoral researchers envisaged as critical members of the CEGIS science core could (but need not) be associated with these centers. The majority of support for such centers (and personnel therein) would be in addition to support for the temporary visitors within the CEGIS core science team. The handful of CEGIS-sponsored university GIScience centers of excellence, perhaps one to two start and eventually growing to two to four, would be selected by matching their expertise to the critical GIScience research areas confronting CEGIS. Such centers could focus on long-term and perhaps more risky research topics in CEGIS’s portfolio or simply areas of particular expertise and innovation that serve CEGIS needs. The infusion of graduate students into CEGIS’s research activities through such centers would bring human resources at affordable rates and potentially attract future research employees to USGS (e.g., Box 4.3). The number of centers could increase as their success generates justification for additional resource funding. RECOMMENDATION 7: CEGIS should establish and/or support one to two centers of excellence in GIScience at universities with relevant GIScience focus and capabilities that address its longer-term research challenges. Placing USGS researchers at university centers of excellence in GIScience would potentially be of great benefit to cultivating CEGIS’s GIScience leadership (Mike Goodchild, University of California, Santa Barbara, personal communication, 2006). In this model, a CEGIS research team leader could be embedded for several weeks or months with top researchers in an academic setting to work on one of CEGIS’s high-priority research topics. As indicated in Figure 4.1, the model of embedding a CEGIS scientist elsewhere could also be applied within another USGS discipline, agency, or organization. In addition to funding the university centers, and as a more dynamic adjunct to them (Jack Dangermond, ESRI, personal communication, 2006), CEGIS could manage a program of university grants through sole source selections when the choice is obvious (e.g., when there is a clear leader on a topic of particular interest to CEGIS) or otherwise, through open competition (i.e., requests for proposals) (e.g., Box 4.3).
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A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science at the United States Geological Survey Connections with Industry Partnerships among industry and mapping agencies are commonplace because of the wealth of knowledge and experience in the private sector. NGA, for example, engages industry partners through a number of mechanisms (NRC, 2006). The Ordnance Survey’s partnership with Oracle, USGS’s own work with Microsoft on Terraserver, and many government agencies’ participation in Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) activities are other examples. With the widespread use of the Global Positioning System (GPS), field data collection devices, desktop geographic information system (GIS) software, online mapping services, and consumer navigation, the geospatial industry has created impressive applications and infrastructure for the collection, processing, distribution, and display of geospatial data. In addition, a sub-industry of technical support for geospatial products has emerged to support commercial products. These activities can potentially contribute to the national geospatial research agenda. Consequently, provision of resources by CEGIS to tap into and catalyze industry’s work on topics under CEGIS’s research portfolio is an important element of the overall CEGIS research strategy and national leadership role. Directing an industry research agenda establishes CEGIS’s prominence within industry just as funding of university centers establishes a prominent position for CEGIS within the academic community. In addition, funding industry research on aspects of The National Map, such as infrastructure development, human-computer interface, or applications built on top of The National Map application programming interfaces for specific users, would help establish The National Map as the preeminent source of quality national geospatial data and services. Because industry research is typically focused on product development or projects in response to customer requirements, connecting into these research capabilities is best accomplished by contractual instruments such as Broad Area Announcements or Cooperative Research and Development Act agreements. In addition, targeted contracts may be most effective in instances of narrowly defined research needs. RECOMMENDATION 8: CEGIS should supplement the work of its core research teams with Broad Area Announcements, Cooperative Research and Development Act agreements, and targeted contracts on high-priority research topics. Government Agency Liaisons By liaising with other agencies with GIScience research activities, CEGIS could “piece together the National Agenda” (Jack Dangermond, ESRI, personal
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A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science at the United States Geological Survey communication, 2006). Candidate federal agencies with significant programs or research in GIScience include NGA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), NSF, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), FEMA, the Census Bureau, the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Army Corps of Engineering’s Topographical Engineering Center, and DHS. The GIScience at NGA, FEMA, and DHS is particularly relevant to USGS and provides fertile opportunities for collaboration on a comprehensive research agenda. Properly executed, this collaborative research agenda would allow each agency to focus on its unique needs, such as imagery analysis at the NGA or floodplain mapping at FEMA, while depending on the USGS for a consistent, current, high-quality base map including the themes that the USGS collects. This eliminates duplication and allows each agency to focus on the data with which it has the most expertise. There is already a desire for better coordination of federal geospatial research funding and the possibility of NSF-USGS partnerships on targeted research topics (Maria Zemankova, NSF, personal communication, 2006). Even within the USGS, CEGIS could establish a strong liaison with the disciplines of water, geology, geography, and biology with co-located professionals to work on research to address common application challenges that involve core geospatial data. RECOMMENDATION 9: To reestablish USGS’s leadership role in GIScience, maximize efficiency, and share in the cost of addressing common challenges, CEGIS should forge connections with other federal agencies, professional societies, and private-sector firms that conduct, support, and/or promote GIScience research. In addition to federal agencies, state and local government organizations are a potentially important source of collaboration for CEGIS. Some of these entities conduct geospatial research and apply this to operations in their jurisdiction. Many of the progressive local agencies are also key contributors of data to The National Map (Ivan DeLoatch, USGS, personal communication, 2006). Where expert groups exist at the state or county level,2 CEGIS could work with USGS’s 2 Examples of groups working on topics relevant to The National Map are (1) Missouri Spatial Data Information Service—a spatial data retrieval and archival system at the Geographic Resources Center at the University of Missouri; (2) New Hampshire Geographically Referenced Analysis and Information Transfer System (NH GRANIT)—a cooperative project to create, maintain, and make available a statewide geographic database serving the information needs of state, regional, and local decision makers, managed at Complex Systems Research Center, University of New Hampshire; (3) Kansas Data Access and Support Center (DASC)—a central delivery and distribution center for core GIS databases essential to ensure the effective and efficient development and implementation of GIS technology in state government; and (4) Utah Automated Geographic Reference Center (AGRC), which provides a wide range of GIS support to the State of Utah and stewardship of the State Geographic Information Database.
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A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science at the United States Geological Survey existing state liaisons to identify a few key programs and support research collaborations with these entities. Such collaboration would have additional benefits of promoting use of The National Map at all levels and supporting the establishment of semantic, thematic, and other standardization at the source, thereby reducing the challenge of automated techniques over time and enhancing data integration. RECOMMENDATION 10: Because of USGS’s core role in integrating data from local sources for The National Map, CEGIS should establish collaborative activities with state and local agencies that have progressive activities in GIScience. Multilevel collaborations among government agencies must negotiate many political and other complexities. One example of success in this regard is DHS’s standardization of 17 layers of the National Critical Infrastructure (DHS, 2004). When federal, state, and local agencies use these common databases for national events and disasters, coordination and collaboration are greatly facilitated. Conferences and Workshops By hosting specialist conferences and workshops, CEGIS could raise its national and international profile while concurrently serving its research interests (e.g., Box 4.2). The National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis model of specialist meetings on focused topics could be particularly effective in this regard (Jack Dangermond, ESRI, personal communication, 2006). CEGIS could tailor the agenda of each meeting to its most pressing research need. For example, specialist workshops might coincide with the launch or conclusion of directed research at one of CEGIS’s university centers or with industry research thrusts. This would focus national attention on the research agenda of CEGIS. Such meetings could be coordinated through the UCGIS in conjunction with its winter assembly government research and summer assembly academic research meetings. Both meetings are already established, and with USGS support they could emerge as major venues for scientific exchange in GIScience. RECOMMENDATION 11: CEGIS should use specialist meetings, perhaps in conjunction with the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science winter meeting or summer assembly, to advance its state of knowledge and plans for addressing emerging research challenges. On a broader scale, a liaison from CEGIS to the many professional societies involved with GIScience would enhance awareness of CEGIS activities,
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A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science at the United States Geological Survey maintain a strong connection to the latest developments in the field that might be of relevance to CEGIS research foci, and yield special opportunities for collaboration and dissemination of research findings. Such societies include the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, Cartography and Geographic Information Society, American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Urban and Regional Information Systems Association, North American Cartographic Information Society, Geospatial Information Technology Association, and International Cartographic Association. CEGIS Advisory Board The advisory board would have two purposes: (1) to provide broad-based input, review, and critique of CEGIS plans, activities, and progress; and (2) to institutionalize the liaison with USGS’s geology, biology, hydrology, and geography disciplines (see Box 4.3 for a description of a somewhat similar approach at NGA). The flow of ideas between the disciplines and CEGIS about research needs, opportunities, and resources is essential to CEGIS’s success (Marty Goldhaber, USGS, personal communication, 2006), as is the flow of research needs from The National Map design team and NGTOC. To be most efficient, CEGIS’s advisory board would have to be limited in size (e.g., less than ten members) and meet regularly (e.g., two to three times per year). To be most effective and well-rounded to capture insights and experience from all facets of CEGIS’s broader set of relationships outside USGS, the board would include non-USGS membership from relevant agencies, academia, and industry. CEGIS leadership would need to define the role and processes of the advisory board carefully to ensure it provides benefits without becoming cumbersome or hampering productivity. RECOMMENDATION 12: To provide broad-based input, review, and critique of CEGIS plans, activities, and progress and to institutionalize CEGIS’s connection to the USGS disciplines, the National Geospatial Program Office should establish an advisory board for CEGIS that includes members from each of the USGS disciplines as well as non-USGS GIScience experts.
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A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science at the United States Geological Survey SUMMARY In this report, the committee has set forth a vision for the future of the National Geospatial Program Office (NGPO) in GIScience—a vision not only of leadership within the USGS, but across the federal government anywhere that geospatial data are critical to operations; across the state and local offices that rely on consistent, up-to-date geospatial data; and even across academia and industry where many of the difficult research problems in GIScience will be solved. Central to successful execution of this charge is focus. CEGIS has lean resources. It has the potential to fill the role of leadership in GIScience in the United States, but it must focus on a few critical projects and execute them flawlessly. With early successes and a focus on the research priorities described in this report, the committee is confident that the USGS will grow and emerge as strong as in the days of the paper topographic maps and to eventually encompass a much broader research agenda than discussed here. In this report, the committee endeavored to prioritize the many possible avenues of research into a solid core of interrelated research topics that provide early and visible results that are of importance to the nation’s need for accurate and accessible geospatial information. This was a compact study, in both time and resources. It is possible that some aspects of CEGIS’s mission were missed; therefore, this report should be considered a starting point for refinement and final prioritization of the CEGIS research agenda. However, it is the committee’s hope that this report will provide a fertile beginning for achieving focus and ultimately successful execution by CEGIS and NGPO and that it will be the start of the reemergence of the USGS as the leader for GIScience research for the nation.
Representative terms from entire chapter: