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The National Map Users Conference: What You Said: Shaping the Direction of The National Map
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Closing Session


Mark DeMulder: All right. Well, first of all, I'm so stunned to see so many of you are with us right to the better end. Thank you for hanging in there.

We did straighten this room down a little bit to this closing session, and it's a nice, intimate crowd and we really, really, really appreciate your participation throughout the two days and the GIS Conference that preceded, if you were one of those who joined that as well.


So welcome to our closing session. This is short. It's a 30-minute session. Vicki and I will do a little talking. I think we're going to have an exciting little four-minute video at the end... if it actually works. We'll keep our fingers crossed on that. And what we're going to try to do for you in this closing session is just try to summarize at a very high level some of the things that we have heard from you over the last two days and what we plan to do going forward.

So, remember our theme? Connect, Engage, Discover: that is how we're going to organize this afternoon session. We connected with you, we engaged with you over the last two days; this afternoon we're going to try to focus a little bit on what we discovered and we'll share some thoughts with you on that.


But first, let me just say a couple of things that are important about the conference. Over 400 people attended. This was our very first, as you know, and we were really thrilled by the participation.

It included a joint poster session with the USGS GIS Conference, two plenary sessions... and actually a third if you count this one... six panel discussions, 66 concurrent session presentations, three listening sessions, a product and services feedback session, and a number of special events, including the award ceremony last night, all with the intent of being able to connect, engage and ultimately discover with you.


I hope you had a chance to see the still pictures that were on the screens before the conference started. It was a nice montage of photographs collected over the last few days.

So before we go into the 'What did we discover?', again, I just want to add a very personal thank you to all of you for making this conference such a success and to thank you for the attitude and the energy that I sensed when I went around to the various sessions, when I watched you as we were in plenary session and as I listened to the dialogue in the hallways.

I just had the sense that there was a very positive vibe among all of you who made great connections amongst yourselves, with the speakers, with the conference itself, and just a lot of positive energy. And positive energy can go a long way, so keep it up. We really thank you for that.


So we're going to reflect a little bit here on what we think we are in. We're going to tour on these four major thematic areas. And Vicki and I are going to take turns. I think I'm doing the first and third and she's doing the second and fourth, if I got that right.

And what we'd also like to encourage you to do is today, next week, two weeks from now, as you reflect on the conference, if there are things that you think are important that didn't get said here or you didn't hear repeated, write to us, email us, call us, and let us know that. We will continue to welcome your input.

One of the things that was very interesting that not all of you may be aware of was occurring at the conference was that there was a map design survey going on. Raise your hand if you participated. That's a lot, actually. Many people in the room did.


Thirty-three participants participated in this map design survey. It was in the restaurant, I think. Right? And what you were asked to do was rate three different map designs in these problems A, B and C.

A and B are designs that were developed by Cindy and her students, Filo as you see is the current National Map design. And then it's just different locations to show a little geographic variety. Very interesting and very important.

And I just got a couple of statistics from Cindy that I want to share with you. Both of the new designs were given higher overall ratings than the existing US topo design.




Mark DeMulder: Yes. And we were very glad to hear that because we're investing in this research, and if it wasn't improving, we'd know we probably have an issue.


Mark DeMulder: So this is good. Likewise, the two new designs were selected more often as the preferred map over the US topo existing design as participants decided their answers for each of the three locations.

Cindy wanted me to pass a big 'Thank you' to all of you who participated. They have not yet done statistical comparisons, but they will. And this might result in a publication, I hope, for you at some point and improve designing for us.


Mark DeMulder: But that was very worthwhile. Thank you for doing that.

Now, I'll get to the two pieces of this slide that I have some comments to make on.


Awareness, visibility and engagement: we heard a lot about that, and a lot of it reinforced what we suspected about ourselves, which is people are not very aware of The National Map outside of our community that is here and those folks who know us well and that there is a natural tendency for people in the community out there, general, to immediately go to other sources... Bing or Google Earth or Open Street Map... rather than to come to The National Map.

So the issue of awareness, visibility and engagement really is, how do we raise the awareness and visibility and therefore the engagement of a much broader population of users in The National Map?

Interesting suggestions. I have one suggestion that said, "We should be doing public service announcements. Get George Clooney to go on TV and say, 'Hey, you paid for it, you should use it!'"



Mark DeMulder: Actually, the public service announcement might not be a bad idea. I don't think we could get George Clooney maybe.


Mark DeMulder: And I suggested maybe rather than Madonna adopting another child, she should adopt The National Map.


Audience 1: Lady Gaga!

Mark DeMulder: Lady Gaga.


Mark DeMulder: Yeah. [Laughter] That's not a bad idea!


Mark DeMulder: She could wear it, Lady Gaga.



Mark DeMulder: So that's on the 'not well-communicated'. That's one sort of strategy we need to pursue.

On the 'why people go to Google or Bing first and what we can do about it', I think the ease and the interface advantage that those giant private sector companies have will always be there. We need to recognize what our advantage is, and it's not competing in the design space or in the ease of use, because we will always get whipped there.


But we have strengths. We have the topo. We have the hydro. We have the geographic names. We have the ability to download those data.

And we really need to emphasize what the differences are and recognize that, sure, there's valid uses for all of these systems out there, but if you want to understand the geography of the country, you probably want to also understand the landscape, the topography and the surface water, etcetera.

Whose products and services are reliant on The National Map? The most compelling case that I can refer to here was the one at this podium this morning by Joel Sheraga. The climate situation that he described is somewhat dire.


But he gave us a path to hope, which is adaptation. And geospatial information is a key role in that adaptation. So for me, that's fixed in my mind.

The other one that we heard quite a bit from was from USGS scientists who were not in the National Geospatial Program but other parts of the organization. From our author, Frederick Reuss, we heard a very compelling idea that mapping has a human connection and we need to find an impactful way to tell the story, whatever story it is we're trying to tell.

And when he was talking, I couldn't help but remember my own compelling story. It's not about me, but one that I've carried with me for probably a decade now. Those of you who are in the USGS will remember Harold Cogle. He was a cartographer... first at Western, I think, right, and then at Midtown, at Mapping Center... and he retired a number of years ago.


We were on a map design team together years ago, and Harold and I were talking after... it was later in the evening... and he said, "Yeah, I really do care about this." He says, "When I was a kid, whenever I'd get my allowance, I would go downtown and with that allowance I'd buy whatever the coolest-looking USGS topographic map was that they had on the shelf. And I had a whole stack of them under my bed."

And he said, "When I was about eight or nine years old, I had a bedtime. My parents would come in and say, "Good night, Harold," and turn out the light. I'd say, 'Good night, Mom. Good night, Dad.'" And he'd wait a few seconds, and then he'd reach under his bed, grab one of the maps and a flashlight, pull the sheet over his head and sit there in the dark with his flashlight and his USGS topo map and just marvel at the contours and the features. And it was like, yeah, God. That's a map lover, right?



Mark DeMulder: He came to work in the right place. And so there is a human connection to this.

One of the other things we've heard from many of you is that this conference is valuable and that you appreciated the chance to be here. So we're probably going to do this again. And it's probably not going to be next year. We're thinking a two-year... So if you have thoughts on that, let us know.

I've probably used too much of my time, so let me pause there, bring the hero of the conference whom you have not seen on the stage yet but who led the teams that Jeff and others put together to bring this whole concert... 'concert' [Laughter]... this whole conference together. 'Vince Lombardi and the Concert,' right?


Mark DeMulder: Come on up, Vicki.



Vicki Lukas: Well, thank you, everyone. That's really nice. Again, I'm Vicki Lukas. I'm Chief of Partnerships and External Coordination for the National Geospatial Program. And so it's our group that will be looking at a lot of the information and feedback that you've provided us and kind of building that into our plan for engaging our users. We've done a lot with partners and we look forward to doing more with users. So that's really exciting.

And I guess the next thing on our list of lessons learned was about access. So partnerships and acquiring data, integrating it into national seamless database was something that we really put most of our focus on. And I think we learned through your feedback that we need to improve our delivery of our products and services. So ease of use and access to our data sets.

Ease of use of our services was mentioned by many of you. We need to make it simple for you to make The National Map a part of what you do everyday in your work, so that is something that we will really be looking at. We did receive some feedback about the improvements on our viewer and so we have been working at that, but I think there is a lot more that we can do on that front.


Another aspect of access is providing our products and services in a new format and on new platforms. In other words, The National Map needs to go mobile. And so we need the young Mr. Dietterle to be able to experience the value and benefits of topographic maps on the platforms that he likes to use, so that's an area that we really need to look more at.

In addition to access to our data services, which is something we kind of always think about but this was maybe something new to us, was that you want more access to the people behind The National Map, so the expertise that we have in the National Geospatial Program. Having more connections through things like technical support, training, and other kinds of ways to support what you do is something that you'd like us to work on to enhance. So we look forward to seeing what we can do on this front.


Mark DeMulder: So moving to products and services, just a few bits of information that we gathered through a variety of means. One was the 'doctor's office', one was the product and service experience that Carl had over the lunch hour, and just from some of the sessions that took place.

I have two lists. One list is the things that you value about the products and services that you are currently getting. The second list are the things that you need that you're not getting that you'd like to get out of our program.


On the valued side, national consistency. People like the fact that they can get similar data around the country. At least for parts of our program, there's a cyclical coverage of data gets updated on some known schedule across the country.

Integration of data from multiple sources. And Ned is probably a good example of that. People like LIDAR, and they want lots more. That's very clear.

And somebody commented, and I agree with this, that it's good that something seems to about to happen in Alaska, because it's been a long time since Alaska has been adequately addressed.

Audience 2: It was Kevin Gallagher?


Mark DeMulder: There might have been, OK?

Another thing that was valued, and this is... I mentioned earlier the study that Filo has done. Someone wrote in; they enjoyed participating in the Penn State Design Study on US Topo, so, good.


Now, on what people need. Downloadable contours. We don't make the contours available. You can download them, but not the contours. So that's what people want. They want more Web streaming. In other words, Web feature services rather than Web map services or Web coverage services or whatever.

This one is interesting. I didn't expect this. They want us to also provide US topo in a GeoTIFF format. I guess the advantage is that's more readily brought into a GIS application, if that's the case? So, OK, we'll think about that.

Faster downloads of large areas. Yeah, that would be good.


Mark DeMulder: Trails data as part of a transportation data set. And mobile maps. And I think the mobile thing is... you are just going to hear that from everybody everywhere all the time until we finally figure something out there.


So that's products and services. Vicki's got the last one on, and then I'll come back with some closing remarks.

Vicki Lukas: So focus and priorities. I think this is a topic we hear a lot about. We tried to do a lot of different things and a lot of discussion about how do we really focus in to provide the best value.

And for me, this is one of the more significant learnings of this conference. When we were planning this, we were hoping we'd get 350 participants here. I, for one, was a little worried about doing that with this economy and so many other events going on. And we were pleasantly surprised to get more than 400 people. And we had to turn some away, in fact.

A lot of people said to me that they were pleasantly surprised, too. They said, "I didn't realize that you would have a group like this here," and "I really like the selection of talks that you have."


So that was great to hear, and it kind of made me think, 'Why is that?' Why such a successful turnout? What makes this community unique?

And the answer is simple, but maybe at the same time a discovery... or a bit of a rediscovery... and that is the passion for topographic mapping. And I think Mark touched on that with his Harry Cogle story. And I think that was maybe brought to us consciously or maybe unconsciously in Frederick Reuss' talk where we recall what it was like to look at a map as a kid, a treasure map with an 'X' on it. And so it reminds us of our love for maps and the value that topographic maps bring to us.

The geospatial sector is very large. It's grown, it's evolved. It includes a huge variety of data types and applications. And that's essential to us as a broader community, but it's the love of the basic topographic map that is our little corner at this meeting. And it turns out that that group isn't so small as we thought.


Likewise, in our communities of youth sessions and our listening sessions, we heard that for The National Map, we need to refocus and again embrace our topographic mission. So what makes The National Map unique from Google and Bing or other general-purpose maps is the topography, and Mark already touched on that.

The elevation and hydrography are layers that define topographic mapping, and we saw the interest in that, again, in the LIDAR and also the great participation of our NHD colleagues. And so that was wonderful to have that group here as well. Together with names and geology, that makes The National Map unique.

So the message we've heard is to focus and prioritize on these layers that we uniquely provide.


We still need the other contact layers, we still need imagery, we still need boundaries and transportation, but I think if we really focus on these core topographic layers rather than trying to do everything at the same level, we can really excel in topographic mapping.

So thank you for your feedback and sharing your conference experience with us so that we could learn that together as a community.


Mark DeMulder: So I want you to know that in the coming days and weeks, if you go to The National Map Users Conference website, you'll find more information up there... the presentations, other information... and it will be a way for you to continue to connect with us once you get back on. So keep in touch with The National Map Users Conference website. We'll also talk about other events that may be coming up, and it's a good way to stay connected.


We hope that for those of you who connected with new folks here in this conference that you'll keep those connections when you walk away from this venue and continue to build the strength of our community.

I said in the opening remarks in my plenary talk that I was very encouraged by the turnout for this conference because what it signals to me is that there is, in fact, a community of folks who are interested in The National Map and want to be a part of it. And so we very much appreciate that.

I'll share one last kind of interesting idea with you, and then I'm going to ask Jeff Dietterle to come up and recognize his team.

One of the things in our listening session that came up was the idea of a National Map foundation, an organization that sits outside of government that can help The National Map and the community of users for The National Map achieve its goals.


So what could it involve? Fund-raising. It could involve education and outreach. I t could involve applications development.

And it's not without precedent. Those in the Department of Interior probably realize that for fish and wildlife, there is a National Fish and Wildlife foundation. Every National Park has a park foundation that's associated with it.

And there's some unique opportunities that presents. It's just a little outside of our comfort zone, but we're going to think about that. And if you have any ideas, we'd love to hear from you about it.

OK, so now let me turn it to Jeff Dietterle and say, Jeff, magnificent job. He's our conference organizer.



Mark DeMulder: He put together a wonderful conference. Tricia Gibbons and her team, a big help in that. And I'll let you do the rest of the 'thank yous', but Jeff, from the bottom of my heart, thank you very much. You did a great job.

Jeff Dietterle: Thank you, Mark. Thank you, Vicki. Everyone associated with supporting me on teams, I'd like you just to stand up now and go to the bar.


Audience 3: If the videographer... he would do a spin so he could see your face.


Jeff Dietterle: Come on. Back here, you guys. And keep standing.


I'm going to be very brief here. But I wanted to go through here a bit.

I'll start just... not in any particular order, but I wanted to state especially Jennifer Sieverling who's really been a mentor to me on this in all her experience and also to tap into some of the people that she knows here who have really helped us and have been very valuable. One is Catherine Costello that helped with registration. Jennifer, Ariel and Catherine also put together, made the arrangements and were the point of contact to the hotels.

Going down here, for the website, who is not here, is Doug Hart. And Doug Hart has been providing all the support for the website. He's been making changes. Anytime anything needed to happen, he would make those changes and was just great for his support... and will be continuing, because we've seen some of the information that we're getting here. We're going to be turning that around and putting that on the website so it's going to be very current.


For experience in design, Bruce Gaiman. The visual set you see here, Bruce was the person behind all this, the creative mind behind it. For the conference evaluations, Sid Ashel.

The moderators. I hope all the moderators are seeing themselves and are standing up in this. I don't think that they are.

Mark DeMulder: They're not.

Jeff Dietterle: They're not. The moderators.


Jeff Dietterle: Burt led the team, but the moderators... This is a much larger group.

Videographer: Come on, you guys! Come on! Back here. Let me get a shot of you.

Jeff Dietterle: Carl Wood with products and services team. Paul Jurison with the doctor's office. And I hope all the IT folks on his team are standing up. They provided just excellent support you see right here. If there was any problem, their team took care of it, and everything ran so smoothly because of their work.


For social media and media relationships, Mark Newell. Poster sessions, RA Barkin, who is not here today. She is feeling ill. But she was the one that arranged for all the poster sessions. And there's going to be some follow up with that and it's going to be sent home to DSRI with the posters that were. And there is probable were we will see each other again sometime soon. For the Gannett Award and the VIP, Pat Phillips.

And I hope I didn't leave out anybody else. Boy, there's a whole group of people.


Jeff Dietterle: Well, JP Maxwell and the AV team. They're right here. JP has just done an outstanding job in pulling together this team and all you see being video-taped and a lot of the images that were captured here, and we're going to turn around and get those out to you all to view.


And for... again, I wanted to acknowledge Tricia. And Brooke and Harold and Tricia and the LEAD Alliance. They helped to step in and shake us up and keep us moving in the right direction, and that was just wonderful.

And also Ed Seneti and Sapient. I saw Christina out here helping. Ed Seneti has helped out with the some things and some other activities.

I did get Mark. Did I? I did get you. So Mark Newell for all the communications and social and all the tweeting you see. So let's give them all a round of applause.



Jeff Dietterle: Another thing I'll say is when I was doing the last briefing to a leadership team, they were saying, "Why are you so... You're not a bundle of nerves." I am more a bundle of nerves just right now, but... I was relaxed and I was confident, and it's because I had you guys behind me. So thank you.


[Video Presentation of Short Interviews of Conference Attendees]

Lt: Karl Taylor Drexler: My name is Lt. Karl Taylor Drexler. I work at The National Guard Bureau.

Frederick Reuss: I'm Frederick Reuss. I was invited to speak to the conference.

Yan Liu: Hi. My name is Yan, Yan Liu. I am from the University of Illinois.

Stephen Lario: Hi. My name is Stephen Lario from the U.S. Air Force.

Delbert Brown: Hi. I am Delbert Brown from Buckley Air Force Base.

Mike Da Luz: My name is Mike Da Luz. I am from NSRI.

Betsy Canali: My name is Betsy Canali and I work for the U.S. Forest Service.

Ezra Mclachlan: My name is Ezra Mclachlan. I have been an intern.

Anya MacDonough: My name is Anya MacDonough. I reside from Germany.

Frederick Reuss: I was thrilled for the chance to meet cartographers.

Lt: Karl Taylor Drexler: For us it is all about information sharing in a secure way.

Anya McDanuff: I learned the difference between what the national map does versus Google maps and big maps for example.

Mike Da Luz: The plenary has been very informative. I think they were very creatively done. I thought that they were very complete in terms of people who could share ideas both on the technical side and on the policy implementation side, if I am not to be very interested.

Yan Liu: I am here to understand the computation of challenges when the national map data is use in analytical services in geospatial analysis and the modeling.

Frederick Reuss: I used the national map and I did some PDFs actually.

Stephen Lario: We really needed consistent elevation, imagery, and hydrographic data as well as transportation information of right contacts to support logistics, security, and safety of our operations there.

Yan Liu: In the conference, I learned a lot, as a newcomer, about how complicated the matching process is and the tremendous data this national map project generates.

Ezra McLachlan: This is my first ever business conference. It was really enjoyable. I got to learn a lot more about what the USGS does.

Delbert Brown: It was nice to have a source who gets geographic information to supplemental maps.

Stephen Lario: I am attending the national map conference so that we can look at the opportunity to find a coherent and consistent base map to support our installation operations.

Betsy Canali: I really like what I have seen in a while, this week at this conference, with some of the discussions we have had about mapping in the cloud and volunteer geographic information opportunities for the public to contribute.

Stephen Lario: The need for something like a national map became obvious. I get enough from other public sources, but with the main sources, federal sources in particular became a priority.

Mike Da Luz: I have found some of the technical conversations about how people were using analytics based on the kinds of data sets that they were getting to be very intriguing.

Delbert Brown: I have come to meet colleagues and peers in the industry, and also to hear from other government departments on their efforts to see what they are doing and how we, Department of Defense, can with integrate in with the department of the government.

Betsy Canali: I am really happy to see that the U.S. Justice made this commitment to go back to making maps.

Anya MacDonough: I think I will definitely use the national map in the future because I have gotten curious about what it is.

Mike Da Luz: Couple of takeaways from the conference are our ability to meet with folks in the hall in formal conversations, taking it to some other side bar issues that they are upstanding, to meet other folks who are engage in the business. All of those, I think were important for me.

Betsy Canali: The important thing is to keep the communication going. Hopefully, we can have more conferences like this one and I feel like this is a really positive step forward for the USGS.

Ezra McLachlan: I have a really great time. I really had a good time from our discussion.

Frederick Reuss: From the feedback, I think people enjoy.


Mark DeMulder: So, I'm sorry that the sound quality was so poor on that. We will make a video available to you. I played it a little short there because I know there are people that have flight arrangements they want to get to, and I don't want to be the reason that you're late.

So with this, let me just say, again, we owe you a huge debt of gratitude and we hope to see you again in two years. I hope you have safe travels on your way home. And the first National Map Users Conference is hereby adjourned. Thank you.




Title: The National Map Users Conference: What You Said: Shaping the Direction of The National Map


The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) sponsored the inaugural The National Map Users Conference (TNM UC) in conjunction with the eighth biennial Geographic Information Science (GIS) Workshop on May 10-13, 2011, in Golden, Colorado. The National Map Users Conference was held directly after the GIS Workshop at the Denver Marriott West on May 12-13.  The focus of the Users Conference was on the role of The National Map in supporting science initiatives, emergency response, land and wildlife management, and other activities.

The National Map Users Conference Experience: Short interviews of Conference attendees. (4:29)

Opening remarks and plenary speakers, Thursday, May 12, 2011 (UC Day 1)

Award Ceremony, Tommy Dewald of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Keven Roth “semi-retired” USGS are the co-recipients of this year’s Henry Gannett Award, presented by Marcia McNutt, Director of the USGS and Alison Gannet, great-niece of Henry Gannett. Roth and Dewald were cited for their development of the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD). (30:03)

Continuing remarks and plenary speakers, Friday, May 13, 2011 (UC Day 2)

Closing Session:  “What You Said: Shaping the Direction of The National Map”.  (33:50)

Selected Sessions, Thursday, May 12, 2011 & Friday, May 13, 2011

Location: Golden, CO, USA

Date Taken: 5/13/2011

Length: 33:50

Video Producer: Michael Moore , U.S. Geological Survey

Note: This video has been released into the public domain by the U.S. Geological Survey for use in its entirety. Some videos may contain pieces of copyrighted material. If you wish to use a portion of the video for any purpose, other than for resharing/reposting the video in its entirety, please contact the Video Producer/Videographer listed with this video. Please refer to the USGS Copyright section for how to credit this video.

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