By Casey J. McLaughlin
Just like the world, the Federal government is a big place with a geography all of its own and working between agencies can sometimes feel like working with another country! I’ve been working for and in the government for going on 10 years and I believe most of us really want to make the country a better place but bureaucracy can sometimes get in the way. Modern technology and understanding brings the chaos I sometimes feel into some order. For geospatial chaos, enter the Geoplatform.
Born from the intersection of opportunity and preparedness (The Gulf Response), the Geoplatform is the next iteration of federal portals (data.gov) designed to “be a managed portfolio of common geospatial data, services, and applications.” Federal agencies collect lots of geospatial data, but data that is often difficult to share in usable forms. EPA’s former Geographic Information Officer (GIO) and now GIO for the Department of Interior recently remarked on sharing within the government: “The need to more effectively leverage and share each other’s work is becoming a bigger and bigger driver in each of our organizations every day.” The goal of the platform is to provide access to federally maintained geospatial data, services and applications; ultimately to share our work.
Switching gears from software to people, let me take a moment and introduce the current GIO at EPA, Harvey Simon. Harvey has over 27 years of GIS and risk analysis experience. He served as the GIS coordinator for Region 2 (serving New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eight tribal nations) before moving to Washington D.C. to serve as the Chief of the Information Services Branch in the Office of Information Analysis and Access (OIAA), where he was responsible for the Envirofacts Database, a number of national geospatial applications and services, and operational management of the EPA GeoPlatform.
Harvey recently (March, 2013) presented a talk about the Geoplatform at the International Eye on Earth conference where he talked about the benefits and challenges of our Federal Geoplatform efforts during the session entitled, New Challenges and Global Perspectives. Eye On Earth is a ‘global public information network’ for sharing environmental information online. Take a few minutes and learn more about the Geoplatform from the following video recording of his talk. In the coming months I hope to sit down with Harvey to chat about his thoughts on GIS as the new GIO. Does anyone have any questions they would like me to ask?
Watch the video:
Casey McLaughlin is a first generation Geospatial Enthusiast who has worked with EPA since 2003 as a contractor and now as the Regional GIS Lead. He currently holds the rank of #1 GISer in EPA Region 7′s Environmental Services Division.