"An extraordinary opportunity to enhance the homeland security of the United States and at the same time advance the development and application of geospatial data is being proposed in the United States Senate, and we invite and urge the entire geospatial community to support it," says John Palatiello, Executive Director of MAPPS, a national association of private geospatial firms.

Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) will be offering an amendment on the floor of the U.S. Senate to create a geospatial information program within the new Department of Homeland Security. The amendment establishes a geospatial entity in the Chief Information Officer, provides responsibility for coordination with other Federal, state and local government and the private sector, requires promotion of interoperability, authorizes grants and data sharing agreements, and authorizes and encourages contracts with the private sector.

Palatiello urged all firms, agencies, associations, professional societies and individuals in the geospatial community to take actions in support of the Allard amendment.

To support the bill MAPPS recommends you

  1. Go to www.senate.gov and look up your senators' names and fax number (fax is preferred, but if your senators do not have published fax numbers, use email).
  2. Write a letter on your organization's letterhead and fax it to your State's U.S. senators in Washington.
  3. Encourage other geospatial producers or users groups that would also support this amendment take steps (1) and (2) above.

"The Allard amendment is good for America, first and foremost. It is also good for every segment of the geospatial community, in Federal, state and local government, and in the private sector," Palatiello said. "Long before September 11 of last year, there was widespread discussion in our community about applications, standards, coordination and interoperability. Since September 11 of last year, every meeting and conference in this community has featured discussions about the important contribution geospatial data can play in homeland security, as well as the frustration at the lack of attention paid by key decision makers in Washington. Senator Allard has heard from private geospatial firms, as well as local government and first responders, and is proposing a worthy solution. He is to be commended for his leadership and we all should support his effort," Palatiello said.