Fgdc homeland Security Working Group Activity Status and Plans

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FGDC Homeland Security Working Group

Activity Status and Plans


Contents 1

Status 2

Agreements Subgroup 3

Emergency Response Symbology Subgroup 7

Guidelines Subgroup 12

Information Content Subgroup 15

Recharter Subgroup 17

US National Grid Subgroup 22


Most activities are done through subgroups. The purposes and status of the subgroups are:

  • Agreements Subgroup: Develop “standard” geospatial data sharing agreement (or guidelines for developing agreements) for homeland security purposes. The group was organized in the spring and is operating. The working group will take up the approval of attached work plan at its next meeting.

  • Emergency Response Symbology Subgroup: Provide a consistent national set of symbols for use in maps that support emergency response activities. ANSI INCITS/L1 approved the project proposal (attached) and approved the draft copy of the standard attached for submission. The subgroup’s work on linear and polygonal symbology to support emergency response is delayed pending the identification of resources from DHS/FEMA at the beginning of FY 2006. The subgroup will submit a project proposal for the next phase of the project at that time.

  • Guidelines Subgroup: Provide principles and guidance for use in evaluating the need to reduce or eliminate public access to specific geospatial data for Homeland Security reasons. The FGDC steering committee is schedule to complete balloting on adoption of the guidelines in August 2005 (some members’ ballots are still outstanding). The subgroup has identified follow-on work, but needs a new subgroup lead. Identification of the lead is pending FGDC adoption of the guidelines.

  • Information Content Subgroup: Provide principles and guidance on geospatial information content useful for homeland security applications. The initial products from this group are anticipated in September. Plans for follow-on work depend on the recommendations of the subgroup.

  • Recharter Subgroup: Revise the charter for the working group. The revised charter is due to the FGDC secretariat by November 1, 2005.

  • US National Grid Subgroup: Facilitate implementation of geoaddressing techniques based on the US National Grid by governments at all levels, businesses, public safety organizations, and individuals. This activity was approved for a year (until January 2006), at which time the working group will review the activity.

An activity that the working group identified but has not started:

  • Identification of geospatial data that would be useful for homeland security applications. This activity would be accomplished by working with the lead for the homeland security community in Geospatial One-Stop. This position of community lead currently is vacant.

The charters/work plans for the subgroups follow. Most provide schedule information.

Agreements Subgroup


PROJECT TITLE: Enhancement of Geospatial Data Sharing for Emergency Management, Homeland Security and Homeland Defense Applications

DATE: June 15, 2005

AUSPICES: Homeland Security Working Group, Federal Geographic Data Committee


William S. Burgess, Washington Liaison

National States Geographic Information Council

396 Stanford Court

Arnold, Maryland 21012

410.544.2005 (voice)

410.544.4064 (FAX)



1) Develop recommendations, mechanisms, and procedures to enhance the timely, efficient, and adequate sharing of geospatial data among Federal, state and local emergency management, homeland security, and homeland defense organizations wherever and whenever there is a demonstrable need.

2) Develop a single standardized data sharing agreement template for use by all levels of government that will facilitate and advance sharing of geospatial data by Federal, state and local emergency management, homeland security, and homeland defense organizations within the United States.


  • Discover and assess barriers to timely and adequate data sharing among Federal agencies and between Federal, State, and local agencies.

  • Identify effective means of mitigating or removing barriers to timely and adequate intra- and inter-governmental data sharing.

  • Clarify concerns related to licensing, copyright, security and access to public and non-public geospatial data

  • Provide criteria for effective data sharing solutions as they relate to licensing

  • Identify ways that organizations can balance security and licensing concerns and still provide for wide information access by agencies with a “need to know”


Nearly four years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, sharing of data and information, including geospatial data and information, among the Federal, State, local, and tribal entities responsible for emergency management, homeland security, and homeland defense activities remains substantially suboptimal. Findings of various studies, sworn testimony, and a wealth of anecdotal evidence clearly attest to the fact that this is the case. They also indicate that the situation can mostly be attributed to three factors.

  • Many of the data useful for these purposes have never been, are not now, and likely never will be collected solely or even primarily for these purposes, i.e., their collection is pursuant to other governmental needs and purposes.

  • Even assuming that the relevant Federal, State, local, and tribal entities are willing-in-principal to effectively and efficiently share the data they possess, certain of the laws and policies that these entities operate under, while arguably appropriate and workable pre-9/11, are functionally ill-suited to the post-9/11 world.

  • Local restricted distribution policies, licensing, copyright, and data charges have been and remain the focus of an endless debate regarding public access to data that were created with public funds. While Federal agencies have in general been proponents of open access to such data they have nevertheless invoked several options to protect data that they feel are sensitive. State and local governments share the same concerns that Federal agencies have regarding public access to sensitive data. They also often use licensing, copyright, and data charges as a way to augment austere budgets (and generally have legal mechanisms in place to provide for such).

Significant barriers to the timely, efficient, and adequate sharing of geospatial data potentially useful in emergency management, homeland security and homeland defense activities exist within the Federal government, as well as between it and the State, local, and Tribal governments. Typically the data in question, while useful for these purposes, were/are collected for some other reason, e.g., pursuant to the administration of a law or regulation or for purely statistical purposes. Such data collections often contain data that are subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) disclosure exemptions or to even more stringent nondisclosure provisions such as those conferred on certain data elements or entire data collections by the Privacy Act and the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA). These laws, enacted prior to the events of September 11, 2001, make it either impossible (in the case of Privacy Act or CIPSEA protected data) or very difficult (in other instances) to share data with any entity outside the collecting agency, much less do so in a timely and efficient manner. Even when it’s legally possible to share the data, this must typically be done under the aegis of a bilateral interagency agreement that can take from several months to more than a year to negotiate and put in place. There is some indication that similar barriers also exist at the State and local levels of government.

Effective means of obviating the significant data sharing barriers must be identified, developed, and implemented. While in principle few agencies are unwilling to share their geospatial data with other levels of government, most particularly in time of need for emergency management, homeland security, and homeland defense purposes, they lack a standard formal mechanism for doing so and no entity has yet acted to resolve that problem. The availability of a standard data sharing agreement template accompanied by appropriate use guidance will aid individual decision makers in providing appropriate access to their data and it will position the nation to deal more effectively with emergency management, homeland security and homeland defense activities. However, its use will necessarily have to take place within a comprehensive national governance framework, one that has yet to be developed. Recommendation of that framework, at least insofar as it relates to geospatial data, is the primary task of this working group.



Time Frame

Information gathering (review current policies both formal and informal, interview decision makers, review related deliberations) to identify:

  • Main issues of concern

  • Factors considered in evaluating the distribution and licensing of data

  • Approaches taken on remedial actions

  • Concerns that have not been addressed

  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of actions

  • The degree to which cost/benefit was considered in the decision process

April – December 2005

Draft principles/guidelines

December – February 2005

Provide for wider review/revisions (potential venues):

February – April 2006

Final draft

April 2006

Reviews (Coordination Group, etc)

May – August 2006

FGDC approval

Fall 2006


Members of the working group and others have volunteered to provide the core of this effort (see table below). Some are participating directly on a team formed by the working group, while others are providing access to related documents or to persons in their organizations more directly involved in these issues.

Participation is invited from other Federal, state and local agencies that do not participate on the working group, but that have similar concerns or related issues. Participation can be in the form of direct participation on the team, provision of access to related policies or decision makers, or participation in the planned review activities.



Baucom, Larry

Department of Defense/DPO-MA/HIFLD - BAH

Bradford, Mark

Department of Transportation

Burgess, Bill (Co-Lead)


Cullis, Brian

Department of Defense DUSI/I&E(BT-DISDI)

DeLost, Susan

U.S. Forest Service

Fields, Bob

Bureau of Land Management

Fusaro, Randy

U.S. Census Bureau

Gilbert, Heather

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

Gottsegen, Jon

Colorado State GIS Coordinator

Harp, Gary

Kentucky State GIS Coordinator

Hayden, Diane

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) - Associate General Counsel

Johnson, William

New York State - Office of Cyber Security and Critical Infrastructure

Jones, Brenda

U.S. Geological Survey - EROS Data Center

Kehoe, Maiya (Masha)

Department of Homeland Security - BearingPoint

McCants, Erin

Department of Homeland Security - BearingPoint

McCollough, Major

Tennessee Valley Authority

Milazzo, Valerie (Co-Lead)

U.S. Geological Survey

Morehouse, David

U.S. Department of Energy - EIA

Rao, Alan

U.S. Department of Transportation - Volpe National Transportation Systems Center

Reilly, Heather

Department of Homeland Security - BearingPoint

Saligoe-Simmel, Jill

Executive Director, Indiana Geographic Information Council

Smith, Cy

Oregon State GIS Coordinator

Tugwell, Rex

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

Weichert, Ivan

GIS Director, Kansas Information Technology Office

TARGET AUTHORIZATION BODY: The FGDC Steering Committee is the target body for authorization of this template agreement.

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