Geo-Government: The New Information EcoSystem for Government

Moderated by:
Robert Greenberg (G&H International Services, Inc)
Chris McIntosh (Commonwealth of Virginia), Charles Werner (Charlottesville Fire Department), Sean McSpaden (State of Oregon), Scott Gregory (State of California)
Location Development, Mobile Development Yerba Buena Salon 4-6
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The issue of sharing information –especially in disasters— was addressed in detail in the U.N. Foundation-sponsored report “Disaster Relief 2.0: The Future of Information Sharing in Humanitarian Emergencies” which described the promise and challenges faced by the responders to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. As the report states:

“This report sounds an alarm bell. If decision makers wish to have access to (near) real- time assessments of complex emergencies, they will need to figure out how to process information flows from many more thousands of individuals than the current system can handle.”

While the report is addressing the earthquake in Haiti it is equally applicable to the challenges facing our emergency responders as well. That is all about to change. Look at the following scenario:

It’s “Game Day” in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Fire Chief managing the event needs to get access to, visualize and analyze numerous data feeds from multiple systems and jurisdictions in real time in order to make informed and timely decisions. Normally – and in the best case— the Chief would have to have numerous staff members accessing multiple sites and cut and paste the information into a common platform, with the staff constantly looking for updates and updating the system with new data. Often by the time the information is updated, it’s out of date and the Chief has to scramble to get updates via cell phone, radio, email or whatever means possible. And every game day this situation repeats itself

Now imagine it’s “Game Day” in Charlottesville. The Chief opens up his operating picture, finds the icon that says “Charlottesville Game Day” clicks on it and all the data that is needed for managing the situation is automatically populated on his map, along with dashboards that will provide a high level view of what information is current and what is missing. And imagine that as the information changes it automatically updates itself on the viewer. And, if the Operations Chief of Virginia’s Department of Emergency Management wants to also monitor the event all it takes is a click on his “Charlottesville Game Day” catalogue to obtain the same picture. And the same can be done with anyone authorized to obtain the same information..

Now imagine a federated network of such “smart” systems across the country.

Impossible? Three states across the country, working together, are developing and implementing this as we speak. The panel will feature four leaders of state and local government who will discuss the steps they are taking to create this new Information EcoSystem. Each of these initiatives is using geospatial and web based technologies combined with a methodology that will create “smart” information systems that are preconfigured to create actionable information from the torrent of available data around the issues that are important to the operators.

Having useful, timely, accurate and thorough information is critical for informed decision making. While this is the case in general, nowhere is it more important that in preparing for and responding to a critical event – whether it be a manmade event such as a terrorist attack or a natural disaster.
Achieving this depends on being able to get access to multiple data sources and being able to put that data into the appropriate context. It is in this way that you transform disparate pieces of data into information, knowledge and ultimately, wisdom.

It wasn’t long ago that the main challenge facing decision makers was simply getting access to enough data. Today the challenge is different. In today’s information age, especially with the advent of Social Media, there is more data available today than anyone had thought possible just a few years ago. There are literally thousands of information systems and sources across jurisdictions and disciplines across the country. Yet, unfortunately, it is often not usable because it is locked in proprietary systems or it is not organized in a usable fashion.

There have been a number of initiatives over the last few years that have begun to address this issue and the panel will discuss those initiatives and further explore two key points that t are enabling them to evolve into this new ecosystem:

  1. Making Information Usable: Data doesn’t become information until it is put in the right context. And information doesn’t become actionable until it can be analyzed and is available to the decision maker. To be truly effective, an information system needs to enable the user to access (and reveal), aggregate, organize, manage, integrate, visualize and analyze information.
  2. Unlocking Useful Data: The majority of data resides at the local level. That has to be the starting place for accessing and creating data. In order to do that, local and state agencies and jurisdictions need to be empowered with their own information capability. In other words we need both a breadth and depth of “smart” information sharing and analytical capabilities.

To show the power of these new systems, panelists will provide attendees with a demonstration of the capabilities they are developing. Finally, each of the initiatives discussed by the panel will focus on their efforts in the emergency management sphere, the panelists will also, address how what they are doing applies to “whole of government.”

Photo of Robert Greenberg

Robert Greenberg

G&H International Services, Inc

Robert Greenberg is founder and CEO of G&H International Services Inc., a Washington D.C. based firm that provides consulting and technology services to enhance the safety and security of communities across the nation. Mr. Greenberg works with Federal, State and Local governments to develop and implement initiatives and programs to assist the emergency services community and the Critical Infrastructure and Key Resource sector (CIKR) to strengthen community preparedness and resilience across the nation.. Mr. Greenberg helped initiate and implement the Department of Homeland Security’s Virtual initiative (a DHS flagship Open Government Initiative) which is applying geospatial and other social media tools to catalyze a technical and cultural shift in the way in which the public safety community collaborates and shares information. G&H is now deeply engaged in the development and implementation of web enabled geospatial based applications and tools to improve situational awareness for the emergency preparedness and response community.

Photo of Chris McIntosh

Chris McIntosh

Commonwealth of Virginia

Prior to his appointment, Christopher I. McIntosh served as a subject matter expert for the Virtual USA program where he applied operational, and technological best practices to information sharing initiatives at all levels of government. Prior to that, he served as the Operations Section Chief at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center where he was responsible for coordinating the response to large scale incidents and events affecting multiple jurisdictions in the Commonwealth, as well as the operation of the VEOC’s Watch Center. Mr. McIntosh developed and fielded the Virginia Interoperability Picture for Emergency Response (VIPER), which serves as common operating picture for the state.

Photo of Charles Werner

Charles Werner

Charlottesville Fire Department

Charles Werner is a 38 year veteran (34 years in Charlottesville) of the volunteer and career fire rescue service. Presently serves as the fire chief for the City of Charlottesville, Virginia.

Photo of Sean McSpaden

Sean McSpaden

State of Oregon

During the past 20 years in the public and private sectors, Sean McSpaden has gained operational experience and leadership skills at the executive and management levels. His background includes the start-up and management of several small businesses. His public service experience includes progressively responsible positions as an IT analyst, and in statewide coordination, management and leadership positions with the Oregon Department of Administrative Services (DAS).

Sean currently serves as Oregon’s Deputy State Chief Information Officer. Sean also serves as the Deputy Administrator for the DAS Enterprise Information Strategy and Policy Division. In that capacity, Sean oversees the division’s administrative operations including planning, budgeting, contracting, personnel, and performance management, and oversees the operation of the Geospatial Enterprise Office, Economic Recovery Executive Team and IT Investment and Planning sections.

In July 2006, Governor Kulongoski appointed Sean to a three-year term as the DAS representative on the State Interoperability Executive Council (SIEC). From February 2006 to December 2007, Sean also served as the chair of the SIEC’s Technical Committee and as a member of the SIEC Executive Committee.

Since September 2009, Sean has been actively involved in the US Department of Homeland Security’s Virtual USA initiative. As part of this work, Sean served as the Technical Working Group Chair for the Virtual USA Pacific Northwest Pilot – a collaborative effort to develop a common operating picture for emergency management for Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.
Since January 2011, Sean has served as Oregon’s representative to the FEMA Region X Regional Interagency Steering Committee – (RISC) GIS Subcommittee.

Among other topics, Sean and his team are very involved in assessing how Cloud-based solutions might best be deployed across Oregon state government. In addition, Sean currently serves as a government advisor to the TechAmerica Foundation’s Cloud for State and Local Government Commission.

In 2010, Sean co-led a multi-agency team that established Oregon’s state price agreement for Software as a Service (SaaS) Email and related services. In addition, Sean co-sponsored a series of multi-agency email workshops which led to the adoption of a Statewide Email Consolidation Roadmap designed to dramatically reduce the number of email systems deployed across state government.

In 2011, Sean co-led the deployment of via the use of a Software as a Service (SaaS) offering. Sean also serves on a four (4) state team that issued an RFI and RFP on GIS Cloud Computing Services and is currently pursuing the execution of a multi-state contract through the Western States Contracting Alliance (WSCA) in the coming months. Sean’s team led the deployment of Oregon’s Dedicated SaaS Email environment, authored Oregon’s Software as a Service (SaaS) Strategy, and is in the process of completing an initial study on alternative approaches for deploying desktop office productivity tools across Oregon state government (including Desktop Virtualization and Cloud-based solutions).

Sean holds a Bachelors of Arts in Business Management from Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. He is a 2006 graduate of the Willamette University Atkinson Graduate School of Management’s Certificate of Public Management Program. Sean completed Oregon’s project management certification program in 1999 and enterprise architecture certification program (TOGAF) in 2008. Sean is a member of several professional organizations including the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), the Project Management Institute (PMI) and the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA).

Photo of Scott Gregory

Scott Gregory

State of California

Scott Gregory is the Assistant Secretary over Geospatial Information Systems for the Technology Agency, and is the Geographic Information Officer (GIO) for the State of California. Scott brings over 16 years of GIS experience from a wide variety of county, federal, private sector, and academic roles. Before coming to the California Technology Agency, Scott managed the Public Safety/Homeland Security market for the California Regional Office of Esri Inc. In this role, Scott was responsible for developing GIS strategies for mission critical systems, and creating viable and sustainable GIS solutions for the Public Safety community in California and Nevada. Prior to joining Esri, Scott was the GIS Manager for the US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District. At the Corps of Engineers, he oversaw and managed the USACE GIS program for both civil and military clients for the Western US. Scott holds a BA in Geography from Sacramento State University, and an MBA from Regis University.

  • Esri
  • AT&T Interactive
  • Google
  • Nokia, Location & Commerce
  • Facebook
  • Bing
  • Control Group
  • Localeze
  • MyCityWay
  • Socrata
  • Urban Airship
  • MapQuest

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