Mississippi as a Model for Remote Sensing Research and Operational Integration - GRI Director Named to Council

Geosystems Research Institute
April 2, 2004

Story PhotoThe Commissioner of the Mississippi IHL has appointed Dr. David Shaw, Director of the GeoResources Institute (GRI) at Mississippi State University (MSU), to the position of council member of the Mississippi Coordinating Council for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems, a council created by Mississippi HB861 and endorsed by the Governor.

Technology revolutions have driven the expectations of remote sensing and decision support systems to an all-time high. The new generation of resource managers and policymakers wants broadly accessible resource analysis and management tools that integrate the recent advances in computational and sensor technologies and visualization products. They understand that such tools can lead to increased economic competitiveness and can exponentially increase the economic value of the resource systems they steward. A new Mississippi law, HB 861, clearly allocates public sector responsibilities for implementation in the field of remote sensing and geographic information systems. The coordination effected by this law has uniquely positioned the state to maximally leverage federal, state, and local funds to become the national leader in this rapidly evolving technology.

The law, passed by both houses and signed by the governor in 2003, created the Mississippi Coordinating Council for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems. It directs the new council to "set and assure enforcement of policies and standards to make it easier for remote sensing and geographic information system users around the state to share information and to facilitate cost-sharing arrangements to reduce the costs of acquiring remote sensing and geographic information system data." It assigns responsibility for implementation of technology-providing broad access to framework remote sensing and geographic information systems data-to two state agencies under the council's direction and oversight. The clear intent of this landmark legislation is to promote coordination and collaboration rather than parochial competition among the state's institutions and agencies interested in this technology. The law assigns the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) responsibility for developing seven base data layers of geographic information for the state, referred to as the Mississippi Digital Earth Model (MDEM). It charges the Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services (ITS) with providing the communication infrastructure and an electronic warehouse for these data. The program will be largely self-funding in the long term because of coordinating regular governmental and agency data acquisition plans and efficiencies in coordinating statewide data purchases.

The new law exempts the research and education activities of the state's Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) from the Coordinating Council's purview. However, to assure that the research products of these universities are linked to the implementation of and access to the technology provided through the Council, the law establishes one voting Council member as the appointed representative of the Commissioner of the Mississippi IHL. The Commissioner has appointed Dr. David Shaw, Director of the GeoResources Institute at Mississippi State University, to fill this position. With this link to IHL's research and educational capacity, the Coordinating Council provides a framework for coordinating and integrating operational needs, private business expertise and resources, and academic research, training, and outreach resources.

The Council is responsible for development of data requirements and specifications, and the private sector will be responsible for data collection, product development, and integration. It recently approved the hiring of an engineering firm to administer the procurement process for digital flood insurance requirement mapping. Future solicitations will be announced as funding opportunities arise for the other framework data layers.

The Council has appointed several committees who are or have been active since July 2003. These include the Policy Advisory Committee, the Technical Users Committee, the Data Procurement Standards Task Force, and the Education/Outreach Committee. The Council meets on an approximate monthly basis. The various committees meet on an as-needed basis.

For more information, please contact Dr. David Shaw, dshaw@gri.msstate.edu.

-- Article appeared in The Sensor, April, 2004

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