IndianaMap Running at 100%

Indiana Geographic Information Office Hits 100% with Data Sharing Project

With a vote of its County Board of Commissioners in early April, Marshall County become the last of ninety-two Indiana Counties to share four critical geospatial data sets with the Indiana Geographic Information Office. This exceptional level of County-State cooperation, and the important statewide data created by the project, validates the concept of a local-to-state-to-national approach to building and maintaining a National Map.   Geographic Information System (GIS) technology and data generally, and these four county level data sets in particular, support public safety and economic development, and provide geographic context for a myriad of government policy decisions about everything from natural resources to voting precincts. Beginning in 2008, the Indiana Geographic Office joined with other GIS partners to develop, integrate, and publish the following four statewide geographic data layers using existing county data:

  • Land Parcels
  • Address Points (that connect a street address with a geographic coordinate)
  • Street Centerlines (with street name and address ranges)
  • Local Administrative Boundaries (such as school and election districts)

With the addition of Marshall County, Indiana has complete statewide coverage of these data, thereby increasing the value and usefulness for all Indiana citizens.

“I love working with Hoosiers!” said Jim Sparks, Indiana’s Geographic Information Officer, a position created by state statute in 2007 and responsible for coordinating GIS across all levels of government, academia, and the private sector.  “One-hundred percent voluntary participation in this important County-State project is a testament to our active and engaged Indiana GIS community.  We are all working collaboratively to improve the quality of life for Hoosiers by supporting economic development, public safety, transportation, and government and private sector efficiency through the availability of these critical data.”

As a result of the  data sharing project, these layers are already being used by the Indiana State Police, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Natural Resources, and the Secretary of State’s office, as well as colleges, universities, the private sector, and the counties from which the data originated.

Public safety was a key incentive for many of the counties to participate in the statewide project. David Vice, Executive Director of the Indiana Integrated Public Safety Commission remarked, “When agencies share data, lives are saved and public offices become more efficient.  Sharing data encourages collaboration among agencies, provides for informed decision-making and reduces redundancy of data production.  Further, planning and policy groups become better informed, particularly in terms of emergency calls and disaster response.  We can be proud that all 92 counties are now sharing their map data, a major milestone that will benefit all Indiana taxpayers.”

These data layers, along with other geographic information are freely available to the public from the IndianaMap (, a web-based data portal, viewer, and download tool which has demonstrated a 34 to 1 return on investment (  Given that 80% or more of government data has a geographic component, it is not surprising that Indiana government agencies, universities, and private sector companies have received significant benefit from the 240-plus layers of publicly available, highly accurate, and current geospatial information offered for viewing and download at the IndianaMap.  The data contributed by all 92 Indiana counties adds even more value to the IndianaMap.

The Indiana Geographic Information Office is located within the Indiana Office of Technology and was created by state statute in 2007 to facilitate GIS data cooperation between units of the federal, state, and local governments; integrate GIS data and framework data into a statewide base map; develop and maintain statewide framework data layers; provide public access to GIS data and framework data in locations throughout Indiana; and serve as Geographic Information Officer for state agencies. 

The GIS Office contributes to the quality of Indiana as a place to live and work by cultivating statewide geographic information resources (relationships, data and technology) so that individuals and organizations across the state have appropriate access to accurate and relevant geographic information and technology.

Support the Geospatial Data Act

The Geospatial Data Act of 2015 was introduced in Congress today.  This bipartisan bill will go a long way toward correcting inadequacies of the federal government regarding management geospatial data and National Spatial Data Infrastructure.  This bill was assigned to a congressional committee, which will consider it before possibly sending it on to the House or Senate as a whole.

Geospatial professionals can support the Geospatial Data Act by contacting your senators and congressional representatives today to let them know why the Act is important both to your state and the nation, and if possible to offer your expertise helping them interpret the technical aspects of the Act.

Date: Monday, March 16, 2015
Subject: JOINT RELEASE: Hatch, Warner Introduce Bipartisan Geospatial Data Act



March 16, 2015

Media Contacts:
Matt Whitlock (Hatch): 202-228-0210
Rachel Cohen (Warner): 202-228-6884

JOINT RELEASE – Hatch, Warner Introduce Bipartisan Geospatial Data Act

Washington, D.C.— U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch, R-UT, and John Warner, D-VA, issued the following statements after introducing the bipartisan Geospatial Data Act.

Sen. Hatch said, “The federal government wastes vast amounts of taxpayer dollars by not properly managing and coordinating our federal investments in geospatial data. This commonsense legislation will improve coordination, reduce duplication, and promote data transparency.”

“Geospatial data has endless possibilities for transforming both the private and public sectors — from helping local governments develop emergency preparedness plans to fueling the creation of apps that let you find parking spots, restaurants, and even homes for sale based on where you’re standing,” said Sen. Warner. “The federal government is the largest purchaser of geospatial data but some very basic questions about how and where agencies are already investing in this data can’t be answered. Our bill would bring transparency and accountability to the collection of this data and ensure that taxpayer dollars are not being wasted on duplicative efforts.”

Shelby D. Johnson, President of the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) said, “People believe that the United States of America has a robust system of maps and digital data. We don’t, but we should. The federal government was never given the tools to do the job right. This Act is a good step toward solving the problems, and our members strongly support it. We also applaud Senator Hatch and Senator Warner for their foresight in dealing with this problem.”

Matthew Chase, executive director of the National Association of Counties, said, “GIS data is an important tool for counties when it comes to making land use decisions, maintaining infrastructure, and responding to emergencies. We support this bill because counties need accurate, modern mapping data to perform key duties and deliver services to their residents. We commend Senators Hatch and Warner for introducing this legislation and urge their colleagues to join them in supporting it.


Geospatial data is the information that identifies the geographic location and characteristics of natural or constructed features, such as wells, roads, or forests. The federal government has recognized the need to organize and coordinate the collection and management of this data since at least 1990, when the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) most recently revised Circular A-16 to establish the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) and to promote the coordinated use, sharing, and dissemination of geospatial data nationwide. Unfortunately the progress made over the last two decades has been inadequate. The federal government needs to improve management of geospatial data across the board.

The Geospatial Data Act will codify and strengthen OMB Circular A-16 and require federal agencies to implement international consensus standards, assist in eliminating duplication, avoid redundant expenditures, accelerate the development of electronic government to meet the needs and expectations of citizens and agency programmatic mandates, and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public management.

Additionally, the bill will provide a clear definition for geospatial data and metadata, will require an accounting of the costs associated with the acquisition or creation of geospatial data, and will improve government transparency and availability to public information.

Following requests from Senators Hatch, Warner, Risch, and Carper, the Government Accountability Office recently published their third report on the issue, entitled “Geospatial Data—Progress Needed on Identifying Expenditures, Building and Utilizing a Data Infrastructure, and Reducing Duplicative Efforts.” The report outlined the intrinsic value of geospatial data, and recommended various measures for better coordination of geospatial activities.

Report Card on the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI)

The Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) announces the release of its Report Card on the U.S. National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) that depicts the condition and performance of the nation’s geospatial “infrastructure” which includes surveyed, mapped and remotely-sensed information.

This initial Report Card by the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) is a qualitative assessment of the status of the Framework data components of that program. This evaluation specifically examines the status of the seven data themes that serve as the backbone required by users to conduct most mapping and geospatial analysis tasks. While Framework data have been collected and made available for use over the past two decades, a digital geospatial Framework that is national in scope, is not yet in place and may never exist. Based on the following analysis, the overall grade assigned to the comprehensive NSDI Framework is C-.

The clear objective of the NSDI was to create a dependable utility that would provide accurate, consistent, and current data to all users. The goals of the program were to:

• Reduce duplication of effort among agencies.

• Improve the quality of data and reduce costs related to the acquisition of geographic information.

• Make geographic data more accessible to the public.

• Increase the benefits of using available data.

• Establish key partnerships with states, counties, cities, tribal nations, academia, and the private sector, to increase the availability of geographic data.

The NSDI includes a number of connected components, including the technology, policies, standards, and human resources necessary to acquire, process, store, distribute, and improve the utilization of geospatial data. However, the cornerstone of the program is a common digital base map that would aggregate the best representations of fundamental data from all levels of government.

In light of the two decade history of the NSDI, and this realistic assessment of the current situation, the Expert Panel concludes that the Framework requires attention, and that several actions need to take place:

  • The concept of the Framework needs to be reaffirmed.
  • A new model for Framework data needs to be adopted, and this new model must acknowledge the importance of local partners.
  • The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) needs to emphasize that the Framework is part of its Strategic Plan, and that it will work in collaboration with non-federal and non-governmental partners to build an effective NSDI Framework.
  • Bossler, Dr. John D., Dr. David J. Cowen, James E. Geringer, Susan Carson Lambert, John J. Moeller, Thomas D. Rust, Robert T. Welch. Report Card on the U.S. National Spatial Data Infrastructure – Compiled for the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations. February 6, 2015.

IndianaMap Awarded First Prize at FOSS4G for Open Data

The IndianaMap was awarded first place at the 2014 FOSS4G, September 11, 2014 Portland, Oregon.

The IndianaMap is composed of over 300 laters of open geospatial data. It was recently recognized as a “Notable Document” by the American Library Association and serves as an example of local, regional, and state data sharing. Web Feature Services are harvested monthly from counties and assembled as statewide layers distributed through the IndianaMap. The data partnership has resulted in nearly statewide coverage of parcels, address points, local jurisdiction boundaries, and street centerlines where data stewardship remains at the local authoritative level.

The IndianaMap won in the category of best open source data integration:

16 notable maps were called out in 8 different categories.

  • Best open source data integration. Awarded to the map which makes the most innovative use of open source data. the map need not use a wide variety of sources or be entirely composed of open data sources but the open source component must be well marshaled, purposeful and a core component of the final map.

View the IndianaMap

IndianaMap submission by Justin Peters (Indiana Geological Survey), Indiana Geographic Information Council, State of Indiana GIO.

Building a National Data Sharing Infrastructure

In March, 2014, URISA published the first in what is intended to be a series of occasional GIS Management Institute® discussion papers. “A Distributed Model for Effective National Geospatial Data Management: Building a National Data Sharing Infrastructure,” by Jim Sparks (State of Indiana GIO), Philip Worrall (Indiana Geographic Information Council Executive Director), and Kevin Mickey (Indiana University Polis Center Geospatial Education Director).

While Indiana’s history with building a spatial data infrastructure has been short relative to several other’s, its track record is impressive. In the late 1990’s the Federal Geographic Data Committee awarded a small grant to a small group of likeminded GIS professionals in Indiana in hopes of starting something – anything really – to boost GIS coordination in the state. The 2000’s brought sweeping change, including developing a not-for-profit council, voluntary standards, GIS data sharing and metadata initiatives, statewide data collection programs, multi-level governmental support, and instituting the IndianaMap. In 2009, the IndianaMap partners quietly released the first view of a multi-county parcel database. Today the IndianaMap hosts and freely delivers the nearly complete framework – map data sourced from local agencies – along with dozens of other statewide and regional data sets (more than 230 layers of GIS data, Indiana Geological Survey). These data are served for viewing and free download to the public and rolled-up all the way to the federal level into The National Map.

This important paper examines a number of impediments to effective data development and data sharing and offer solutions that reflect the employment of effective coordination, carefully directed funding, and the application of current information technology tools and strategies. It summarizes the best practices that the authors believe should be applied nationwide to maintain local control of processes while achieving the broad goals of the National Map. The authors provide a summary of how Indiana has met one of its biggest challenges over the years – how to create a viable, sustainable technical data collection, storage, and distribution infrastructure and the human resources to manage and maintain it.

While the NSDI concept has spanned decades, the realization of a nationwide local-to-statewide-to-national NSDI has been elusive. This paper presents case studies from across the nation. It evaluates what practices have proven to work, and also those that have proven not to work. With it, we may yet get closer to realizing an NSDI.

Read the full paper here.

The Geographic Inequalities of Broadband in Indiana

Indiana is participating in the National Broadband Program as a multi-year, multi-agency effort to map areas in the state that are currently served by the state’s 170+ broadband providers. The results from this will be integrated into a national broadband availability map, and will provide a solid foundation for future broadband deployment efforts at the state and national level.

“Broadband access supports our economy, attracts businesses, and enables Indiana to be globally competitive.  It improves the quality of life for Hoosiers through better communication and learning,” says Jim Sparks Indiana Geographic Information Officer regarding Indiana’s participation.

The mapping portion of the program intends to identify areas that are underserved and ideally expand access to those areas. Indiana is an active participant in the program, and rightly so – several areas of the state and key demographics are currently underserved. From an user interface perspective, personally I find the national broadband availability maps (different from the IndianaMap) leave something to be desired. I find them generally too technical to communicate much to the average consumer, though they surely are packed with information that will assist at the national program level. Be sure to look at the “Show Gallery” link at the bottom of the page for some nice perspectives (it is easily missed). As a work in progress, it is also worth keeping in mind that the maps may over-represent some areas and under-represent other areas based on individual states’ current participation in the mapping program.

Lest we underestimate the potential impact of the broadband program in Indiana, let us look at the current “state of the state” according to another source,

Indiana on the Patchwork Nation Broadband Map

Wow. Indiana really stands out.