In a landmark moment for the geospatial fraternity, the US Congress cleared the bill of Geospatial Data Act for presidential approval last week. The bill was sponsored by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Mark Warner (D-VA) and Representatives Bruce Westerman (R-AR-04) and Seth Moulton (D-MA-06) last year in May.
Geospatial Data Act was then added to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill.
The Act offers a host of benefits for the industry as well as the consumers and would save American taxpayer dollars as well. The act will also give a boost to similar legislation for empowering geospatial technology in other countries.
The act will formalize federal government structures related to geospatial data, facilitate broad cooperation between organizations and help in overcoming the limitations and constraints in policies pertaining to the collective use of geospatial data. The act has been a key priority area for the NSGIC (National States Geographic Information Council) for many years and NSGIC has been at the forefront of seeking closed cooperation and bringing different stakeholders on board.
Dan Ross, president of the NSGIC, called the Senate approval as a major win for the entire geospatial community.
How the Act helps
Currently, a lot of money is invested by the US government in collecting geospatial data and even then the data isn’t most accurate and reliable. Geospatial Data Act would optimize the use of geospatial data, help in the modernization of the data systems and help in saving expenditure as well.
Be it everyday navigation or relief and rehabilitation during disasters, geospatial data has become ubiquitous and it’s of utmost importance to have laws that enable better coordination, increase efficiency and foster growth. Geospatial is among the technologies that will spur innovation in the future and a regularized law concerning geospatial data is much needed.
Geospatial Data Act would prove to be instrumental in building a sustainable framework for sharing geographic datasets in the US.
Key parts of the Act
Section 2 defines the term ‘geospatial data’ for the US federal government.
Section 3 clarifies the role of a Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC).
Section 4 clarifies the role of a National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC).
Section 5 describes the importance of a National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI).
Section 8 describes the creation and operation of the ‘GeoPlatform’ as an electronic service that provides access to geospatial data and metadata for geospatial data
Industry leaders laud the move
Industry leaders are enthused about US Congress enacting the Geospatial Data Act and the opportunities that it will open up.
We are grateful for the efforts of the GDA’s sponsors, as well as the geospatial organizations that have taken a leading role in shaping this bill,” said Jack Dangermond, Esri founder and president.
“This legislation will significantly address how location intelligence is organized and disseminated and will foster continued strength in our industry’s partnership with government users,” he added.
As federal agencies implement the GDA in the coming months and years, it is essential that leaders augment the work that the US government is doing with geospatial data and tools.
Association of American Geographers ( AAG) has also applauded the act.
It remarked that the act would assist geographic and geospatial communities and the act has limited provisions, which would have limited federal procurement options to a small pool of approved vendors.