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The Fifty States Initiative is a partnership between NSGIC and the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC). It is designed to bring all public and private stakeholders together in statewide GIS coordination bodies that help to form effective partnerships and lasting relationships. In 2005, the FGDC requested that NSGIC, which is the national "voice" of state coordination of geospatial technologies, take the lead on this initiative. A work group including federal, state, and local representatives was formed to define and develop the initiative.
This effort defined an appropriate model for statewide coordination criteria and conducted a survey of the states with regard to meeting these criteria to serve as a benchmark. The model also defines the characteristics of an effective statewide coordination council/office and the activities that must be pursued by these groups to ensure that their contributions to the NSDI are meaningful. In the past two years, the FGDC and NSGIC have collaborated to develop and implement training for state GIS coordinators and others related to strategic and business planning processes as a fundamental piece of the Fifty States Initiative.
Although much progress has been made, it will not be possible to build the NSDI without expanding and strengthening the Fifty States Initiative to take advantage of the day-to-day efforts of all levels of government. This will require that effective statewide coordination mechanisms be put in place. The Fifty States Initiative describes the necessary coordination criteria, the characteristics of an effective statewide coordination council or office, the geospatial coordination activities that must be conducted, and the benchmarks for measuring statewide participation in the NSDI. It also makes recommendations to the FGDC and all federal agencies on how they can assist in the implementation of effective statewide spatial data infrastructures.
The challenge we face is bringing consistency and parity to all 50 states. This will require participation by top elected and appointed officials in federal, state, tribal, and local governments. These officials need to be involved in ways that will help them understand the importance of geospatial technologies to the delivery of citizen services. The entire geospatial community must also have incentives to participate in the strategies being developed and be willing to support their implementation.