It's time to get serious about using geospatial data for homeland security. That was the message from Steven Cooper, Special Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, when he addressed the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Steering Committee at its fall meeting in October in Washington, D.C. Cooper stressed how homeland security brings additional urgency and focus to the need for geospatial data. After discussions with parties involved in the World Trade Center response, it was clear to him that all accessible geospatial information was used in the response, while information that wasn't available cost lives and property.
More funding is needed for geospatial activities, across all levels of government and the private sector. Cooper said that in 2004, the proposed Department of Homeland Security will work with the Office of Management and Budget to spearhead collaborative efforts, such as the Geospatial One-Stop E-Government Initiative currently in progress to provide a single access point for national geospatial data sets. Cooper repeatedly emphasized the need for collaboration across the geospatial community as well as for an accelerated schedule for the completion of data infrastructure building and acquisition projects. In his role within the Office of Homeland Security, Cooper is responsible for guiding the development of information integration architectures within the federal government enabling the sharing of homeland security information with state, local and relevant private sector entities.
To address Homeland Security geospatial needs, Cooper proposes pilot project dollars be applied for new and emerging technology in the geospatial arena. The caveat is that projects must be collaborative and they must use FGDC standards to contribute the resulting geospatial data to the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). The FGDC coordinates the development of the NSDI, which encompasses the policies, standards and procedures for organizations to cooperatively produce and share geographic data. The 19 federal agencies that make up the FGDC are developing the NSDI in cooperation with organizations from state, local and tribal governments, the academic community, and the private sector. More information on the FGDC and the NSDI is available at www.fgdc.gov.