With emerging technologies and people’s expectations, governments have to upgrade their infrastructure; however, few states lag behind.
FREMONT, CA: According to a report by National States Geographic Council (NSGIC), states are underprepared to adopt critical emerging technologies such as next-generation 911 and geo-enabled election systems. The report—the group's first-ever assessment of the states developing their geographic information system (GIS)—says the progress is slow, and the states need to improve urgently. NSGIC graded 41 participating states on 10 data points based on the levels of coordination and maturity of the core GIS datasets such as elevation data and aerial imagery. States such as Hawaii, Nevada, and Wyoming received lowest grades of C- whereas a dozen states, including New York and Kentucky, received the highest marks of B+.
The president of NSGIC, Karen Rogers, says, “GIS is still not receiving sufficient attention and funding.” Even though GIS is considered as a foundational technology by many states, it has moved at a slow pace. The passing of the Federal Geospatial Data Act in 2018 solidified the long-standing governance structures, implemented new Congressional oversight for GIS programs, and encouraged participation between government entities and across the industry. However, lack of funding behind the legislation is still a significant concern. Karen believes that the state governments need to have their functioning GIS infrastructures such as technologies, policies, and organizational structures that facilitate the exchange of geospatial data.
The report also graded the states on their policy environments surrounding next-gen 911. Out of the 41 states, 14 said their 911 system does not provide funding to GIS data development. Sixteen responded by saying that they do not have any process to aggregate local data into state-wide datasets for next-generation 911. 28 states reported that they have no interstate coordination for next-gen 911 GIS data. The NSGIC and the programs that tried to incorporate GIS into the election system both concluded that states are inexperienced when it comes to developing and nurturing relationships with their state election director and in creating and assisting in the creation, maintenance, and of GIS data and tools for election management. Only 17 states have a good relationship and a direct line of communication to the state’s election director. Karen concludes, “It depends on the leading states in geographic information system to encourage other states in improving their mapping programs.